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OHL Top 5: Ontario-Born NHL Draft Prospects

By  on February 22, 2012

BY DANIEL NUGENT-BOWMAN /

The NHL Central Scouting’s mid-season rankings for the 2012 entry draft were released on Jan. 11. Here’s a look at the top-five ranked Ontario-born prospects:

1. Brendan Gaunce

The way things are looking, Brendan Gaunce will likely hear his name called earlier at the NHL draft than his brother did. Gaunce – an alternate captain of the Belleville Bulls – is currently the 11th-best North American skater available, while older brother, Cameron, went 50th overall to the Colorado Avalanche in 2008.

Gaunce had 57 points as of Feb. 11, building off the 36 he posted last season as an OHL rookie.

The Markham, Ont.-native also suited-up for Team Cherry at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Kelowna, B.C., on Feb. 1 and started the game on a line with Belleville’s Daniil Zharkov and Andrew Ryan of the Halifax Mooseheads.

2. Matthew Finn

Matthew Finn’s draft stock would probably be much higher in any other year.

The Toronto-product is the eighth-leading scorer among OHL blueliners with 36 points, but is only the ranked 15th among North American skaters.

There are as many as eight defencemen ahead of Finn – a long list that includes Ryan Murray (Everett), Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw), Olli Maatta (London), Mathew Dumba (Red Deer), Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton), Jacob Trouba (USA U-18) and Derrick Pouliot (Portland).

But at least the Guelph Storm rearguard received an invite to the Top Prospects Game, where he donned the sweater of Team Orr.

3. Cody Ceci

Thanks to a late 1993 birthday, Cody Ceci is wrapping up his third OHL season with the Ottawa 67’s.

And now he’s starting to show the league all of his offensive capabilities.

After back-to-back seasons of 12 and 34 points, the Orleans, Ont.-native upped his total and is currently second in OHL scoring for defencemen.

Ceci has 48 points, trailing only Niagara’s Dougie Hamilton by four.

He was slated to play in the Top Prospects Game; however, he was unable to participate due to injury. Ceci is the 16th-rated skater available for the NHL Draft.

4. Slater Koekkoek

Slater Koekkoek has dropped down the draft rankings through no fault of his own.

The Peterborough Petes defenceman was ranked in the Top 10 by the International Scouting Services early in the season, but has since tumbled because of a season-ending injury. The Mountain, Ont.-product separated his shoulder Nov. 27 against Windsor, limiting his sophomore campaign to 26 points.

Koekkoek – who was named assistant captain of the Petes before the season by head coach Mike Pelino – had 18 points before getting hurt. He’s now ranked 17th overall among North American skaters.

5. Gemel Smith

Gemel Smith has speed to burn. The 5-9, 150-pound Owen Sound Attack centre finished the fastest skater competition at the Top Prospects skills competition with a time of 14.907 seconds, only failing to secure the title because of a stumble around one of the turns.

It’s that speed that’s helped the Torontonian become the third-leading scorer on the Attack with 48 points – a vast improvement over the 16 he posted a year ago.

Smith is currently the 20th rated North American skater.

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February 22, 2012
Categories:  Major Junior

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