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Projecting where Brampton Steelheads will go in the 2024 NHL Draft

A graphic with the text "Brampton Steelheads NHL Draft Predictions" includes images of Ryerson Leenders and Luke isa, two Brampton Steelheads logos and the  NHL Draft logo
Graphic by Mitchell Fox

BY: MITCHELL FOX


The NHL Draft is days away and like many junior teams, the Brampton Steelheads are eager to see what might be in store for some of the talent they’ve developed. 


For a young team with lots of potential heading into the 2024-25 and 2025-26 OHL seasons, having seven players ranked for this year’s NHL Draft—after having just two last year—means a lot for the Trout.


Luke Misa, Ryerson Leenders, Jakub Fibigr, Mason Zebeski, Finn Harding, Jack Van Volsen and Parker von Richter are all draft-eligible this year. 


Alongside the final NHL Central Scouting draft rankings, rankings from high-profile public scouts offer an idea of where players sit in draft status. So far, Misa, Leenders and Fibigr have all appeared in multiple scouts' top 60 picks.


For this article, on top of Central Scouting rankings, I used my brother, Brendan Fox’s, collection of about 30 rankings from some of the most trusted scouting voices out there, including Scott Wheeler and Corey Pronman of The Athletic, Steven Ellis of Daily FaceOff, Tony Ferrari of The Hockey News and TSN’s Bob McKenzie.  


Ryerson Leenders

Prediction: 2nd-3rd round pick

NHL Central Scouting ranking: 10 NA goaltender

Highest scout ranking: 56 (Andrew Forbes, The Hockey Writers)

Lowest scout ranking: 111 (Logan Horn, The Hockey Writers)

Average scout ranking: 78.550 (20 rankings)


We’ll start by getting the most difficult one out of the way. Goalies are already difficult to project, so predicting what teams will think of them is never easy. Leenders is an even better case given his unique playing style and smaller stature—there aren’t too many goaltenders like him.


Some scouts have Leenders as a second-round talent—he’s the first goalie on Andrew Forbes’ top 100—while others do not have him among their top 10 goalies in the draft. The NHL Central Scouting rankings were tough on his second half of the season, moving him down from third to tenth North American goaltender from midterm to final. 


Leenders led OHL goalies who played 30 or more games with a .909 save percentage (sv%) this season. He has impressed with his athleticism and reflexes not only at the OHL level but at the CHL Kubota Top Prospects Game and on the international stage with the U17s in 2022 and the U18s in 2024. 


The Nanticoke, ON, product had tough competition at all levels with Owen Sound Attack goaltender Carter George—the second-ranked North American goaltender—who has the advantage in size and employs a more typical technical style in his play.


With no clear first-round calibre goaltender in this year’s draft class, teams will likely make their move for their preferred puck-stopper in the second or third round. Given his performance this season, Leenders is bound to be near the top of a few teams’ goaltending lists, so I am projecting him to go somewhere between picks 50 and 80.


Luke Misa

Prediction: 2nd round pick

NHL Central Scouting ranking: 76 NA skater

Highest scout ranking: 25 (SMAHT Scouting)

Lowest scout ranking: 79 (Upside Hockey)

Average scout ranking: 49.172 (29 rankings)


Misa is definitely the Steelhead draft-eligible with the most pop. His speed is other-worldly—as recognized on scouts such as Scott Wheelers’ superlatives rankings—and his production this season was almost unprecedented. He flourished as a top performer on a young, up-and-coming team, ending the season as the top-scoring OHL draft eligible.


The Oakville product fell from 45 to 76 on NHL Central Scouting’s North American skaters final ranking, a significant drop. However, most public scouts have ranked him much higher. A big part of this is undoubtedly his size—Misa’s 5’10, 170-pound frame may make him a write-off for some teams, while others will certainly be interested in a speedy playmaker like him.


The question is whether Misa can put all of his skills and smarts together into not only a complete NHL-calibre package but NHL production. He has remarkable speed in a straight line, can switch directions on a dime and has noteworthy hockey IQ, but he doesn’t always finish the chances he creates and can get out-muscled and shown up in big games. In terms of game-breaking ability, he has fallen behind fellow OHL prospects Beckett Sennecke, Cole Beaudoin and Jett Luchanko.


At the NHL Draft Combine, Misa reached the top 25 in one of 17 events, tying for 23rd in the Aerobic Fitness: VO2max event. He impressed more at the CHL Top Prospects combine events, and the Combine likely won’t affect his stock, however, other prospects like Luchanko, Beaudoin and Sam O’Reilly may have impressed enough to surpass him on teams’ lists.


Misa might be a top-30 talent in the draft and could be picked as such, but given how some NHL teams look at undersized forwards and especially wingers—Steelheads head coach James Richmond has said Misa likely progresses as a winger—he might fall as far as the third round. That said, a second-round selection seems most likely for one of the OHL’s top producers.


Jakub Fibigr

Prediction: 3rd round pick

NHL Central Scouting ranking: 67 NA skater

Highest scout ranking: 54 (Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News)

Lowest scout ranking: 127 (Upside Hockey)

Average scout ranking: 90.071 (14 rankings)


Fibigr fell from 52 to 67 from the midterm to final North American skater rankings, but that likely had more to do with an injury he suffered in January and other players rising up the ranks than him progressing poorly. He popped onto more rankings in May and June as public scouts extended their list to 100 or beyond, making some appearances in the 50s and 60s.


The young Czech finished fifth among OHL rookies—first among rookie defencemen—with 46 points in 61 games. His seven goals do not jump off the page but there is no doubt he has the skill set to contribute on offence.


Fibigr’s offence was noteworthy from the outset of the season but his defence became a major point of interest as the season went on. Richmond has said Fibigr “defends through the blue lines as well as any young guy I've seen come into the league,” which reflects his strong sense for gaps and smart stickwork, making him a highly effective defender in transition. He is also a smooth skater and shows poise and intelligence in tight situations, bringing together a complete package that could attract a lot of teams.


Though he fell slightly in the CS rankings and has been left unranked by many scouts, Fibigr feels like the type of player a team is afraid to miss out on in the second or third round. The fourth round is possible too, but I’ll say he goes in the third round.


Mason Zebeski

Prediction: 5th-6th round pick

NHL Central Scouting ranking: 103 NA skater

Unranked by public scouts


If anyone is going to continue to improve and grind his way toward a pro career despite no appearances on public rankings, it's Mason Zebeski. The Oakville product fell in the Central Scouting rankings from 86 to 103 at the end of the season, though he also missed time with an injury. 


Zebeski’s best skill is likely his strength—coming from a 6’2 frame—but his nose for the net and hand-eye coordination make him a real contender to pot goals at any level. Richmond said after a game in March Zebeski would stay late after practice to work on deflections, showcasing his work ethic and his ability in front of the net. He scored several goals off deflections this year.


Zebeski is also one of the Steelheads’ best penalty killers and competes hard on the defensive side of the puck, so there are reasons for teams to like him. The question is whether his production can improve over the next season or two and become a factor at the next level.


Earlier in the season, I would have thought Zebeski was a candidate to go somewhere in the fourth round, but signs point to him falling into the fifth or sixth round. Another Steelheads forward, Angus MacDonell—who scores more and is a center but has other limitations—was selected in the sixth round (pick 189) by the Dallas Stars in 2023. I think Zebeski goes in a similar range, between picks 150 and 190.


Parker von Richter

Prediction: 5th-6th round pick

NHL Central Scouting ranking: 184 NA skater

One ranking: 118 (Hadi Kalakeche)


Von Richter is interesting because his status as a fan favourite and difference-maker with the Steelheads doesn't line up with his draft rankings. He fell from 135 to 184 on the North American skaters, despite no massive decline in his play in the second half.


The Mississauga product is a right-handed defenceman—a premium position—and has an imposing 6’2 frame, making him feel like a typical NHL scout’s go-to. But he has been ranked just once, 118th by public scout Hadi Kalakeche, aside from appearing 35th on OHL scout and writer Brock Otten’s most recent Top 50 OHL Players for the 2024 NHL Draft.  


Von Richter is a stay-at-home defenceman whose best assets are his defensive positioning, physical game and stickwork. His skating can look awkward at times and his puck-handling can be troublesome, but when he moves the puck efficiently, he is an x-factor for the Trout.


Richmond has compared von Richter to former Steelhead Ethan Del Mastro, a fourth-round pick from 2021. Though he won’t be as highly-regarded, any team that believes he could be next in a line of strong Steelheads’ defencemen who excel at walking the offensive blue line and defending their own blue line—such as Del Mastro, Nicolas Hague and Thomas Harley—could like him more than the Central Scouting rankings would suggest. 


It seems von Richter could go anywhere in a large range from the fourth round to the seventh round. In the end, I’d project him to go in the sixth round.


Jack Van Volsen

Prediction: 7th round pick

NHL Central Scouting ranking: 164 NA skater

One ranking: 125 (Peter Baracchini, The Hockey Writers)


Though Jack Van Volsen has faltered since being a top-10 OHL Draft pick, some teams may have an understanding of the type of player he projects to be and see a player worth selecting. 


The Brooklin, Ont., product’s 32 points this year were certainly below expectations but he proved to be a serviceable middle-six forward for the Steelheads and showed improvement as a defensive center and as a scoring threat. His better second half helped him move up five spots from the midterm to final Central Scouting rankings and to appear on a public ranking for the first time on Peter Baracchini’s top 128 in June.


There is no question Van Volsen’s shot is powerful, but he has not found a consistent knack for finding the back of the net. He does damage on the power play and can score on the rush but any team selecting him will hope to see him mould into a premium scorer from all areas of the ice. 


Van Volsen has shown promise as a center but he may more likely be a winger at the next level. However, Richmond has repeatedly touted Van Volsen’s underlying metrics for exiting the Steelheads’ zone on the breakout, so he has proven capable in all forward positions.


Most public scouts have left Van Volsen off their lists, indicating his chances of going earlier than the fifth or sixth round are slim. His underwhelming scoring stats point to him going around when or later than MacDonell a year ago, so I am predicting he will go in the seventh round. However, he may not be selected at all.


Finn Harding

Prediction: 7th round pick

NHL Central Scouting ranking: 130 NA skater

Unranked by public scouts


Finn Harding is the Steelhead touted for showing the most improvement this past season. After playing bottom pair minutes in 2022-23 and going undrafted in the 2023 NHL Draft, Harding contributed massively for the Steelheads this year.  


The 19-year-old moved from 174 to 130 on the final Central Scouting rankings, indicating how scouts have tuned into his ability as a two-way defender.


Harding is not the most imposing or impressive player every night but provides a comfortable presence as a defenceman who can move the puck and shut things down in his own zone. His greatest strength is probably defending the rush thanks to an active stick and precise timing jumping on players at either blue line. While plus-minus is an unreliable stat, his team-leading +39 rating stands out starkly—the next defenceman was at +17.


The Toronto product also provides a hint of offence—he had 34 points this year—thanks to his ability to move the puck. He can often be found evading forecheckers with his edgework before starting the play with either a stretch pass or bursting up the ice. His shot could use work and he is not as physical as most second- or third-pair defencemen, but he has an intriguing toolkit.


As an overage player, Harding's stock is hard to predict. He may go undrafted, but it seems likely he will be selected in the sixth or seventh round by a team that sees potential in the growth he has shown. If not, a team could want him as an undrafted free agent—he attended the Detroit Red Wings’ development camp a year ago and could get a similar shot.


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