As the Toronto Titans' Tournament was the first genuine opportunity to evaluate the Ontario 2008 class, many skaters from that region are debuting in our October ranking update. Most of these players are those we have been watching over the summer months and had on our radar for future inclusion. Between the 2023 WHL Cup, Quebec Midget league in full flight and the Toronto Titans’ Tournament, October provided us with plenty of movement from the Canadian crop of 2008s.
New 5-Star Players
Maximus Crete performed well over the summer, and entered our ranking as a 4-star recruit after his strong play at the World Selects Invitational, where he was listed as one of the top 10 performers. He followed that up with another impressive showing, this time at the Toronto Draft Day Showcase, and earned a 4.5-star rating. After a dominant performance at the Toronto Titans Early Bird Tournament, where he was the key reason why his Upper Canada Cyclones went as far as they did, he cemented himself as a top player in the Ontario region and worthy of 5-star rating.
Dylan Rozzi is a talented offensive player who at the time of writing leads the Lac St Louis lions in scoring and has shot up our rankings to earn 5-star status. He has a tremendous passing acumen, showing the ability to make hard and accurate passes through traffic. The way he anticipates the play is very high-end; always finding himself in the right areas on the ice to disrupt the opposition or make himself an option for teammates. He is a player who is relied on in all situations of the game on both ends of the ice, often helping protect leads in the final minutes of games despite being one of the youngest players on his team.
Liam Ruck has elevated his ranking from 4.5-star to 5-star as he now slots in at #31 after a series of strong showings at the 2023 WHL Cup. With excellent instincts as a goalscorer and a consistent ability to put himself in the right place at the right time, Liam Ruck has shown he has fantastic ability. He is intelligent in the way he attacks and will force the defense to make the first move and then react accordingly to pounce on any openings. He’s creative and demonstrated killer instincts to score from any position on the ice in any manner. He’s more than capable as a playmaker and is able to pick out pockets of open space and guide the puck into those areas of the ice to spread the offense out.
Tyler Challenger & Ryder Cali are the two highest debuts landing in the 4.5-star tier at #36 and #47 respectively. Both are tall-stature forwards who are leading offensive creators on their strong GTHL squads. Despite the similarities in size, they are on opposite ends of the spectrum, with Tyler being a prototypical power forward and Ryder playing more of a finesse game.
Oakville Ranger Christian Armstrong joins teammates Ethan Belchetz, Callum Croskery, and Matthew Ross as the fourth member of the talented Oakville squad included on our rankings at #79. In our views of the Rangers, Armstrong was a force as a playmaker and created so many opportunities for his linemates. His on-puck deceptiveness opens up time and space for him to operate, and he can constantly maneuver around defenders to open up passing lanes. His play at the Toronto Titans Tournament solidified him as one of the top players in the province, earning him 4-star status.
A pair of Vaughan Kings, Caleb Malhotra & Alessandro Di Iorio, earned their spots of 4-star prospects as they clock in at #82 and #104. The Kings are the team to beat in Ontario, and on a team with that much talent, it can be challenging to determine who the best players are. Everything is always going right, everyone is generating scoring chances, and separating who's making the most impact is the key. Across our assessment at the Toronto Titans Tournament, along with Alexander Hage and Zach Nyman, Caleb and Alessandro were two of the most consistent play drivers making things happen on the Vaughan Kings. Transitions and offensive sequences mostly flowed through them when they were on the ice, separating them from their very talented teammates by just a smidge.
Ontario's Nathan Amidovski (46th) & Callum Croskery (53rd) elevated their ranks to 4.5-star status. These two players have been well on our radar over the many summer events we have covered and have been consistently solid performers. At the Toronto Titans Tournament and through league play thus far, they have separated themselves from their peers in the Ontario region and earned themselves an uptick in our rankings. Croskery especially fits that description, as we felt he asserted himself as the 2nd best defender in the region, only behind 5-star Zach Nyman.
Toronto Jr Canadien, Dima Zhilkin, elevated himself to a 4-star prospect and 99th in our rankings. We previously had a small but positive sample on Dima's game, but that changed at the Toronto Titans Tournament as we got the opportunity to see him play a handful of times. Over the three games our Ontario regional scout watched, he was the Jr Canadien's best player, game in, game out, and their main playdriver and offensive creator. Dima's creativity and decisions with the puck stand out and are a key reason for his promotion to the 4-star tier.
Romain L’Italien is a big center for the St. Francois Blizzard who has exploded out of the gate with 17 points in 16 games. He possesses a good set of hands that allow him to operate in tight spaces along the perimeter in the offensive zone. He makes quick and effective decisions with the puck on his stick, whether off the rush or cycling in the offensive zone. He is very effective as a net-front guy on powerplay, showing an affinity for tipping pucks and winning a majority of his positional battles to loose pucks in the crease. All of these tools and tendencies he displays are the reason for him receiving a major boost in the rankings, skyrocketing up to 42nd.