Chatham-Kent Men’s Hockey Prospects: Offseason

Grayson Ladd hockey

Grayson Ladd is CKSN’s top men’s hockey prospect from Chatham-Kent – Photo by Kelsey Vermeersch/

You’ll see a lot of movement in this edition of the Chatham-Kent Men’s Hockey Prospects.

As well, with his first game of professional hockey, Chatham’s Joseph Raaymakers goes off the board permanently, even though he’ll be back at the Junior ranks next year – He is a pro, and can play pro, enough said, and congratulations Joseph!

Trent Fox remains off our list as his path for next season has yet to be decided, so he lands in our “Watch List” pile.

We’ve also added a new feature, which is in brackets immediately following the players ranking, to show you their position on our previous list. That way you can watch for athletes on the rise. If they weren’t previously rated, you’ll see a NR next to their name.

Here they are, bottom to top.

Watch List – Darby Lemieux, Aidan Lachine, Tate Bowden, Bailey Smith, Cole MacKinnon, Trent Fox, Blayne Oliver, Alec DeKoning, Nolan Gardiner, Bailey Smith. Garrette Stonefish, Adrian Stubberfield, Darby Lemieux, Ben Brooks, Levi Tetrault, Jake Reed.

20. (17) Thomas Michaud – (Chatham Maroons, GOJHL) – 2000 – Charing Cross – Intelligent player, with good puck skills who had a decent rookie season. Needs to put up big numbers and then jump to a bigger league, if he wants to. His sister Brooke is the areas top women’s hockey prospect.

19. (14) Eric Carter – (Chatham Maroons, GOJHL) – 2000 – Ridgetown – Showed a higher compete level than he did in previous seasons. Made some offseason changes in hopes of taking his game to a higher level. Hoping for a breakout season, Carter has the tools to take a significant statistical jump this year.

18. (NR) Craig Spence – (Not Yet Determined) – 2002 – Chatham – Similar to his brother before him, Spence is heading late into the offseason without a firm Junior B commitment. Capable of playing at that level, Spence has offensive upside and a good frame that he’ll fill into. A Mississauga Steelheads draft pick, Spence will be watched this season by many interested parties.

17. (NR) Brett Brochu – (Not Yet Determined) – 2002 – Tilbury – Surprised many when he was the first Chatham-Kent player selected in the OHL Draft this year. The London Knights chose this athletic netminder. He’s quick, and competitive, and kept the Cyclones in more games than they deserved last year. Goalies are always more of a slow brew, so a season of Major Midget, or Junior will be good for the Tilbury product.

16. (NR) Nolan DeKoning – (Sarnia Legionnaires, GOJHL) 2001 – Wallaceburg – Following up a strong season of Major Midget ‘AAA’, DeKoning makes a step he’s definitely ready for. He is a Junior B calibre goalie, and we think he’ll have a strong season on what likely won’t be a strong Sarnia team. Hopefully his brother scores a few to take the rookie pressure off. He’s a square, positionally sound goalie with good rebound control.

15. (5) Brendan Harrogate – (Oshawa Generals, OHL) – 1998 – Chatham – He had a decent second half after a trade to Oshawa. Unless someone turns pro, he might find himself out of a roster position as the Generals have a strong overage crop heading into next season. Always has had a knack for the net. He’ll have a variety of opportunities, USports being the most logical, following this season.

14. (2) James McEwan – (University of New Brunswick, USports) – 1997 – Chatham – Having not played a regular season professional game yet, McEwan remains on our list, but slides down because his path will now involve 4-5 more years of University. The step from the OHL to an incredibly strong New Brunswick team will continue his development alongside other Major Junior and pro experienced players.

13. (18) Lucas Fancy – (Chatham Maroons, GOJHL) – 2001 – Chatham – A creative forward that will have to work to redefine his game next season to include a bottom 6 checking component, Fancy was the logical local Junior C player to jump to Junior B. Runner up for PJHL Stobbs Rookie of the Year.

12. (20) Evan Wells – (Chatham Maroons, GOJHL) – 2001 – Chatham- His skills were evident in Major Midget ‘AAA’ as one of the top players in the Alliance. He’s proof that the Major Midget route is still superior to Junior C for most young players. Wells will have to fight for time on a scoring line with Chatham, but has the tools to step in and contribute.

11. (13) Dylan Schives – (Chatham, Maroons, GOJHL) – 2001 – Tilbury – Overall, Schives had a very good rookie Junior campaign. He adapted well to the Junior B level, and will return as part of a veteran core in Chatham next year. Had some looks from Major Junior and attended a few camps. Now that the growing pains are over, it will be interesting to watch his ceiling. Size is the only knock on this young defender.

10. (12) Cameron Welch (Chatham Maroons, GOJHL) – 2001 – Chatham – Well rounded, and a late bloomer. He has size and plays a complete game. His on ice intelligence will translate well to Junior. A top player in Major Midget ‘AAA’ last year, he’ll have an opportunity to play in all situations with Chatham.

9. (NR) Brendan Mairs – (Strathroy Rockets, GOJHL) – 2002 – Chatham/London – Great release and offensive instincts. Grabbed a coveted 16-year-old card with the GOJHL’s Strathroy Rockets. Although everyone loves to be drafted by the London Knights, it’s not the easiest organization to crack, which is the only thing that could delay his continued advancement. Doesn’t live in CK, but spent most of his early years here.

8. (15) Bryar Dittmer – (Brockville Braves, CCHL) – 2001 – Chatham – A smallish defender, Dittmer has ample skill to shine at a higher level. An Alliance all-star last year with Lambton, he’ll have a unique opportunity in one of Canada’s top Junior A loops. What he can do with the opportunity and against older competition will be interesting to watch. He’s well armed with a broad skill set.

Deni Goure hockey

Deni Goure will be one of the top OHL Draft prospects this season – Photo by Kelsey Vermeersch/

7. (NR) Deni Goure – (Chatham-Kent Cyclones, MMAAA) – 2003 -Chatham – We don’t like putting ‘underage’ players on our list. Typically you make your first appearance following the OHL draft. Goure however, merits early attention. He’ll be a top prospect this season for the OHL draft, possibly a first round pick. Gifted offensively, with decent size, he’ll climb this list quickly. Should see a handful of games with the Chatham Maroons.

6. (9) Grant Spence – (North York Rangers, OJHL) – 2000 – Chatham – Chatham wasn’t the fit. They pulled the usual move of buying veterans and the local players slipped down the depth chart. Spence was the team’s leading offensive threat for much of the season, and should excel in the OJHL. He was wise to make the move, and maintain his NCAA eligibility.

5. (7) Ross Krieger – (North York Rangers, OJHL) – 1998 – Pain Court – After struggling a bit in the late season, Krieger exploded in the playoffs. He has such good vision, and such a high hockey IQ, it would make sense for a DI program to take a shot on him. That clock is ticking quickly, but as DeBrouwer proved, it’s never too late to find a fit for a player with this type of upside.

4. (11) Lucas Vanroboys – (Nanaimo Clippers, BCHL) – 1999 – Thamesville – He really started to hit his stride in the second half in the BCHL. He’ll return to the league again next year and look to not take a step, but a leap. The NCAA or ACHA is his likely path, but he still has time to shine.

3. (6) Brady Pataki – (Moncton Wildcats, QMJHL) – 1998 – Wallaceburg – Put up career highs at the Major Junior level, albeit in a slightly weaker league. Had an injury not derailed him for a portion of his season, Pataki would have had a bigger jump in that career season. Looks to have a secure overage spot in Moncton, which will give him another shot to fulfil the potential he has.

2. (8) Evan DeBrouwer – (Arizona State, NCAA) – 1997 – Blenheim – Mission accomplished. DeBrouwer found an NCAA Division I program looking for a goalie, who might have been considered a late bloomer. He’ll now have four years at a burgeoning program to continue to develop. Considering the number of NHL free agents coming out of the DI ranks these days, we’re sliding DeBrouwer way up the list, giving him the benefit of the doubt, and a little more time to see how high his ceiling really is.

1. (3) Grayson Ladd – (Windsor Spitfires, OHL) – 2001 – Kent Bridge – Made great strides last season after being traded to the Windsor Spitfires. Got the invite from Canada for their summer selection camp. Now that his feet are wet, the real test will be how he starts 2018-2019. He has the tools, and a strong start will make him a candidate for the NHL draft.

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