With the NHL Entry Draft coming up, four Ottawa 67’s players have been named to Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American prospects.
Leading the charge for the Barber Poles on the list is forward Sasha Chmelevksi, who was slotted into the 43rd spot. Defenceman Noel Hoefemayer, who had a breakout sophomore year leading a young Ottawa blue line, made the list in 75th position while forward Austen Keating cracked the list at 115th. Skilled Russian forward Artur Tyanulin rounds out Ottawa’s presence on the list at 166th.
In his first full season with the 67’s after coming to Ottawa as the centre piece of the Travis Konecny deal with Sarnia, the 17-year-old Chmelevski added a needed scoring punch to the lineup, finishing the 2017 regular season campaign with 21 goals and 43 points in 58 games. He also managed to lead the Ivan Hlinka Memorial U-18 tournament in scoring en route to a silver medal with the American team.
While the Konecny trade also brought Ottawa a boatload of draft picks to shore up the roster for the future, 67’s Head Coach and GM Jeff Brown knew Chmelevski was an important get to fill an immediate need .
“He’s an exceptional talent and he’s ready to help us now as he’s kind of the guy that bridges the gap between (Konecny) and all those draft picks,” Brown said earlier this season. “He’s a talent and he’s ready to be a huge part of our team even as a 17-year-old.”
Hoefenmayer, for his part, showed off some offensive flare of his own from the back end as the 18-year-old followed up a rookie season in which he had five points in 45 games with 14 goals and 40 points in 62 games in 2017. With the 67’s icing a rookie-heavy defensive corps, Hoefenmayer’s poise on the blue line and his offensive abilities gave the Barber Poles another dimension defensively.
“He’s really stepped up this year,” Brown said of Hoefenmayer before the playoffs began last month. “He’s our go-to guy, he’s going to be in all situations.”
Selected by the 67’s with their first pick of the 2015 OHL Priority Selection Draft, Keating also took a few big steps forward in his sophomore season. The Guelph native finished one point shy of doubling his rookie season output after putting up 22 goals and 63 points in 67 games, while chipping in six points in six playoff games.
The club had a good idea what it was getting when the 67’s drafted Keating two years ago.
“This kid has great hockey sense, he has a great stick, he sees the ice well,” said Head Scout Pat Higgins. “He’s very unselfish. He just plays the game the right way all the time (and) he’s only going to get bigger and stronger.”
As far as pure skill goes, fans had a front row seat to the impressive things Tyanulin can do with the puck. At 20, the native of Kazan, Russia is the oldest 67 on the Central Scouting list. He, too, had a breakout year in 2017, his second full year in Ottawa after a brief stay with the club in 2014-15. Coming off a 52-point campaign in 2015-16, Tyanulin found another gear this season, leading the club with 24 goals and 85 points in 67 games.
“He’s been our most dynamic forward, he’s high-end skill, he’s a driven young man, he wants it, he wants it bad, all his hard work is paying off,” 67’s Associate Coach Mike Eastwood said mid-season, after Tyanulin’s selection to Russia’s World Junior selection camp. “His best hockey is yet to come, he was really good for us last year, he’s been really good for us this year and we expect him to be really good down the stretch and lead the charge offensively for us.”