Sault Ste. Marie products Nick Porco of the Saginaw Spirit and Keegan Stevenson of the Guelph Storm are among 44 players from the Ontario Hockey League who have made the initial ‘players to watch’ list ahead of the 2019 National Hockey League draft.
The list was compiled by the NHL’s Central Scouting department. The 2019 NHL draft is slated to take place June 21-22 in Vancouver, B.C.
Porco, a 6-foot, 175-pound left winger with a 2001 birth date, was taken by Saginaw in the first round, fourth overall, at the 2017 OHL priority selections draft.
Stevenson, 6-foot-1, 175-pound forward with a late 2000 (December 31) birth date, was picked by Guelph in the sixth round of the 2016 OHL priority selections draft.
Both players were OHL rookies in 2017-2018.
Porco had 5 goals, 9 assists, 14 points in 57 regular season games and added a goal and an assist in 4 playoff outings for Saginaw.
Stevenson had 5 goals, 5 assists, 10 points in 61 regular season games and added a goal and 2 assists in 6 playoff matches for Guelph.
Thus far in 2018-2019, Porco has 3 goals, 1 assist, 4 points in 4 games and Stevenson has 2 assists, 2 points in 4 outings.
In all, NHL Central Scouting listed 110 players from the Canadian Hockey League on its initial watch list ahead of next June’s draft. Besides the 44 from the OHL, there are 35 from the Western Hockey League and 31 from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
A pair of OHL skaters top the list — sophomore forwards Arthur Kaliyev of the reigning champion Hamilton Bulldogs and Ryan Suzuki of the Barrie Colts.
London Knights (naturally) lead the way for the OHL with five players included on the NHL Central Scouting list while Barrie, Guelph and the Peterborough Petes have four each.
Among other OHLers on the list are center Joe Carroll and defenseman Jacob Leguerrier of the Soo Greyhounds and London defenseman Andrew Perrott, who is the son of former Greyhound tough guy forward Nathan Perrott.
Sudbury Wolves have two players on the list — center Blake Murray and defenseman Liam Ross.
Flint Firebirds also have two players on the list — goalie Luke Cavallin and center Ethan Keppen.
Of note, 35 OHL players were selected at the 2018 NHL fraft including seven who were chosen in the first round.