OHL Draft: Prospect Interviews

OHL Draft
2013 OHL Draft Guide

OHL Draft Prospects

HP’s Laura Barney spoke to several 2013 OHL Draft prospects. The interviews are listed belwo.

Justin Lemcke – Whitby Wildcats – RD – 6’1″ 185 lbs

LB: How do you see yourself as a player?

JL: I see myself as a shut-down man, being able to shut down the first line, make the first pass and get the puck out of our own end.

LB: Who are some of the toughest players or one player in particular that’s difficult for you to play against?

JL: Probably on Kingston, the combination of Josh Leblanc and Aaron Luchuck. Both of them are good two-way players and being able to go both ways and they can put it in the back of the net if you give them a chance.

LB: What would you say right now is the strongest part of your game?

JL: Being able to shut down their first line and generating offence on the power play and penalty kill. So special teams has been good for me this year.

LB: With the upcoming OHL draft so close, there’s room for improvement. Have you been giving feedback on something you need to improve on?

JL: Yeah, to just keep working on the first pass, make sure I pay attention in the defensive zone, and keep getting the puck out.

LB: If you could bring any player to the OHL with you, who would it be and why?

JL: Probably #61 on our team, Hayden McCool. He’s fun to play with, a dynamic forward, and today he got the game winner for us. He can put the puck in the back of the net and play two ways as well in the defensive zone.

LB: What do you think you could bring to the table that’s a step up above the competition?

JL: The ability to win here…losing on the OMHA final fueled our team and we’re not going to let it happen again. We want to beat Oakville in the final.

Ryan Sarris – Whitby Wilcats – LD – 5’11” 179 lbs

LB: How do you see yourself as a player?

RS: I see myself as an all around defenceman. I love to play the game and just give it my all every time.

LB: Who has been the toughest player for you to play against?

RS: There are a lot of great forwards out there. I think I play with a lot of them. But Hayden McCool is one of the top forwards in our league and I play with him. I just think he’s an all around great forward.

LB: What would you say right now is the strongest part of your game?

RS: Probably my offensive skill right now, just getting pucks to the net and creating plays for the forwards.

LB: Have you been giving a lot of feedback on something you need to improve on?

RS: I can always improve on everything I do, no matter what you can always get better, so I’m just working on everything…I feel good, but I want to work on my hands the most.

LB: If you could bring any player to the OHL with you, who would it be and why?

RS: Probably my captain. I’ve known him since I was five years old and he has been my best friend and been there throughout everything and he’s a great hockey player as well.

LB: What do you think you can bring to the table that would be a step up above the competition at draft time?

RS: I just want to bring everything I have and if I make a club next year I’m going to give them 100 per cent of course and hopefully help the team out.

LB: So is playing in the OHL your main goal?

RS: Yes, ever since I was little when my cousin (Dylan Hutton) was drafted. He’s a big person to me in my life and I just want to be like him and do that too.

Michael Holmes – Barrie Colts – LD 6’2″ 166 lbs

LB: How do you see yourself as a player?

MH: I’m a big defenceman out there. I like to play defence, but also offence when I can and just help my team win.

LB: Is there one player in particular that’s difficult for you to play against?

MH: Travis Konecny is really good. He’s a player that’s all over the place and you never really know what he’s going to do, so you just try to play him the best you can.

LB: What do you think is the strongest part of your game?

MH: Probably my defensive side. I don’ really let anyone around me that often.

LB: What are the main things you feel you need to improve on?

MH: Probably just my physical game. For example, when a guy comes down the boards, make sure I finish him off and take the puck from him.

LB: If there is one player you could bring to the OHL with you, who would it be and why?

MH: Probably J.D. Falconer #5 because we’ve been friends for a long time and he’s a good player, so I think he could make it far in the future.

LB: What could you bring to the table that’s a step above the competition by the time OHL draft arrives?

MH: I move very well, so I think I could skate with the guys up there. Also, I’m big so hopefully that will help me.

LB: There are several options for hockey players your age, but has playing in the OHL always been your main goal?

MH: Yeah, it’s been a goal since I was a little kid. I’m looking forward to it so hopefully it goes well.

Austin Gerhart – Barrie Colts – RW- 5’11.5″ 176

LB: How do you describe yourself as a player?

AG: I try to be a playmaker and I try to put the puck in the net.

LB: Who is the toughest player or perhaps group of players for you to play against?

AG: The Marlies are really good, but I’d say the toughest player individually to play against is Travis Konecny. He has an all around game, he’s skilled, and he’s fast.

LB: What would you say is the strongest part of your game?

AG: Probably my play making and my hands. It’s something I’ve worked on over the years and it has gotten better and developed as I’ve gotten older.

LB: What part of your game do you feel needs the most improvement by the time OHL draft arrives?

AG: Probably my skating and my physicality would be the biggest improvement to make the jump to the next level.

LB: If you could bring any player to the OHL with you, who would it be and why?

AG: I’d say J.D. Falconer. We have really good chemistry out there and we get along really well, it’s great.

LB: What is it that you think you could bring to the table that’s a step above the rest of the competition?

AG: I’m really dedicated and I get along with all the guys. There are no issues in the change room with me. I feel like I’m a good all around guy and easy to get along with.

LB: At your age, you guys have options other than the OHL, but has it always been the route you want to take?

AG: I’ve talked about NCAA, but the OHL has been my dream ever since I started playing hockey, so that’s what I’m sticking with and hopefully I can get there next year.

Tyler MacArthur – Barrie Colts – RD – 6’2.5″ 167 lbs

LB: How do you describe yourself as a player?

TM: I’m good in both ends, I’m a shut-down-other-team’s-top-players type of guy, and make that good first breakout pass, use my size to my advantage, and I can also work an offensive role too.

LB: Who is the toughest player for you to play against?

TM: There are a lot…great guys who use their size, like Hayden McCool on Whitby, and Brett Mackenzie on Oakville. They’re both good players so you have to use your size because they use their size well so it’s definitely hard to shut down.

LB: Would you say your size is the best part of your game?

TM: Yeah for sure. I like to use my body, box guys out, and through the body around. It’s definitely an advantage.

LB: Is there one part of your game you feel you need to improve on?

TM: Yeah, everything. Getting bigger, stronger, faster, is definitely something you need to work on to get to the next level, so that’s a big part.

LB: If there is any player you could bring to the OHL with you, who would it be and why?

TM: Michael Holmes is definitely a player I like playing with. I’ve played with him for many years now so we have lots of chemistry together. That would be a great player to bring with me.

LB: What can you bring to the table that’s a step above the rest of your competition?

TM: I like to bring that physical edge and I can play both ends of the rink. If we’re down one goal and we have one last minute, I can be out on the ice. But I can also be out on the ice when we’re up by a goal and trying to defend the lead. I like to play both ends of the rink.

LB: You have the opportunity to take different paths in your hockey career, but is playing in the OHL always been your main goal?

TM: I’m exploring all my options and taking a look at all the offers I have, so it’s undecided.

Mitch Vande Sompel – London Jr. Knights – LD – 5’9.75″ 171 lbs

LB: How would you describe yourself as a player?

MV: I’m an offensive defenceman

LB: What would you say is one of the strongest parts of your game?

MV: I’d like to say my skating is pretty good and I think I have a good shot.

LB: A lot of you young players have been receiving feedback from your coaching staff and perhaps others. What do you feel is one of the main aspects of your game you need to improve on?

MV: For sure my shot and my strength because playing with other guys is a lot harder, so I have to get stronger so I can compete with them at that level.

LB: As a defencemen, is there a certain player, perhaps a forward that you find particularly difficult to play against?

MV: Blake Speers. He’s difficult to play against because he’s a good player. You have to elevate your game to his if you want to shut them down and win.

LB: What are some of your overall goals you have for the season?

MV: Just overall improving as a player.

LB: There are still options for you right now, but is the OHL the place you see yourself playing in the future?

MV: I think I could play both [OHL and NCAA], but right now it’s just about having fun playing hockey and keeping my options open for the future.

LB: And finally, do you feel you have a specific skill that will stand out above the rest of the competition?

MV: I think my skating… I’ve worked on it a lot in the past few years, so I’m happy about that.

Ethan Szypula -London Jr. Knights – RC – 5’9.5″ – 154lbs

LB: How would you describe yourself as a player?

ES: I’m a two-way centreman. I like to grind it out, try to score goals, and get some assists to help the team win.

LB: What would you say is the strongest part of your game?

ES: I’d say my skating. I’m a good skater, I can skate up and down and I’m a fast skater too.

LB: With that said, what do you think is a part of your game that needs improvement?

ES: Well for me, it’d be more of a backcheck, getting back and helping out the team in my defensive play, which lacks a little bit especially. But I need to just get better in every aspect of my game.

LB: As a forward, is there a defenceman or group of defencemen that you dread playing against?

ES: The Sun County Panthers they always line match on me. Their two defencemen [Austin] Hall and [Brendan] McGhee are always on me. It’s a good battle.

LB: What are some of your overall goals you had for the season?

ES: For me it’s probably to be drafted… within the first two rounds would be nice too.

LB: Switching things back to the OHL Draft, is the opportunity to play for an OHL team the goal for you or are you looking at other options, perhaps the NCAA?

ES: I’d like to play in the OHL, potentially making it the first year would be nice.

LB: And finally, what skill set do you have that stands out above the rest of the competition?

ES: Like I said before, skating being one of the better aspects of my game, and probably my ability with the puck.

Adam Craievich – Oakville Rangers – 6’0.25″ 189 lbs

LB: How do you see yourself as a player?

AC: I like to drive the net, lay the body, dump the puck in and go to the net hard, and keep the stick on the ice. I don’t like to call myself a sniper, but putting the puck in the back of the net is my specialty, it’s what I like to do the most.

LB: What would you say is your strongest skill set as a player?

AC: Definitely driving the net and putting the back in the back of the net. I guess I have a knack for the for the net because I can find that back mesh for often than not when I have the puck in the slot, so that’s probably my best skill set.

LB: A big year for you guys, a season of development for sure, so what is the biggest thing you feel like you need to improve on right now?

AC: I have to work hard on the battles in the corner, I have to stay strong on the puck, and I know skating is a little bit of an issue, but I’m going to continue working on it the rest of the year and play every shift like it’s my last. So playing hard is the thing I work on the most, and consistency too.

LB: As a forward, is there a player, defenceman, or group of defencemen in particular that you know is going to be tough for you to compete against?

AC: To be honest, the group of defencemen I hate going on the most is the ones we have in practice. [We have three] of the hardest defencemen [Matt Spencer] to go one-on-one with. I’m glad they’re on my team so that I don’t have to go down one-on-one against them during a game, so I like to do it in practice and work on the little things and eventually get by them, hopefully.

LB: How has that helped develop your game?

AC: When you’re playing with such skilled defencemen and they’re always in the right position, you have to keep your feet moving and you have to be decisive. You also have to create some new moves at times when you’re trying things. If it doesn’t work, oh well there’s always next time. They just push me to the best of my abilities, so I have to keep working and hopefully I’ll get by them eventually.

LB: What would you say some of your overall goals were for the season?

AC: OHL Cup is the main goal for the team and me. I haven’t won a lot in the past and I really want to win that OHL Cup more than anything, so that’s the main goal.

LB: After the OHL Cup of course is the OHL Draft. Is the possibility of playing on an OHL team something you think about often or are you looking at other options?

AC: I played minor midget last year, so I went through this draft year. A lot of the kids are worried, but we just have to play hockey and eventually good things will come. Hopefully one day I can find myself either on an OHL team or at a good D-1 school of NCAA.

LB: Is there a skill set you offer that you feel stands out above the rest of the competition?

AC: Yeah, my goal scoring. I like to put the puck in the back of the net. When I have the puck in the slot, I’ll do anything. Whether it goes off my leg, arm, or stick, I’ll do anything to put the puck in the back of the net. I don’t care if there are three guys on me, I’ll still try to put that puck in the back of the net and I guess that’s the skill set I bring the most.

Cameron Lizotte – Nickel City Sons – LD – 6’0.5″ 184 lbs

LB: How do you see yourself as a defenceman?

CL: I see myself as a physical defenceman that takes care of his own zone and tries to follow the play. I try to get the job done in my own zone and then try to produce some offence when I can. So I describe myself as a defensive defenceman with offensive abilities.

LB: What would you say is the strongest aspect of your game?

CL: Definitely my physical play. My strength is being able to win the battles in the corner and win puck possession is in my zone, so I find that’s a big part.

LB: It’s a big season for you guys as players and an opportunity to advance your game, so what aspect of your game would you like to improve on?

CL: My quick thinking and try to get the puck moving instead of using my feet most of the time. And that can be improved through my hard work and help of coaches. So that’s the biggest part, just moving the puck and making sure everything is on the tape.

LB: As a defenceman, is there a forward that you find very tough to play against?

CL: Connor McDavid is one of the toughest players with his footwork and everything. He’s up there with my buddy Nikita Korostelev from the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. He’s very shifty and it’s hard to control him.

LB: What does it mean for you to be playing here in the tournament this week?

CL: It’s the best kids our age, it’s very competitive in the sport we love, we just want to be the best, and it’s a big year. We’re looking to make the big step next year, so everyone is competing for that spot and the next step in the OHL. Everybody wants it.

LB: The OHL Draft is approaching and a lot of people are thinking about it already. Are you thinking about that opportunity as well or perhaps taking a different route, like the NCAA?

CL: Every since I was a little kid I always dreamed about playing in the OHL… but I also think about it. It’s obviously on my mind, it’s a big part. But I just try to have right now and focus on playing because I can’t control [what the draft does]. So I worry about playing, but yeah I think about it.

Blake Speers – Sault Ste. Marie Thunder – RC – 5’9″ 157 lbs

LB: How do you see yourself as a player?

BS: I think I’m a quick, skillful playing-making centreman who can play two ways – defensive zone and offensive zone.

LB: What would you say is the strongest part of your game?

BS: I’d say my hockey IQ. I have good vision, and I can find my teammates.

LB: What part of your game would you like to improve on by the time the OHL Draft arrives?

BS: My strength. I’d say that’s probably the biggest weakness in my game right now. I’ve got to get stronger everyday, so that’s definitely what it is.

LB: Who has been the toughest player for you to play against as a forward?

BS: Number nine out there on Elgin, Travis Konecny. He’s one of my buddies actually, but he’s a really good player and really hard to play against. He’s fast and tenacious and wants the puck more than anyone else out there.

LB: You are an offensive forward, so what is it about your game that will stand out above the others?

BS: I think my speed stands out. I work on my skating a lot and I can take the d-man wide if I have to, so that’s probably what it is there.

LB: What are your overall goals for the season?

BS: I want to get drafted high in the OHL, hopefully first round if I played my game this season. We’ll see what happens from there.

Travis Konecny – Elgin Middlesex Chiefs – RC – 5’8.5″ 173 lbs

LB: Describe the type of player you view yourself as.

TK: I like to model my game after Jonathan Toews. I find I’m a battler, I go hard all the time, and I like to set up plays. I find that assists are just as good as goals, so I’m a playmaker and I have good vision.

LB: You’re projected to go high in the OHL Draft. Are you feeling any pressure at all, and if so, how are you dealing with it?

TK: To be honest I don’t feel pressure at all. I just like to treat every game like it’s another game. I try not to think about it because then it gets to your head and you don’t perform like you should. So, I don’t have any pressure on me, no.

LB: Is there a specific player or group of players on a team that you find particularly difficult to play against?

TK: Yeah for sure, back in my own league I play against a kid named Mitch Vandesample and he’s probably going to go pretty high in the draft too. He’s a great defenceman and it’s hard to get around him, but we’re good buddies at school too so it’s fun.

LB: What would you say is the strongest part of your game?

TK: Probably never giving up on the puck and vision, I have great vision.

LB: On the opposite side of that, what would be an aspect of your game you’d like to improve on?

TK: Probably get little better in my defensive zone. I’ve been told growing up that I have to help out my defence a little bit more, but as I’ve grown up I’ve been working on that and it’s getting better as the year goes on.

LB: And finally, what is it you bring to the table that you feel is a step up above the rest of the competition?

TK: I feel I have effort and you can’t teach effort. If you have it then you just have to work on the little things, and I feel I have that effort. So I work on those little things every single day and I think that puts me ahead of some of the players.

Cole Mayo – Elgin Middlesex Chiefs – 5’11.25″ 193 lbs

LB: How would you describe yourself as a defenceman?

CM: I’m a defenceman that can play an all-round game. I like to push pace, drive the net when I can, put the puck in the net, and play my defensive zone as well.

LB: What would you say is one of your strongest skills?

CM: My puck movement and finding my winger on the wall.

LB: As the OHL Draft approaches, what do you think is the part of your game that needs the most improvement?

CM: Probably just being more physical all the time and finishing my checks when they’re there.

LB: Who are the players or perhaps group of forwards that you find particularly difficult to play against?

CM: Really it’s mainly a forward that’s big, strong, and drives you into the net when he’s coming down hard on you. There are a lot of them out there, so you just have to keep moving your feet and drive the puck down the net.

LB: What does it mean to you to play in this tournament all week?

CM: It’s very exciting. It’s a big tournament, lots of scouts and pressure, but pressure pushes us so hopefully we come out on top.

LB: What do you feel as though will set you apart from the other defencemen?

CM: Hopefully my skating and making my pass all the time. I think that’s a very efficient part of my game and I hope to keep developing it.

Lawson Crouse – Elgin Middlesex Chiefs – LW – 6’2″ 183 lbs

LB: How do you describe yourself as a player?

LC: I think I’m a two-way forward, I like to get onto the forecheck, and support the defence. I play defensive hockey whenever I can and that’s basically what I like to do first, defence then offence.

LB: What you would say is the strongest part of your game?

LC: I think I have a really good shot so whenever I can, I use it.

LB: With the feedback given to you guys as the OHL Draft approaches, what’s one aspect of your game you’d like to improve on?

LC: I’m 6’3″ so I’m a big guy, which means I need to improve on my first three strides so I can get to those loose pucks faster.

LB: As a forward, is there a specific defenceman or a group of players on a team you find it hard to play against?

LC: Back in Alliance, I find Mitch Vandesample pretty hard. He has really quick feet and he contains the man, so it makes him a difficult guy to play against.

LB: Did you have any overall goals for the season?

LC: I set a few with my family, and I’d like to be a high draft pick so I’m working towards that. I’ve had little goals on and off the ice, like my quick feet. Those are the key goals.

LB: What is it about the way you play that you think will make you stand out above the rest of the competition?

LC: I’m a big guy, which means I like to get in on the forecheck and produce offence as well.

Josh Coyle – Elgin Middlesex Chiefs – LW- 6’3″ 188 lbs

LB: How do you see yourself as a player?

JC: I think I’m a power forward. I like to play both ends of the ice, get involved in the corners, and do as much as I can in my own end as well. I like to be responsible in my own end and get the puck out.

LB: What would you say is the strongest part of your game?

JC: Probably my speed and skating. I like to drive the puck to the net and I also like to backcheck, so my speed helps a lot there.

LB: What part of your game do you feel needs the most improvement?

JC: Probably my scoring ability. I’d like to be able to put the puck in the net more, improve my shot too, my release needs to get quicker, and just my overall ability.

LB: Is there a player or defenceman in particular you find it difficult to play against?

JC: Yeah probably Noah Bushnell from Sun County Panthers. He’s a tough player.

LB: What are your overall goals for the season?

JC: I’d like to get drafted to the OHL, hopefully as high as possible. If not then I’ll look for other routes, like Junior B or perhaps even NCAA if it’s possible.

LB: So it seems as though playing for the OHL is an opportunity you’re striving for.

JC: Yeah for sure. I think I’m looking for to the OHL than NCAA or anything else, so hopefully I can get the best chance possible to make it there.

LB: And finally, what’s a skill set you have that will give you an advantage over other players?

JC: My combination of strides and speed probably because the size helps me get by defencemen and my speed puts it all together.

Hayden McCool – Whitby Wildcats – 6’2.5″ 183 lbs

LB: How would you describe yourself as a player?

HM: I’m more of a power forward. I have the gift of scoring, I’m a playmaker, I like to revolve myself around hard work, and compete every game. Those are the biggest things for me.

LB: What would you say is your strongest skill?

HM: My skating and shooting because that gets me my goals and gets me my hard work in getting the puck when I need to get it.

LB: What would you say is one of the main things you need to work on and improve on?

HM: Competing every game and being more consistent, working hard every shift and every time I’m on the ice – both practice and games. I think will come a long way.

LB: Is there a player, perhaps a defenceman that you find very difficult to play against?

HM: There’s always a kid or two on a team that you always think before the game, ‘oh man I have to go out and play against him?’ or sometimes I’m kind of scared to go into his corner once in a while because he has more weight on me. But I find I’m a bigger guy and more comfortable going into the corners, so it’s not too bad… we played Sault Ste. Marie this year and they’re very talented, skilled, hard-working team. Also, we played Thunder Bay. They’re not as talented but definitely work really hard to be where they are today.

LB: What are your overall goals for the season?

HM: My individual goals are to compete every game and contribute to my team as much as I possibly can.

LB: It’s a great opportunity for you young players to be playing in front of all these scouts. What have you learned from being here so far?

HM: The atmosphere is huge with the amount of people that are watching you all the time. You have to stay focused during the game and off the ice too. Then mentally prepare yourself and come to play every game.

LB: Is there a skill set you have that you feel makes you stand out above the competition?

HM: Yeah for sure. My size is probably the biggest thing. Going into a corner, I feel comfortable that I’m going to win the battle. My weight is pretty good too, but I definitely think it’s my size that gets me where I need to be.

Matt Spencer – Oakville Rangers – RD – 6’1.25″ – 194 lbs

LB: How would you describe yourself as a player?

MS: I think I’m a big, physical defenceman that likes to rush the puck. I’m really strong down low and I like to get people out of the way in front so the goalie can see. I’m really just an all-round type of player.

LB: What would you say is the strongest part of your game?

MS: I’d say right now it’s my overall size and ability to get to the open spaces, and make the right play when I need to.

LB: It’s a big year for you guys, so what part of your game do you feel like you’d need to improve on the most?

MS: I know I need to work on my gap a bit and make sure my shifts are nice and short. The biggest thing I’m trying to work on is more of a personal goal. When I have an off shift, I just want to come back to the bench and try to regroup and make my next shift the best it can be.

LB: When you’re out there, is there a player or forward in particular that is really difficult for you to play against?

MS: We have a pretty good league and when we play Brampton it’s always a tough game. But every team has a really good group of forwards. We have to prepare as much for them as you would against the best team in the world. You have to look at those guys and not let them score, no matter what, and shut them down.

LB: What does it mean to be here this week and play against teams that you don’t usually get to see?

MS: It’s great. I love playing these big tournaments. We get to play a lot of players we normally wouldn’t. There are a lot of scouts here and a lot of pressure, but it’s good to rise above that pressure.

LB: Is the opportunity to play in the OHL something you’re really looking forward to? There are other options as well, like the NCAA.

MS: Most definitely. It’s such a great organization – the CHL, and OHL, in particular, is the best hockey league in my opinion and I’d love to get the chance to play for one of those teams.

LB: As a defenceman, is there one skill set you have that you feel like will put you ahead of the competition?

MS: I think I can move the puck pretty well. I’m trying to work to get that good first pass and move the puck as fast as I can out of the zone, and make sure the puck doesn’t stay in out end too much.

 

You can check out our 2013 OHL Draft Guide here