3 - Marek Vanacker - Left Wing - Brantford (OHL)
I was a bit worried the OHL wasn't as deep as last draft, especially at forward with Colby Barlow and Quentin Musty on top, and talented players behind such as Cowan, Calum Ritchie, Carson Rehkopf, Carey Terrance, Luca Pinelli & Nick Lardis, but players like Misa, O'Reilly, Luchanko & Vanacker have given the OHL some major boosts in it's futures.
Vanacker has been on a tear in recent games, with 11 goals and 18 points in his last 10.
The Brantford winger is a hard-working and mobile forward who has a strong shot and is great at finding open scoring chances. He's shown some decent playmaking at times, but is prevalent in the shooting option, his game is still very well-rounded, able to play with a physical edge and does well tracking the puck defensively. Vanacker also possesses strong puckhandling and control, making him difficult to stop when he gets the puck.
Vanacker's hot play has boosted his draft stock, ranked 25th by NHL Central Scouting for North American Skaters, making him a likely 2nd round pick, with the possibility to go late in the 1st. If his playmaking takes a big leap, he can be a big asset down the road.
Like the aforementioned players above, Vanacker is a player with a strong motor and drive who does well in impacting the game on offense. Unlike O'Reilly and Luchanko, Vanacker uses his natural offensive ability primarily as a goalscorer, 2nd in goals by a 2024 OHL draft eligible with 26, one shy of projected first rounder Liam Greentree.
It's hard to find a player as alert and ready on the ice at all times like Vanacker. A team like the Leafs for example have valued players such as him in the past such as Zach Hyman and Michael Bunting, skilled "glue guys" who can bring out the best in a top-six line. Vanacker could easily be viewed as a steal depending on where he ends up if all goes right, because he certainly has the IQ and intensity to make it happen.