Photo: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds defenseman Darnell Nurse is at the top of the OHL rankings for the 2013 NHL Draft (courtesy of Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
In five of the last six years, an OHL forward has been taken first overall in the annual NHL Draft. And in 2011, forward Gabriel Landeskog was the second selection when the Edmonton Oilers broke from tradition and selected the WHL’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the top pick.
Photo: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds forward Sergey Tolchinsky had a productive first season in the OHL (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
Sergei Tolchinsky is one of the series of ’95-born Russian players who crossed the pond last summer to have a better chance of being drafted into the NHL. Some of them didn’t have luck, like Vladimir Ionin, but others managed to win a spot on a team without standing out too much (think about players like Vladimir Bryukvin or Sam Babintsev), while others became impact players. Sergei Tolchinsky belongs to this latter category, with other players like Valentin Zykov and Nikita Zadorov.
Photo: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds defenseman Darnell Nurse has developed into a potential top 10 selection with his combination of size, grit and offensive ability (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
When talk of the top defensemen available for the 2013 NHL Draft bubbled up over the course of the 2012-13 season, those discussions pretty much began and ended with potential first overall selection, Seth Jones.
Photo: Portland Winterhawks forward and St. Louis Blues prospect Ty Rattie has continued his scoring exploits in the 2012-13 post-season, helping the Winterhawks make the Memorial Cup Tournament after near misses the past two years (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
The puck drops for the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup starting Friday evening at 6 PM CST. The host city’s Saskatoon Blades take on the Ontario Hockey League champion London Knights to kick off a tournament that features the CHL’s three top-ranked clubs (and the unranked hosts). In addition, several highly-ranked 2013 prospects plus many well-regarded NHL prospects will be taking part in this tournament.
Photo: Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad has been effective during his team’s run to the OHL Championship series (courtesy of CHL Images)
There are those who wonder if the Ontario Hockey League is being too liberal with its application of Exceptional Player status. But for the now-17-year-old defenseman who was the second to burst through those now-open floodgates, the key to exceptional status is the ability to be a normal, functioning, part of a junior team.