Chatham-Kent’s Top Hockey Prospects: Offseason 2019
We’re back for another edition of CKSN’s Top Hockey Prospects.
We count down the top 20 midway through the offseason, as well as the top women’s prospects. Expect a few new names to climb onto this list as the season gets underway, and 16-year-olds sign their cards.
This list is compiled by talking to regional coaches, staff, and CKSN staff.
Brooke Michaud remains one of the top prospects on the women’s side from Chatham-Kent. Moving to play Junior in Southwest, Michaud has the chance to grab an NCAA look, and is a lock for Canadian University hockey. Going younger, Taryn Jacobs will be a highly sought after player this year, skating with Southwest by NCAA teams. She is smooth, and controls the game from the backend. She is destined for an NCAA commitment as soon as rules allow. Other youngsters including Natalie Bray and Brenna Dittmer who will move to Junior this year will garner looks as their games round out. On the younger side, Abby Stonehouse is Chatham-Kent’s next superstar of women’s hockey. She has the highest ceiling of all of these players. She will be an exciting Chatham-Kent hockey prospect to watch over the next 4-5 years, playing Minor Bantam Boys ‘AAA’ this season with the Chatham-Kent Cyclones.
There’s also a large group of first year midget players skating at the AA level who will have a key development season including Hailee Schepens, Abby Balan, Kate Martin, Samara Whiteye, and Ella Altiman who will be watched.
On to the men’s game:
Watch List: Brady Stonehouse, Ayden Blain, Zander Veccia, Declan Waddick, Daniel Fraleigh, Anthony Lucarelli, Kayne Gagner, Evan Wells, Blayne Oliver, Ben Brooks, Matt Cunningham, Bryar Dittmer, Nail Hetherington, Jake Reed, Nolan DeKoning, Brendan Mair.
20. (20) Darby Lemieux – (Leamington Flyers, GOJHL) – 2002 – Tilbury – Didn’t get much playing time in Chatham last year, and his development hurt because of it. Leamington will give this big, hard working player a better look. Recently, Chatham players who have landed with the Flyers have flourished, and we expect to see a significant change in Lemieux’s game before Christmas. A fresh start was needed.
19. (NR) Tate Bowden – (Chatham Maroons, GOJHL) – 2002 – Tilbury – He’s big, and can find the net. He looks like a football player on ice, which is good and bad at times. He has the potential to be a force in Junior B as a rookie.
18. (19) Adrian Stubberfield – (Chatham Maroons, GOJHL) – 2002 – Chatham – Took the developmental route last year on a strong Elgin-Middlesex team, and it paid off. Major Midget ‘AAA’ is pumping out quality players, and now, Stubberfield will have the chance to score for his hometown team.
The Maroons have been trading away local players as fast as they sign them in recent seasons.
17. (15) Thomas Michaud – (Leamington Flyers, GOJHL) – 2000 – Charing Cross – Good hands, good vision, now in a good situation to let him flourish, which he did in the playoffs for Leamington. Expect him to be among GOJHL Western Conference leaders in points this year. Likely destined for the OUA.
16. (18) Ross Krieger – (Toronto Varsity Blues, OUA) – 1998 – Pain Court – In terms of his on ice vision, and understanding of the game, Krieger already has tools many NCAA, pro, and OUA players will never acquire. He’ll need to use these tools to find openings for his smaller frame against men in the OUA. He’s always elevated his game, and his smarts will undoubtedly enable success at this level.
15. (17) Nolan Gardiner (Windsor Lancers, OUA) – 1998 – Tilbury – Sometimes playing at a higher level isn’t good for development. That became true as Gardiner’s game grew leaps and bounds after returning to the GOJHL from Major Junior. Now, he’s taking another step forward into an ever strengthening OUA league. His tenacious style, and newly acquired offensive skills will serve Windsor well wherever they plug him into their lineup.
14. (16) Lucas Fancy – (Leamington Flyers, GOJHL) – 2001 – Chatham – After early season hiccups, Fancy fulfilled his potential as the season wore on. His trade to the Strathroy Rockets gave him new opportunities he wasn’t seeing in Chatham. Expect Fancy to hit the ground running this season with a Leamington Flyers team that sought out his services in the offseason.
13. (12) Brendan Harrogate – (Western Mustangs, OUA) – 1998 – Chatham – Moving to the BCHL was a good thing for Harrogate last season, and now he’s at a good school, with a strong hockey program. He’ll have to work his way up this lineup, but he’s always had a knack for finding the net. Give him time and a pro player can emerge.
12. (14) Grant Spence – (Georgetown Raiders, OJHL) – 2000 – Chatham – This is a crucial year for Spence. He never found a scoring role in the OJHL last season, but the former OHL pick, and point-per-game Junior B player has that ability. He’ll play college/university hockey in some capacity. There is still time to have a breakout season.
11. (13) Cameron Welch (Komoka Kings, GOJHL) – 2001 – Chatham – He was a game changer against his former team, the Chatham Maroons in the playoffs last year. Not only for timely goals, but his defensive awareness. Very underrated.
10. (9) Brady Pataki – (Windsor Lancers, OUA) – 1998 – Wallaceburg – After a career best Major Junior season, it seems silly to say Pataki is still scratching the surface. He is a big body, and never quite reached the output he was expected to reach in Major Junior, but the OUA is now producing late bloomer prospects for all levels of pro. His frame alone will earn him a look at the next level.
9. (8) Trent Fox (Windsor Lancers, OUA) – 1997 – Thamesville – Given time to further the development of his all around game, Fox will leave Windsor to play pro hockey. He’s likely a player destined for the ECHL, or a European league. A strong OHL career, followed by the beginnings of a strong OUA career are all he’ll need on his resume to earn a shot.
8. (6) Evan DeBrouwer – (Arizona State, NCAA) – 1997 – Blenheim – His rankings will climb back toward the top of our list if he can earn starts for NCAA Division I Arizona State. Hard to predict if he’ll be a pro player until he gets back in the crease after spending most of his freshman season watching rather than playing.
7. (7) James McEwan (University of New Brunswick, AUS) – 1997 – Chatham – When your USports team is the best in the country, filled with pro players, you’re in a good position. So good, it actually kept McEwan out of the lineup at times this season. He can and almost certainly will play professional hockey, and with added responsibility and playing time this season, he’ll take a step in that direction.
6. (5) Craig Spence – (Mississauga Steelheads, OHL) – 2002 – Chatham – He was a staple on the Chatham Maroons blueline playing in every situation. His development has Chatham’s staff believing he won’t be back. Spence still has his work cut out for him however, as the Mississauga blueline is full, meaning he’ll need to steal a spot from an OHL veteran. Having already signed, Spence will certainly see time with the Steelheads, but of course, his goal is to play the entire season in the OHL, and earn an NHL draft ranking.
5. (4) Brett Brochu – (London Knights, OHL) – 2002 – Tilbury – He signed with the OHL’s London Knights. That’s a huge first step. Now, it’s time to make the league. If he doesn’t stick with the Knight’s off the hop, look for London to keep him nearby on a Junior B roster. He has performed, in fact outperformed at every level he’s played – can he steal a spot in the OHL? He was the PJHL Stobbs Rookie of the Year, and topped Ontario in wins. If he can crack the Knights, he’ll be poised to feel the push of a team known for pumping out professional prospects.
4. (3) Dylan Schives – (Quebec Remparts, QMJHL) – 2001 – Tilbury – He hit the ground running, gaining confidence and playing time this season in the QMJHL. What will he accomplish this season? He’s playing in a pro environment under a Hall of Fame coach. It’s hard to even classify him as a late bloomer, because he has outperformed and advanced beyond most in his draft class, despite never hearing his name called by a Major Junior team.
3. (10) Lucas Vanroboys – (Bentley, NCAA) – 1999 – Thamesville – Playing in the National Championships with the Prince George Spruce Kings, Vanroboys grabbed a coveted NCAA Division I scholarship. He’ll play at a school where he’ll be given opportunities immediately, which is a huge boost for his development. He now has four years to turn into a pro. Hasn’t shown high level offense yet, but has proven to be a 200-foot contributor.
2. (2) Grayson Ladd – (Windsor Spitfires, OHL) – 2001 – Kent Bridge – Injuries and circumstance. Remove an unfair start from the Kitchener Rangers, fast forward his trade to Windsor where his development started taking flight, and allow him to put together a start-to-finish healthy season this year, and Ladd is almost certainly an NHL Draft pick this year. He is in need of a strong, full campaign, where he’s given the opportunity to fulfill his potential.
1. (1) Deni Goure – (Owen Sound Attack, OHL) – 2003 – Grande Pointe – He’ll stay as our number one prospect until someone steals this spot from him. A dynamic offensive talent with good edges and a deceptive release, the 10th overall pick in the OHL draft sets up a prospect like Goure to be an NHL pick in two years. First, he’ll need to prove his game can translate to a scoring role in the OHL.