2021 OHL Draft Preview: 20 Top Americans

Although the upcoming 2021 OHL Draft‘s class of American-born prospects doesn’t appear to be as strong as it was a year ago, the fact remains that there is an abundance of highly touted prospects who could bring their skills north of the border come the 2021-22 OHL season. While some of the players listed below will surely opt for the U.S. NTDP route, others could be swayed into pursuing major-junior careers if selected by an attractive franchise.

With this being said, let’s take a look at 20 of the top OHL-eligible American-born prospects set to lace up their skates ahead of the 2020-21 campaign. While drafting and receiving commitments from American players has long proven to be a struggle for OHL teams, the ability to do so has the proven ability to pay significant dividends in the long run.

20 Top Americans

Tanner Adams

2019-20 Team: Long Island Royals Bantam Major (AYBHL)

Although he appeared in ten games for Portledge School, it was with the Long Island Royals where Tanner Adams did the majority of his damage. Across his 18 contests for the team, Adams pounded home 20 goals and 46 points — a level of production which afforded him with a league-best 2.56 PPG. Already committed to Providence College, Adams is a versatile threat who can score goals as well as play-make with ease. If he ever decides to de-commit from the NCAA, Adams would be a steal for whichever OHL team picks him late in the 2021 OHL Draft.

Tyler Borgula

2019-20 Team: Honeybaked Bantam (HPBHL)

Unlike many American prospects of his calibre, Borgula is not committed to an NCAA program. This reality makes Borgula far more intriguing for those based north of the border, as the possibility remains that Borgula could further his playing career at the OHL-level. What makes Borgula a prospect of note is the fact that he does virtually everything well on the ice — not only is he a potent offensive player, but Borgula can be relied upon by his coaching staff to play a responsible game at both ends of the ice.

Juan Copeland

2019-20 Team: Honeybaked Bantam (HPBHL)

Yet another product of the widely-regarded Honeybaked program, Juan Copeland brings pace and confidence to the ice on a nightly basis. Strong on his skates and difficult to knock off of the puck, Copeland is a well-rounded forward who thrives in the attacking zone. Not only is he creative and shifty, but Copeland is sure of his abilities — he doesn’t hesitate to attempt high-risk plays and often completes them with a startling level of regularity.

John-Michael Danks

2019-20 Team: New Jersey Colonials (AYBHL)

Familiarize yourself with John-Michael Danks now, as you’ll surely be hearing his name often in the years ahead. An absolutely lethal defenceman, Danks recorded 39 points in his 25 games played with the New Jersey Colonials this past season — a staggering total which ranked as the third-best output on his team. Whats more is the fact that Danks also registered 50 PIM in the process — a glaring indication of his willingness to play a rugged, team-oriented style of game.

Ian Emery

2019-20 Team: Pittsburgh Penguins Elite

Although he is a goal-scorer first and foremost, Ian Emery’s game continues to diversify. Now, not only is Emery a threat to blast the puck into the back of the net but he also features the creativity necessary to create plays — an ability which allows him to improve the play of those around him. Skating alongside the equally touted Brandon Svoboda, Emery should further develop into a well-rounded two-way player this upcoming season — a reality which will make him highly sought after come the 2021 OHL Draft as he does not currently hold an NCAA comittment.

Ryan Fine

2019-20 Team: Don Bosco Prep (USHS-Prep)

While he isn’t the biggest player on the ice, Ryan Fine is regularly one of the most potent and effective. Splitting time between the Mid Fairfield Rangers and Don Bosco Prep this past season, Fine continued to establish himself as a premier talent and high-end offensive prospect. Capable of scoring goals at will, Fine also features the innate creativity and hockey sense necessary to devise lethal scoring opportunities. After all, it’s not a coincidence that he has already committed to Boston University for the 2023-24 campaign.

Paul Fischer

2019-20 Team: Chicago Mission (HPBHL)

Defencemen who can flourish at both ends of the ice are an increasingly hot commodity within today’s game, and that is exactly what you get when Paul Fischer takes to the ice. Capable of smothering attackers forwards within his defensive zone, Fischer utilizes an active stick and ample agility to hound and dispossess his opponents. Once in possession, Fischer regularly fires crisp outlet passes to his fellow teammates and will not hesitate to join the rush. Having established his team’s presence in the offensive zone, Fischer assumes his role on the blue line and is confident in his ability to move the puck or blast it on goal.

Drew Fortescue

2019-20 Team: Don Bosco Prep (USHS-Prep)

A teammate of Ryan Fine with Don Bosco Prep this past season, Drew Fortescue illustrated why he will be a highly sought after 2005-born prospect in the years ahead. A smooth-skating and offensively inclined defenceman, Fortescue processes the play in front of him at a high-level and boasts the ability to make calculated and accurate decisions in the blink of an eye. As a terrific passer, Fortescue allows his team to play a remarkably fluid game when he is on the ice — moreover, Fortescue is composed in his defensive zone and doesn’t afford his opposition with room to operate.

Salvatore Guzzo

2019-20 Team: Don Bosco Prep (USHS-Prep)

Rounding out Don Bosco Prep’s trio of tantalizing young prospects is none other than Salvatore Guzzo — a well-rounded offensive player who poses a threat each and every time he hops over the boards. Owing to his size and strength, Guzzo can protect the puck with relative ease and fuel his team’s possession game as a direct result. With the puck on his stick, Guzzo can create time and space for himself and regularly sets up his fellow teammates with precision passing. Moreover, Guzzo features a heavy shot — one which has the ability to overpower opposing goaltenders.

Brandon Hilton

2019-20 Team: Belle Tire (T1EBHL)

At the time of writing this article Brandon Hilton had yet to commit himself to an NCAA program — a reality which will make him a highly sought after prospect eligible for the 2021 OHL Draft should he maintain this status. When it comes to Hilton there is plenty to like, particularly the way in which Hilton competes on a nightly basis. A strong and agile skater, Hilton works hard with each passing shift and has come to play a well-round, 200-foot game defined by a professional approach. And, while his size continues to improve, Hilton already features the high-end skill necessary to generate offence with ease.

Hollis Humphries

2019-20 Team: New Jersey Devils Youth (AYHL 15U)

Hollis Humphries spent the 2019-20 campaign between the New Jersey Devils Youth team competing in the AYHL, and the Morristown Beard School competing in the USHS-NJ. Regardless of where he played Humphries stood as a dynamic threat, blasting home goals while creating plays at the same blistering rate. In his combined 48 games played this past season, Humphries netted 30 goals and 65 points — in the process, he played at a point-per-game rate in the AYHL against older competition. As a smooth-skater with a lethal shot, Humphries will draw considerable attention ahead of the 2021 OHL Draft given he has yet to commit to an NCAA program.

Kai Janviriya

2019-20 Team: Belle Tire (T1EBHL)

There aren’t many defenders as fleet-footed and calculative as Kai Janviriya, as the youngster boasts the wheels and agility necessary to play an influential role at both ends of the ice. Capable of rushing the puck up ice in the blink of an eye, Janviriya features the confidence and vision necessary to orchestrate high-end offensive plays in his attacking zone. The one facet of Janviriya’s game which scouts will surely scrutinize this coming season is the youngster’s size, as he last checked in at 5-foot-3, 110-pounds. If and when Janviriya endures a spurt of growth, he’ll surely stand as a lethal two-way defender capable of succeeding at the next level.

Ryan Leonard

2019-20 Team: Pope Francis Prep (USHS-Prep)

If you’re looking for a lethal goal-scoring machine — and one who also happens to lack a commitment to an NCAA program — look no further than Ryan Leonard of Pope Francis Prep. Named as the 2019-20 MVP of high school hockey in Western Massachusetts, Leonard is a deadly offensive threat who boasts an innate nose for the net alongside a crisp and accurate shot. Capable of blasting the puck on net with impressive velocity, Leonard is also more than willing to skate to the difficult areas of the ice in order to gobble up rebounds or fight for loose pucks for the benefit of his team. With solid size and natural instincts, Leonard is a prospect well-worth watching.

Aram Minnetian

2019-20 Team: Bergen Catholic High (USHS-Prep)

Aram Minnetian is arguably the top 2005-born American prospect eligible for the upcoming 2021 OHL Draft, and for good reason. Not only has he yet to commit himself to an NCAA program, but the youngster is fresh off of an absolutely dominant season with Bergen Catholic High of the USHS-Prep league. Despite playing against a number of players much older than himself, Minnetian shone — blasting home 22 goals and 33 points over the course of his campaign. In doing so, Minnetian led all 2005-born players in scoring and finished second in goal-scoring — trailing only the highly regarded Ryan Leonard of Pope Francis Prep.

Thomas Neu

2019-20 Team: Compuware (HPBHL)

Thomas Neu is the type of player which all hockey teams hope for — a natural leader who can fuel his team’s progress through his play on the ice as well as his actions off of it. As a natural leader, Neu let’s his play on the ice do the talking — not only does he feature impressive size given his young age, but Neu can score goals as well as devise them owing to his on-ice vision and raw creativity. Like a number of other players on this list, Neu has yet to commit to an NCAA program — a reality which will draw the eyes of OHL scouts and management alike this coming season.

Gabriel Perreault

2019-20 Team: Chicago Mission (HPBHL)

If the name Perreault sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because Gabriel is the son of former NHLer Yannick and the brother of Sarnia Sting sniper Jacob. And, much like his family, Gabriel appears destined for a successful career in his own right — the youngster can score goals like his brother and create plays much like his father did. In his 17 contests skating for the Chicago Mission this past season, Perreault collected six goals and 16 points — a mark which was tied for the third-most on his team, while his zero PIM stood as an indication of his composed and mature nature on the ice.

Carter Slaggert

2019-20 Team: Chicago Mission (HPBHL)

A teammate of Gabriel Perrault with the Chicago Mission this past season, Carter Slaggert led his team in both goal and point-scoring — totalling eight goals and 20 points in his 17 contests with the team. Although he isn’t currently committed to an NCAA program, having two family members attending and playing for the University of Notre Dame could prove to be a significant pull factor for Carter to play Division 1 hockey in the future. With size, speed and skill, Slaggert will surely have a number of playing options — the most attractive likely a potential stint with the USNDTP.

Ryan Smith

2019-20 Team: Buffalo Jr. Sabres 14U

Well-rounded forwards who play a complete and composed game don’t come along very often, but that is exactly what Buffalo Jr. Sabres forward Ryan Smith brings to the table. Not only is Smith capable of playing a responsible defensive role, but he can also steady his team’s game in the attacking zone. Moreover, Smith can be utilized on both the power-play and the penalty kill — a reality which allows him to stand as a Swiss Army Knife and one who is thoroughly trusted by his coaching staff and fellow teammates.

William Smith

2019-20 Team: Boston Jr. Eagles 14U

There are a number of reasons as to how William Smith was able to commit to Northeastern University at the age of 14-years. Not only does Smith have solid size, but he also features impressive strength on his feet in addition to an elite skill-set with the puck on his stick. Owing to his strength on his feet, Smith can protect the puck with ease and will use his frame to create time and space for himself in the attacking zone. Once he assesses his options, Smith can whip his crisp shot on goal and features the vision necessary to create plays for his teammates as well.

Brandon Svoboda

2019-20 Team: Pittsburgh Penguins Elite (Bantam)

Prospects with as complete a game as Brandon Svoboda offers at just 15 years old are rare to find. An offensive dynamo who can turn the momentum of the game on a dime, Svoboda is equally lethal as a goal-scorer as he is a playmaker. Showcasing great instincts at both ends of the ice, Svoboda reads the game as well as anyone in his age-group, and with his combination of speed and skill, he can significantly shift the course of a game within seconds. Leading the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite with 26 goals and 34 assists over 56 games this past season, Svoboda remains without an NCAA commitment at this time, making him a key prospect for the 2021 OHL Draft.

Benjamin Yurchuk

2019-20 Team: New Jersey Colonials (AYBHL)

Displaying high-end sense and decision-making, Benjamin Yurchuk is one of the top playmaking Americans in the 2005 age group. Suiting up with the New Jersey Colonials, Yurchuk paced his team’s offence with 16 goals and 33 assists over 25 games, while also adding 15 goals and 27 assists in 28 high school games as a freshman with the Randolph Rams. A smooth skater with excellent edgework and agility, Yurchuk excels as creating time and space for his teammates while in possession of the puck. With that said, he also boasts a quick and accurate snap shot which he can picks corners with.

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