Guelph

# 4 – Owen Lalonde (2018 Draft)

The 2nd overall pick in the 2016 OHL Draft. Lalonde used his stick effectively on the defensive side of the puck with multiple stick checks, and shot deflections. He was very relaxed with the puck, and had a calming effect as he methodically carried the puck up ice. Lalonde had an all-world passing game, completing pass after pass after pass, creating many of the rushes Guelph was able to carry out. His skating stride was sound, yet his lack of quickness and generally chilled out pace of play created some difficulties against faster opponents, especially with loose biscuits and defensive zone puck retrievals. Lalonde’s intelligence though, allowed him to move the puck at lightning speed and his skating created very few issues in this game. Without focusing attention on Lalonde, he didn’t stand out very much, but under the microscope, the numerous “little plays” he made generated enormous positive impact over time. He has considerable NHL upside as a defensive puck-mover and minute muncher, and we look forward to watching him and fellow Guelph prospect Ryan Merkley develop as the year moves along.

# 6 – Ryan Merkley (2018 Draft)

In this OHL game, Merkley had the video game controller in his hands and was playing it on “easy mode”. He had 3 full-speed puck rushes, 6 zone entries, 4 dangerous shots, 12 effective passes, and an additional 40 positive plays. He never rested after an unbelievable shift or even sat back. Instead, he wanted more. If he had 2 puck rushes, a spin move, a deke and a great pass on one shift, he tried to do even better on the next shift. This relentless pursuit to create offence is what makes Merkley such a highly rated prospect for the draft.

He certainly took risks in the game.. deking through players, getting deep in the offensive zone, passing through sticks and legs.. but most of the time it worked, because he is just that good. At the NHL level, Merkley will do best to have a shutdown defensive partner, so that he is free to take risks and create offence. In terms of pure skill, he is right up there with the other top prospects and will be a treat to watch this season.