Scouting Post 2016 NHL Draft Podcast Pt. 2: Tiano & Duthie forge on

Thanks for the overwhelming interest in part 1 of the 2016 NHL draft OHL-centric podcast featuring Dominic Tiano and Reed Duthie!

Here is the second hour:

Tiano’s OHL Writers blog is a key source in the evaluation of NHL draft-eligible talent coming out of the CHL’s Ontario major junior circuit. Duthie is the play-by-play announcer for the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs home broadcasts. Both bring a lot of knowledge and passion for the sport.

In hour 2, we pick up where technology left off, completing the thought process on Saginaw D Markus Niemelainen. Then, listen to Reed and Dom square off over defenseman Sean Day, as they engage in a “great debate” over whether the toolsy player who was granted exceptional status at age 15 is worth spending a top-60 selection on given his disappointing season and other concerns about his long-term NHL upside.

We also get into some of the underrated, undersized guys like Alex DeBrincat, Adam Mascherin and Will Bitten…the duo talk about players like Nathan Bastian, Taylor Raddysh and we also go further down the line on interesting risers like Guelph Storm forward Givani Smith and London speedster Cliff Pu (Puuuuuuuuu!).

Oh, yeah- and we circle back on London Knights power forward Max Jones– a bit of a controversial figure as you will hear from Reed and Dom. But, I neglected to have him in the 1st-round talk in hour 1- that was a mistake, because that’s where he’s almost assuredly expected to go this week.

There’s that and much, much more, as we tack on some time at the end of the 60 minutes to make up for what was lost in the first hour. You don’t have to be a Boston Bruins fan to get into the action here- as Dom feels that this is one of the strongest OHL draft classes in quite some time. Chances are- your favorite team will end up with one or more of them.

I have a few more posts this week before the draft, but for now- enjoy.



2016 NHL Draft: The Case for Adam Mascherin

Kitchener Rangers wing Adam Mascherin is another proven goal scorer in the OHL who has enough promising potential to be tracking for the late first/early second round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. This post will do a deep dive on Mascherin and attempt to make the case for him to land inside the top-30 selections.

Adam Mascherin, LW/C

Height/Weight: 5-9/202   Shoots: L   Born: June 6, 1998 in Maple, Ontario

Current stats Games: 57  Goals: 34  Assists: 41  Points: 75  Penalty Minutes: 12

Background: Mascherin played minor hockey with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens and Vaughan Kings. He was the second overall selection by the Kitchener Rangers in the 2014 OHL draft, taken one pick behind Jakob Chychrun. He plays for one of the OHL’s more storied teams, which has been in operation since 1963, beginning existence as a junior-sponsored club of the NY Rangers. The Rangers have won a pair of Memorial Cups in their team history- in 1983 and 2003- and they’re in the running to win the OHL this season and make a run for 2016 under head coach and former NHL defenseman Mike Van Ryn. Some of the greatest players in Kitchener Rangers history: Bill Barber, Brian Bellows, Mike Richards, Larry Robinson, Al MacInnis, Scott Stevens.

Kirk’s film study: Mascherin is a short, but thick-bodied wing whose lack of height does not deter him from making an offensive impact regularly in the highly competitive OHL. He’s not a dynamic skater and has a bit of short and choppy stride, but he gets where he needs to go quickly enough and is slippery elusive in the way he evades checks and darts in and out of skating lanes, forcing defenders to execute fluid footwork and transitions to stay with him. He’s an above average puck handler who exhibits impressive control at speed and especially in tight spaces. Mascherin possesses an exceptional, NHL-caliber shot and release at age 17. He hides his release point and does not tip his hand when firing pucks on net; he keeps his head up and gets impressive flex on his shots, wiring them into the top corners with relative ease. Has that killer instinct you look for in pure scorers- finds ways to get up under guys who are trying to separate him from the puck and will fight through traffic to get shots on net. Has the vision and creativity to set up plays from the wing and makes crisp passes on either side of the stick. Although not tall, uses stocky build to power through checks and low center of gravity means he’s tougher to knock off the puck than he looks. Compete levels can waver at times- needs to keep his feet moving and rev his motor on high to be at his best. Mascherin’s height will scare some teams off, and he doesn’t have the explosive wheels that is ideal in a smallish frame. He makes it all work because he’s so dangerous with the puck on his stick and strong on his skates- he will take hits to make the play and forces opponents to account for him when he’s on the ice.

Rogers TV has a good profile on Mascherin here:

Statistical outlook: Mascherin is  third in points among the OHL’s draft eligible players with 75 points. His 34 goals are second only to Alex DeBrincat, while 26 of his 41 assists are primary assists. His primary points rank 16th among all OHL players while his primary points per game rank 10th (source: Dominic Tiano). Another undersized forward with a thick build from the Kitchener Rangers- Jeff Skinner– scored 70 goals in his draft year (he went 7th overall to Carolina) with 50 in 64 regular season games with 20 in 20 playoff contests- so Mascherin isn’t at that level, nor is he going to be a top-10 selection in Buffalo. However, like Skinner, Mascherin is criminally underrated by Central Scouting in their mid-term rankings- 57th is pretty low for a player of his offensive acumen. They did the same thing to Skinner in 2010, who was well outside even the most acceptable range of selections and obviously- the Hurricanes made that projection look foolish.

The view from the others:

“When you go to the games and he’s scoring, which is quite a few, you come away impressed with him. But when he’s not scoring, you have to make an effort to find him.”- NHL scout

“Mascherin has an elite level shot. What makes it even more dangerous is that he has the ability to put himself into open ice and use his lightning quick release to get that shot off, and with accuracy. He is a powerful skater with deceptive speed who can move north/south as well as east/west. He has excellent puck possession skills with an ability to slow down the play and create lanes to find teammates.”- Dominic Tiano, OHL analyst

“Pro release/shot. Nose for the net and stronger on the puck all the time. Improved skating. Hates to lose. Smart.”- Mike Farwell, Radio 570 News Kitchener and Kitchener Rangers play-by-play announcer

“Size will be of concern but he is built like a tank and has incredible strength. He uses that strength in spite of his height to win battles along the walls. He is not afraid of the dirty areas and will not shy away from playing a physical game. His defensive game has improved markedly over last season and continues to be a work in progress.”- Tiano

The case for Mascherin: Scoring is king, and this kid provides it.

He wasn’t the second overall OHL draft pick by accident, though the fact that he essentially stopped growing when he reached major junior hasn’t exactly helped his NHL draft stock. Having said that, he’s such an advanced shooter with the vision and creativity to make things happen on every shift. He can speed the pace up or slow things down and has such a quick stick that he’s very difficult to defend against. Even if you try to put the body on him, he’s likely to just bounce off the check or in many cases hit you before you can hit him.

Watch the way he slides through seams on defenses and unleashes rockets and lasers from outside the circles, between the hashmarks, at the top of the paint- you name it. Mascherin’s sublime hands are among the absolute best the NHL draft class of 2016 has to offer.

This guy just seems to ooze the kinds of attributes that the Boston Bruins in particular are looking for these days- a player who can pile on the goals from the wing, but who is versatile enough to play center if need be.

If he isn’t taken on Friday night in primetime, it’s hard to imagine Mascherin not being one of the first three to five selections in the second round. If the Bruins keep both firsts, it makes sense to take the best possible defenseman first, but if Mascherin is on the board for that second selection, then he’s one of those classic upside/swing-for-the-fences type picks.

The Duthie Dish- top OHL player in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft Pt. 2

Earlier this week, the Scouting Post published Hamilton Bulldogs’ play-by-play announcer Reed Duthie’s recap on the top OHL candidates for the June NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo. You can click here to read Duthie’s thoughts on Jakob Chychrun, Matthew Tkachuk, Mikhail Sergachev and Alex DeBrincat.

Now, we’ll continue through the list of impressive names and talents in the second part of the Duthie Dish- as he provides some firsthand insights into the key players from the late ’97/98 birth year group in the OHL.

Alex Nylander, RW Mississauga Steelheads- The second of former NHL star Michael Nylander’s sons, the Steelheads winger is an exceptionally skilled player who made some positive inroads as a member of Team Sweden at the 2016 World Jr. tourney. He’s a human highlight reel who can push the pace and shows off tremendous offensive creativity. Here’s a look at what Nylander can do from earlier this season posted by DRL Productions:

GP- 33 Goals- 21 Assists- 28 Points- 49 PIM- 6

Reed Duthie: Along with his brother, undersized but tremendously talented player with a great skating stride, but he’s more of a playmaker than a shooter. He has tremendous passing hands and he can find guys through lanes and angles that you just don’t believe the puck is going to make it through there. When you watch Mississauga play, there are a couple of occasions where it seems each game that there should be a certain goal off a Nylander pass and there will be a double-clutch on the shot because the receiver of the pass can’t believe he could get it through in the situation he did. On the power play, he’s positively dynamic. Two things that burn me a little bit about Nylander are effort and defensive positioning. He’s just as likely to cover the point as he is to fly the zone and he will disappear for stretches in a game. I know his brother and his dad would do that at times, but Alex is almost to an extreme- where you wonder where Alex Nylander is and when is he going to show up? And when he does show up, the game changes entirely, but for long stretches of the game, you can be frustrated with him and unless he can sort that out I could see his draft spot falling a bit.

Olli Juolevi, D London Knights- Legitimate two-way defenseman has high-end skating and overall ability with a high potential NHL ceiling in time. He can skate and move the puck effectively and has a real cannon of a shot that he’s uncorking more and more. Juolevi needs refinement in his defensive game and in working on the little things as he adjusts to the North American game, but he could end up being the most productive defenseman to come out of the class of ’16. A look at Juolevi’s 1st OHL goal from this season posted by Hokinaittii:

GP- 28 Goals- 4  Assists- 19  Points- 23 PIM- 6

RD: He was really impressive against Hamilton and anytime I’ve watched the Knights he’s been a real standout player. When he was against Hamilton is when I got the best look at him obviously- being in the arena for those games- but watching him skate is something fun to see. He’s the kind of player that you can put on the ice in any situation. One of the knocks I’d heard on him coming into the season was that his defensive ability could be questionable- maybe not to an Erik Karlsson extent- but he’s definitely an offensive defenseman. Against the Bulldogs we saw him on the penalty kill and I honestly- maybe against your Sarnias or Kingstons you wouldn’t see him on the kill- but he didn’t look out of place whatsoever. He made some nice clears, was in position, wasn’t screening his goaltender, wasn’t trying to look for the offense every time, got it down the rink. Offensively- he’s just a standout. He might be the smoothest defenseman in the draft with the puck, and has a great shot and will find lanes at even strength to get it through to the forwards out in front of the net for good chances. I thought his compete level was right on point- he didn’t take any shifts off. I was very impressed with Juolevi.

It’s the little things- the stick position and the tendency to make himself vulnerable at times and using the wheels to get back into plays at times…those things will have to be addressed. But, I think as people start to see Alex Nylander or even Max Jones, unless there’s an improvement from them, you could see him jump over them at the draft as the season progresses if they aren’t able to address the shortcomings in their respective games.

Max Jones, LW London Knights- Talented winger with good size and pro tools as the son of former NHL forward Brad Jones. He gets lost a little bit in London’s galaxy of stars at times, and he’s struggled to generate consistent offense the way Tkachuk has in his first OHL season. Where Jones showed off potential to be a dynamic scoring forward coming out of the U.S. National Team Development Program, he might project more as a complementary kind of forward and a third-line option than a legit scorer at the next level.

GP- 33 Goals- 17 Assists- 17 Points- 34 PIM- 59

RD: When he played the Bulldogs (at the beginning of the season) he wasn’t getting a whole lot of ice. What I’ve seen of him- he’s a nice shooter and you can teach his size at 6-2, 200-plus. When he’s on his game, he can play in any situation- you can put him on the power play or penalty kill, he’s got decent defensive awareness, he’s a solid skater- I don’t have a whole lot of issues with him, except that against the Bulldogs, he just disappeared and wasn’t a factor.  He reminds me a little of Matt Fraser with better wheels.

Michael McLeod, C Mississauga Steelheads- Playmaking center with size and ability- superb skater for his size who can push the pace and is showing an improvement in his all-around game. His play away from the puck is showing signs of improvement, and while not considered a high-end pivot with elite skills, he looks like a safe pick with the potential to develop into something more.

GP- 38  Goals- 16  Assists- 28  Points- 44  PIM- 45

RD: We’ve seen a lot of Mike McLeod in Hamilton and a lot of that has to do with the fact that Mississauga has absolutely haunted the Bulldogs- Hamilton has not beaten the Steelheads yet and McLeod usually plays on that top line with (Nathan) Bastian and (Alex) Nylander and this is not some sort of Nylander making him better thing- McLeod would be just as effective if you put you and me on the wings with him. Super creative player- very quick feet. He’s got quick acceleration, but I don’t think he has top-end speed like you see with Nylander. He’s got quick feet to start the stride but he almost maxes out at a certain level, but especially at the OHL level, it’s not holding him back at all and I don’t think it will at the higher levels either. His vision is right on, and he has a great back check as well. He’s breaking up plays, he’s in the zone, he’s in that center of coverage and he’s forcing everything away from the middle of the ice- you can’t play through him and Mississauga’s got some good defensemen as well that will work along in concert with that. But, you just can’t find your way through the middle of the ice when McLeod is there- his stick is too good, and I think that is only going to benefit him at the next level because he’s not just a one-way player.

Logan Brown, C Windsor Spitfires- Huge center is the son of former NHL defenseman and current Ottawa 67’s GM/coach Jeff Brown. He’s still pretty gangly with his big body and long limbs/skating and foot speed, but there are a lot of impressive raw talents here for NHL teams to ponder. The bigger knocks on him right now are consistency and intensity, so those concerns might drop him a little further than his natural talent would normally dictate, but if the light ever comes on, he could pay off in a big way. Major boom-or-bust potential with this one.

GP- 31 Goals- 6 Assists- 29 Points- 35  PIM- 18

RD: I’m not as bullish on Brown. I think you’re looking at a guy that has a lot of skills but there are some things that have stuck out to me about him that I don’t necessarily think are going to translate at the next level. Obviously, the size is outstanding, at 6-6/215-220- you’re looking at a player that has a little bit of Jimmy Hayes to him or even Joe Thornton if you want. Doesn’t really use the size- tremendous size- and is not really effective with it. It could be that he hasn’t learned how to properly use it yet and I hope for him that’s the case. His numbers are impressive in that he’s a set-up man and anytime you can have his size down the middle, that’s a positive, but his skating stride is probably not where it needs to be, his compete level isn’t  where it needs to be, the use of his size isn’t where it needs to be, but that said- I think he has outstanding offensive skills and vision when he gets set up. I think he could be a real asset if he improves his all-around.

Adam Mascherin, C Kitchener Rangers- Short (5-9), but stout (200+ pounds) and packs a wallop with his NHL-caliber shot and refined offensive game for one so young. He uses his natural tools and high-end instincts to find seams against defenses and has raised his production to an impressive level. He’s not a complete player, but his offensive dimension is so tantalizing that he could be similar to another former undersized but dangerous Kitchener player who went a lot earlier in the draft than projected in Jeff Skinner– a top-10 selection in 2010.

GP- 34 Goals- 19 Assists- 28 Points- 47 PIM- 8

RD: Mascherin’s going to be an NHL player. That’s a guy who every time you watch the Kitchener Rangers, he makes an impact. There’s no way to watch that team and not notice him. You’re looking at a team that’s loaded up for more- they want a Memorial Cup in that building and they really want to take a big run and show London that the Knights aren’t the only ones that can compete year in and year out. So, I think you get a better look at him as the playoffs come along and where does he slot in when the games mean the most. He’s got a world of skill, but I don’t think we’ve seen him in a pressure situation yet and that’s where I’m interested in seeing him the most.

Victor Mete, D London Knights- Small defender who is a top-end skater with jets strapped to his skates. Wheels the puck out of his own end so fast that he’d have his hair on fire if he served on a ship with black sails back in the day. Has the vision, passing ability to make an impact offensively at the next level, but like most undersized players on defense, struggles with handling the bigger, stronger forwards he goes up against.

GP- 37 Goals- 4 Assists- 20 Points- 24 PIM- 12

RD: I seem to notice Mete the most on the power play. He has tremendous speed and skill with a good shot, but outside of the man advantage, I don’t notice him as much.If he’s not leading the rush, then he becomes a little bit of a liability on the ice, but then again, he could turn that around pretty quickly. I’m sure it’s something the Hunters are addressing with him and that team produces NHL players like it’s going out of style. I like Mete- he’s the kind of guy that depending on where he goes is going to be key. If he was taken in the third round, let’s say- I would be all over him, but I don’t think he’ll fall down that far. For me with Mete it’s all about the value- when he leads the rush it’s something to watch because he can absolutely fly! When you can skate away from Niki Petti at full speed, that’s impressive., but it will all depend on where Mete is drafted because of some of the other issues.

We segued a bit to talk about one Hamilton Bulldogs player in particular that might not be considered a top-end OHL prospect for the NHL draft but will probably be selected as high as the the third round or more likely in the middle rounds.

Cole Candella, D Hamilton Bulldogs- 

RD: I love the kid. What a player. The recent injury he suffered might hurt him a little because he is going to have a little time out- they’re hoping to get him back some time not too long into the new year- but on night one of the season, Justin Lemcke, captain of the Bulldogs, went down with an injury and it was Candella who stepped into the void and has done so very well. He’s a solid defenseman in every zone. His positioning is good- he can carry the puck, he can run a power play. He may not be a prototypical PP quarterback but he’s capable of it. On the penalty kill, his speed and his quickness to the puck is exciting to watch. The Bulldogs usually end up in their zone long when they’ve got the pair of (Connor) Walters and Candella on the ice. They’re just very good at getting to loose pucks and getting them out of the zone. His compete level is very good-  you never see him take a shift off. He gets into the corners and drive opponents nuts. We’ve seen him go in against Lawson Crouse and drive Crouse off the puck. It’s the kind of thing you get excited about when you watch him because you can see what there is to grow out of Candella and at 17 years old, he’s been one of the better defenders I’ve had a chance to watch night in, night out that very few people are talking about.

GP- 28 Goals- 3 Assists- 13 Points- 16 PIM- 12