With the OHL Draft just around the corner and our OHL Draft Guides slated to be released Monday April 4th. We are providing a little rankings preview with the release our top 10 prospects for the 2016 OHL Draft (OHL Priority Selection).

There has been a change at the top of the list on our final OHL Draft ranking of the season. Kirill Nizhnikov, from the Toronto Jr. Canadiens has taken over the top spot on our list. “He was my top forward right from my first viewing of him.” HP’s Mark Edwards said while expanding on the top of the draft. “There’s not much separating the top four guys on our list, especially between Wilde and Nizhnikov.”

HP’s GTHL area scout, Jay De Gennaro, loves Nizhnikov’s production, “He uses his speed and creativity to create quality scoring chances and his shot is top notch.”

The Chicago Mission’s Bode Wilde sat at the top of HockeyProspect.com’s previous lists but was edged out this time around and sits 2nd overall. Edwards says Wilde’s tools are fantastic, “His skating is high-end, it’s impressive to watch him lead or join the rush. He creates offense and plays with a lot of confidence. We just felt Nizhnikov edged out Bode slightly in the hockey IQ category, that’s an important factor for us when scouting any player.”

Sitting 3rd on the HockeyProspect.com final OHL Draft ranking is another Toronto Jr. Canadiens player, this time a defenseman, Ryan Merkley. Edwards’ friend and longtime GTHL coach, Tyler Cragg, who sadly passed away in December, coached Merkley last season and gave Mark some extra insight. “Tyler and I spoke about him (Merkley) last year. We had often talked about players in previous drafts and would sometimes compare some of their traits to players we had coached together. Tyler even mentioned former London Knight, Daniel Erlich, in one of our Merkley conversations, which was interesting given Erlich is a forward.”

Ryan Merkley isn’t big in physical stature, but he’s big when it comes to posting points from the back-end. The young defenseman is one of the most dynamic players in the 2016 OHL Draft class. He enters the draft with two years of minor midget on his resume. Merkley played with 1999 born players last season.

The 4th ranked prospect on the final ranking of the season is Blade Jenkins from Detroit Compuware. HP scout Ryan Yessie weighed in on Blade, “He’s smart, has great hands, protects the puck well and is a real competitor.” Jenkins also ranked 4th on the HockeyProspect.com OHL Draft ranking released back in February.

Rounding out the top five is Pavel Gogolev*, who scored often for his CIHA team this past season. HP’s Ottawa area scout, Justin Sproule, says Gogolev has immense talent, “Gogolev is a dynamic player who has the ability to take over a game. He’s a big forward with high-end skill and is a very good skater.” Gogolev had 38 goals this past season.

HP scout, Brian Errey, echoed Sproule’s thoughts, “I knew if he (Gogloev) became eligible for the draft, he would immediately slide right into our top 10. He has high-end scoring talent.”

Edwards says Gogolev will be an interesting prospect to watch going forward, “We didn’t see him compete against some of the other top prospects in this draft class, but his offensive talent is obvious, the kid can really shoot the puck.”

The HockeyProspect.com Top 10 is loaded with talent from south of the border but HP’s London Ontario based scout, Ryan Yessie, says that’s just the way it worked out this year. “It was pretty evident early this season that there was a lot of talented American players in this years OHL Draft class. As we continued to watch games as the season moved along, the American prospects always showed well. We recently scouted a lot of the U.S kids again at the U17 camp in Plymouth, there was some impressive performances that weekend.”

HockeyProspect.com OHL Draft Guides will be available in PDF format as instant downloads in our online store on Monday April 4th.

*Pavel Gogolev was not deemed OHL Draft eligible at the release time of our previous rankings this season.

2016 OHL Draft Top 10 Rankings

RANKPOSPLAYERHEIGHTWEIGHTTEAMNHL
1LWNIZHNIKOV, KIRILL6'01"190JR. CANADIENS (GTHL)2018
2LDWILDE, BODE6'02"185CHICAGO MISSION U16 (HPHL)2018
3RDMERKLEY, RYAN5'09.75"155 JR. CANADIENS (GTHL)2018
4FWJENKINS, BLADE5'11.5"177DETROIT COMPUWARE U16 (HPHL)2018
5LCGOGOLEV, PAVEL6'01"170CIHA WHITE (HEO)2018
6LWFARABEE, JOEL5'11"150SELECTS ACADEMY U16 (USA)2018
7LDSAMUELSSON, MATTIAS6'03"194NORTHWOOD SCHOOL (HS-MI)2018
8LCPIVONKA, JAKE5'10"179CHICAGO MISSION U16 (HPHL)2018
9LCWEISS, TYLER6'00145DON MILLS FLYERS (GTHL)2018
10RDEMBERSON, TY5'11.5"183EAU CLAIRE HS (HS-WI)2018