As the 2020-21 junior hockey season was about to start in the fall of 2020, we saw the higher numbers of positive COVID-19 cases push off the season start date to an Ontario Hockey League season. And as the weeks went by there was hope that there would be time to fit in an abbreviated season for these developing young men to showcase themselves.
Fast forward to April 20, 2021 and the bottom fell out for many of these young men as the OHL made the decision that due to a “third wave” of this pandemic organized sport in Ontario was not going to become a reality in time for the OHL to put together any type of schedule.
That is when a handful of young men took it upon themselves to find a venue, outside of Ontario, secure sponsorships, and proposed a two-week long tournament for those looking to showcase their abilities in front of NHL scouts.
The PBHH Invitation formed by OHL players, Andrew Perrott, Ryan Beck, Ryan Humphrey, and Brendan Hoffmann grew legs and started to take shape. After a few weeks they had enough game starved players to put together six teams (114 players total), a venue in Erie Pennsylvania, a primary sponsor (FloHockey) and enough donations to get the event off the ground.
DraftPro had multiple sets of eyes on this event as there were names participating that we have not had updated views on since the end of the 2019-20 season in a few cases. The PBHH Invitational delivered some quality competition to allow these players to possibly catch the eye of a scout or pro club.
The tourney wasn’t just for those who didn’t see a lick of ice-time though, there were a collection of guys that had come back after a short stint overseas from clubs in Sweden, Slovakia, etc. , and a majority of these guys had a noticeable upper hand on their competition in Erie as they naturally should. Below are some notes on a few participants we had our eyes on.
LOGAN MAILLOUX, D, TPH (LONDON), 6-3, 214
Logan was by far one of the better defenders playing in the tournament. He got to see some action across the Atlantic, securing a spot in the HockeyEttan with SK Lejon and it showed as he was not rusty at all. His size and frame make him stand out right away as a big blue liner. Yet he possesses a ton of skill for a big guy. Really smooth, patient skater, uses his edges well to cut in and out of pressure. Has the ability to jump into rushes without hindering the team’s defensive game. Crisp first pass with ability to stretch the zone or skate it out of trouble. Not afraid to play physical especially with open ice hits. Really heavy shot. Mailloux dished out 23 hits in the tournament and showed that he can be a reliable backend defender, as well as a crafty puck carrier in transition and in the o-zone. He stood out in this tournament and despite being ranked #43 overall by us, we can see an NHL team potentially taking a late first round swing on him.
AVERY HAYES, F, LEBEC (HAMILTON), 5-10, 165
The best way to describe Hayes’ play was, “water bug.” He is absolutely relentless in all areas of the ice and wins a lot of battles with his fast stick and high motor. Playing at a point per game pace in the tournament, Hayes found a way to contribute every single shift whether it was setting up a play, scoring a goal, putting relentless pressure on the other team, or winning a battle. Hayes was playing in the Slovakia league over the winter and after seeing him arrive back home for this event, it is fair to say he made a great decision to take his talents abroad. Hayes was processing the game so efficiently and effectively above most of his peers to go along with his skating advantage. He was so intuitive with his edgework and lateral movements, making him very difficult to contain while in transition. His stickhandling was just clicking too, not being too fancy, but putting on displays at the appropriate and effective times. He impressed us at this tournament and if NHL scouts were seeing what we were, it would not be surprising to see him go higher than we have him ranked at #95 overall.
BRYCE MONTGOMERY, D, SKILLSCORP (LONDON), 6-5, 220
Bryce had a solid tournament for Team SkillsCorp. We liked his defensive gameplay coupled with high end mobility for his size the most; if there is a breakdown he is always there to cover. He did make a few glaring mistakes in the defensive zone that were caused by his inability to read the play correctly which we were hoping would not show up in Erie but he also showed some progress in his reads overall. Really showed him improved puck skill this tournament. Rushing the puck way more using his feet to evade pressure. Makes a good first pass with his head up and isn’t shy to engage physically. We thought his small ice situations were really strong most games and he really uses his size well to cut down ice whether it’s with his reach or skating. Can kill penalties with an edge. We like him where we have him ranked at #108 overall.
TY VOIT, F, PBHH (SARNIA), 5-10, 161
We absolutely loved Voit’s high pace offensive game, and he played extremely well in this tournament. He controlled the puck, showed good skilled hands and was dynamite threat in transition. The most impressive trait that Voit holds is his hockey IQ. He had some of the best vision in the tournament and consistently was able to make the smart, creative play. He is also a quick skater which is even more impressive because his mind is aligned with his body movements. While small he never showed a timidness towards playing in traffic. We could see Voit’s draft stock on the rise as the draft approaches in July. He is ranked #135 overall by DraftPro in our final rankings.
JAMES HARDIE, F, FLOHOCKEY (MISSISSAUGA), 6-0, 183
Calm, cool and collected. This kid knows how to score. Still shocked he wasn’t taken last draft I think Hardie hears his name called this year. Pure goal scorer just shows no matter where he plays, he will contribute. He was strong all tournament and showed off his finishing ability burying goals on a game to game basis. Not the best skater but reminds us of Jake Guentzel in his ability to score around the net 5 on 5 and from distance on the power play. Much stronger on his skates than last season and a longer stride is helping his mobility. Impressive tournament for the #136 ranked Hardie.
STUART ROLOFS, F, TPH (LONDON), 6-3, 198
His pass-first power forward style of play is extremely attractive to any NHL team as the league has seen the importance of big skilled forwards. Solid skater for his size. He is a monster in transition, even if he does not beat the first defender with his skating like a smaller forward could, he can revert to his body to win battles. He has a powerful shot, but we see him best utilized creating space for his linemates and getting to the dirty areas. Stuart played in all situations for his team. Due to Rolofs play style we can see him getting picked higher than where we have him ranked at #145 overall.
ETHAN BURROUGHS, F, SKILLSCORP (OWEN SOUND), 5-10, 165
Burroughs had a decent but not a great tournament. The biggest thing that sticks out in his game is his flashy hands and ability to make people miss. The kid is as smooth as butter when it comes to his hands which can create a ton of space and lead to scoring chances. Way more composed holding onto pucks and making plays. Still an excellent trigger man drifting in and out of open ice but was much more involved without the puck. Showed an edge and nasty side we did not see much of last season even picking up a fight. I love his battle level and compete shift to shift and if he brings that intensity into his OHL season he should be due for a breakout. His best asset is his quick release. Seems to know where to shoot to pick corners. Unfortunately, he was not very consistent in this tournament. He would have dominating shifts then disappear for many shifts at a time. He is a highly skilled player with loads of potential that we have ranked #147 overall.
FRANCESCO ARCURI, F, INSTAT (KINGSTON), 6-2, 192
Coming back from a loan with the Linz Steel Wings in Austria, where he led his team in scoring. Arcuri was dialed in from game one and kept the momentum going throughout the event. His shooting mechanics and offensive IQ were on display. He does not need a ton of space or time to release the puck and make the correct decisions in the offensive end, making him a deadly option on the powerplay and at even strength. Ranked at #170 in our final rankings we could see an NHL team stepping up and hoping his offense translates in a supporting role at the next level.
DENI GOURE, F, INSTAT (OWEN SOUND), 5-10, 159
Currently ranked #207 in our final rankings for the 2021 NHL Draft, Goure failed to really show much in Erie. Goure was injured early in the event on a hit and only managed to play in one game for InStat along with some practice time. In that one game our evaluators were not blown away, call it rust or whatever, despite his assist and we might have considered names like Tucker Robertson or Simon Motew ranked ahead of him at this point. (Edited on June 25, 2021 to mention Goure’s injury at this event)
BENJAMIN ROGER, D, HOFFMAN (LONDON), 6-4, 203
Smooth skating lanky defender that showed he could shutdown top players all tournament. He was matching up with anyone and everyone still showing his reliable poise. Really solid first pass out of pressure and can skate it out of trouble if he needs to. Not much offense in transition but does walk the line well looking for shooting lanes. Surprisingly, he fired three goals in during his play in Erie, but do not be fooled into thinking that he has high offensive upside, as the offensive skills are basic. He was not afraid to throw a check in this tournament and has improved his decision making on when to do so as to not pull himself out of position. Strong defender on the penalty kill as well. We feel he is ranked correctly at #220 overall as a project defensive defender with size.
KALEB LAWRENCE, F, PERROTT (OWEN SOUND), 6-6, 225
The tough thing with Lawrence is that you can see his potential, but he does not utilize his strengths correctly. It was extremely frustrating to see him play outside for most of the games instead of going to the net for such a large player. He needs to be creating havoc instead of trying to set up the pretty plays. Sure, he has solid hands and a mind to create but that alone will not get him to the pro level. He has a hard and accurate wrist shot which he uses well. His skating is still developing but with his reach he gets on opponents quickly on the forecheck. But we need to see him play with more physicality and maximize his strengths so until he does, he is right where he belongs in our rankings at # 223 overall as a potential project.
LANDON MCCALLUM, F, LEBEC (SUDBURY), 5-10, 161
Ranked at #256 on DraftPro’s final rankings, McCallum did not really stand out, as he undoubtedly would have hoped to do, at this tournament and failed to show much to convince the talent hounds in attendance that he was a must draft prospect. Yes, he is skilled and showed off solid playmaking ability, creative puck skills to go along with soft hands and quick feet. And he does play hard for the most part, but he can also try to do too much on his own and unfortunately his individualistic play will not translate well to pro levels.
RYAN MAST, D, PBHH (SARNIA), 6-4, 190
A physical rearguard that carries most of the traits of your run-of-the-mill, big framed, reliable dmam, but he hones some interesting traits that might make him a viable option to be taken with a depth-pick in the draft. He possesses slightly above average offensive IQ when it comes to how he positions himself in the opponent’s end. Time-and-time again, Mast will tiptoe his way into the slot for a wide-open blast at goal. Accuracy on these shots were so-so, but we admire the ability to get to these areas at such opportune times over-and-over again. Mast established crisp exit passes whether they be short or long and will utilize the boards when necessary. But on the negative sprinkle some pressure on him quickly, and his composure collapses in an instant. He has not quite discovered the confidence to be an effective stickhandler and he was suffocated along the walls on a few occasions where simple dumps and clears were open and his best options. Mast can be an effective defender if he sticks to his guns and buffs out his decision making while surveying his options. Ranked at 258th overall by the crew at Draft Prospects Hockey we feel he could be taken in the later rounds due to his size, and willingness to attack offensively. Although reeling in some of his aggressiveness, timing his pinches better and learning to deal with pressure in his own zone would be needed.
DECLAN RIDE, D, HOFFMAN (OAKVILLE), 6-6, 205
Ride is a player where the more we watch him, the more we see real NHL potential to the point where it would not surprise us to hear his name get called come July. We were impressed with his clean controlled zone exits through his passes in Erie. Shows a lot of poise with the puck as he looks to breakout the puck. Uses his defense partner when pressured and his passes up to his forwards are crisp and easy to handle. Can make the safe pass or hit his man streaking in stride. There might even be some offensive vision and instincts hidden underneath with this big man. Uses a combination of physicality and a strong stick to defend and retrieve pucks back. We liked his defensive positioning, how he gets done on one knee laying his stick flat and block passing lanes. Ride showed us an ability to impact the game both in the defensive zone and in the transition game in Erie, and could be a later round project pick regardless of the #264 ranking we gave him in our final rankings.
SIMON MOTEW, D, LEBEC (KITCHENER), 5-11, 172
Motew is a skilled puck moving right shot defender that showed he can produce offense from the back end in Erie. A strong skater in terms of elusiveness due to his edgework and quick feet. His top speed looked improved from the last viewing we had as well. He carries the puck up ice and attacks with his head up. He is smart and it showed during his play at both ends. Lots of flash in this defender and will likely he will end up considerably higher on some NHL teams lists than the #281 overall ranking we gave him due to a lack of views. He would be a solid pick in the fifth or sixth round in our eyes.
MATT MAGGIO, F, SKILLSCORP (WINDSOR), 5-10, 170
Maggio is a dastardly little spark plug with a pair of silky hands that can ignite a scoring chance on nearly every entry, especially in a tourney like this where he has an advantage with experience over almost all of his competition. Maggio’s zone entries are never dry, he is always looking to get a quality chance on net, exploiting his above average agility to his advantage. Maggio really, and we mean REALLY, likes to take matters into his own hands and do everything in his power to get into the middle, shots from the sides aren’t an option when it comes to Maggio, it’s hashmarks-or-nothing but we believe he flounders some better options on the pass for his shot attempts. Play was a little too pond hockey in some instances. He seemed to be forcing things in Erie and not playing the game we saw him play previously. Likely not a draft selection this season or a later round option if so.
GAVIN WHITE, D, INSTAT (HAMILTON), 5-11, 161
A surprise at the event for us was this fleet-footed, offensive-minded defender that while he can get a bit too aggressive with rushing the puck or pinching deep into the zone, does tend to generate a ton of offensive chances for his team. His offensive senses or decision making are questionable as he tended to drive the puck right into the defense many times but his mobility and versatility to open up as an option for a pass or shot made him dangerous. Exciting to watch but also a bit of a riverboat gambler as well.
LOGAN MORRISON, F, FLOHOCKEY (HAMILTON), 6-1, 181
Cerebral center that has ability to play the wing with skilled players. Has improved his skating a bunch and way quicker foot work is helping him not only gain speed but keep it. He makes smart passes showing his vision. Super soft hands in the corner as he is always able to find the open man when he has the puck. Also scored some nice goals as he has clearly worked on shooting from distance and improving his strength. Should be a draft pick this time around with the improvements he has made.
BRAEDEN BOWMAN, F, PBHH (GUELPH), 6-1, 181
For a guy that has not seen any ice-time in months, we were very impressed with how Bowman has already settled himself into a versatile role on his squad. He is not the fastest kid … but he does all the right things in the right places. Other than the fact he may surprise you with a slick dangle here or there, Bowman is a very safe concentrated two-way winger. Strong on his feet, effective stickhandling, and an above average offensive IQ. Not likely to hear his name called but a solid showing in Erie none the less.
JESSE FISHMAN, F, INSTAT (KITCHENER), 5-10 ,170
Jesse played in all situations, and even though he is a smaller guy he is willing to get involved physically and gets after it on the forecheck as well. Good durability as he was hit hard a few times in Erie but each time got right back up, willing to go to the front of the net and look for rebounds, deflections or screens. A solid skater, nothing flashy in his game which can be good as you know what to expect from him each and every game, would like to see him be more aggressive in the offensive zone and look to take more shots himself and not look just for rebounds.
TUCKER ROBERTSON, F, PERROTT (PETERBOROUGH), 5-11, 174
Tucker had an excellent showing game to game and was able to produce offense at a solid pace. Bigger and stronger from last year. Noticeably able to fight through contact better and hold onto pucks for longer periods of time. Always in motion, he has an energetic game that he brings shift to shift with a high motor. Plays around the net front a lot and has the speed to attack in transition. Shifty and elusive. Heads-up playmaking and stickhandling adding a fair level of deception to each of his moves. Much improved release and he can get it off and pick corners much faster. Scores a lot of goals around the net similar to a Zach Hyman. Penalty killing and power play ability for a player who projects to get a much more advanced role in Peterborough next season. Think he really did himself a big favor with his showcase in Erie and would not be surprised if he made his way onto a NHL teams top 100 list because of it.
CONNOR FEDERKOW, D, FLOHOCKEY (LONDON), 5-10, 165
Alert, confident, bold, and shifty puck moving defenseman. Is not the fastest or most skilled but has his moments of flair and he is certainly able to make an offensive and transitional impact from the backend. He is always surveying the play while in possession, making smart plays and passes. He seems to have mastered the half-spin along the side boards to give himself more time and space to recalibrate. He can dish out a long range pass with pinpoint accuracy to kickstart a zone entry and has no trouble adding a deceptive fake here-or-there to buy himself a split second longer to get the puck to his target. Not the fastest skater, but he can process the game at a high level and slow it down. He is a London Knights draft pick, so next season could be quite telling for the young puck-moving dman.
CONNOR PUNNETT, D, FLOHOCKEY (BARRIE), 6-1, 176
Did not get much ice time after a trade to Barrie last season but seem able to play a role this upcoming season. He was a beast on the back end during these games. He reminds me of Tyler Tucker who Barrie will be hoping he can fill that role. Really physical with some huge hits and a fight in the tournament. Not afraid of the dirty areas and has a real edge and nasty side. Visibly stronger and has improved his skating stride a ton. Not as choppy and a lot more reliant on his edge work. Not much offensive potential but he could become a premiere defender at the OHL level.
TY HOLLETT, D, PBHH (NORTH BAY), 6-4, 201
Big framed, heavy duty defensive defenseman showed maybe a sprinkle of offensive mindset in Erie when his confidence is engaged. Plays the body and if you even think about trying something silly in the offensive end when Hollett is on the ice he is just going to knock you on your butt. He can get a tad careless at times, getting a bit too fiery for the officials’ liking with some questionable hits along the boards, but for the most part he plays a clean game and isn’t a headhunter. Pleasantly surprised with his lateral movement growth. He makes some efforts in the offensive end with his stickhandling, and it catches his opponents off guard. A clunky skater overall, lacking the speed mainly due to his size and slower skating technique, but he will bust his ass to get back in time and that is something to appreciate.
CALLUM CHISHOLM, F, HOFFMAN (MISSISSAUGA), 6-3, 185
Chisholm was a pleasant surprise. Shows to have a bright hockey mind. His decision making with the puck is smart. Does not have the fastest top gear but he makes sure to move the puck before turning it over to his forechecker. Great passer with great vision. Does a lot of little things really well. Gets pucks deep, covers for pinching defenseman, wins his fair share of puck battles. Would not surprise us to see him thrive on Mississauga’s roster next year in the OHL.
TYLER HOTSON, F, PERROTT (OWEN SOUND), 6-0, 163
Skated with a ton of energy with and without the puck. All over the ice using his speed. His skating is a strength. Has explosive bursts in his feet. Has a fluent stride while also mixing in linear crossovers to gather speed coming through the neutral zone. Hard on the backcheck, not lacking in effort or compete that is for sure. Has some quick skilled hands showing the ability to pull off some slick moves getting defenders to bite and then pulling the puck around them to leave them in the dust. Does this all while in motion. Excellent vision and passing equating to chances off the rush as he looks cross ice. Solid playmaking vision from the outside. Hard on pucks and looks to create turnovers.
NOTABLE 2022 ELIGIBLES
MAX NAMESTNIKOV, F, PBHH (SARNIA), 5-8, 178
For a little squirt like Max, we were impressed with his 200ft approach coupled with his offensive output. He is effective on the draws and he closes gaps to the best of his ability with his dynamic skating. He does not possess the pull-away speed just yet, although he digs deep into his turns and edges, giving him an advantage on his acceleration. Max is a strong puck carrier and has an established hockey mind. He is very good at reading the play in the offensive zone and always seems to find the open areas of the ice. He hesitates to shoot on occasion, but we thoroughly believe he was just trying to fill a role on this team as the playmaker. He really does not look to get involved with physical play or contact but has some developing two-way play to go along with his playmaking acumen.
BEAU JELSMA, F, FLOHOCKEY (BARRIE), 5-10, 165
A name we were not watching for but stood out for good reasons. Nearly every shift, Jelsma was driving the attack. Beau uses his wheels to generate speed and attack with pressure. He puts defenders on their heels at top speed and can stick handle side to side at top speed making him a hard target to pin down or defend. Showed some nice finishing ability around the net as well with some decent hands. His strength was something we did not expect as he really is a beast in the lower body and generates a ton of power in each stride. Could be a name to watch in Barrie as he develops.
RYAN ABRAHAM, F, PBHH (WINDSOR), 5-7, 165
Ryan had an outstanding performance at the PBHH. His most impressive trait was his transition game as he carries the puck with speed through the neutral zone but also has the hands and hockey IQ to make a play at the blue line to either pass to a teammate or make room for himself. His vision with and without the puck is impressive and very intriguing. Abraham is a play driver and certainly a centerman to keep an eye on as we begin to shift focus to the 2022 NHL draft.
SPENCER SOVA, D, INSTAT (ERIE), 6-1, 175
New wave of rookie defender in the OHL. One of our favorite players from the past draft for good reasons. So mobile on the back end. Really controls play much like a former Otter Jamie Drysdale. Left shot has offense to offer from the point and does a really good job joining the play off the rush. Still has plenty of room to grow as a defender and physically as a prospect but provides so much skill with the puck he has the potential to be a future star.
PBHH INVITATIONAL TOP SCORERS
Contributing to this review article include Kai Farenholtz, Jared Brown, Adam Mazgaj, Willem Dezwaan, Matt Morrison and Dan Stewart.