NHL scouts take early notice of Abraham de Spitfires along with locals Sova, Smith and Brochu

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The Ontario Hockey League is just a small step to play games for the first time in 19 months.


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So when the NHL Central Scouting Bureau released its preliminary watch list for the 2022 NHL Draft on Tuesday, it came as no surprise that the names of the OHL players did not get off the qualification list.

“Obviously with COVID, many haven’t played and it’s unfortunate, but it’s out of our hands,” said Spitfires general manager Bill Bowler. “I fully anticipate that those rankings and lists will change.”

Only two OHL players received an A rating, indicating a possible first-round pick, and that includes possible first overall pick Shane Wright from Kingston.

Tecumseh’s Spencer Sova is the highest rated player with draws from the area. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound rookie defender from the Erie Otters is one of 21 OHL players given a B rating, projecting into the second or third round.


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“I think it’s amazing to be qualified for this next draft and to be classified as B is a very good feeling,” said 17-year-old Sova. “I feel like as the season progresses, I hope my rank goes up as well.”

The only member of the Spitfires to make the list is 2019 first-round pick Ryan Abraham, who received a C grade that projects him to go between the fourth and sixth rounds.

“The AC rating really sets the bar for me very high and motivates me that much more to push myself even harder in my draft year,” said 17-year-old Abraham.

Also on the list is London Knights rookie Colton Smith, who is the son of former Spitfire player, captain and coach DJ Smith.

The 6-foot-2, 207-pound Smith is one of 43 OHL players to receive a C grade along with his London teammate and Tilbury native Brett Brochu. The 19-year-old goalkeeper was qualified a year ago and was not selected, but he continues to excel. He was named OHL Goalkeeper of the Week and is 5-0 with an average of 2.49 goals against and a save percentage of .922.


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“I’m glad I’m qualified and it’s fun,” said 17-year-old Smith, who has five goals and seven points in five games this season.

Bowler hopes that as the season progresses, scouts will have a better chance of evaluating other Spitfire draft contenders, such as former second-round picks NicholasDeAngelis, a goalie, and Kyle Downey, a goalie, along with forwards Avval. Baisov, who is recovering from an injury. and Wylie Birkett.

“We have some other draft-eligible players that we hope they can sneak in,” Bowler said. “Our job is not just to win games, but to develop players and start with those lists.”

But for many players, the NHL Draft conversations can wait as they are simply trying to adjust to playing in the OHL for the first time.

“I haven’t worried too much about getting selected in the draft,” Sova said. “I am mainly focused on the team’s game and how we can improve as a group.

“We are a talented group, so improving as a whole is key for us as a group and for me as a player.”

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