Known for his defensive acumen heading into the 2012 NHL Draft, Pelech added some offense this year in his third season in the OHL. It wasn't remarkable -- his 40 points in 59 games just cracked the top 20 among OHL defensemen -- but it was a doubling of last year's total, enough of a spike to get you thinking anyway.
The "intelligence" rep is no surprise for a player who was named a 2012 OHL Scholastic Player of the Year for his academics. Based on how he plays at 6'2 and cresting 200 lbs., he may one day be known for his physical side too. It was that side that nearly got him a spot on Canada's WJC side in December. And Pelech has shown he's all too willing to throw 'em. (In addition to those two fight links, here he is getting an ejection for a leg-on-leg check.)
The Isles grabbed him in the third round, 65th overall, seen as a value pick for a prospect who was starting to get 2nd or even late-1st talk at the time. He'll do another year in juniors with Erie though before we see how it all translates to the pro level. Hopefully the years spent on a bad junior squad (a big reason for his consistent minus +/-) don't hurt him.
How our panel voted this spring:
A sampling of comments as we voted:
The Chris McNally:
Think Andrew MacDonald but a little bigger. Pelech is solid on the blue line, has leadership qualities, and loves to throw the body. Impressed people in the hockey world with his play at the Canadian WJC Camp in December. He gets this high of a ranking from me because of the improved offensive game he showed this year.
Could be decent if he puts a few more pounds on him, but his +/- scares me. I know that's only first-level thinking, and it's juniors, but it's there, and he hasn't really improved it.
David "Hans und Franz":
Long way away. The good: Doubled his point production from last year, cut his +/-. The bad: PIMs doubled. Still an ugly +/- for a defenseman.
Our 25U25 posts are made for debate and to check the pulse on the franchise's youngest player assets. This list is a countdown before more bodies are added to the pool at the June 30 draft.