2017-18 Season predictions thread

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2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby CHL Watcher on Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:58 pm

I know it's too early, but I figured if they can do it on HF we can probably do it here. Anyway, it's always interesting to take a stab at a prediction without even a sneak peak at results or final rosters.

Here are my predictions for the 2017-18 season final placings:

Eastern Conference

1. Oshawa Generals – Lots of strength returning.

2. Mississauga Steelheads – Only due to conference bias. (Petes finish with more points)

3. Peterborough Petes - Expect a battle for the top four spots. Little changed from last year.

4. Kingston Frontenacs – I don't think this is a huge surprise pick. The last six teams can shake out the order, but the first four have western conference compete level, which sets them apart in the east.

5. Barrie Colts – I like what they're doing in Barrie and those import picks aren't going to hurt.

6. Ottawa 67's - Ottawa has been out-of-sight and out-of-mind for a while, but I think they're getting pretty close.

7. Hamilton Bulldogs – At this point in the standings things could go either way a couple of spots.

8. Sudbury Wolves – Should make the playoffs but my faith in Sudbury to put it together better than the teams listed above remains weak. They'll have to prove it to me at this point. It's been a long while.

9. Niagara IceDogs – The best bet to ruin it for Sudbury or Hamilton.

10. North Bay Battalion – Butler's game doesn't appeal to me, but my own bias does tend to under-estimate him. He could bore his way into the playoffs (see what I did there).

Western Conference

1. Owen Sound Attack - The Attack have a question in goal but aren't without options. They hold the rights on too many OHL capable players and prospects at this point in time. They won't get weaker sorting that situation out.

2. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – The best bet to spoil things for Owen Sound.

3. Kitchener Rangers - Adding players that will make a difference, including Logan Stanley. Will add to the mid-western meat grinder.

4. London Knights – The Knights won't be far from the top even when supposedly in an off year. Could finish anywhere in the top five, four sounds good for now. Goaltenders should be good enough, but not quite the same.

5. Sarnia Sting – Another team that likely finishes in the 3-5 spot. Lots of returning talent. I like the way they play these days.

6. Guelph Storm - Guelph was far better than a few teams that didn't deal with the midwestern division grind. They will show much better this year.

7. Saginaw Spirit - Saginaw is an easy pick for a play-off spot. I doubt there's much question. They will be solid.

8. Windsor Spitfires - This position belongs to the team that wants it the most. They'll show it in their trade record for the season.

9. Erie Otters – This position belongs to the team that wants it the least. They'll show it in their trade record for the season.

10. Flint Firebirds – Play-off hopes for Flint rest on Erie and Windsor dumping too many players for their own good. Let's face it, if Windsor and Erie don't clean house they can probably hold off the Firebirds.


So, by my reckoning there may be some playoff rematches lining up in the Western Conference, but somewhat reverse ordered from the previous season, while the Eastern Conference looks pretty similar to last year. We'll see.
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Re: 2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby attackisback on Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:25 pm

too early
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Re: 2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby Digger on Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:47 pm

It's never too early to talk hockey if your Canadian......
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Re: 2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby CHL Watcher on Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:40 am

no takers?

Come on...there's no harm.

I know a couple of spots where I messed up already.....but at the time it seemed like a good idea.

Examples: Stan's bunch might be better than I expected (as expected)...and Sudbury is looking to tank the season...so there's no chance of a playoff and nobody will be able to compete in that regard. Sarnia will be a handful...and if Windsor keeps Dipietro they can't help but be mid-pack. etc << What was I thinking?
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Re: 2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby attackisback on Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:59 am

ask us again after the exhibition games are done.
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Re: 2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby Annan_Man on Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:39 am

Just join HF Boards already.... BE CHL_Watcher or some variant. SO what you can't use your handle, you can talk hockey with a much broader audience. The prediction thread is like 2 pages already over there.

BTW this is no slight to the quality of this board and it's posters.
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Re: 2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby CHL Watcher on Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:32 pm

I hear ya.

I read the board and the predictions.

I actually find little from Owen Sound there...aside from a few posters, occasionally...and the official releases reposted there....and since jumping into the other teams' threads (rather than reading them) doesn't usually appeal to me (you've seen the three or four exceptions posted here) I've been staying around here.

I actually have/had a profile there....but it's so dormant I can't remember the details.

If I go there.....it's a bit of a hassle.

..I don't currently have a garbage email address to use and nobody over there needs a real one. Making one requires I tell the garbage account about another garbage account (like I used to do)...as with my last profile. That's a lot of effort to create bogus accounts here and there ...when I mostly just read the stuff.

Sorry, folks. I was just curious about how people in this fan base feel about the competition. The idea wasn't to be correct....but to speculate. We do it with the Attack all the time...
...and ...oh, well...it's all a bit too edgy, I suppose. :cry:

I will consider it strongly....

...but I'll still be asking you guys what you think about things.
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Re: 2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby CHL Watcher on Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:25 pm

Are we there yet?

It's no fun if you wait until it's obvious.

Live dangerously.
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Re: 2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby attackisback on Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:33 am

EASTERN CONFERENCE

https://www.therecord.com/sports-story/ ... onference/

Trout team to beat in OHL’s Eastern Conference
SPORTS 06:07 PM by Josh Brown Waterloo Region Record

Time to shine

KITCHENER — The script was familiar.

For the second year in a row, the Ontario Hockey League's Eastern Conference champions started out slow before making their move.

Two years back it was the Niagara IceDogs that limped along before reaching the league final and losing to the London Knights.

Last season, the Mississauga Steelheads were swimming upstream until the second half when they made their push. They too lost in the final, this time to Erie.

Right now, the picture in the east is a bit foggy.

The power could shift depending which players return to junior from NHL camps.

Regardless, last season's top teams should all be in the running yet again.

•FAVOURITE: Mississauga Steelheads. Some key pieces from last year's squad are gone but there is enough left over to help the Trout to back-to-back east titles. There are star players at every position with the Brothers McLeod — Michael and Ryan — and sniper Owen Tippett up front, Nic Hague in the back end and Jacob Ingham in net. Depth is a concern but Missy is sitting pretty.

•NEXT IN LINE: Hamilton Bulldogs. Belleville is ancient history. This is year three in Steeltown and it's time for the 'Dogs to make a move. Some character guys graduated but there might not be a more balanced attack in the east. The entire defensive group is back, and the only real question is whether or not Kaden Fulcher can carry the load in net. Anything less than a top three finish would be a disappointment.

•DARK HORSE: Oshawa Generals. The team bid — and lost — to host the Memorial Cup so the club was clearly building for this season. There are some exciting young players that are complemented by savvy veterans which make for a good mix. Goaltending is the biggest question mark.


•MOVING FORWARD: Niagara IceDogs. Team staff is talking about a top three finish. That might be a tad optimistic for the young pups but strides should be made from last season's eighth-place finish. They have one of the better goalies in the conference in Stephen Dhillon and a top dog in forward Akil Thomas.

•FALLING BACK: Sudbury Wolves. The fire power is there but there are red flags elsewhere. The team has a new coach, bid farewell to four regular defencemen and is relying on a sophomore goalie. That doesn't exactly scream improvement.


Barrie Colts

GM: Jason Ford

Coach: Dale Hawerchuk

Last season: 17-44-6-1

Ice chips: All eyes are on first overall pick F Ryan Suzuki. … Colts also banking on Russian forwards Andrei Svechnikov and Alexey Lipanov, both first-round picks in the CHL's import draft. … F Lucas Chiodo and F Zach Magwood are 25-goal threats. … Look for F Jason Willms to take a step forward. … Acquired OA G Leo Lazarev from Ottawa.

Key loss: F Anthony Stefano led team with 56 points.

Big question: Can youngsters get Colts into the playoffs?


Hamilton Bulldogs

GM: Steve Staios

Coach: John Gruden

Last season: 33-27-4-4

Ice chips: Former Sudbury boss David Matsos joins bench as an associate coach. … Matt Strome, Will Bitten and Brandon Saigeon are an underrated trio of forwards. … It's G Kaden Fulcher's time to shine with veteran Dawson Carty gone. … Nine Bulldogs were invited to NHL camps. … D Ben Gleason is the rock in the back end.

Key loss: F Michael Cramarossa had a team-high 36 assists.

Bigquestion: Can Hamilton shed its middle-of-the-pack tag?


Kingston Frontenacs

GM: Darren Keily

Coach: Jay Varady

Last season: 33-26-5-4

Ice chips: F Jason Robertson a candidate to finish top five in OHL scoring. … Fear Finn F Linus Nyman and D Eemeli Rasanen, two of the better imports in the league. … Ex-coach Paul McFarland is now an assistant with the Florida Panthers. … Look for F Nathan Dunkley to play a bigger role. … OA candidate G Jeremy Helvig played most minutes in OHL last season (3,446).

Key loss: D Stephen Desrocher was a leader on and off the ice.

Big question: Does OHL's lowest scoring team have the guns to compete?


Mississauga Steelheads

GM/coach: James Richmond

Last season: 34-21-6-7

Ice chips: Traded three high draft picks to acquire D Merrick Rippon from Kitchener in the off-season. … D Nic Hague a true No. 1 blueliner. … G Jacob Ingham will be the main man in net. … Former GM James Boyd now in Ottawa. … Overage F Jacob Cascagnette resurrected his career in Missy after being acquired from Kitchener.

Key loss: F Spencer Watson averaged 1.3 points per game.

Big question: Will F Michael McLeod crack the NHL as a 19-year-old?


Niagara IceDogs

GM: Joey Burke

Coach: Billy Burke

Last season: 23-35-6-4

Ice chips: G Stephen Dhillon was one of the busiest tenders in the league with 59 appearances last season. … F Akil Thomas ready for a spike in points. … Fourteen rookies hit the ice last season. … F Kirill Maksimov had 22 points in 29 games after trade with Saginaw. … Rookie C Phil Tomasino was the fifth overall pick in the OHL draft.

Key loss: D Ryan Mantha gave the young 'Dogs a veteran presence.

Big question: Can young Burke brothers turn Niagara into a contender?


North Bay Battalion

GM/coach: Stan Butler

Last season: 24-38-4-2

Ice chips: F Brett McKenzie was fifth overall in OHL with 287 shots on net. … Scoring could be a challenge with just four players in double-digit goals returning. … Add forwards Luke Burghardt and Luke Moncada from Guelph via trade. … Return of rearguards Cam Dineen and Riley Bruce are a big boost after missing much of last season with injuries.

Key loss: G Brent Moran was the main man in net.

Big question: Is goalie Julian Sime the solution between the pipes?


Oshawa Generals

GM: Roger Hunt

Coach: Bob Jones

Last season: 40-23-3-2

Ice chips: Intriguing sophomore forwards Allan McShane, Danil Antropov and Serron Noel are the building blocks of the future. … Highly touted Swiss D-man Nico Gross battled mono in the summer. … Top six scoring forwards from last season are all back. … Boston Bruins pick Jack Studnicka had 17 points in 11 playoffs games. … Best PK in the east last season at 83.1 per cent.

Key loss: G Jeremy Brodeur tied for third in OHL with 33 wins.

Big question: Can G Kyle Keyser fill Brodeur's shoes?


Ottawa 67's

GM: James Boyd

Coach: Andre Tourigny

Last season: 26-34-7-1

Ice chips: Head coach Jeff Brown and assistant Mike Eastwood have moved on. … F Kody Clark is the son of Leafs great Wendel and heading into his NHL draft year. … D Kevin Bahl won gold with Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tourney. … F Sasha Chmelevski is on the radar for the U.S. for the upcoming world juniors. … Sophomore D Carter Robertson and Peter Stratis are the future on the back end.

Key loss: F Artur Tyanulin led club with 85 points and 24 goals.

Big question: How will young team react to new GM and coach?


Peterborough Petes

GM: Mike Oke

Coach: Jody Hull

Last season: 42-21-2-3

Ice chips: Former Rangers F Mike Duco and ex-CHL defenceman of the year Derrick Walser join bench as assistant coaches. … G Dylan Wells one of the busiest and best returning goalies in OHL. … Departure of Matt Spencer and Kyle Jenkins leave a hole on the blue line. … Team needs F Jonathan Ang to take the next step offensively.

Key loss: Leafs pick F Nikita Korostelev had a team-high 64 points.

Big question: Do Petes have enough left to challenge for conference title?


Sudbury Wolves

GM: Rob Papineau

Coach: Cory Stillman

Last season: 27-34-7-0

Ice chips: Last year's second overall pick D Owen Lalonde got his wish — a trade out of town. … F Dmitry Sokolov tied for the league lead in PP goals (17) last season. … OA candidate F Liam Dunda left the team for a gig with Moncton in the QMJHL. … Defence will be a challenge with four key contributors moving on. … F Michael Pezzetta's breakout is long overdue.

Key loss: D Kyle Capobianco held the blue line together and played point on the PP.

Big question: Can Wolves stop the exodus of top players?

Check Wednesday's Record for the OHL's Western Conference preview.

jbrown@therecord.com ,

Twitter: @BrownRecord
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Re: 2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby Digger on Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:38 pm

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

2017/18 OHL Season Preview: Eastern Conference

Tis the season again. The 2017/18 OHL season kicks off this coming Thursday night (the 21st). It´s time to make some predictions.

The Eastern Conference should be quite interesting this year. We have a few teams that look very strong on paper (Peterborough, Mississauga, Hamilton, for example). Also have some young, up and coming teams like Niagara and Ottawa who could surprise and compete earlier than expected. Even a team like Barrie could be better than people are giving them credit for. Basically what I am saying is that I see this as a very tough year to predict. But I´m going to try anyway!

1. Mississauga Steelheads (Central Division Champs)
Just going on a hunch here. I feel like the Steelheads are the most balanced team in the Eastern Conference with a quality goaltender, a solid top 5 defense and depth (and talent) up front. The other teams have some question marks for me. Of course, Mississauga has to worry about a few of their players making the NHL/AHL this year. With the Travis Zajac injury, I would actually be shocked to see Michael McLeod back to start the year. I think (at minimum) he gets a 9 game look which would mean that Mississauga will have to go at least a half a season without him (similar to Erie last year with Strome). Nathan Bastian appears to be 50/50. From a recent article, Devils coach John Hynes stated that they'll give him every opportunity to make the AHL, but if he's not ready, he'll return to the OHL for an OA year. At the very least, he won't be starting the season with the club. But I don´t see Tippett making Florida. Combine that with an emerging talent like Ryan McLeod, and veterans Trent Fox, Jacob Cascagnette, and Brandon Harrogate and you have the depth to cover Mikey´s (and possibly Bastian's) promotion. Jacob Ingham looks to be solid heading into his NHL draft season and will likely be one of the league´s best this year. And the addition of Merrick Rippon should really help an already quality blueline (consisting of Hague, Moverare, Gibson, and Osmanski). Again, this is a well balanced team built around veterans and that is usually a recipe for great success in this league. They just can´t afford to start as slowly as they did last year.

2. Peterborough Petes (East Division Champs)
The East Division is going to be super competitive this year. And all of them have some question marks too. Quite honestly, I would not be surprised at all if any of the 5 teams end up as division champs. So why Peterborough? Admittedly they´ve been very shaky this exhibition season with an inexperienced back-end. But, with Dylan Wells in net and maybe the deepest forward unit in the entire OHL, I have faith that they will figure it out (although I could see them starting slowly like Mississauga did last year). Without question Wells is the back bone and they will need him to be huge this year. The improvements he showed last year will need to be built upon as he will have to consistently bail out an inexperienced blueline that has seen a lot of turnover. Timms and Alex Black should form a nice top pairing, but they will need a guy like Declan Chisholm or Cole Fraser to really step up as a solid number 3; solidifying their second unit. Aforementioned, their offense should not be an issue. This team will score goals. This is especially true if Nikita Korostelev returns from NHL camp without a pro contract. I expect OA Logan DeNoble and veteran Jonathan Ang to have huge years.

3. Hamilton Bulldogs
Really the only question mark I have about this team is in net. I am not worried about Hamilton´s forward group. Will Bitten and Matthew Strome lead a very talented group that will play hard for coach Gruden. Good mix of veterans and youth. In particular, I think Artur Kaliyev has to be considered a favourite for rookie of the year. I am also not worried about Hamilton´s defense. This is a veteran laden group, led by the likes of Justin Lemcke, Cole Candella, Ben Gleason, and Connor Walters. This group has been through a lot the last few years and I expect them all to have good seasons. Where I am worried is in goal. Kaden Fulcher could be a quality goaltender in this league, but as of yet he hasn´t taken that next step forward to be a consistent starter. The defense should make things easier for him this year, but he will still have to come up with some big saves and a few off nights could be the difference between first and third in a very tough/evenly balanced division. If Fulcher takes that step forward, this Bulldogs team could not only take the division, but also the Conference.

4. Oshawa Generals
Oshawa is set to be a pretty solid overall team this year on paper. Not overly dominant in one area, but well rounded. Up front, they've got a solid young group of forwards led by new captain Jack Studnicka and supported by the likes of Allan McShane, Domenic Commisso, Danil Antropov, and Serron Noel. OA's Mason Kohn and Kenny Heuther could be big producers too. On defense, I look for Riley Stillman to take that next step as one of the better two-way defenders in the league this year. And the group, as a whole, is big and mean and will make life difficult for opposing forwards in the offensive end. I'm curious to see how highly touted Swiss defender Nico Gross adapts and performs as a rookie. I guess the one real question I have is how well Kyle Keyser performs as a starter this year. I think he's going to be solid, but it is his first year being handed a starter's role so you never know how he'll handle it. Look for the Generals to be in the middle of the pack in the Conference this year with an aim at being at the top for 2018/19.

5. Ottawa 67's
Big believer of this solid young team. The 67's have drafted exceptionally well the last few years and the rebuild of this storied franchise is in full swing. On paper, there's certainly some question marks. Who will step up to be a dominant and reliable scorer? Sasha Chmelevski? Austen Keating? Travis Barron? Tye Felhaber? Four guys who were highly touted but haven't delivered the goods consistently yet. However, they are supported by a host of quality young players (rookie or not). While not all of these guys will work out, odds say that only a couple need too for the 67's to have a half decent offense moving forward. I look for Kody Clark to have a breakout year, in particular. It's the young defense that I really like on this team. Noel Hoefenmayer and Kevin Bahl could make for a fantastic young pairing. And Russian Nikita Okhotyuk is the real deal. This is a potential superstar in the league. Also curious to see how Carter Robertson and Peter Stratis develop this season. In net, with OA Leo Lazerev finally moving on, the keys have been given to Olivier Lafreniere, with newly acquired Olivier Tremblay there as a mentor and fall back option. There will be some hiccups with this team, but I think they have enough talent to be a middle of the pack team this year.

6. Niagara IceDogs
Look, someone else from the Central Division is going to have to be a solid team. We're not going to have Mississauga at the top and the rest at the bottom. I think the upstart IceDogs are best positioned to be that team. Even though he's been a bit shaky this preseason, Stephen Dhillon was an absolute work horse last year, emerging as one of the more consistent netminders in the Conference. While his defense might not be as good as last year, I do like the acquisitions of Elijah Roberts and Zach Shankar and I think both fit in well with this team (Roberts as a puck mover and Shankar as a people mover). The defense is certainly a question mark though. And that means the offense is going to need to score goals. I think they can do that. Akil Thomas should have a huge draft year and is supported by breakout candidates like Kirill Maksimov, Ben Jones, rookie Philip Tomasino, and veteran Johnny Corneil. I think a healthy Matthew Philip is a sleeper breakout candidate too. Even with a questionable preseason performance, I like this team to be a playoff team in 2017/18.

7. Kingston Frontenacs
Quite often it's hard to be bad in this league if you've got star talent. 2-3 outstanding players can be enough to make you a playoff team and that's what I see in Kingston this year. Really, they're a similar team to the one that finished with home ice advantage in the first round last year (finishing 4th). But I think the Eastern Conference is better and deeper this year and that pushes this Fronts team down a peg or two. Jason Robertson is a legit offensive talent and he's going to have to do the majority of damage by himself yet again. Nathan Dunkley and Linus Nyman are solid supporting characters, but this was a team who finished dead last in goals scored last year and I don't see there being a ton of improvement coming. So that begs the question, can their defense be as good as it was last year? I'm just not sure. Rasanen, Paquette, and Liam Murray form the backbone, but I think this Kingston team will miss Stephen Desrocher and Nathan Billitier. In net, Jeremy Helvig is a solid veteran presence, but he's going to have to have an other worldly year to get this team back into the top four of the East IMO.

8. North Bay Battalion
Did you really expect me to predict a Stan Butler team to miss the playoffs two years in a row? Honestly though, it's going to be a close battle for the final few spots in the East, just as it was last year. I could easily see this Battalion team finishing last in the Conference, or I could see them as high as 5th or 6th. So why North Bay for the 8th and final spot? I like their defense. A healthy Cam Dineen. A year older Brady Lyle. A year more experienced Adam Thilander. A motivated Riley Bruce. A veteran Jesse Saban. This is a quality defense and potentially one of the better ones in the Eastern Conference. Will they be able to cover up massive question marks in net? I think definitely some nights. And others, likely not. Offensively, Brett McKenzie returns as an OA and he could have a big year. Also look for Adam McMaster to have a breakout season offensively. That's a solid 1/2 punch down the middle and should give the Battalion enough to crack the playoffs.

9. Sudbury Wolves
Probably not the prediction Wolves fans wanted to see from this article, but here's my thinking. This is a team that gave up 265 goals last year which was among the league's worst. And quite frankly, I think the defense is worse this year. Gone are veterans Patrick Sanvido, Aiden Jamieson, Kyle Capobianco and youngster Owen Lalonde. Jacob McGrath and Marshall Frappier are two quality young goaltenders who will be quality players in this league, but I'm just not sure they're good enough to prevent a puck turnstile in Sudbury's net. In order for this team to make the playoffs, they will need a potentially solid offense to really step up. Dmitri Sokolov should be in store for another excellent season. And Macauley Carson is a solid contributor. But the team needs former high picks David Levin and Michael Pezzetta to step up and become consistent offensive stars to give Sudbury a two line attack. I'm just not sure that I'm a believer. Tough times in store for Sudbury fans this year I think.

10. Barrie Colts
No doubt, this Colts team should be better this season. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised at all if this team was in the top 6 of the Conference. But, as mentioned earlier, I think it's also important to note that the Eastern Conference has improved as a whole. Let's talk about an explosive offense first. Andrei Svechnikov. Alexei Lipanov. Ryan Suzuki. Kiril Nizhnikov. Those are some pretty damn good players. Even if they don't win games, this Colts team will be infinitely more entertaining to watch this year. The Leo Lazerev acquisition was a smart one too as it gives Christian Propp a great mentor to take some pressure off of him. Defensively though, this team will not be strong and neither Lazerev nor Propp are good enough to overcome that, at least IMO. Quite frankly, as much as fans probably wouldn't want to admit it, finishing near the bottom of the league again would be best for this franchise. Lipanov and Svechnikov are likely gone next year (Lipanov can play in the AHL early), which means that another top 3 pick would really help this team in their rebuilding efforts.
Posted by Brock Otten at 1:35 PM
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Re: 2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby attackisback on Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:40 am

how about a link to your article or did you write it?
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Re: 2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby attackisback on Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:41 am

https://www.therecord.com/sports-story/ ... onference/

Attack, Hounds lead charge in OHL’s western conference
SPORTS 08:30 AM by Josh Brown Waterloo Region Record

KITCHENER — It really was the conference of death last season.

Four of the top six teams in the Canadian Hockey League's Top 10 came out of the Ontario Hockey League's western conference.

Champs the Erie Otters were second, Owen Sound fourth, Sault Ste. Marie fifth and London sixth.

And that list doesn't even include eventual Mem Cup winners the Windsor Spitfires.

Talk about tough going.

The good news for the rest of the OHL is that things, while competitive, shouldn't be as top heavy this season.

Windsor and Erie will take a step back after loading up for runs last season and will only get worse as they trade away some of their remaining marquee players in a bid to rebuild.

Meanwhile, several clubs that finished in the bottom half of the conference are packed with young talent and primed for a surge forward.

That means that the west should see a bit more parity from top to bottom this time around.

•FAVOURITE: Owen Sound Attack. There are holes, notably on defence and in goal. But of all the top teams from last season, Owen Sound returns the scariest bunch. Forwards Nick Suzuki, Jonah Gadjovich and Kevin Hancock could all eclipse 100 points. If the team's prayers are answered and somehow overage goalie Michael McNiven is sent back by the Montreal Canadiens, the Attack will be a Memorial Cup favourite.




•NEXT IN LINE: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. The 'Hounds will score, even with the graduation of Blake Speers, Zachary Senyshyn and Bob MacIntyre. Veteran goalie Joseph Raaymakers has asked for a trade so the Soo is banking on a big year from young Matthew Villalta, who was brilliant in the regular season but not so much in the playoffs.

•DARK HORSE: London Knights. Yeah, the roster isn't dotted with the superstar talent of years gone by. But this I've learned over the years, never count out the Knights. They still have Cliff Pu, Robert Thomas, Victor Mete et al. and can do some serious damage. And you just know owner Dale Hunter will add a gem out of nowhere midway through the season.

•MOVING FORWARD: Kitchener Rangers. Last year's roster is virtually intact. Studs such as 100-point man Adam Mascherin, defenceman Logan Stanley and sniper Connor Bunnaman are the real deal. The Blueshirts should take full advantage of the changing landscape in the west.

•FALLING BACK: Erie Otters. Most of the big names are gone. The ones that are left are surely on the trading block as the Otters try to replenish their severely depleted draft pick reserve. Four consecutive 50-win seasons sure was something special. Now, the rebuilding begins.


Erie Otters


GM: Dave Brown

Coach: Chris Hartsburg

Last season: 50-15-2-1

Ice chips:Kris Knoblauch led team to four consecutive 50-win seasons but is now an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers. … F Taylor Raddysh (109 pts) could be the biggest trade chip in the OHL. … F Ivan Lodnia, D Kyle Maksimovich and G Troy Timpano will also be in demand. … Director of scouting Scott Halpenny leaves team for scouting gig with Buffalo Sabres.

Key loss: F Alex DeBrincat had 65 goals and 127 points — both tops in the OHL.

Big question: Will Erie go first to worst in the west?


Flint Firebirds


GM: Barclay Branch

Coach: Ryan Oulahen

Last season: 32-28-3-5

Ice chips: Leading scorer F Ryan Moore (90 pts, seventh in OHL) should be back as an OA. … NHL draft class includes F Jack Wismer, F Hunter Holmes, D Dennis Busby and F Ty Dellandrea. … Pieces are there to make 'Birds a real surprise team in the west. … G Connor Hicks was released by the team and is hoping to catch on with the Greyhounds. … Add D Nicolas Mattinen via trade with London.

Key loss: D Alex Peters and his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame.

Big question: Is team still a year away from being a real force?


Guelph Storm


GM/coach: George Burnett

Last season: 21-40-5-2

Ice chips: F Givani Smith is the league's top returning shift disturber with 139 penalty minutes last season. … Acquisition of D Owen Lalonde gives Guelph top two overall picks from 2016 OHL draft (other is D Ryan Merkley) and six first-rounders in total on the roster. … F Nate Schnarr has breakout potential. … Worst team in the west over the past two years.

Key loss: G Liam Herbst, sole overage player moving on.

Big question: Can goalie Anthony Popovich be the No. 1 guy in net?


Kitchener Rangers


GM: Mike McKenzie

Coach: Jay McKee

Last season: 36-27-3-2

Ice chips: F Adam Mascherin (100 pts) is one of only two players that hit the century mark to return to the league this season. … D Logan Stanley adds size and Memorial Cup experience to blue line. … Imports Adam Liska and Rickard Hugg give secondary scoring a boost. … G Luke Opilka out until December — and maybe longer — after having second hip surgery.

Key loss: Captain Frank Hora's presence will be missed.

Big question: Can the Rangers get past the second round of the playoffs?


London Knights


GM: Rob Simpson

Coach: Dale Hunter

Last season: 46-15-3-4

Ice chips:Evan Bouchard and Victor Mete a vicious one-two punch in the back end. … F Max Jones a real difference maker if he can stay healthy and avoid suspension. … F Alex Formenton paying dividends as an 11th-round pick (16 goals last season). … Sophomore Jordan Kooy is primed to take over in net. … Knights had a league-high 17 players invited to NHL camps.

Key loss: G Tyler Parsons had the best save percentage (.925) among starters.

Big question: Is this the year London finally takes a step back?


Owen Sound Attack


GM: Dale DeGray

Coach: Todd Gill

Last season: 49-15-2-2

Ice chips: Owned league's top PP last season at 28.4 per cent. … Veteran G Zack Bowman and F Alan Lyszczarczyk acquired from Sudbury for a pair of picks. … Former Sting captain Jordan Hill joins bench as an assistant coach. … F Chase Campbell could be a sleeper. … Team went a perfect 5-0 during the pre-season.

Key loss: G Michael McNiven was the team's MVP last season.

Big question: How will coach Ryan McGill's exit affect team?


Saginaw Spirit


GM: Dave Drinkill

Coach: Troy Smith

Last season: 27-32-7-2

Ice chips: Inking F Blade Jenkins (fourth overall pick 2016) a big get. … OA candidate F Mike Davies now playing Jr. B. … Former Rangers boss Troy Smith is back in the hockey game after a one-year hiatus. … Top three scorers from last year's squad have moved on. … One of the youngest teams in the OHL.

Key loss: F Hayden Hodgson and his 38 goals will be missed.

Big question: Will G Evan Cormier finally fulfill his promise?


Sarnia Sting


GM: Nick Sinclair

Coach: Derian Hatcher

Last season: 31-30-6-1

Ice chips: F Jordan Kyrou to challenge for OHL scoring title. … G Justin Fazio had a league-high five shootout victories last season. … Co-owner David Legwand adds associate coach to his title. … Forwards Drake Rymsha and Anthony Salinitri are 40-goal threats. … New Swedish C Hugo Leufvenius adds size at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds.

Key loss: D Kevin Spinozzi was the team's captain.

Big question: Can Sting get past quarter-finals for first time in nine years?


Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds


GM: Kyle Raftis

Coach: Drew Bannister

Last season: 48-16-3-1

Ice chips: F Boris Katchouk had a league-high seven short-handed goals. … Plenty of fire power up front with Katchouk, Tim Gettinger, Morgan Frost and Jack Kopacka. … G Matt Villalta was 25-3 as a rookie. … Had worst goals against among top five teams in the West last season (208). … F Barrett Hayton a bright star heading into NHL draft.

Key loss: F Zachary Senyshyn scored 42 goals, many of them beauties.

Big question: Is the Soo being overlooked as a league favourite?


Windsor Spitfires


GM: Warren Rychel

Coach: Trevor Letowski

Last season: 41-19-5-3

Ice chips: D Logan Stanley sent to Kitchener in off-season trade. … Are F Gabe Vilardi, F Logan Brown and G Michael DiPietro next to go? … Lethal penalty kill last season at 88.5 per cent. … Coach Rocky Thompson left to run the bench with the AHL's Chicago Wolves. … Team went 4-1 in pre-season play.

Key loss: F Jeremy Bracco led team in scoring during Memorial Cup run.

Big question: How many players will be traded during the rebuild?

jbrown@therecord.com ,

Twitter: @BrownRecord

Josh Brown
by Josh Brown
Josh Brown covers the OHL's Kitchener Rangers and can be reached via Twitter @BrownRecord
Email: jbrown@therecord.com Twitter
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Re: 2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby CHL Watcher on Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:51 am

Thanks for the official looking hockey talk. Does anyone actually care to guess how things go?

At least it's something to discuss.

"There are holes....on defense..." :lol:

There isn't another team in the league that will be as effective as the Attack will be defensively....nor as deep on D in the long haul. Goaltending will decide if the defense lives up to last year or better. The actual D is just fine.

Centorame is a significant loss....so I suppose you could call that a hole...but this is junior hockey and the Attack were completely prepared for the loss.

...and still nobody is willing to guess until they already know the outcome?

Anything can happen this season, but....most of it will be good for Attack fans. The usual suspects will be good, but are unlikely to go "all in" to stay with the Attack....and the Attack start the year "all in" with no need to do anything, really.....but with a real need to move a body or two they just can't help improving the situation for now or the future or both.

Prediction: More Attack records will fall (predicting records for: wins, points, losses, Goals against, goal differential, individual +/-, and the most 20 goal players in Plater/Attack history). League records will fall in the same way if things go just right. The OS Attack will win the 100th Memorial Cup.....making it four appearances and three wins for the Scenic City.

No pressure. 8)
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Location: Owen Sound

Re: 2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby attackisback on Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:55 pm

http://www.lfpress.com/2017/09/20/ohl-p ... in-2017-18

OHL Preview: Owen Sound Attack, Peterborough Petes look to rule conferences in 2017-18

By Ryan Pyette, The London Free Press
Wednesday, September 20, 2017 12:41:04 EDT PM


Our Ryan Pyette has dug into the Ontario Hockey League and offers this preview heading into the 2017-18 season:

--- --- ---

OWEN SOUND ATTACK

The brass: Ex-Leafs D Todd Gill, Kingston coach for three years (2011-14), takes over for coach of the year Ryan McGill, who became a Vegas Golden Knights assistant.

Last year: 49-15-2-2, 102 points. Third in West. Lost in conference final to Erie in 6.

Heroes: Nick Suzuki (Golden Knights) is 50 goals and 120 points waiting to happen . . . Kevin Hancock became a scoring star last season with 30 goals. The sky's the limit this season alongside Suzuki . . . Big Jonah Gadjovich (Canucks) went hard to the net for nearly all of his 46 goals. He's hard to slow down.

Will be missed: Goalie of the year Michael McNiven (Canadiens) won 41 games last season . . . Finn Petrus Palmu (Canucks) is already scoring back home for Turku. He gave the Bayshore three grand campaigns . . . Captain and d-man Santino Centorame chalked up 73 points and played every possible situation. Now, it's Kings prospect Markus Phillips' turn.

Big stat: The Attack roared up the standings last year with a mid-season 15-game winning streak. Another would help Gill really settle in.

Prediction: If they get any kind of goaltending, they're first overall.


- - -



SAULT STE. MARIE GREYHOUNDS

The brass: Coach Drew Bannister (third year) is used to the long northern bus trips. He was a Greyhound for four seasons (1990-94).

Last year: 48-16-3-1, 100 points. Second in West. Lost to Owen Sound in 2nd round in 6.

Heroes: Boris Katchouk (Lightning) will lead the Soo in scoring. He's pretty good at getting under opponents' skin, too . . . Conor Timmins (Avalanche) helps feed the Hounds' swift-moving offence from the back . . . The penalty kill accounted for a franchise-best 22 shorthanded goals last year. They would love to do something like that again . . . Jack Kopacka (Ducks) scored 20 goals two years ago and 30 last season. Hey, how about 40 now?

Will be missed: Top scorer Bobby MacIntyre, 42-goal gunner Zach Senyshyn (Bruins) and Blake Speers (Devils) have graduated. That's a pretty good first line out the door . . . Goalie Joe Raaymakers demanded a trade before camp. Sophomore Matthew Vilalta (Kings) went 25-3 last year and will be the main man in net.

Big stat: They've won at least 44 games and their division three of the past four years, but they're still looking for a trip to the final and return to the glory days of the early '90s.

Prediction: Second. They're the class of the West Division again.



- - -

LONDON KNIGHTS

The brass: Dale Hunter starts 17th season as coach. The team hasn't missed the playoffs under Hunter rule and they usually go deep.

Last year: 46-15-3-4, 99 points. 4th in West. Lost to Erie in 2nd round, seventh-game OT.

Heroes: Only three players -- Victor Mete (Canadiens), Cliff Pu (Sabres), Robert Thomas (Blues) -- left from regular duty on '16 Memorial Cup squad . . . Swede Jesper Bratt (Devils) is quick enough to light it up . . . D-man Evan Bouchard and centre Liam Foudy are on track for big NHL draft seasons.

Will be missed: Money goalie Tyler Parsons (Flames) won world junior gold (shootout) and Memorial Cup (overtime) in his tenure. It's up to Tyler Johnson and Jordan Kooy to hold the fort . . . Three forwards -- Mitchell Stephens (Lightning), Janne Kuokkanen (Hurricanes), Max Jones (Ducks) -- accounted for 24 of team's 43 playoff goals last spring. If Jones makes the NHL, kiss all that clutch good-bye . . . D-man Olli Juolevi (Canucks) likely won't be back, even if he doesn't crack Vancouver's lineup.

Big stat: They've had a top-three power play the past five years. Don't expect different.

Prediction: They're a contender again. Just don't bank on huge deadline-day deals to load up.



- - -

KITCHENER RANGERS

The brass: Mike McKenzie (TSN insider Bob's son) takes his turn in the GM chair. Jay McKee (2nd year) is team's fourth coach in six seasons.

Last year: 36-27-3-2, Sixth in West. Lost in 1st round to Owen Sound in 5.

Heroes: Panthers pick Adam Mascherin (35-65-100) has the shot to score 50 . . . Huge D-man Logan Stanley (Jets) was an anchor on Windsor's Memorial Cup winner . . . Connor Bunnaman (Flyers) led team with 37 well-earned goals last year. He'll go to the net for another 40-plus . . . Greg Meireles (17-25-42) will be one of the top scorers.

Will be missed: Goalie Luke Opilka (Blues) is on the shelf again after hip surgery. The Rangers brought in Anthony Dumont-Bouchard, an ex-Quebec leaguer . . . Former 1st rounder Elijah Roberts gets a new start in Niagara . . . D-men Frank Hora and Dylan Di Perna played a lot of minutes last year . . . Darby Llewellyn was usually good for 20 goals.

Big stat: Pint-sized Joseph Garreffa is exciting with the puck, but it's time for him to produce more than a point per game.

Prediction: The Rangers will be an upper-tier squad. Just don't see them getting past the top three.



- - -

SARNIA STING

The brass: The ownership gang is all here. Recently retired NHLer David Legwand is helping Derian Hatcher coach this year.

Last year: 31-30-6-1, 69 points. Eighth in West. Swept by Erie in 1st round.

Heroes: Jordan Kyrou (Blues) had 30 goals and 94 points last year. So he should cruise over 100 . . . Adam Ruzicka (Flames) scored 25 in his first OHL season. He has enough weapons around him including Anthony Salinitri (Flyers) to bump that up . . . Overage goalie Justin Fazio can be one of the better stoppers in the league. If he's the Sting's best player most nights, that's a good sign.

Will be missed: Jeff King posted 56 points from the back end last year. Throw in Kevin Spinozzi and that's nearly 100 points from the blue-line gone. Jordan Ernst, the next guy up, spent the pre-season as a forward . . . Overager Troy Lajeunesse has to score as much as graduated Jaden Lindo (21 goals) did last year.

Big stat: Centre Drake Rymsha (Kings) struck for 20 goals in 28 games after trade from Ottawa.

Prediction: Fifth. Hatcher wants to challenge for the division title. Smart, because it'll be hard to survive the first round without one.



- - -

FLINT FIREBIRDS

The brass: Barclay Branch, son of OHL commissioner David Branch, took over the GM role after a couple of seasons with Sudbury.

Last year: 32-28-3-5, 72 points. 7th in West. Lost in 1st round to the Soo in 5.

Heroes: Ryan Moore (39-51-90) still has 35-goal gunner Nicholas Caamano (Stars) to work with. So he could be a top-five scorer as an overager . . . Ty Dellandrea is fun to watch. He should pick up a bigger scoring role as a sophomore . . . Luke Cavallin looks like the team's future in net, but overager Garrett Forrest has to be the present after the release of Connor Hicks.

Will be missed: Losing Kole Sherwood (Blue Jackets) up front is a big one. He just clicked on Flint's top line, posting 33 goals and 85 points . . . The Firebirds watched 133 d-man points fly out the window with the graduation of captain Alex Peters, Mathieu Henderson and Jalen Smereck. Dennis Busby and Fedor Gordeev better hit the net.

Big stat: The Firebirds jumped 26 points in the standings from their disastrous first season. If they can add 10-15 more, they're in business.

Prediction: The back end is worrisome, but it's like that for a lot of teams.



- - -

ERIE OTTERS

The brass: Chris Hartsburg (Craig's son) returns to the club after three years with USHL's Lincoln Stars. This time, he's the head coach with Kris Knoblauch in Philly.

Last year: 50-15-2-1, 103 points. 1st in West. Won OHL title. Lost Memorial Cup final to host Windsor.

Heroes: Taylor Raddysh (Lightning) will be expected to produce as a 100-point scorer, even without the same supporting cast . . . The Otters believe Kyle Maksimovich is under-valued in junior circles. He usually scores when it matters . . . Overage goalie Troy Timpano won't go 36-8 like he did last year, but they'll gladly take another 30-plus wins out of him.

Will be missed: Canadian Hockey League player of the year Alex DeBrincat (Blackhawks) was a scoring machine all three OHL seasons. He led the league with 65 goals and 127 points last year . . . Oh, yeah, they'll be without captain Dylan Strome (Coyotes), too. He had 75 points in 35 games . . . And d-man Darren Raddysh (Blackhawks), who had 81 points.

Big stat: GM Dave Brown's astute dealing won the OHL last year. Pickups Anthony Cirelli and Warren Foegele injected 28 playoff goals and most of them were huge tallies.

Prediction: The days of four straight 50-win seasons are done. But if they keep Taylor Raddysh, they'll find a way into the dance.



- - -

GUELPH STORM

The brass: George Burnett coached the Storm to the Memorial Cup final 20 years ago. He's returned -- by way of Flint this time -- to serve as GM and bench boss.

Last year: 21-40-5-2, 49 points. 10th in West. Out of playoffs.

Heroes: Ryan Merkley (12-43-55) led all rookie scorers and is primed to be one of the best offensive d-men the league has seen in a while -- maybe since Ryan Ellis. He'll probably never have to deal with a minus-41 again either . . . D Owen Lalonde, second overall pick by Sudbury in 2016, will grow together with Merkley, the No. 1 selection in that draft . . . Isaac Ratcliffe (Flyers) and Givani Smith (Red Wings) combined for 54 goals last year. How about 70-80 this time? . . . First-rounder Tag Bertuzzi gets to play under his dad Todd's retired number banner.

Will be missed: Overage goalie Liam Herbst, a former Knights first-rounder, is at Western University. It's Anthony Popovic's net now . . . Jarrod Skalde, out as coach, made out all right. He's a development coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Big stat: The Storm won a combined 34 games the past two seasons. They wouldn't mind winning that many in 2017-18 alone.

Prediction: Eighth. They can't miss the playoffs three years in a row, can they?



- - -

SAGINAW SPIRIT

The brass: Former Kitchener boss and Hamilton assistant Troy Smith is back in business behind the bench after one-and-done Spencer Carbery joined the Providence Bruins.

Last year: 27-32-7-2, 63 points. 9th in West. Out of playoffs.

Heroes: Former fourth-overall pick Blade Jenkins de-committed from the University of Michigan, on track to be a national power over the next couple of years, to join the Spirit for his NHL draft year. He must be one of the best young d-men in the league . . . Evan Cormier (Devils) should see a lot of rubber again this year. That's nothing new . . . Keaton Middleton (Leafs) will use his large frame to keep scorers honest in the Spirit zone . . . D-man Marcus Crawford had five assists in one game in Sarnia last season. More outings like that, please.

Will be missed: Yikes, their top three scorers -- Hayden Hodgson, import Filip Hronek, Kris Bennett -- are graduated. Brady Gilmour (26 goals) is next man up . . . D Markus Niemelainen (Oilers) went back to Finland to play.

Big stat: The Spirit lost 13 of their first 15 games last year. That doomed them early.

Prediction: They shouldn't miss the playoffs again. But they're in tough.



- - -

WINDSOR SPITFIRES

The brass: Trevor Letowski takes over coaching duties for Rocky Thompson, now with the Chicago Wolves.

Last year: 41-19-5-3, 90 points. 5th in West. Lost in 1st round to London. Rebounded to win Memorial Cup on home ice.

Heroes: Goalie Mikey DiPietro (Canucks) is a goalie of the year candidate -- whether he stays in his hometown all season or not . . . Always admired Aaron Luchuk's uncanny ability to score big goals. He got four in the London series, then two more at the Cup. He'll get 35 goals this year, easy . . . A healthy Logan Brown (Senators) would help. He missed half the season last year. Top scorer Gabe Vilardi (Kings) has a back sprain. That sets the Spits back in a big way.

Will be missed: D-man Mikhail Sergachev (Lightning) said, "Going back to junior isn't an option." GM Warren Rychel would have the CHL's biggest trade chip if the Russian ever landed back in Windsor . . . Who led the Spitfires in playoff goals last spring? Jeremiah Addison (Canadiens). He's too old for the league now. Same with Jalen Chatfield . . . The Logan Stanley deal to Kitchener is a sign of things to come.

Big stat: The Spits still haven't made it past the first round since 2011. But they'll take that Cup win at home anytime.

Prediction: They need to rebuild the organization. So expect the trading of veterans.







- - -

PETERBOROUGH PETES

The brass: GM Mike Oke signed a two-year extension to steer this ship until at least 2019-20. This is Jody Hull's sixth season as head coach. He's been with the club since 2005.

Last year: 42-21-2-3, 89 points. 1st in East. Swept in 3rd round by Mississauga.

Heroes: If Dylan Wells (Oilers) can be a goalie of the year candidate, the Petes will be laughing . . . Matthew Timms (11-52-63) led the team in scoring from the back end (not including Leafs pick Nikita Korostelev's production with Sarnia). He was third among all defencemen . . . Jonathan Ang (Panthers) is capable of being one of the most dangerous forwards in the league. Now's the time . . . Logan DeNoble, a hometown captain candidate, has 40-goal potential.

Will be missed: Graduated Stephen Lorentz (Hurricanes) scored nine goals in 12 playoff games . . . Kyle Jenkins and Matthew Spencer's blue-line presence must be replaced.

The stat: Last year, the Petes reached the 40-win mark for the first time since 2006 -- their most recent OHL title.

Prediction: They'll finish atop the East again.



- - -

MISSISSAUGA STEELHEADS

The brass: Second-year head coach James Richmond is now the GM, too.

Last year: 34-21-6-7, 81 points. 2nd in East. Lost in OHL final to Erie in 5.

Heroes: Owen Tippett (Panthers) scored 44 goals on 284 shots last year. You can see him going for 60 in more than 300 this time . . . Will the McLeod brothers be teammates again? That's up to Michael (Devils) and his NHL pre-season performance . . . Nicolas Hague (Golden Knights) will get 20 goals and 100 penalty minutes as a rearguard. Book it . . . The Trout used a 16-year-old goalie 31 times last year. Jacob Ingham represented himself well. Now, the ante has been upped.

Will be missed: How do you replace Spencer Watson (Kings)? He scored 28 goals in 41 games, then 15 goals and 25 points in 20 playoff tilts. That's getting the job done.

The stat: They won the weak Central Division last season running away despite losing 20 of their first 26 games. They rallied after sitting at the bottom of the OHL standings into December.

Prediction: They'll win the Central again.



- - -

OSHAWA GENERALS

The brass: Coach Bob Jones won't start the season because of illness, so assistants Greg Nemisz and Nathan McIver will run the bench in his absence.

Last year: 40-23-3-2, 85 points. 3rd in East. Lost in 2nd round to Mississauga in 5.

Heroes: It was a bummer to trade away captain Anthony Cirelli and d-man Mitch Vande Sompel at the last deadline, but the Gens will enjoy ex-Otters first rounder Allan McShane for years. He had 21 points in 29 game at age 16 with his new team . . . Just try to stop Domenic Commisso from leading this club offensively. He'll outwork you and get there, anyway . . . Jack Studnicka (Bruins) doubled his points from his rookie season. Now, he's the captain.

Will be missed: Goalie Jeremy Brodeur (son of Marty) won 57 times in 105 games for two years post-Memorial Cup victory. He kept the engine humming . . . D-man Medric Mercier scored 21 times last season and was a power-play force. It really helped without a 30-goal forward on board.

The stat: The Gennies have won at least 40 games four of the past five years. They'll probably do it again.

Prediction: They'll push old rival Peterborough at the top once more.



- - -

HAMILTON BULLDOGS

The brass: GM Steve Staios and coach John Gruden return for a second season together. Ex-Wolves coach David Matsos signed on as an assistant.

Last year: 33-27-4-4, 74 points. 5th in East. Lost in 1st round, seventh-game OT to Kingston.

Heroes: Matthew (Flyers) became the third Strome brother to lead an OHL team in scoring last year. His next trick will be to join Dylan and Ryan with a 100-point season . . . Will Bitten (Canadiens) didn't score as much as everyone thought when he was acquired from Flint. He should be well over a point-a-game this time . . . Connor McMichael is a pretty awesome name to have as a hockey player these days. He's Hamilton's first-rounder and was a potent minor midget scorer.

Will be missed: Michael Cramarossa and Niki Petti both scored 20 goals apiece. They're too old for the league . . . Goalie Dawson Carty went 12-7-1 in 24 appearances after being dealt from Kitchener.

The stat: 200 (goals allowed, or less). That should be an achievable target with their defence corps returning.

Prediction: They're top four all the way on this side.



- - -

KINGSTON FRONTENACS

The brass: Darren Keily and Doug Gilmour switched jobs (Gilmour is now director of hockey operations and Keily the GM). American Jay Varady is in at coach, replacing Paul McFarland, now assistant with the Florida Panthers.

Last year: 33-26-5-4, 75 points. 4th in East. Swept by Peterborough in 2nd round.

Heroes: Jason Robertson (Stars) scored 42 goals last year. No one else had more than 26. He also racked up 18 points in 11 playoff games . . . That 26 belonged to Finn Linus Nyman, who scored a Game 7 OT winner against Hamilton . . . Goalie Jeremy Helvig (Hurricanes) recorded six shutouts in 2016-17, a franchise record . . . Finnish defender Eemeli Rasanen (Leafs) had 30 points on the power play in his first OHL season.

Will be missed: D-man Stephen Desrocher (Leafs) had 86 points in about a year-and-a-half since moving from Oshawa.

The stat: Doug Gilmour had 177 points with Cornwall in 1982-83. The team he built last year scored a league-low 179 goals.

Prediction: They'll find enough offence and face Hamilton in another epic first-round series.



- - -

NIAGARA ICEDOGS

The brass: The Burke family calls every shot now -- from the suites to ice level. Bill and Denise own the team, their son Billy coaches it and another son, Joey, is the GM.

Last year: 23-35-6-4, 56 points. 8th in East. Swept by Peterborough in 1st round.

Heroes: Akil Thomas was the only 16-year-old to score 20 goals in the league last year . . . He and Oliver Castleman (18-22-40) are the offensive future of the club . . . Johnny Corneil, now the captain, scored 30 on pure grit and desire . . . Kirill Maksimov (Oilers) should put up a lot of points. That was a good get from the Spirit . . . No goalie made more saves than workhorse Stephen Dhillon (2,114) last year. Here's hoping he doesn't have to make as many this season.

Will be missed: Coach David Bell, who coaxed last year's team into the playoffs. They over-achieved . . . D-man Ryan Mantha led the OHL with 317 shots on goal. He had 29 power-play points, too.

The stat: Lucky Dogs had 310 power-play opportunities in 2016-17. That was second in the league -- behind only Flint.

Prediction: Fourteen rookies played in St. Catharines last season. That experience will pay off this year.



- - -

NORTH BAY BATTALION

The brass: Stan Butler

Last year: 24-38-4-2, 54 points. 9th in East. Out of playoffs.

Heroes: A healthy Cam Dineen (Coyotes) means everything to the Troops' back end. He'll put up a bunch of points. A full season of Riley Bruce (Flames) will help, too . . . Overage forward Brett McKenzie (Canucks) led the way at a point-a-game pace last season. He's a difference-maker . . . Justin Brazeau is big and capable of putting the puck in the net. He might get 30-plus goals this season.

Will be missed: With veteran goalie Brent Moran graduated, it will be up to Julian Sime to protect home base. He had two shutouts last year. Former Knights Memorial Cup stopper Adam Dennis, a Troops assistant, will help him . . . Heavy-hitting d-man Zach Shankar landed with the IceDogs via trade. He led North Bay with 120 penalty minutes and held opponents accountable.

The stat: The Battalion must fix the worst home power play in the league. They only scored 21 times on it last season.

Prediction: They missed the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. That won't happen again.



- - -

BARRIE COLTS

The brass: This is Dale Hawerchuk's eighth season as coach. He's been past the first round five times and missed the playoffs twice.

Last year: 17-44-6-1, 41 points. 10th in East. Out of playoffs.

Heroes: First-overall pick Ryan Suzuki's brother Nick (Attack) scored 20 goals in his first OHL season. You know he would like to beat that . . . He'll have some import help with Russians Andrei Svechnikov and Alexey Lipanov . . . Colts brought in veteran goalie Leo Lazarev from Ottawa. He played 43 games last year for the 67's . . . Small forward Lucas Chiodo looks like a point-per-game forward.

Will be missed: Leading scorer Anthony Stefano (22-34-56) paced the second-worst offence in franchise history . . . They did have three 20-goal men, including Roy Radke, who is playing in Europe.

The stat: Despite their woes, Barrie was pretty scrappy. They earned 23 points from shootouts and overtime. That total was third-best in the conference.

Prediction: Better, but still awfully young.



- - -

OTTAWA 67'S

The brass: James Boyd is the GM after 13 years in Mississauga. He played for the 67's in 1994-95. Andre Tourigny, who coached Halifax last year, is behind the 67's bench. He used to be a Senators assistant.

Last year: 26-34-7-1, 60 points. 7th in East. Lost in 1st round to Mississauga in 6.

Heroes: Barber Poles need big season out of Sasha Chmelevski (Sharks), Sarnia's former first pick. He had 21 goals last year . . . Austen Keating should lead the team in scoring. He was second last year with 63 points . . . Noel Hoefenmayer (14-26-40) gives the squad a little offensive punch at the back.

Will be missed: Russian top gun Artur Tyanulin (24-61-85) will play at home for Ak Bars Kazan . . . Big overage d-man Chris Martenet (Stars) had 10 points in 28 games after trade from London.

The stat: The 67's only won five playoff games in three years for ex-coach Jeff Brown.

Prediction: They won't win any postseason games this year, either.



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SUDBURY WOLVES

The brass: Long-time NHLer Cory Stillman is Sudbury's sixth head coach since 2009. Rob Papineau is the new GM, replacing Barclay Branch.

Last year: 27-34-7-0, 61 points. Late surge earned them 6th in East. Lost in 1st round to Oshawa in 6.

Heroes: Russian Dmitry Sokolov (Wild) had 48 goals last year. He could lead the league in that category in his third season . . . 2016 first overall pick David Levin (18-35-53) needs to be a game-changer now . . . Macauley Carson has turned into a confident scorer. He'll improve on last year's 30 goals . . . Goalie Jake McGrath had an interesting year. The Wolves were the only OHL team without a shootout loss -- but they dropped seven in overtime.

Will be missed: D-man Aiden Jamieson and gritty forward CJ Yakimowicz brought their London experience to a young squad last year . . . Former forward Alan Lyszczarczyk had nine exhibition points with Owen Sound.

The stat: The Wolves were the OHL's most penalized team in 2016-17 (982 minutes). Stillman wasn't a big PIMs guy in his career, so it'll be interesting to see if things change.

Prediction: It'll take a while to turn around.
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Re: 2017-18 Season predictions thread

Postby Digger on Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:31 pm

2017/18 OHL Season Preview: Western Conference
Part two of my season preview examines what to expect from the Western Conference. I think that the Conference is very top heavy this year with a few teams at the top being considerably better than the rest. That's not to say that I believe the rest of the Conference to be poor, just that I really like the make-up of a couple teams near the top.

1. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (West Division Champs)
A weaker division leads me to believe that the Greyhounds should be the top team in not only the Western Conference, but the entire OHL. This is a tremendous team and they could very well be playing in the league's weakest division this year too. Usually a recipe for success. Offensively, this team is super deep and they play the game extremely hard. A top 6 of Morgan Frost, Boris Katchouk, Jack Kopacka, Tim Gettinger, Barrett Hayton, and Hayden Verbeek should be among the best in the league. I look at Hayton, in particular, as a big time breakout candidate in his draft year. Conor Timmins, Noah Carroll, and Mac Hollowell make up a veteran top 3 on the back-end, with one of Anthony DeMeo or Jacob LeGuerrier sliding into the top four. Timmins should have another monster season. And lastly, the Hounds enter the season as one of the few contenders in the Conference without a question mark in goal. Matthew Villalta will be the starter and should build off of a solid rookie season last year. Joseph Raaymakers continues to hold out at home, awaiting a trade. With the number of teams needing a starter in the league, I'm actually shocked that he hasn't been moved yet. I wonder if the Hounds can get a veteran defender back for him.

2. Owen Sound Attack (Midwest Division Champs)
Should be another strong season for the Attack. Owen Sound is returning the vast majority of their forwards from last season, including their entire first line of Nick Suzuki, Jonah Gadjovich, and Kevin Hancock. Another year wiser, and stronger, that top unit should absolutely tear apart the OHL. Some combination of Alan Lyszczarczyk (who was a great pick up), Ethan Szypula, Maksim Sushko, Aidan Dudas, and Matthew Struthers will provide the secondary scoring for what should be one of the highest scoring teams in the league. I suppose the one question I have is how well will they keep pucks out? I'm not convinced that Zack Bowman can be the top line starter that they need him to be. And I'm also not convinced that the team won't feel the loss of Santino Centorame. Markus Phillips is a guy who will need to play at the level he was at in the second half last year. He needs to emerge as one of the league's elite defenders to bring this team to the top of the Conference. I also look to Jacob Friend to stay healthy and contribute more on the offensive end. Even with a few minor question marks, I'd be shocked if this team wasn't one of the best in the league.

3. Kitchener Rangers
Maybe a bit of a bold prediction. But this is a strong team on paper and I just have a gut feeling that it will translate to a terrific performance this year (and the exhibition season indicated that as well). Healthy, I see Adam Mascherin having a beastly season that could see him as a Red Tilson candidate. He's supported by a very deep group of forwards like the underrated Connor Bunnaman and the highly motivated Greg Meireles. Also feel that the two imports Kitchener brought in (Hugg and Liska) are going to be impact players. Additionally I really like the way Kitchener's defense is lining up. A ton of size. A ton of truculence. This should be a tough unit to line up against. I suppose there are some questions as to who moves the puck, but Logan Stanley, Connor Hall, Doug Blaisdell, and Gio Vallati are a terrific top four. The question mark is in net, but many of the West contenders are entering the season with similar concerns (London, Guelph, Owen Sound). With all the guys that Kitchener has brought in to the fold (like OA Anthony Dumont-Bouchard), you have to think one guy can step up to provide quality goaltending. Ultimately, I think that guy is Luke Richardson, but I guess we'll see. Again, I just like the make up of this team and have high expectations.

4. London Knights
Hard to imagine London struggling this year, even with some major graduations from last year's team (especially Tyler Parsons). This is still a very talented team. I wouldn't be shocked if Max Jones spends time in the NHL this year and is returned late, but Cliff Pu, Robert Thomas, Alex Formenton, Jesper Bratt, and Sam Miletic will hold down the fort and should give the Knights a consistent scoring attack. And Victor Mete and Evan Bouchard are an excellent guaranteed top 2 on the back-end, and it looks like Olli Juolevi could be back thanks to a poor training camp in Vancouver. Certainly not as good of a defense as in year's past, but those three could all see 30+ minutes a night. And in net, Tyler Johnson and Jordan Kooy should provide a decent 1/2 punch. Bottom line, this London team is going to have to score goals to win hockey games without Tyler Parsons back there and they've got the offensive talent to do that.

5. Guelph Storm
Big jump for the Storm this year but they're talented enough to do it. Their talented youngsters are another year older and are now supported by the likes of Alexei Toropchenko, Cam Hillis, Owen Lalonde, and Mark Shoemaker. Up front, I absolutely love this team and I can't wait to see what they can do at full staff. Givani Smith, Isaac Ratcliffe, Nate Schnarr, James McEwan, Toropchenko, and Hillis is an excellent top 6 and one that should be very exciting to watch. But the depth on the 3rd and 4th lines should be better now with the addition of Zach Poirier and improvements from Liam Hawel and Nick Deakin-Poot. This team will score goals. Defensively, the addition of Owen Lalonde was huge and just what this team needed. Merkley, Lalonde, Samorukov, and Garrett McFadden. That's a defensive unit that can create offensively. Again, this team will score goals. Don't take penalties against this team as their powerplay should be deadly. The huge question mark is in net and it makes or breaks this team as a potential top 4 team in the Conference. Ultimately, I think they go out and get a goalie (Raaymakers?), but until then Popovich and Daws will hold down the fort. Because of the high risk/high reward style I expect Guelph to play, goaltending will be critical.

6. Saginaw Spirit
Hey, look, someone else from the West Division is going to need to play well and end up as a middle of the Conference team. Quite frankly, it could be any of Saginaw, Sarnia, Flint or Windsor. But here's why I think Saginaw is the best bet. Defense and goaltending. Even though Evan Cormier hasn't really established himself as one of the league's elite yet, it's his overage year and he's fighting for a contract. So he needs a big year. And on defense, you've got a solid top four of Marcus Crawford, Keaton Middleton, Hayden Davis, and Caleb Everett. Preventing goals with a similar unit was an issue last year, but hopefully that's corrected this year with more motivated players. Offensively, this is an underrated team. No true star, but a lot of quality top 9 forwards who can bring speed and tenacity. Brady Gilmour should be better this year. You've got some talented 2000's in their draft year (Giroux, Grondin), and I actually think recently drafted 2001's Nick Porco and Aiden Prueter could have big seasons. With the right mind set and game plan, this is a team that could find success in a weak division. And if they don't, and disappoint again, ownership needs to come up with a new game plan.

7. Erie Otters
This team could be a lot better than people are giving them credit for. If they played in the West Division, I'd have them much higher in the Conference. But I'm not sure they've got the depth this year to consistently beat the likes of Kitchener, Owen Sound, London, and even Guelph. Someone has to finish at the bottom of that division. I also think that at some point this season, the Otters deal off talent (even if Dave Brown says otherwise), to recoup assets lost over the last few years. It's certainly rare for all five teams in a division to end up with winning records and a playoff birth, but it happens, and it happened in the West as recent as 2014/15. Up front, Erie should be able to put the puck in the net with two solid scoring lines and a quality powerplay unit led by Taylor Raddysh and Ivan Lodnia. The defense is a veteran laden group (although less so when they figure out their OA situation, likely) led by Jordan Sambrook. And in net, Troy Timpano is good enough and consistent enough to get this team to the playoffs yet again. You win on the back of your stars and Erie has those. At least until January, I expect this team to be pretty solid.

8. Sarnia Sting
If I was a betting man, I'd put my money on one of Saginaw or Sarnia to be that other team from the Midwest to make a bit of noise. But they're very different teams. Sarnia has top end talent but little depth, which is different than the deep/balanced team I analyzed earlier in Saginaw. The Sting will score goals, just as they did last year. Jordan Kyrou is going to have a monster year (so long as he returns from Blues camp). Drake Rymsha will be better. Adam Ruzicka will be better. Anthony Salinitri will be better. Ryan McGregor will be better. This team will put the puck in the net. But will they keep the puck out? I'm just not sure. A very young defense in the Western Conference can be a dicey proposition. You could be in trouble if you're relying on a guy like Nick Grima to be a top 2 defender and one of your veteran leaders on the back end. And I just don't think Justin Fazio is a good enough goaltender to carry a young defense to a significant record. I suppose the real question is, if Sarnia ends up near the bottom of the Conference again (which seems inevitable to me), do they move Kyrou to a contender for a King's ransom? I think the answer to that has to be yes.

9. Flint Firebirds
Slight step backward here for the Firebirds after a tremendous season last year. I have full belief in this team moving forward. They've drafted well and they have a great coaching staff. But I just don't see them being able to make a consistent impact this year. A super young defense (although talented) and weak goaltending (even if Cavallin will be great one day) will mean a lot of pucks in the back of the net. Lots of rumours out there about Dennis Busby suffering an injury that will keep him out for at least the first month and that only makes matters worse. Although the Nic Mattinen acquisition does help a bit, I don´t think it will help enough. Nick Caamano, Ryan Moore, and Luke Kirwan form a great veteran back bone offensively, but I'd expect Caamano to be dealt at some point this year so that Flint can further support their rebuild.

10. Windsor Spitfires
Yes, I know that they've had a great preseason. But the preseason means very little for team performance in the OHL. And you guys know how much love I have for Mike Dipietro. He's a stud and he's going to steal some games for this team. But here's what you have to ask yourself. Who's scoring goals and who's playing defense? Gabe Vilardi sounds like he's out for some time again after hurting himself in the offseason. When does he start up? Sounds like Ottawa intends to give Logan Brown every opportunity to make their roster and at the very least, he may get a 9 game look and not return until January. Mikhail Sergachev recently stated that he's done with the OHL and wants to be loaned to a European team should he not make the Lightning. And even with those guys, the depth just isn't there to compete consistently in the Western Conference. Now, of course, if all three of those guys return, certain guys step up, and Dipietro stands on his head, I could look like a fool here. But that's a lot of if's and buts that I just don't see happening.



Brock Otten at 9:46 AM
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