With the passing of another month comes a new OHL Draft rankings. My OHL Draft rankings have been updated and expanded to a top 70 and can be accessed via the 2024 OHL Draft Rankings page.
The schedule started to slow down in January, with fewer and fewer significant events on the calendar, but it was still a busy month. The GTHL and Alliance held their All-Star Games, which helped offer a refresher on the top talent in those two leagues. The Steve Richey Tournament of Champions was another opportunity to continue assessing many of the teams in the province. Finally, I was overdue for a check-in of my local HEO circuit, so I caught a few of those games to round out the month.
Despite these many essential viewings, the main component that guided changes in my rankings was an isolated shift-by-shift viewing of nearly every player on my list. I didn't quite get to everyone, but the top 40 and all new additions got one dedicated check-in to help increase the precision on my list. Watching full games is the only way to efficiently filter through the many teams in the province and build out an initial idea of the landscape. This process was mainly about identifying the right players to include on my list and having them in a range I am comfortable with. Now that we're getting closer to the finish line, I want to increase the confidence within these ranges, and the best way to do so is to watch the individual shifts of a given player and focus solely on them and their play. The result of these shift-by-shift views wasn't any extreme changes to my rankings, but there was some shuffling due to hyperfocusing on a player and challenging myself on where I previously had them ranked, leading to some tweaks throughout my top 40.
New Number One
I've spoken about how close the battle for the top spot is all year, and I've finally been persuaded to make the change. If you've read into how I've been speaking about these two recently, you could have spotted the undertone that I was leaning toward Adam Valentini while still having Braidy Wassilyn at #1. I was hesitant to make the change until I was extremely confident that I would unlikely revert it at year's end. While I am not 100% confident in the change, I am confident enough that I doubt I will regret the swap. Of course, I will keep watching and challenging myself to ensure I have the right guy at #1, but for now Adam is the guy.
I don't think you can go "wrong" here; I've just landed that through the lens of a rebuilding team, which likely needs a foundational piece to build around, Valentini checks more boxes. Yes, Braidy is more skilled and offensively gifted, but Adam's playmaking and transition impact makes me think Valentini is the more enticing player to lead your next wave of a young core. There isn't a right answer, and it certainly is highly subjective, but as of now, I think Adam Valentini would be who I'd pitch if I were with a team with the first overall selection.
Caleb Malhotra "climbed" from 26th to 18th in this month's rankings. I wrote that in quotations as it wasn't truly an organic rise in the rankings but more a correction to reflect my sample size of Malhotra now being more on par with the rest of the players in this range. Caleb was out of the lineup for a good chunk of November and December, which was a crucial period for me to gain confidence in my rankings. I grew confident in my assessment of every player around him, and it was only natural that a few players would leapfrog him with every passing month. Now that he's back in action and I caught him a few times over January, I've felt more comfortable moving him back to where I previously had him ranked at the start of the year.
North York Rangers defender Kohyn Eshkawkogan makes a sizeable jump from the late second to mid-second range. Kohyn has been a player I've been high on all season, and he was one of the main benefactors of the shuffling mentioned above of the isolated shift-by-shift views. The 25-35 range was previously a slightly jumbled bunch of players, and now I feel more confident in how things are arranged. There isn't really a rhyme or specific reason here; I just came away more excited about Kohyn's game relative to those previously ranked ahead of them, resulting in him jumping over a handful of players.
London Jr Knight Eric Frossard is the biggest mover this month, shooting up from 51st to 29th. I've alluded to it before, but the most challenging part of creating an OHL Draft list is weeding out all of the players and narrowing it down to players worthy of inclusion. My time and focus in the first half of the season was mainly spent identifying which players to include and the precise rankings will improve over future months rankings. Frossard follows this narrative perfectly, as ever since I settled on including him in my top 60, he's only continued to impress, making me realize he belongs much higher than I initially anticipated. I've spoken about his potential in recent evaluations of his game, but that is the main factor at play with Eric, as there is potential for an enormous payoff for the team that selects him.
Kale Mace is the final high riser, moving from 55th to 44th. Kale has always been a player I've been fond of and he was once again fantastic at the Steve Richey Tournament of Champions. He was one of the players I was most impressed with over my viewings of that event, earning him a bump in my rankings.
New Additions to the Rankings
Ten new faces made their way onto this rankings edition. These two players fit into two distinct categories:
1. Players who just missed the cut last month, and their inclusion was inevitable;
2. Players on my watchlist to potentially include in the final spots of my top 100 who earned spots earlier than I was expecting.
The first group includes Blake Barnes (46th), Mason Roy (50th), Ethan Kindree (63rd), Parker Graham (64th), and Matthew Ross (67th). These are all players who I've been debating including for a few months now, who finally made their way onto my rankings. Each of these players has their own unique story as to why they were added now, but Blake Barnes is the one I want to highlight. I've long suspected Barnes's playstyle to be very projectable to junior, where he could be a simple yet effective puck mover and shut-down defender. Fortunately, Blake suited up for the Sarnia Legionnaires (GOJHL) in January, where I saw him in the junior environment. I thought he played exceptionally well and fit right in, further solidifying how I think he projects to the junior ranks over the next few seasons.
The second group comprises Nick Gilby (55th), Carter Stevens (66th), Drake Sled (68th), Justin Doak (69th), and Camden McQuaid (70th). Most of these players are those I was very familiar with that I expected to be added at some point in future expansions, but their play in recent viewings earned them a spot a bit earlier than I was expecting. Nick Gilby, however, follows a different script and only started catching my eye at the Marlboros Holiday Classic. I then paid close attention to Nick at the Steve Richey Tournament of Champions, confirming he's a player who should be considered for my rankings, inevitably earning himself a spot after a final shift-by-shift viewing. He undoubtedly possesses offensive skill and upside, but I came away thinking his explosive skating, non-stop work rate, and relentless puck pursuit combine to make the foundation for a projectable depth forward at the next level.
February is a "quieter" month on the schedule with no significant events and leagues starting to shift into playoff mods. I'll be watching key matchups, following every team's path to the OHL Cup, and ensuring I get a final evaluation of every squad. Behind the scenes, I'll continue doing shift-by-shift viewings to increase the precision on my list and add more and more confidence as we are nearing the finish line.
For more detailed scouting and game reports on each player in our top 70, visit the 2024 OHL Draft Rankings page.