21 CHL players to represent Canada at 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup

CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada has wrapped up its five-day National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team selection camp by naming the 21 CHL players who will represent the nation at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup Aug. 7-12 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Bratislava, Slovakia.

Of the 21 CHL players named to the roster, eight come out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, seven are from the Ontario Hockey League and six are from the Western Hockey League.

All but two of the 21 CHL players represented their country at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge – an international tournament hosted annually in Canada that features three Canadian teams (Red, White, Black) and five international teams. Canada’s team also includes 15 CHL players who’ve worn the red-and-white in international competition overseas – six having donned the Team Canada jersey at the 2017 IIHF U18 World Championship in Poprad and Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia, in April (Dellandrea, Gravel, McIsaac, Smith, Thomas, Woo); and 11 having competed for Canada at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway (Burzan, Dudas, Fortier, Gravel, Groulx, MacDonald, McIsaac, Merkley, Rodrigue, Smith, Woo). Joe Veleno (Saint John Sea Dogs) returns to the line-up as the only Canadian player to have represented Canada twice at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, having been part of the 2016 team.

“We’ve had a great selection camp here in Calgary, with all 44 players showing us what they’re made of,” said Brent Kisio (Lethbridge Hurricanes), head coach of Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team. “As a best-on-best tournament, the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup allows us to showcase the very best Canadian talent in this age group. We are ready to make Canadians proud with how we represent them on and off the ice.”

Kisio and assistant coaches Drew Bannister (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) and Daniel Jacob (Blainville-Boisbriand Armada), along with Hockey Canada’s new head scout Brad McEwen (Whitewood, Sask.) and regional scout Barclay Branch (Flint Firebirds), joined Bruce Hamilton (Kelowna Rockets) of the management group of Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence to select this year’s Hlinka roster from the 42 CHL players who attended the selection camp.

Canada has won gold 20 times in 25 years of summer under-18 competition and will play in Group B this year with Finland, Russia, and Slovakia; Group A consists of the Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.

The Canadians will face the Czech Republic in a pre-tournament game on Aug. 5 in Breclav, and officially open the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup on Aug. 7 against Russia. The top two teams from each group advance to the semifinals on Friday, Aug. 11, with the gold-medal game scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 12.

Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup coming to Canada

In addition to sending its players and team staff to the Ivan Hlinka tournament, members of Hockey Canada’s events department will join representatives from Oilers Entertainment Group, the City of Edmonton, and Tourism Edmonton as the groups prepare to host the 2018 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.

As announced last November , Hockey Canada, the Czech Ice Hockey Association, and the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation have struck a partnership to host the prestigious summer hockey staple on Canadian ice on a bi-annual basis. Edmonton will host the tournament in 2018, 2020, and 2022.

The Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup is traditionally held in August, and Hockey Canada expects the regional economic impact of hosting in Edmonton could top $5 million based on the results from hosting similar events of this size and scope.

21 CHL Players Named to Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team:

Alexis Gravel (Halifax Mooseheads)
Olivier Rodrigue (Drummondville Voltigeurs)

Calen Addison (Lethbridge Hurricanes)
Kevin Bahl (Ottawa 67’s)
Noah Dobson (Acadie-Bathurst Titan)
Jared McIsaac (Halifax Mooseheads)
Ryan Merkley (Guelph Storm)
Ty Smith (Spokane Chiefs)
Jett Woo (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Luka Burzan (Moose Jaw Warriors)
Ty Dellandrea (Flint Firebirds)
Aidan Dudas (Owen Sound Attack)
Nolan Foote (Kelowna Rockets)
Gabriel Fortier (Baie-Comeau Drakkar)
Barrett Hayton (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Anderson MacDonald (Sherbrooke Phoenix)
Serron Noel (Oshawa Generals)
Benoit-Olivier Groulx (Halifax Mooseheads)
Jackson Shepard (Kamloops Blazers)
Akil Thomas (Niagara IceDogs)
Joe Veleno (Saint John Sea Dogs)

For more information on Hockey Canada and the Program of Excellence, please visit HockeyCanada.ca or follow along via social media on FacebookTwitter, and Twitter.com/HC_Men.

Is the Exodus of Coaches Concern?

As someone who has followed junior hockey since the early 1970’s, I can’t recall an off-season with so many changes in the front offices or behind the benches of Ontario Hockey League team’s. As of today, there will be 8 General Manager changes, 9 head coaching changes as well as 8 assistant coaches moving onto different, and in some cases, better opportunities.

That’s approaching near 50% level.

But why such a turnover?

The obvious answer is that National Hockey League teams are looking to acquire good young talent to, in the future, replace some aging coaches. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t believe NHL (or AHL) opportunities wouldn’t arise for Memorial Cup Champion and former Windsor Spitfires Coach Rocky Thompson, who accepted the head coaching job with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. Or to the OHL Champion and Memorial Cup finalist former coach of the Erie Otters Kris Knoblauch, who will be behind the bench of the Philadelphia Flyers as an assistant.

Rocky Thompson of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Rocky Thompson of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Of all the coaching changes, if I had to choose one that comes as a surprise, it would be the former  Saginaw Spirit Head Coach Spencer Carbery hiring as an assistant coach of the Providence Bruins of the AHL. Even so, Carbery brings with him some credentials and his coaching style fits perfectly to what Bruins NHL coach Bruce Cassidy wants to accomplish.

Here is the list of coaching changes:

Team Coach Reason for leaving
Guelph Jarrod Skalde April 6, 2017. The Storm announced he would not return as head coach.
Ottawa Jeff Brown April 24, 2017 Submits his resignation. 
Sudbury David Matsos May 24, 2017 Mutual agreement. June 24 named Associate Coach of Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
Windsor Rocky Thompson June 7, 2017 Named head Coach if Chicago Wolves (AHL)
Erie Kris Knoblauch June 7, 2017 Joins Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) as an assistant coach.
Kingston Paul McFarland June 24, 2017 Joins Florida Panthers (NHL) as an assistant coach. 
Owen Sound Ryan McGill June 29, 2017 Joins Vegas Golden Knights (NHL) as an assistant coach.
Niagara David Bell July 25, 2017 Joins Ontario Reign (AHL) as an assistant coach. 
Saginaw Spencer Carbery July 25, 2017 Joins Providence Bruins (AHL) as an assistant coach. 

When it comes to General Managers, it is more a shuffling of the deck. The biggest surprise comes out of Kingston where Doug Gilmour and Darren Keily virtually swap roles. Gilmour said in a press release on July 13, that an upcoming tour for his new book Killer was the sole reason for the change as the tour would keep him away from performing his duties.

Kitchener Rangers’ GM Murray Heibert was all set to retire at the end of the 2016-2017 season but was convinced to stay on for one season as Director of Hockey operations. And there is the Flint Firebirds continuing saga (we won’t get into that). George Burnett moves on to take the GM role with the Guelph Storm and the OHL appoints Barclay Branch (formerly of the Sudbury Wolves) as the new GM.

Here is the list of General Manager changes:

Team GM Reason for leaving
Kitchener Murray Heibert March 31, 2017. Steps down as GM to become Director of Hockey Operations. Replaced by Mike McKenzie
Flint George Burnett April 17, 2017 leaves the Firebirds to take over the Guelph Storm. Replaced by Barclay Branch
Sudbury Barclay Branch April 17, 2017 Submits his resignation. Appointed by the OHL as Vice-President and GM of Flint Firebirds. Replaced by Rob Papineau
Ottawa Jeff Brown April 24, 2017 Submits his resignation. Replaced by James Boyd.
Niagara Marty Williamson May 26, 2016 Was dismissed by the IceDogs. On April 26, 2017 officially announced Joey Burke as replacement.
Mississauga James Boyd May 23, 2017. Mutual parting of ways after contract talks stalled. Now with Ottawa. Replaced by Head Coach James Richmond.
Guelph Mike Kelly May 31, 2017. Announced in February he would step down when contract expired. Relpaced by George Burnett.
Kingston Doug Gilmour July 13, 2017. Gilmour stays on as President,  Darren Keily takes over as GM. 

2017 CHL Import Draft Results

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced the final results of the 2017 CHL Import Draft.

The 26th annual CHL Import Draft included a total of 72 players consisting of 50 forwards and 22 defencemen selected from 11 different countries featuring a draft-high 19 players from Russia.

The two-round draft took place online with the order of selection rotating through each of the CHL’s three leagues using an inverse order of final regular season standings within each league from the 2016-17 season.

The Barrie Colts used the first overall pick to acquire Russian forward Andrei Svechnikov, a 2018 NHL Draft prospect who recently earned bronze at the 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.  His international hockey success this season also included a MVP performance at the World Junior A Challenge, and a bronze medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge where he led the tournament in points.  The Moncton Wildcats used the second overall pick to select fellow Russian forward and 2018 NHL Draft prospect Alexander Khovanov who was an Under-17 teammate of Svechnikov capturing bronze in Sault Ste. Marie last November.  At third overall the Kootenay ICE selected Switzerland’s Gilian Kohler, a forward also eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft.


The 2017 CHL Import Draft featured 11 players previously selected by NHL teams in 2016 and 2017 drafts.  Of that group, five players were selected in the first two rounds this past weekend in Chicago including first round picks Martin Necas (12th, Carolina) chosen 10th overall by the Saginaw Spirit, Timothy Liljegren (17th, Toronto) chosen 13th overall by the Niagara IceDogs, and Filip Chytil (21st, New York Rangers) chosen seventh overall by the North Bay Battalion.  Second round NHL Draft picks selected in the Import Draft include Alexandre Texier (45th, Columbus) taken 17th overall by the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, and Joni Ikonen (58th, Montreal) chosen 28th overall by the Hamilton Bulldogs.

A total of 37 players selected in the 2017 CHL Import Draft are first-year eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft, while four players selected are not eligible for the NHL Draft until 2019.

Each team in the CHL is permitted to dress and play a maximum of two import players each season who are selected annually through the CHL Import Draft.

2017 CHL Import Draft Summary:

Draft Picks by Position:
Forward – 50
Defence – 22

Draft Picks by Country:
Russia – 19
Czech Republic – 15
Sweden – 8
Slovakia – 7
Belarus – 6
Germany – 6
Finland – 4
Switzerland – 4
Denmark – 1
France – 1
Slovenia – 1

Draft picks by Birthdate and NHL Status:
2000-born late and 2019 NHL Draft eligible – 4
2000-born and 2018 NHL Draft eligible – 29
1999-born late and 2018 NHL Draft eligible – 8
1999-born and 2017 NHL Drafted – 8
1999-born early and NHL Undrafted – 15
1998-born and NHL Drafted – 3
1998-born and NHL Undrafted – 5

NHL Draft picks in CHL Import Draft:
4. Alexei Toropchenko (Guelph – 4th round to St. Louis in 2017)
7. Filip Chytil (North Bay – 1st round to NY Rangers in 2017)
10. Martin Necas (Saginaw – 1st round to Carolina in 2017)
13. Timothy Liljegren (Niagara – 1st round to Toronto in 2017)
17. Alexandre Texier (Baie-Comeau – 4th round to Columbus in 2017)
28. Joni Ikonen (Hamilton – 2nd round to Montreal in 2017)
41. Jan Drozg (Shawinigan – 5th round to Pittsburgh in 2017)
45. Oleg Sosunov (Moose Jaw – 6th round to Tampa Bay in 2016)
49. Jesper Bratt (London – 6th round to New Jersey in 2016)
53. Ostap Safin (Saint John – 4th round to Edmonton in 2017)
119. Linus Nassen (Medicine Hat – 3rd round to Florida in 2016)

A total of 15 players acquired through the CHL Import Draft were recently selected in the 2017 NHL Draft including New Jersey Devils first overall pick Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads. Other first round picks included Finnish defencemen Juuso Valimaki of the Tri-City Americans selected 16th overall by the Calgary Flames and Henri Jokiharju of the Portland Winterhawks selected 29th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Last season a total of 79 players were selected from 11 different countries led by 24 players from Russia and consisting of 53 forwards and 26 defencemen.

OHL Announces 2017 Exhibition Game Schedule

Press Release

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the exhibition game schedule for the 2017-18 season.

The schedule includes 45 games from Friday September 1 through Sunday September 17 and also features a six-team Pre-Season Showcase in partnership with Buffalo’s HarborCenter.

The HarborCenter OHL Showcase features the host Erie Otters along with the Flint Firebirds, Kitchener Rangers, North Bay Battalion, Peterborough Petes, and Windsor Spitfires each playing three games from September 1-3 to help open the exhibition season.  The HarborCenter has been the three-year host of the NHL Scouting Combine and will also host the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The showcase schedule at HarborCenter will also coincide with an elite eight-team U15 AAA Invitational Tournament featuring the Buffalo Jr. Sabres and some of the best competition from across North America giving hockey fans the opportunity to see the next wave of OHL Priority Selection talent.

All OHL clubs will play between two and six exhibition games with at least one game on home ice with the exception of five teams who will host off-site contests in community rinks including the Erie Otters (Komoka), Flint Firebirds (Iceland), Hamilton Bulldogs (Ancaster and Stoney Creek), Mississauga Steelheads (Hershey Centre 2 and Westwood), and Oshawa Generals (Pickering and Bowmanville).

The 681-game OHL regular season opens on Thursday September 21, 2017.

The complete exhibition schedule is listed below and attached and is also available at www.ontariohockeyleague.com.

2017 OHL Exhibition Game Schedule:

Fri. Sept 1 Flint vs Windsor 12:30 (OHL Showcase at Buffalo’s HarborCenter)

Fri. Sept 1 Kitchener vs North Bay 4:00 (OHL Showcase at Buffalo’s HarborCenter)

Fri. Sept 1 Erie vs Peterborough (OHL Showcase at Buffalo’s HarborCenter)

Fri. Sept 1 Guelph at Hamilton 7:00 (Ancaster’s Firestone Arena)

Fri. Sept 1 Oshawa at Kingston 7:00

Fri. Sept 1 Barrie at Niagara 7:00

Fri. Sept 1 Sarnia at London 7:30

Sat. Sept 2 North Bay vs Windsor 12:30 (OHL Showcase at Buffalo’s HarborCenter)

Sat. Sept 2 Peterborough vs Kitchener 4:00 (OHL Showcase at Buffalo’s HarborCenter)

Sat. Sept 2 Erie vs Flint 7:30 (OHL Showcase at Buffalo’s HarborCenter)

Set. Sept 2 Guelph at Mississauga 7:00 (Hershey Centre 2)

Sat. Sept 2 Sault Ste. Marie at Saginaw 7:00

Sat. Sept 2 London at Sarnia 7:05

Sun. Sept 3 Flint vs North Bay 12:30 (OHL Showcase at Buffalo’s HarborCenter)

Sun. Sept 3 Windsor vs Peterborough 4:00 (OHL Showcase at Buffalo’s HarborCenter)

Sun. Sept 3 Kitchener vs Erie 7:30 (OHL Showcase at Buffalo’s HarborCenter)

Sun. Sept 3 Ottawa at Kingston 2:00

Sun. Sept 3 Barrie at Owen Sound 2:00

Sun. Sept 3 Saginaw at Sault Ste. Marie 4:07

Mon. Sept 4 Mississauga at Guelph 2:00

Mon. Sept 4 Owen Sound at Barrie 6:00

Tues. Sept 5 Mississauga at Sudbury 7:05

Wed. Sept 13 Kitchener at Mississauga 7:00 (Westwood Arena)

Wed. Sept 13 Owen Sound at Oshawa 7:05 (Pickering Rec Complex)

Wed. Sept 13 North Bay at Sudbury 7:05

Thurs. Sept 14 Hamilton at Guelph 7:00

Thurs. Sept 14 Oshawa at Peterborough 7:05

Thurs. Sept 14 Niagara at Barrie 7:30

Fri. Sept 15 Kitchener at Niagara 7:00

Fri. Sept 15 Kingston at Ottawa 7:00

Fri. Sept 15 Flint at Saginaw 7:00

Fri. Sept 15 Sault Ste. Marie at Sudbury 7:05

Fri. Sept 15 Sarnia at Windsor 7:05

Fri. Sept 15 Erie at London 7:30

Sat. Sept 16 Niagara at Kitchener 2:00

Sat. Sept 16 North Bay at Owen Sound 2:00

Sat. Sept 16 Peterborough at Guelph 7:00

Sat. Sept 16 Saginaw at Flint 7:00 (Iceland Arena)

Sat. Sept 16 London at Erie 7:00 (Komoka Arena)

Sat. Sept 16 Windsor at Sarnia 7:05

Sat. Sept 16 Hamilton at Barrie 7:30

Sun. Sept 17 Owen Sound at North Bay 2:00

Sun. Sept 17 Sudbury at Sault Ste. Marie 2:07

Sun. Sept 17 Barrie at Hamilton 5:00 (Stoney Creek’s Valley Park Arena)

Sun. Sept 17 Peterborough at Oshawa 6:05 (Bowmanville’s Garnet Rickard Rec Complex)

The 2017 OHL Exhibition Game Schedule is subject to change including the potential for additional games to be added at a later date.  All games will once again be scored online and will appear in the digital schedule closer to the commencement of the pre-season.

OHL Announces 2017-18 Regular Season Schedule

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the regular season schedule of games for 2017-18.

OHL Opening Week17-18

#OHLOpeningWeek begins on Thursday September 21 with three games on the schedule including the defending Mastercard Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires at home to the Saginaw Spirit, the OHL champion Erie Otters on the road against the Peterborough Petes, along with the Barrie Colts hosting the Ottawa 67’s.  In total, #OHLOpeningWeek features 20 games through Sunday September 24 and includes 16 home openers.

The 2017-18 schedule includes 681 games this season due to a special inter-league series between the Ottawa 67’s and the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques.  As part of their 50th anniversary celebrations, the 67’s will play their cross-river neighbours twice including in Ottawa on Sunday December 17 and in Gatineau on Friday January 12 with both games counting towards league standing.

Other highlights of the 2017-18 regular season schedule include the raising of OHL Championship banners on Saturday September 30 in Erie as the Otters play host to the Kitchener Rangers for their home opener.  The schedule also includes eight School Day games with morning puck drops.  On Wednesday November 1 the Otters host the Rangers and the 67’s host the Kingston Frontenacs for 10:30 am contests, followed by a trio of morning matchups on Wednesday November 15 including the Flint Firebirds hosting the Sarnia Sting, the Hamilton Bulldogs hosting the Petes, and the Mississauga Steelheads hosting the Otters.  On Wednesday November 29 the Frontenacs host the 67’s at 10:30 am, on Thursday February 8 the Bulldogs host the Colts at 10:30 am, and on Wednesday February 14 the Steelheads host the Rangers at 11:00 am.  Cogeco TV’s Hockey Day in the OHL returns for a fifth straight year taking place on Sunday January 28 with a broadcast triple-header that features Niagara at North Bay at 1:00 pm, Peterborough at Kingston at 4:00 pm, then Sarnia at Hamilton beginning at 7:00 pm.  The two busiest days of the calendar include Thursday December 28 and Friday January 26 that both feature all 20 teams in action, while six different dates feature nine games including Sunday October 29, Friday November 10, Sunday November 19, Friday November 24, Friday February 2, and Family Day on Monday February 19 with every game beginning at 2:00 pm.

The regular season wraps up on Sunday March 18 with five games scheduled before the top eight teams in each conference will compete for the J. Ross Robertson Cup in the 2018 OHL Playoffs.

CHL Special Events this season include the CIBC Canada Russia Series in OHL markets on Thursday November 9 in Owen Sound, and Monday November 13 in Sudbury.  The 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is also hosted by the OHL this season and will be played on Thursday January 25 in Guelph.  The 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup is set for May 17-27 in Regina, Saskatchewan, and will feature the OHL champion along with the host Pats, the Western Hockey League champion, and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion competing in the 100th edition of the CHL’s prestigious national championship.

The 2017-18 campaign features milestones for several clubs including the Battalion’s 20th OHL season and 5th in North Bay, the 45th season for the Frontenacs, and the 55th season for the Rangers.

Divisional alignment remains the same for 2017-18 with all teams playing inter divisional rivals a minimum of six times including three games at home and three on the road, while teams will continue to play a minimum of one home and one road matchup against all 19 other clubs.

 The Ontario Hockey League continues the tradition of being primarily a weekend league in order to accommodate the student athlete with over 89% (607) games scheduled between Thursday and Sunday.  Friday continues to be the busiest night during the season with 187 games scheduled, followed by 163 on Saturdays, and 157 on Sundays.

Day – No. of Games (Percentage)

MON 15 2.2%
TUES 8 1.2%
WED 51 7.5%
THURS 100 14.7%
FRI 187 27.5%
SAT 163 23.9%
SUN 157 23.1%
681 100.0%

The entire 2017-18 OHL Regular Season Schedule is attached but can also be found online at www.ontariohockeyleague.com.

Help promote the launch of the 2017-18 OHL Regular Season on social media by using #OHLOpeningWeek.



Hockey Canada Announces Program of Excellence Goaltending Camp

Hockey Canada has releases the list of goaltenders invited to their Program of Excellence Goaltending Camp that will take place in Calgary Alberta June 9-11, 2017. It is the first evaluation camp for goaltenders who could take part at the Under-17, Under-18 and Under-20 competitions.

Michael DiPietro of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Michael DiPietro of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Michael DiPietro (Windsor – OHL) is the youngest goaltender participating at the Under-20 camp. He is joined by Evan Fitzpatrick (Sherbrooke – QMJHL), Carter Hart (Everett – WHL), Jacob McGrath (Sudbury – OHL), Ian Scott (Prince Albert – WHL), Stuart Skinner (Lethbridge – WHL) and Dylan Wells (Peterborough – OHL).

Participating at the Under-18 camp are: Alexis Gravel (Halifax – QMJHL), Jacob Ingham (Mississauga – OHL), Hunter Jones (Stouffville – OJHL), Jordan Kooy (London – OHL), Kevin Mandolese (Cape Breton – QMJHL), Olivier Rodrigue (Drummondville – QMJHL) and Carl Stankowski (Seattle – WHL).

Invited to the Under-17 camp are: Roman Basran (Yale Hockey Academy – CSSHL), Boston Bilous (Fraser Valley – BCMML), Cole Brady (Ajax/Pickering – ONMMAAA), Luke Cavallin (Kemptville – HEOMAAA), Tommy Da Silva (Collège Charles-Lemoyne LHMAAAQ), Ryan Dugas (Mississauga Reps – ONMAAAA), Byron Fancy (Lethbridge AMHL), Taylor Gauthier (Calgary Buffaloes – AMHL), Mack Guzda (Detroit Honeybaked USU16), Fabio Iacobo (Laval-Montreal – LHMAAAQ), Ethan Langevin (Whitby – ONMMAAA),  Jonathan Lemieux (Collège Antoine-Girouard – LHMAAAQ), Nolan Maier (Yorkton – SMAAAHL), Trent Miner (Brandon – MMAAAHL), Zach Roy (Toronto Young Nationals (ONMMAAA) and Christian Sbaraglia (Vaughan – ONMMAAA).

OHL Writer’s Final Draft Ranking

It’s not your typical National Hockey League Draft. At least not compared to the last few seasons where fans and teams were spoiled.

After Nolan Patrick (Brandon Wheat Kings – WHL) and Nico Hischier (Halifax Mooseheads – QMJHL) who are the consensus top two picks – although there are those including yours truly that would have Hischier at the top, you could break the draft class down into segments of five or ten, shuffle the deck, and it would still be a reasonable ranking.

It’s not as strong or as deep as we’ve seen lately at forward and defence, but it is a strong goaltending class where two goaltenders could go in the first round. If they make it to the second round, there could be as many as five go on the second day.

As we’ve always done in the past, we look only at the players eligible for the first time. Players re-entering the draft or passed over in previous drafts are not included. So, you won’t see the likes of Kevin Hancock, Drake Rymsha, Trenton Bourque or Stephen Dhillon on the rankings.

With our list, you will also see where the player ranked on NHL Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings in January and their final ranking sits overall among North American skaters and goaltenders.

Three OHL players made Central Scouting list that didn’t make my top 44 skaters, Fedor Gordeev, Liam Hawel and Jacob Golden. Taking their place on my list are Matthew Philip, Ben Jones and Macauley Carson, the latter not making Central Scouting’s final list at all.

Here is our final list. You can click on most player’s names for a profile on them written throughout the OHL season. Again, as always, it’s open to criticism.

Gabriel Vilardi of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Gabriel Vilardi of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Rk Player Pos Team CS-Mid CS-FINAL
1 Gabriel Vilardi C/W Windsor 3 4
2 Owen Tippett RW Mississauga 4 7
3 Nick Suzuki C Owen Sound 16 10
4 Jason Robertson LW Kingston 34 14
5 Conor Timmins D Sault Ste Marie 26 18
6 Isaac Ratcliffe LW Guelph 20 15
7 Robert Thomas  C London 28 22
8 Morgan Frost C Sault Ste Marie 29 31
9 Nicolas Hague D Mississauga 11 20
10 Matthew Strome LW Hamilton 19 33
11 Eemeli Rasanen D Kingston 57 32
12 Jonah Gadjovich LW Owen Sound 60 39
13 Adam Ruzicka C Sarnia 27 37
14 Alex Formenton LW London 24 29
15 Mackenzie Entwistle RW Hamilton 35 44
16 Alexander Chmelevski C Ottawa 38 43
17 Ivan Lodnia RW Erie 37 36
18 Dmitri Samorukov D Guelph 122 69
19 Zach Gallant C Peterborough 71 64
20 Nate Schnarr C Guelph 32 47
21 Kirill Maksimov RW Niagara 185 66
22 Markus Phillips D Owen Sound 62 50
23 Brady Lyle D North Bay 53 48
24 Maksim Sushko RW Owen Sound 73 72
25 Greg Meireles C Kitchener 39 93
26 Linus Nyman RW Kingston 102 100
27 Marian Studenic RW Hamilton 86 101
28 Noel Hoefenmayer D Ottawa 41 75
29 Jacob Paquette D Kingston 90 105
30 Adam Thilander D North Bay 59 96
31 Austen Keating LW Ottawa 92 115
32 Sean Durzi D Owen Sound 139 124
33 Macauley Carson LW Sudbury 183 NR
34 Jack Studnicka C Oshawa 80 120
35 Shaw Boomhower C Mississauga 123 112
36 Zachary Roberts LW Owen Sound 180 113
37 Nicholas McHugh LW Kitchener 176 145
38 German Poddubnyi C Erie NR 130
39 Nick Isaacson LW Peterborough 168 148
40 Matthew Philip C Niagara 173 152
41 Ryan McGregor C Sarnia 79 107
42 Dylan Seitz C Kitchener 100 123
43 Cole Coskey RW Saginaw 96 150
44 Ben Jones C Niagara 99 170
1 Michael DiPietro G Windsor 7 4
2 Matthew Villalta G Sault Ste Marie 14 16
3 Kyle Keyser G Oshawa 10 11
4 Jake McGrath G Sudbury 23 19
5 Kaden Fulcher G Hamilton 12 18
Michael DiPietro of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Michael DiPietro of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

OHL This Week for May 28 to June 5, 2017

Toronto, ON – It’s the final edition of ‘OHL This Week’ for the 2016-17 season!  All of the champions have been crowned, the action on-ice is complete, but  another season is just around the corner.

Here’s a look at what’s been happening around the league:

For the third time in franchise history the Windsor Spitfires are Mastercard Memorial Cup champions. Fourth-year veteran Aaron Luchuk scored the game winner 5:07 into the third period as the host Spitfires defeated the OHL champion Erie Otters 4-3 before a capacity crowd of 6,519 at the WFCU Centre. Read more / Highlights / Photo Gallery


Less than 72 hours after hoisting the Memorial Cup on home ice, the Windsor Spitfires took the streets to celebrate the franchise’s third championship with fans, parading the prestigious trophy down Ouellette Avenue. They couldn’t have asked for better weather either as the sun shone down on the lengthy caravan that greeted supporters down a stretch headed toward the banks of the Detroit River. Watch


Social media provides a platform to share moments and emotions with the world. The Windsor Spitfires 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup title flooded digital devices with content celebrating the team’s historic win on home ice. Read more


2017 NHL Draft prospect Michael DiPietro led the Windsor Spitfires to the ultimate prize with a sensational Mastercard Memorial Cup performance. The native of nearby Amherstburg hoisted the Memorial Cup on home ice while also becoming one of the few 17-year-olds to earn the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy as the tournament’s most outstanding goaltender. Read more


While the home team celebrated on the ice, the OHL champion Erie Otters reflected on a disappointing end to an otherwise successful season. The legacy this group of Otters players leaves behind is considerable. The much talked-about four 50-win campaigns, two OHL final appearances and one Robertson Cup speak for themselves. When the dust settles, as many as a half-dozen Otters are expected to one day suit up in the NHL. Read more


Erie Otters teammates Dylan Strome and Anthony Cirelli along with Windsor Spitfires goaltender Michael DiPietro all received Mastercard Memorial Cup awards while DiPietro and five other OHL players were named to the tournament all-star team. Read more


Erie Otters forward Alex DeBrincat, the Owen Sound Attack trio of Michael McNiven, Nick Suzuki and coach Ryan McGill as well as Ottawa 67’s forward Sasha Chmelevski all earned CHL Awards handed out at the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup in Windsor. Read more / Photo Gallery


22 OHL players have been invited to the 2017 NHL Scouting Combine that is being held from Monday May 29th to Saturday June 3rd at First Niagara Center and the nearby Harbor Center in Buffalo, NY. The list of OHL invitees includes 16 forwards, five defencemen and one goaltender. OHL talent represents 21% of the 104 players invited to attend the event. Read more


The Flint Firebirds have received a commitment from 2017 first round (10th overall) selection Ethan Keppen. A native of Whitby, Ont., Keppen earned 35 points (14G, 21A) in 33 games played last season with the Toronto Nationals Minor Midget AAA Hockey Club. Read more


The London Knights have received commitments from 2017 first round (18th overall) selection Lucas Rowe and second round (34th overall) pick Andrew Perrott. Rowe helped lead the Mississauga Reps to an OHL Cup Championship when they defeated the Toronto Nationals by a 3-2 score.  Rowe will wear number 21 for the Knights this season. Perrott spent last season playing for his hometown Detroit HoneyBaked 16U, where the 6’0” 195-pound defenceman recorded 25 points in 46 games.  Perrott will wear number 24 for the Knights this season. Read more


The Ottawa 67’s have received commitments from 2017 first round (6th overall) selection Graeme Clarke and 2016 12th round selection Cedrick Andree. An Ottawa native, Clarke was touted as the best pure goal scorer in the draft and prior to his first development camp with the hockey club, Clarke was on the gold medal-winning team at the OHL Gold Cup. Andree was a twelfth round selection in 2016 and spent the past year playing in the United States at The Gunnery Prep School and also practiced with the 67’s at various points throughout the year. Read more


The Hamilton Bulldogs have received a commitment from 2017 second round (26th overall) selection Arthur Kaliyev. The Russian-born Kaliyev played last season for the Detroit Compuware U16 where he scored 13 goals and 5 assists, for 18 points in 19 games. He then went on to lead the team to the USA Hockey Youth Tier 1 U16 National championship where he led the tournament in scoring. Read more


The Niagara IceDogs have received a commitment from 2017 third round (51st overall) selection Ian Martin. The 5-foot-10 forward shined in Minor Midget this past season, posting 15 goals in just 22 games as a member of the Ajax-Pickering Raiders. Read more


The OHL champions welcome prospects to the city this weekend for the club’s annual Development Camp which includes fitness testing, on-ice sessions, and scrimmages at Mercyhurst Ice Center.  All on-ice activities are open to the public.  For more information visit ottershockey.com.


The 2017 OHL Coaches Conference is under a month away, taking place on Saturday June 3rd on the campus of UOIT in Oshawa. Many of the guest speakers for the 4th annual installment of the day-long conference have been confirmed and will provide minor hockey coaches the opportunity to learn from OHL, AHL, and NHL personnel in an interactive professional development day. Read more


The 2017 OHL Alumni Association Golf Tournament is fast approaching! The 2nd annual event is set to take place on Monday June 5th at the Devil’s Pulpit, one of Canada’s most acclaimed private golf clubs located in Caledon, Ont. This event is one of several networking events focused on bringing together former players from all generations.  Proceeds from the tournament will be donated to the Gudbranson Stem Cell Research Grant, which helps fund research for Stem Cell Treatments. Space is limited! Read more


Don’t miss out on Father’s Day deals at OHLShop.com! Until Father’s Day use the promo code ‘DAD25’ to get a 25% discount off the full men’s collection. Visit OHLShop.com to get in on the savings.


The 2017-18 Ontario Hockey League regular season schedule will be announced the week of June 5 beginning with home opener details published on Monday afternoon, followed by a full schedule release on Tuesday morning.  Keep track of the action online using #OHLOpeningWeek.


14 OHL graduates competing in Stanley Cup Final: A total of 14 OHL graduates, eight from the Pittsburgh Penguins and six from the Nashville Predators, will battle in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final of the NHL Playoffs. The Western Conference champion Predators advanced to their ever first Stanley Cup Final following a series win over the Anaheim Ducks. Nashville has had strong OHL alumni contributions from defencemen Ryan Ellis (Windsor Spitfires) and P.K. Subban (Belleville Bulls) while forwards James Neal (Plymouth Whalers) and Austin Watson (London Knights) have also factored into the team’s success. Predators captain Mike Fisher (Sudbury Wolves) has been limited by injuries of late while defenceman Yannick Weber (Kitchener Rangers) has skated in all 16 of the club’s playoff contests. Read more

22 OHL graduates competing in Calder Cup Final: A total of 22 OHL graduates, 12 from the Grand Rapids Griffins and 10 from the Syracuse Crunch, will battle in the 2017 Calder Cup Final of the AHL Playoffs. The Western Conference champion Griffins advanced to their first Calder Cup Final since 2013 with a 4-1 series victory over the San Jose Barracuda. Graduate Eric Tangradi (Belleville Bulls) is tied for the Grand Rapids team lead in playoff scoring with 15 points (2-13–15) while Tyler Bertuzzi (Guelph Storm) has also been impressive with 13 points (6-7–13). The Eastern Conference crunch advanced to their first Final since 2013 with a 4-1 series victory over the Providence Bruins. Graduates Slater Koekkoek (Windsor Spitfires), Jake Dotchin (Barrie Colts) and Dominik Masin (Peterborough Petes) have been regulars on the Syracuse blue line. Read more

4 Former OHL officials working 2017 Stanley Cup Final: Four former OHL officials have been assigned to work the Stanley Cup Final of the 2017 NHL Playoffs. Referees Dan O’Halloran and Kevin Pollock are joined by OHL playing and officiating graduate Scott Cherrey and Brad Kovachik on the lines.


Sunday May 28th:
Windsor Spitfires 4 vs. Erie Otters 3 – Highlights

Windsor Spitfires are 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup Champions

  • Spitfires become tenth host team, first since 2012 to win
  • Windsor’s 12th straight win at Mastercard Memorial Cup ties Kamloops for most consecutive
  • 3rd title equals Cornwall and Kamloops for most championships since introduction of round-robin in 1972
  • Warren Rychel becomes 3rd GM to win three Mastercard Memorial Cups
  • Jeremy Bracco becomes 24th player to win Mastercard Memorial Cup and World Junior Gold in same season
  • OHL claims third straight Mastercard Memorial Cup for the first time
  • Mastercard Memorial Cup Awards and All-Stars Announced
2017 Memorial Cup (2)
The Memorial Cup is brought onto the ice. Photo by Aaron Bell/CHL Images

For the third time in franchise history the Windsor Spitfires are Mastercard Memorial Cup champions.

Fourth-year veteran Aaron Luchuk scored the game winner 5:07 into the third period as the host Spitfires defeated the OHL champion Erie Otters 4-3 before a capacity crowd of 6,519 at the WFCU Centre.

 Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Jeremy Bracco led the way with a goal and two helpers in the win, registering the lone assist on Luchuk’s game winning goal while Michael DiPietro made 32 saves and came up big late in the game.

 The Spitfires become the tenth host team to hoist the Memorial Cup since 1983 and first since the Shawinigan Cataractes did so in 2012.

“It’s so special winning at home, especially with this group of guys,” said DiPietro during post-game celebrations. “The crowd was so loud and played a big part in this, threw the momentum in our favour. They’re part of this too and helped us bring it home.”

Second-year Spitfires head coach Rocky Thompson put his club through a rigorous 44-day training regimen following their first round elimination from the OHL Playoffs. They came to the tournament in top condition, going undefeated with a pair of wins over Erie along with others against Saint John and Seattle.

“My guys are amazing,” said Thompson. “We saw what they’ve gone through here. We witnessed what they had to go through during that break. It’s an amazing feeling and an amazing thing that those guys did.

“Everybody bought in no matter who it was, staff, management, ownership and the players. They’re champions for a reason – they’re amazing.”

 A fiercely intense, furiously paced first period of hockey saw end-to-end action, blocked shots and big saves on both sides of the puck.

 The much sought-after first goal went to the Spitfires as Bracco converted on Windsor’s first power play of the night. The shifty winger jumped on a loose puck off a goalmouth scramble, sliding a puck through the legs of a stickless Troy Timpano at 13:01 as the sold out WFCU Centre erupted.

The Otters would respond though as captain Dylan Strome scored his seventh of the tournament just 49 seconds later. Strome’s quick wrister off the post and in came on a tremendous display of patience from defenceman Darren Raddysh who held the puck in at the offensive blue line before finding an open Strome for the finish with a cross-ice feed.

 Erie would lead for 52 seconds early in the second period as Warren Foegele redirected a Dylan Strome shot past DiPietro in the slot at 5:35 before Winnipeg Jets prospect Logan Stanley tied the score at two a shift later.

Stanley’s first goal since January 12th came on a wrist shot from the point through traffic that found its way past Timpano at 6:27.

The Otters regained the lead, pulling ahead 3-2 on a goal from blueliner TJ Fergus at 12:41. Erie’s fourth line of Ivan Lodnia, German Poddubnyi and Cameron Lizotte got the Otters on the board as the puck got back to the point for Fergus who fired a low release off a Spitfires defender and past DiPietro.

 The see-saw affair continued as Windsor went on the power play under two minutes later, setting up a perfectly executed passing play with Graham Knott providing the finish with his third of the tournament at 14:53. The Spitfires worked the puck down low for a cross-crease feed from Gabriel Vilardi to give him his second assist of the game and seventh of the tournament.

 The two clubs ended the second period tied at three as Erie led on the shot clock 24-17.

 Luchuk’s winner came 5:07 into the third as Bracco did the lion’s share of the work, busting down the wing to draw a pair of Erie defenders in before finding Luchuk coming down the middle as he beat Timpano over the glove to give Windsor a 4-3 lead. Luchuk managed to get free from his check as both clubs were in the midst of line changes, giving the speedy veteran ample time to pick a corner.

 The Otters made a late push, hitting a goal post inside the final two minutes of play but big saves from DiPietro carried the Spits to the final buzzer as they streamed onto the ice in celebration.

“We had our opportunities,” said Otters head coach Kris Knoblauch after his club outshot Windsor 35-22. “We hit two goal posts in the third, but you don’t always win them. I thought we could do it. We had a couple chances to really take control of the game.”

“I’m so proud of what we accomplished,” he concluded. “I’d like a Memorial Cup to go with it, but other than that it was a good run.”

Windsor’s 12th consecutive Mastercard Memorial Cup victory ties an event record set by the Kamloops Blazers between 1992-95. Their third title follows other championships in 2009 and 2010 and equals the Cornwall Royals (1972, 1980, 1981) and the Blazers (1992, 1994, 1995) for the most championships won since the introduction of the round robin format in 1972.

Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel (2009, 2010, 2017)  joins Matt Leyden (Oshawa Generals, 1939, 1940, 1944) and Bob Brown (Kamloops Blazers, 1992, 1994, 1995) as the third GM in Mastercard Memorial Cup history to win three career championships.

The Spits played to an overall record of 4-0 at the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup, outscoring opponents 18-8.

Seventeen-year-old goaltender Michael DiPietro earned the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy as the tournament’s most outstanding goaltender. The native of nearby Amherstburg, Ont. went 4-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.

Erie Otters captain Dylan Strome received the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as Mastercard Memorial Cup MVP. Strome led the tournament in goal-scoring with seven over his four contests, one shy of a tournament record. He finished tied with teammate Taylor Raddysh for the tournament lead in points with 11 (4-7–11).

Bracco, who led the Spitfires in scoring with eight points (3-5–8), became the 24th player in tournament history to hoist the Memorial Cup in the same year as having won World Junior Hockey Championship gold. Bracco claimed World Junior supremacy with the United States in January, becoming the first Spitfires player to accomplish both feats since Cam Fowler did so in 2010.

The Windsor Spitfires are the 99th champion in Mastercard Memorial Cup history, and the third straight champion from the Ontario Hockey League which marks the first time in the event’s modern era that the OHL has produced three straight winners.

2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup Awards:

Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable Player)

  • Dylan Strome (Erie Otters)

Hap Emms Memorial Trophy (Outstanding Goaltender)

  • Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires)

George Parsons Trophy (Most Sportsmanlike Player)

  • Anthony Cirelli (Erie Otters)

Ed Chynoweth Trophy (Leading Scorer)

  • Dylan Strome (Erie Otters) 7G – 4A – 11PTS

2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup All-Star Team:

F – Alex DeBrincat (Erie Otters)

F – Taylor Raddysh (Erie Otters)

F – Gabriel Vilardi (Windsor Spitfires)

D – Darren Raddysh (Erie Otters)

D – Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor Spitfires)

G – Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires)