Chatham-Kent’s Men’s Hockey Prospects: Offseason

Brett Brochu

Brett Brochu backstopping the OHL’s London Knights – Photo by Terry Wilson/ OHL Images

With the season ending early across North America, it’s time to update our top men’s hockey prospects from Chatham-Kent.

You’ll notice our top 20 list got younger, and our watch list got older, as many of the areas top former Junior players continue to find their way at the OUA level, while other youngsters wait in the wings to make their mark on Junior.

Watch List: Lucas Fancy, Evan Wells, Trent Fox, James McEwan, Brady Pataki, Nolan Gardiner, Brendan Harrogate, Daniel Fraleigh, Beau Depencier, Ayden Blain, Alec Webster, Cameron Gardiner, Brayden Degeles, David Brown, Brenden McKay, Tre Altiman, Cameron Welch, Beau Depencier.

20. Bryar Dittmer – Chatham, 2001 Markham Royals, OJHL – Smaller defender who has great skating and puck skills. Has two seasons of Junior under his belt and will look to showcase his skills at the Junior A level with Markham next season.

19. Anthony Lucarelli – Chatham, 2003 – Chatham Maroons, GOJHL – Lucarelli put up big numbers playing Major Midget ‘AAA’ this season, leading the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, and sitting 4th overall in Alliance scoring. The Major Midget route has proved a wise choice for players coming out of Minor Midget. Lucarelli will be a strong addition to a Junior B roster, likely the Maroons, next season.

18. Alex Park – Chatham, 2003 – Unknown – Park was the 14th overall pick in the OHL U18 draft by the Windsor Spitfires after a strong Major Midget ‘AAA’ season with Windsor. Likely destined for Junior B to start, Park is a mobile defender who takes calculated risks to jump into the play. Injuries in his Minor Midget year make Park a possible hidden gem for the Spits.

17. Adrian Stubberfield – Chatham, 2002 – Chatham Maroons, GOJHL – Had a stronger first half to the season, but got ample penalty kill and powerplay time as a rookie. A pest at times capable of drawing penalties, Stubberfield will be a centerpiece on the Maroons moving forward.

16. Thomas Michuad – Pain Court, 2000 – Leamington Flyers, GOJHL – Defining Michaud’s worth to a team by points, 24 goals and 42 points in 42 games, shows he’s valuable. But you need to watch him play. You’ll notice Michaud every shift. A tenacious backchecker, one of the best penalty killers in the league, fast, and smart. Has taken his time becoming an elite player, but the tools were always there, it was just the opportunity that was missing.

15. Ryan Burke – Chatham, 2003 – Navan Grads, CCHL – Burke had a great rookie season with St. Mary’s, winning their rookie of the year honours. The Sudbury Wolves draft pick managed 41 points in 50 games. A great playmaker, Burke will either take a step up, or follow up his rookie season with an even bigger offensive output.

14. Ross Krieger – Pain Court, 1998 – Toronto Varsity Blues, OUA – If you saw the huge crop of Chatham-Kent players in the OUA, some might not have picked Krieger to have the best season of all. He’s so intelligent, a cerebral player, that he’s able to think the game at any level. A strong two-way player, Krieger looks to become one of the best all around players in the OUA for the next three seasons.

13. Grant Spence – Chatham, 2000 – Georgetown Raiders, OJHL – This year looked like it was going to be disastrous after a slow start for Spence, but he turned it around and put in a solid offensive season scoring 40 points, good for second on his Junior A team.

12. Ryan Gagner – Chatham, 2004 – Chatham Maroons, GOJHL – Skilled, with an ability to push defenders back with his speed, Gagner often blew through the opposition this season, but on a weak Chatham-Kent Cyclones team, the supporting cast didn’t help his point totals, or the team’s showing at the sub-par tournaments they did attend. He’ll need to get stronger to make the OHL with the Peterborough Petes who took him in round 6 this year, but he’s also not afraid to use the size he has to engage physically. With the right players around him, Gagner projects as a player with the potential to add scoring depth to the Petes in a year.

11. Craig Spence – Chatham, 2002 – Georgetown Raiders, OJHL – After signing with the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads in the offseason, it looked like he was on the verge of an even bigger breakout year, but blueline depth pushed Spence out. He didn’t play a game in the OHL this season, but established himself as a player at the Junior A level in the OJHL. He can play Major Junior this coming season.

10. Declan Waddick – Chatham, 2005 – Sun County Panthers, Alliance – We stray away from putting players this young on our list, but Waddick is deserving. An early favourite to be the top pick out of the Alliance at the 2021 OHL Draft, he was the top scorer in Major Bantam this season. Has chose to play in Sun County, and it’s a decision that is paying off. Still has work to do like any young player, but the talent is there.

9. Dylan Schives – Tilbury, 2001 – Quebec Remparts, QMJHL – Saw more responsibility this season, and saw his offensive totals take a modest step forward. Schives has overcome being undrafted and undersized as a blueliner to turn into a valued and reliable Major Junior player. Destined for USports hockey.

8. Brendan Mairs – Chatham, 2002 – Unknown – Followed up an excellent rookie season with an even more offensively dangerous sophomore campaign. Scored 27 goals and 56 points in 50 games. He is one of the most dangerous players in the GOJHL, but to take the next step, it’s time to leave the GOJHL, which Mairs will for next season. Where will he land? We’ll find out soon.

7. Zander Veccia – Ridgetown, 2004 – Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, Alliance – One of the top scorers in Minor Midget ‘AAA’ this season with the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, Veccia went higher than many expected in the OHL Draft, climbing to 43rd overall, a third round pick of the Mississauga Steelheads. He has good hands and vision, using his size to create shooting room in close. Had a much better second half of the season, and will fight for a roster spot with the Steelheads next season after signing with the team. This will be a difficult task however, as Mississauga selected 3 forwards before him in the draft. Prime time in Junior B or Junior A wouldn’t hurt Veccia, but whoever plays the best in camp wins the spot. It’s that simple.

6. Lucas Vanroboys – Thamesville, 1999 – Bentley Falcons, NCAA – Not only did he snag an NCAA Division I scholarship late in his Junior career, he actually earned playing time, and contributed as a freshman. It will be interesting to see where this overachiever takes his game with 3 seasons of NCAA eligibility remaining.

5. Grayson Ladd – Kent Bridge, 2001 – Windsor Spitfires, OHL – By all rights, Ladd has a pro skill set. At times he puts it together and is one of the best players on the ice. His consistency however, has been challenged by injuries. Still growing and maturing as a player, don’t count Ladd out yet. A former OHL first round pick, the potential remains.

4. Evan DeBrouwer – Blenheim, 1997 – Arizona State Sun Devils, NCAA – Wow. What a first full season in net at the NCAA Division I level. Last year, DeBrouwer barely faced a shot, and for many, that could be the end of an NCAA path, but DeBrouwer took his opportunities this season, and ran. At times, he stole games. Next year will be a big one for this late bloomer, who could become an NHL free agency target if his trajectory continues upward.

3. Brady Stonehouse – Blenheim, 2004 – Ottawa 67s, OHL – Leading scorer in the Alliance playoffs, great skater, tenacious. Ottawa, who is already one of the top teams in the country, was gifted with Stonehouse who slipped to 26th overall in the second round of the draft. He plays with tempo and a physicality that will win over fans. Better prepared for the OHL than recent Chatham-Kent picks due to the fact he was playing alongside other OHL bound players all season with the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs.

2. Deni Goure – Grande Pointe, 2003 – Owen Sound Attack, OHL – The first half of the season, including a U17 snub looked like disaster for Goure. The second half of the season saw huge improvements and glimpses of the player who was the 10th overall pick in the OHL Draft. Until this season, Goure had been expected to carry his team single handedly. The adjustment wasn’t easy, but Goure could and should easily double his point totals next season, and be a legitimate prospect for the NHL Draft.

1. Brett Brochu – Tilbury, 2002 – London Knights, OHL – How about back-to-back OHL goaltender of the month awards, an OHL rookie of the month award, and leading the OHL in Goals Against Average. Oh, and he broke an OHL record held by John Vanbiesbrouck for wins by a rookie goalie. Didn’t get a sniff by NHL Central Scouting at the midterm, likely solely due to his stature. An NHL team would be wise to take a shot on this smaller goalie. He’s excelled at every level.

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