Players Taking Their Game To The Next Level..

By pbadmin

5 2001 Draft Eligible Players that have stepped up their play, and at the right time.

Kingston’s Cory Stillman
Plymouth’s Cole Jarrett
Guelph’s Colt King
Sudbury’s Drew Kivell
Toronto’s Frank Lukes

With the OHL playing such a pivotal role in next year’s NHL draft, scouts and GM’s from eachprofessional club are taking notice of the names that are sure to be selected next June. Withas many as 15 to 20 scouts watching each OHL game this season, players are making a name forthemselves and for their teammates. An example of this is a Plymouth vs. Windsor game where itwas assumed that at least 2 representatives of each NHL team were in attendance to watch 3 ofthe op 5 prospects available for the draft, those being Jason Spezza and Tim Gleason ofWindsor, and Stephen Weiss of Plymouth. This opens up the opportunity for the other drafteligible players from each team to get noticed and make a case for themselves, and theirfuture. With the midpoint approaching of the season, I thought now would be a better time thanever to discuss the 5 players eligible for the 2001 draft that have really stepped up andproven they belong in the next level, and 5 players eligible that still have something to prove, and quickly.

One player that I have been incredibly impressed by thus far, and quite possibly the one playerI was most dissapointed with last year is Kingston’s super sophomore Cory Stillman. Afteramassing 23 points in his rookie season, it was obvious that Stillman needed to come up bigthis year for a team entering the season on paper to be rather mediocre offensively. He hasdone everything needed from him, already surpassing last year’s point total and on the verge of20 goals, on pace for a 35-40 goal season. His contribution has played a big role in leadingKingston to first place in the always tight East Division. Not only that, but Kingston is amongthe league’s best in goals scored and have been playing consistent hockey throughout the year.Stillman looks to be on the right path, and there really is no better time for him to burst outoffensively then now, his draft year.

Another player who I get the enjoyment of watching fairly often is Plymouth’s versatiledefenceman Cole Jarrett. Jarrett played remarkably well last year, so it seems that an argumentfor him stepping up his play is a little odd, but not only is he playing solid this year, buthe has fine tuned every aspect of his game in a big way, especially offensively. Plymouth, ateam that has always been recognized for their depth, had no problem placing Jarrett in anysituation last year, and that type of experience has paid off to his overall improvements thisyear. Already with 28 points, and a solid plus 11 rating, it seems that Jarrett is developinginto a quality all-around defenceman, something that is fairly popular from the OHL classheading into the draft. His defensive play has never been questioned as he has the size andtools to be dominant in his end, to go along with that, his aggressive streak is graduallybecoming unleashed and making a name for himself in the league as a defenceman to keep a close eye on in both ends of the rink. Watch for Jarrett and hisprogress throughout the year, he is sure to open some eyes with his quality numbers, andoverall solid development.

Maybe the most provincially recognized dissapointment from last year was Guelph’s 1st roundselection, Colt King. He has severe problems on and off the ice which led to a disaster of arookie year. He established himself in the league last year as a possible rough and tumblecompetitor, if anything, and really never displayed his glowing offensive potential which wassaid that he had coming out of Jr. B. He had a grand total of 2 goals, and 4 points. This yearhas been the complete reversal of his rookie campaign in all area’s of his game. He has steppedup big for a surprisingly good Guelph team already amassing 29 points in 28 games, which alsoincludes 16 goals. He has not even shyed away from the tough stuff, as he has 53 PIM’s. Kinghas developed into a quality OHL player, and at the perfect time. Last year he was written offby all watchers of the league, and Guelph fans lost all hope, and even questioned the idea of atrade. Colt King’s fine sophomore season has made all Guelph fans believers of not only his personal game, but of Guelph’s chance in the league aswell.

Sudbury fans know what I mean when I talk about misery. They have seen two quality youngplayers leave the team, and demand a trade. They have seen the future of their major juniorhockey franchise unfoil in a negative way right in front of their eyes. But what they do knowis that have one of the best young rearguards in the league, Drew Kivell. They can only askthemselves how much better Kivell could be with two very good defencemen, Dennis Wideman andAdam Sturgeon, still on the team, rather than awating a trade. This has obviously meant moreice for Kivell and a better chance for him to prove himself for his draft year, while anothersolid D-Man Wideman watches his draft year slip right in front of him unfortunately. Kivell hasnot fully displayed his offensive assets thus far, but his team leading plus 11 makes up forit. This is an incredible statistic for a team that has suffered tremendously. Kivell plays avery solid defensive game becoming one of the best in the league in his own end. He is tremendous in front of his net, even against the league’s biggest. Heis very good in the offensive end too with a great eye for when to jump into the rush and whento stay back. He has excellent vision and is just a tremendous overall defenceman.

Toronto have been a huge surprise this year with their strong play, led by the leadership oftop draft eligible defenceman Mark Popovic, and the steady play of veteran Ryan Walsh, butrookie Frank Lukes has also stepped up big for St. Mikes and has supplied the team with hishuge unexpected offensive output, and does not look to be stopping any time soon. Selected inthe 2000 Import Draft, small, but effective Lukes has already scored 14 goals, and has 24helpers totalling 38 points. He has came up big with the likes of Walsh, and Darryl Bootland.Lukes has really put his name on the map with his strong offensive play, and his defensive gamehas not gone unnoticed either with a rather solid plus 15. In such a short time, Lukes hasdeveloped into a quality two-way player in the league, in only his rookie year, and looks to bea solid selection by an NHL team come June’s draft time.

With such a vast array of talent coming out of the OHL this year, and such big names likeSpezza, Weiss, and Gleason leading the pack, the eligible draft players need to step up theirgame because of the heavy competition in the field of draftee’s, and these 5 players havesurely done that, making a case for their future in the next level of professional hockey.