Liam Ross – Sudbury Wolves – Player Profile

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 197 pounds

Date of birth: May 13, 2001

Hometown: Markham, Ontario

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 4, 63rd overall, 2017 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: C Prospect. Mid-term: 183 NA Skaters

Sudbury Wolves blueliner Liam Ross played his Minor Midget AAA hockey with the Mississauga Reps during the 2016-2017 season notching 4 goals and 8 helpers while appearing in 32 games. He added a goal in 8 games at the OHL Cup as the Reps went on to win the Championship. The Wolves would select Ross in the 4th round, 63rd overall at the 2017 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

Liam Ross of the Sudbury Wolves. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Liam Ross of the Sudbury Wolves. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images

Ross would enter his rookie season with the Wolves a year ago and play in all but 8 games. He scored 4 goals and assisted on 5 others in those 60 contests. He upped his offensive output this season with 7 goals and 22 assists while appearing in all 68 games. He added a helper in the Playoffs, as the Wolves were eliminated in the second round.

Ross is an intelligent two-way defender whose defensive game is already ahead of the development curve expected at this stage. However, his upside is directly linked to just how high his offensive abilities can take him.

The general consensus is that Ross’ skating is just average. He has a short stride that prevents him from generating a quick first step. That quickness is lacking moving east-west as well.

That said, Ross makes up for any skating deficiencies with high level hockey IQ. Defensively, he keeps his gaps close and uses a long reach and active stick to break up plays. He angles opponents off extremely well but adding more physicality to his game would make him even more effective. He needs to become quicker in his puck retrieval and skating out of his own zone, but he does make a very good pass to transition to offense.

Offensively, Ross will take some chances. He won’t always take risks, but is adept at knowing when to pinch and has some success when doing so. His vision is very good and he identifies them quickly and is able to deliver a perfect pass. He possesses a deceptively heavy shot from the point and is able to get it through traffic and on target more often then not.

I’ve said it before and it is worth repeating when discussing Ross: I’m not worried about skating as I was just a few short years ago. There are so many quality skating coaches out there and the list of players who have improved their skating is a long one.

As long as the player has a willingness to put the work in, it shouldn’t be a problem. There’s nothing seen from Ross that suggests he wouldn’t put in the effort.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

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Kyle Keyser: The Future Has Arrived

Kyle Keyser grew up in the heat of the Florida sun, but once between the pipes its ice water running through his veins. Coming from Cold Springs, Keyser had to work twice as hard as the kid from Michigan or Ontario just to get noticed.

The opportunity to strap on the pads for Victory Honda Under-16 AAA squad in Plymouth, Michigan was just what the Doctor ordered. The squad boasts alumni such as Alex DeBrincat and Ian Cole. During the 2014-2015 season, Keyser posted a sparkling 2.27 goals-against-average and a .916 save-percentage. Those numbers were even more impressive in the playoffs with a 1.38 goals-against-average and .942 save-percentage.

And, oh yeah, he even got in a game with the Under-18 squad and you guessed it, he shut out the opposition.

Kyle Keyser of the Oshawa Generals. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Kyle Keyser of the Oshawa Generals. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Prior to the 2015 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, Oshawa Generals General Manager Roger Hunt made no secret about the fact his Generals were targeting Keyser. But before he could make his selection in the fourth round, the Flint Firebirds pounced and selected Keyser with the 74th overall pick, 4 spots ahead of the Generals next pick.

Keyser would make the Firebirds’ squad straight out of camp, but to call that first season tumultuous would be an understatement. There were some issues surrounding the Firebirds squad that led to a five-year suspension on their owner, we won’t re-hash here, but they are well documented. Still, Keyser posted a 4.37 goals-against-average and a .880 save-percentage. And yes, all things considered, those are respectable numbers.

As the 2016-2017 season approached and a cloud hanging over the Firebirds, Keyser decided to ask for a trade. We know that there are those that frown upon a player asking for a trade. Yet, a player has to do what is best for them, especially at that stage of their career. And Keyser is as smart off the ice as he is on the ice as evidenced by his winning the Ivan Tennant Award as the League’s top High School Academic Player

It should come as no surprise that the first person come calling was Roger Hunt and the Generals. Hunt sent the Firebirds their own second round pick in the 2017 Draft back in return for Keyser.

Keyser’s acquisition wasn’t supposed to have an immediate impact with the Generals – It was an acquisition for the future as the Generals were preparing to launch a bid to host the 2018 Memorial Cup. Jeremy Brodeur (yes that’s Marty’s son) was the incumbent number one goaltender in his overage year. Logan Gauthier was penciled in as his backup. But a preseason injury to Gauthier opened the door for Keyser, and as they say, the rest is history.

That 2016-2017 season was Keyser’s draft year. He posted a 3.40 goals-against-average and .891 save-percentage. But as always the case, it was the playoffs that gave proof that Keyser rises up in the big games and is the definition of a money-goaltender.

In our rankings here at OHL Writers, we had Keyser ranked third among OHL Goaltenders (behind Michael DiPietro and Matthew Villalta) for that 2017 Draft. NHL Central Scouting saw it fit to rank him 11th in their final rankings, but we felt confident he was easily a top 10 prospect.

But on June 23-24, 2017 at the United Center in Chicago, Kyle Keyser’s name wasn’t called.

On October 3, 2017 Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney came calling and signed Keyser to a three-year Entry-Level Contract. Under the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, undrafted players can be signed as free agents before the NHL season begins.

The Bruins, who drafted Keyser’s teammate Jack Studnicka in the second round at that same draft, had kept eyes on Studnicka throughout the season and it is evident they saw enough of Keyser to swoop in and sign him to his contract before anyone else stepped up to the plate.

Before entering the 2017-2018 season, Keyser would attend the Bruins Development camp and he did not disappoint the Bruins brass, nor their fans. Keyser would go on that season to post a 3.16 goals-against-average and .904 save-percentage.

But it was a move the Bruins made after his OHL season ended that caught many a Bruins fans by surprise.

The Bruins brought Keyser up to the NHL as their third goaltender during their two round playoff run in 2018 and the learning experience he gained from that can’t be overstated. Keyser credited Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin for not only being helpful in helping him with any on ice questions and thoughts, but also how to act off the ice. This article by Matt Kalman goes into great detail on his time with the Big Bruins.

That was a move I expected the Bruins to repeat once again this playoff run:

 

 

But as Providence Bruins guru Mark Divver tweeted, there could be injuries at play effecting the decision making

 

 

The season that just ended saw Keyser take his game to another level. He appeared in 47 regular season games and posted a 2.75 goals-against-average and .915 save-percentage and was often found on the OHL highlights for the Jane’s Saves of the Week.

It was during the playoffs where Keyser stood on his head knocking out rivals Peterborough and Niagara (who were the overwhelming favorites). By the time the third round had begun, Keyser had the best save-percentage of any starter on over 25 years.

It was going to take a miracle to get past top ranked Ottawa in the Conference Finals and Kyle Keyser was the best chance the Generals had to take even one game in this series. And he gave them just that – a chance. The Generals were outshot 163 to 99 in the series and when you are facing 40 shots a night, well, you get the picture.

His ability to steal a game was no more evident then in game 4 of the series against Ottawa. The 67’s outshot Oshawa 44 – 22 and held a 1-0 lead going into the third period. The Ottawa barrage came in the third where they fired 19 shots on goal. With 34 seconds remaining and Ottawa on the powerplay and DiPietro on the bench for an extra attacker, Ottawa would tie the game and send it into overtime. But you can’t stop them all. And the 67’s would win the game 20 seconds into overtime.

No one was more heartbroken then Kyle Keyser. He should hold his head up high. He did more then could be expected and we believe the are great things ahead for him as he turns professional.

The accolades Keyser received from the OHL hockey minds were there as well. In the OHL’s Coaches Poll, where they only vote on two categories for goaltenders, Keyser was picked as the best puck-handling goaltenders in the Eastern Conference after finishing second last year and he finished second for the second straight year as the best shootout goaltender.

Today, OHL General Managers voted him second as Goaltender of the Year behind Buffalo Sabres prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

Finally, we have to bring up the World Junior Championships. I was adamant in my belief that Keyser should be the starter for the Americans, and he rightfully earned the opportunity to start the tournament. He appeared in two games for Team USA but lost the crease to Cayden Primeau. But it wasn’t because of his performance. Keyser was dealing with an illness leading up to game three and he never took to the crease again.

So, what can the fans of the Providence Bruins, and eventually the Boston Bruins look forward too?

Well, you are going to be hard pressed to find a more competitive netminder at this level and one that puts the necessary work in to become all that he can be. I know the Keyser family is extremely grateful for the opportunity the Bruins gave Keyser, and his “I won’t let you down mentality” combined with his competitiveness and work ethic will make him a force to contend with.

Kyser is an athletic netminder with superb lateral movement and quickness to go post-to-post. He darts out to the top of the paint quickly to take away the net. His angles and ability to direct shots out of the danger zones are very good. His glove is also very good and he is superb with his blocker – with an uncanny ability to “punch” the puck to a teammates tape all the way out to the blue line.

At 6’2” Keyser has good size. He tracks the pucks extremely well and if he can’t see over a screen, is able to track it looking around the screen. When the puck is below the goal line, his head is constantly always on a swivel, knowing where not only where the opposition is at all times, but where his teammates are as well so that if he has the opportunity to put the puck in a place for his teammates to retrieve it, he knows where they are.

When it comes to goaltenders, proper development and sufficient time to develop are keys. I for one am in favor a lot of times with a goaltender spending a year in the ECHL before going to the AHL for further development. In the ECHL Keyser would get more starts and face more pucks and still receive the coaching from the Bruins goaltending coaches.

But the Bruins are in a position where they are going to have to make some decisions. They are set at the NHL for at least another year with Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. But the situation in Providence is a little different. They’ll have to make a decision on Zane McIntyre who will become a Group 6 unrestricted free agent on July 1. There is also Daniel Vladar in Providence and if McIntyre is brought back, those two will battle it out for ice time. That means Atlanta (if the Bruins extend their affiliation with them) might be a spot for Keyser. Or they could loan him to another AHL team much like the St Louis Blues loaned Jordan Binnington to Providence a year ago.

I have no doubt the Bruins will make the right decision for everyone involved.

 

Wolves’ Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen Named OHL Goaltender of the Year

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Buffalo Sabres prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen of the Sudbury Wolves is the 2018-19 recipient of the OHL’s Goaltender of the Year award.

Luukkonen becomes the first member of the Wolves to earn the award after tying for the league lead with 38 wins and six shutouts, while posting the OHL’s third best goals-against-average with a mark of 2.50 and the best save percentage at .920.  His GAA, SV%, and shutout total established new franchise records backstopping the Wolves to their most successful season since 1994-95.

“I am very honoured to be named OHL Goaltender of the Year,” Luukkonen said. “I want to thank my teammates and all of the Wolves fans who stood behind us the whole year. I also want to thank our owner Dario Zulich and our General Manager Rob Papineau for taking a chance with me, and drafting me in the Import Draft and for creating an amazing environment for all our players to play in. To Coach Cory Stillman, Goalie Coach Alain Valiquette, Athletic Therapist Dan Buckland and the rest of the Sudbury Wolves organization, I want to say thank you for pushing me and believing in me. I am also very thankful for my billets Tammy and John Valtonen this season who gave me a second home.”

A 20-year-old from Espoo, Finland, Luukkonen joined the Wolves as the third overall pick in the 2018 CHL Import Draft.  He played to an overall record of 38-11-2-2 helping the Wolves finish second in the Central Division standings with 43 wins and 91 points.  He began his OHL career with five consecutive wins and produced impressive streaks of 11 and eight throughout the 2018-19 campaign.  His 38 wins are the second most in a single season in franchise history behind only Jim Bedard who won 40 games in 1975-76.  Luukkonen was also recognized in the annual OHL Coaches Poll tying for Best Puck Handling Goalie and winning the Best Shootout Goalie in the Eastern Conference vote.  The second round pick by the Sabres in the 2017 NHL Draft represented his country on the international stage winning gold at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, and following the Wolves playoff run made his professional debut on April 14 making 32 saves in a victory for the AHL’s Rochester Americans.

“We are extremely proud and happy for Ukko on winning this award,” said Wolves General Manager Rob Papineau. “We knew when we drafted Ukko that we were drafting a great goaltender. It quickly became very obvious that he was also an outstanding teammate and individual who is an amazing leader. His character is as great as his ability to stop pucks. The impact he has had on our players and our organization on what it takes to be the best and to be a pro will remain with our team for years into the future. His dedication, his focus, and his preparation both on and off the ice are second to none.  His support of the community of Greater Sudbury and the significant Greater Sudbury Finnish population as well as the time he made available for young fans was remarkable. We thank Ukko for his time in Sudbury and we wish him tremendous continued success with the Buffalo Sabres and throughout his entire career.”

The OHL Goaltender of the Year is awarded to the league’s most outstanding goaltender as selected by OHL General Managers.  Teams were not permitted to vote for a goaltender from their own hockey club.  Goaltenders received five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote, and one point for a third place vote.

Luukkonen was the unanimous choice by OHL General Managers receiving the maximum 95 points in the voting process representing 19 first ballot selections.  Boston Bruins prospect Kyle Keyser of the Oshawa Generals finished in second place with 44 voting points, followed by Arizona Coyotes prospect Ivan Prosvetov of the Saginaw Spirit with 19 voting points.

The award was first presented in 1987-88 to Rick Tabaracci (Cornwall) with other notable winners including Manny Legace (Niagara Falls 1993), Craig Anderson (Guelph 2001), Steve Mason (London 2007), the league’s only back-to-back winner Mike Murphy (Belleville 2008 and 2009), Jordan Binnington (Owen Sound 2013), Alex Nedeljkovic (Plymouth 2014), Lucas Peressini (Kingston 2015), Mackenzie Blackwood (Barrie 2016), Michael McNiven (Owen Sound 2017), and Michael DiPietro (Windsor 2018).

Luukkonen will be formally presented with the OHL’s Goaltender of the Year Award on June 5 at the OHL Awards Ceremony held at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.  He is also the OHL’s nominee for CHL Goaltender of the Year to be announced on Saturday May 25 in Halifax at the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia.

 

Knights’ Evan Bouchard Named OHL Defenceman of the Year

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Edmonton Oilers prospect Evan Bouchard of the London Knights is the 2018-19 recipient of the Max Kaminsky Trophy awarded annually to the OHL’s Most Outstanding Defenceman of the Year.

Bouchard recorded 53 points in just 45 games scoring 16 goals and 37 assists while carrying a plus-28 rating.  His 1.18 points-per-game mark was the second highest in the OHL this season and he was the only defenceman in the league to average more than four shots on goal per game.

Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images

“I am very honoured to be named defenceman of the year,” said Bouchard. “With the quality of players throughout this talented league, this is an achievement that I am incredibly proud of. I would like to credit my teammates, coaching staff, family, and fans for this award. Each member within the London Knights organization was instrumental to my success both on and off the ice and I would like to thank each and every person who helped me along the way.”

A 19-year-old from Oakville, Ont., Bouchard played four full seasons with the Knights after joining the club as a first round pick in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection.  He helped the team capture an OHL Championship and Memorial Cup title as a rookie and went on to play 223 career games for the green and gold.  He amassed 54 goals and 147 assists for 201 points during his London tenure which ranks second all-time among points by a Knights defenceman behind Rick Corriveau who produced 251 in 206 games between 1987-92.  Bouchard was named Knights captain in January, 2018, and later selected tenth overall by the Oilers in the 2018 NHL Draft.  He began the season in Edmonton where he played seven NHL games returning in time to represent Team OHL at the CIBC Canada Russia Series and Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.  Bouchard is currently with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors where he scored a goal and two assists in his playoff debut on Tuesday.

“We are incredibly proud of Evan for his accomplishment, not just this year, but throughout his entire London Knights career,” said London Knights General Manager, Mark Hunter. “Evan was a tremendous leader and representative of our organization. We watched Evan mature from his time coming in to this league as an enthusiastic 16-year-old rookie, to leaving as a seasoned professional. We’d like to thank Evan for his time in London and wish him the best in his hockey career.”

The Max Kaminsky Trophy is awarded each year to the Most Outstanding Defenceman as selected by OHL General Managers.  All 20 clubs submitted a nominee but were not permitted to vote for their own player.  The first round of voting was conducted by conference only with the top three selections from the West and East advancing to form the final ballot.  Players received five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote, and one point for a third place vote.

Bouchard, who was a runner-up to Nicolas Hague of the Mississauga Steelheads one year ago, received 59 points in the final voting process this season.  Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mac Hollowell of the Soo Greyhounds finished second with 53 voting points, and New York Islanders prospect Bode Wilde of the Saginaw Spirit finished in third place with 46 voting points.

The award is named in recognition of Max Kaminsky, who enjoyed a 10-year professional playing career that included four years in the NHL with Ottawa, Boston, and Montreal.  After he retired from playing, Kaminsky enjoyed a 15-year coaching career that was capped by winning the Memorial Cup with the St. Catharines Teepees in 1960.

Bouchard becomes the first Knight to win the Max Kaminsky Trophy since Danny Syvret in 2004-05 marking the sixth time a member of the organization has received the honour.  That list also includes John Erskine in 1999-2000, Bob Halkidis in 1984-85, co-recipients Brad Marsh and Rob Ramage in 1977-78, and Rick Green in 1975-76.  Past winners of the award also include current NHL talents in Andrej Sekera (Owen Sound 2006), Marc Staal (Sudbury 2007), Drew Doughty (Guelph 2008), Ryan Ellis (Windsor 2009 and 2011), Jacob Muzzin (Sault Ste. Marie 2010), Dougie Hamilton (Niagara 2012), Aaron Ekblad (Barrie 2014), Anthony DeAngelo (Sault Ste. Marie 2015), and Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor 2016).

Bouchard will be formally presented with the Max Kaminsky Trophy at the OHL Awards Ceremony which takes place June 5 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.  He will also be the OHL’s nominee for CHL Defenceman of the Year to be announced on May 25 at the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia which takes place in Halifax.

Matvey Guskov – London Knights – Player Profile

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 172 pounds

Date of birth: January 30, 2001

Hometown: Nizhnekamsk, Russia

Position: Left Wing

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 42nd overall, 2018 CHL Import Draft

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: B Prospect. Mid-term: 63rd North America

When it comes to NHL Central Scouting, Matvey (Matvei) Guskov has been a virtual flat line in their rankings. And that’s not a bad thing. He started off the year where he was expected and did nothing to hurt his draft value finishing off pretty much how he started the season as an early to mid third round pick.

Born in Russia, Guskov plied his trade with CSKA Moskva Under-17, Under-18 and Krasnaya of the MHL (Russia’s equivalent to the OHL) during the 2017-2018 season. He came across the pond after the Knights selected him 42nd overall at the 2018 CHL Import Draft with a reputation of being a skilled, offensive forward who was well on his way to developing his two-way game.

Matvey Guskov of the London Knights. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Matvey Guskov of the London Knights. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images

Guskov has represented Russia internationally on several occasions: The Under-17, Under-18, The Hlinka-Gretzky where he scored twice in five games.

Guskov finished the season scoring 12 goals (11th among rookies), 18 assists (16th among rookies), and 30 points (12th among rookies) in 59 games (35th among rookies). His 12 goals game on 107 shots for a respectable 11.2% shooting percentage. To break that down by zone, Guskov was 21. 4% from high danger zone areas, 12.5% in the mod danger zone area and 8.2% from the low danger zone areas.

Of Guskov’s 18 helpers on the season, 11 of them were primary assists which speaks to his vision and abilities to make plays.

As stated earlier, Guskov had the reputation of being a solid two-way player. His ability to play the defensive side of the game was only helped by playing on a Dale Hunter coached team. It was evident from the start, but as he got more and more use to the North American ice surface and with top notch coaching, his ability in all zones became more prominent.

At 6’1” Guskov has good size but is a lanky kid. He needs to add a lot of bulk to his frame. But that doesn’t scare him. He’s willing to drive the net, fight through traffic and has a willingness to battle on the walls. He is a good skater with good top end speed and has an ability to turn on the jets when in stride to beat defenders one-on-one.

Guskov has a very good wrist shot with a surprisingly quick release. His accuracy is very good and he can surprise goaltenders. One thing he has to learn is when to be selfish and when to use his teammates. Often times, I see him shooting when he should be passing and others he passes when he should be shooting.

Here’s my thing when it comes to Guskov: He can play all three forward positions. But which one is he best suited for? I think his off wing is not the best option. I like a guy there who possesses an excellent one-timer and I don’t think Guskov is that guy. His two-way game suggests he is best suited down the middle. And while he has shown some intriguing playmaking abilities, I don’t think its at the point of development I would like to see at this stage.

 

Stat page from Elite Prospects

CHL Announces Weekly Award Winners

67’s’ Marco Rossi named CHL Player of the Week

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that forward Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67’s is the CHL Player of the Week for the fifth week of playoff action ending April 21 with eight points in three games including four goals and four assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-2.

The Ottawa rookie began his week with a four-point outing, counting two goals and two assists, in a 6-4 series-opening win over the Oshawa Generals in the OHL Eastern Conference Final that earned him first-star recognition. He then added another two points in a 7-3 victory in Game 2, then picked up another goal and assist, in addition to second-star honours, as the 67’s came away with a 5-1 decision in Game 3 to push the Generals to the brink of elimination. Ottawa is now just one win away from capturing the Bobby Orr Trophy, presented to the OHL Eastern Conference champion.

Through 11 playoff appearances, Rossi has collected five goals and 10 assists for 15 points, continuing his impressive regular-season clip when he tallied 65 points in 53 games to finish second in scoring among all rookies. The 17-year-old native of Feldkirch, Austria is eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft.

Also considered for the award this week was Vancouver Giants forward Dawson Holt, who tallied two goals and two assists for four points in two games to help his squad to a 2-0 series edge versus the Spokane Chiefs in the third round of WHL playoff action, as well as Rouyn-Noranda Huskies draft-eligible defenceman Justin Bergeron, who notched five assists over two games as his team claimed an early 2-0 series lead over the Rimouski Oceanic in the third round of the QMJHL playoffs.

2018-19 CHL Players of the Week – Playoffs:

Apr. 15 – Apr. 21: Marco Rossi (Ottawa 67’s)

Apr. 8 – Apr. 14: Nick Suzuki (Guelph Storm)

Apr. 1 – Apr. 7: Raphael Lavoie (Halifax Mooseheads)

Mar. 25 – Mar. 31: Adam Boqvist (London Knights)

Mar. 18 – Mar. 24: Evan Bouchard (London Knights)

 

2018-19 CHL Players of the Week – Regular Season:
Mar. 11 – Mar. 17: Jason Robertson (Niagara IceDogs)

Mar. 4 – Mar. 10: Greg Meireles (Kitchener Rangers)

Feb. 25 – Mar. 3: Nate Schnarr (Guelph Storm)

Feb. 18 – Feb. 24: Brayden Tracey (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Feb. 11 – Feb. 17: Maxime Comtois (Drummondville Voltigeurs)

Feb. 4 – Feb. 10: Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski Oceanic)

Jan. 28 – Feb. 3: Samuel Asselin (Halifax Mooseheads)

Jan. 21 – Jan. 27: Ethan Crossman (Baie-Comeau Drakkar)

Jan. 14 – Jan. 20: Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Jan. 7 – Jan. 13: Bowen Byram (Vancouver Giants)

Dec. 31 – Jan. 6: Arthur Kaliyev (Hamilton Bulldogs)

Dec. 24 – Dec. 30: Kyle Maksimovich (Erie Otters)

Dec. 10 – Dec. 16: Justin Brazeau (North Bay Battalion)

Dec. 3 – Dec. 9: Ivan Chekhovich (Baie-Comeau Drakkar)

Nov. 26 – Dec. 2: Gregor MacLeod (Drummondville Voltigeurs)

Nov. 19 – Nov. 25: Brett Leason (Prince Albert Raiders)

Nov. 12 – Nov. 18: Peter Abbandonato (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies)

Nov. 5 – Nov. 11: Jason Robertson (Kingston Frontenacs)

Oct. 29 – Nov. 4: Joachim Blichfeld (Portland Winterhawks)

Oct. 22 – Oct. 28: Ivan Chekhovich (Baie-Comeau Drakkar)

Oct. 15 – Oct. 21: Justin Brazeau (North Bay Battalion)

Oct. 8 – Oct. 14: Damien Giroux (Saginaw Spirit)

Oct. 1 – Oct. 7: Dawson Davidson (Saskatoon Blades)

Sept. 24 – Sept. 30: Luka Burzan (Brandon Wheat Kings)

Sept. 19 – Sept. 23: Kirby Dach (Saskatoon Blades)

Giants’ David Tendeck named Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that David Tendeck of the Vancouver Giants is the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week for the fifth week of playoff action ending April 21 with a 2-0 record, a goals-against average of 1.50, and save percentage of .947.

Tendeck claims the honour for the first time this year after stopping 54 shots over two WHL playoff contests, including the first two games of the WHL Western Conference Final versus the Spokane Chiefs. The Arizona Coyotes prospect began the week Friday with a 30-save outing en route to a 4-1 victory and first-star recognition. He then followed up that performance the next night when he recorded his second-straight victory after turning aside 24 shots to come away with a 4-2 win for his hometown team.

The 19-year-old is in his third full season with the Giants. Through 38 appearances this season, he posted a 24-10-2-1 record alongside a .911 save percentage and 2.48 goals-against average. He’s now locked it down in the postseason, as he owns a save percentage of .923 and goals-against average of 1.99 across seven games.

Also considered for the award this week was Samuel Harvey of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who came away with a perfect 2-0 showing versus the Rimouski Oceanic that counted a combined 59 saves for a save percentage of .937 and goals-against average of 2.00. In the OHL, Ottawa 67’s netminder and Vancouver Canucks prospect Michael DiPietro won all three of his appearances versus the Oshawa Generals as he came up with a 2.67 goals-against average and .896 save percentage.

2018-19 Vaughn CHL Goaltenders of the Week – Playoffs:

Apr. 15 – Apr. 21: David Tendeck (Vancouver Giants)

Apr. 8 – Apr. 14: Dylan Myskiw (Edmonton Oil Kings)

Apr. 1 – Apr. 7: Samuel Harvey (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies)

Mar. 25 – Mar. 31: Stephen Dhillon (Niagara IceDogs)

Mar. 18 – Mar. 24: Kyle Keyser (Oshawa Generals)

 

2018-19 Vaughn CHL Goaltenders of the Week – Regular Season:
Mar. 11 – Mar. 17: Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Mar. 4 – Mar. 10: Ian Scott (Prince Albert Raiders)

Feb. 25 – Mar. 3: Dustin Wolf (Everett Silvertips)

Feb. 18 – Feb. 24: Stephen Dhillon (Niagara IceDogs)

Feb. 11 – Feb. 17: Joel Hofer (Portland Winterhawks)

Feb. 4 – Feb. 10: Mads Sogaard (Medicine Hat Tigers)

Jan. 28 – Feb. 3: Jet Greaves (Barrie Colts)

Jan. 21 – Jan. 27: Dustin Wolf (Everett Silvertips)

Jan. 14 – Jan. 20: Olivier Rodrigue (Drummondville Voltigeurs)

Jan. 7 – Jan. 13: Kevin Mandolese (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles)

Dec. 31 – Jan. 6: Ivan Prosvetov (Saginaw Spirit)

Dec. 24 – Dec. 30: Cedrick Andree (Ottawa 67’s)

Dec. 10 – Dec. 16: Mads Sogaard (Medicine Hat Tigers)

Dec. 3 – Dec. 9: Dustin Wolf (Everett Silvertips)

Nov. 26 – Dec. 2: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (Sudbury Wolves)

Nov. 19 – Nov. 25: Kyle Jessiman (Baie-Comeau Drakkar)

Nov. 12 – Nov. 18: Ian Scott (Prince Albert Raiders)

Nov. 5 – Nov. 11: Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires)

Oct. 29 – Nov. 4: Joseph Raaymakers (London Knights)

Oct. 22 – Oct. 28: Stephen Dhillon (Niagara IceDogs)

Oct. 15 – Oct. 21: Emile Samson (Blainville-Boisbriand Armada)

Oct. 8 – Oct. 14: Alexis Gravel (Halifax Mooseheads)

Oct. 1 – Oct. 7: Trent Miner (Vancouver Giants)

Sept. 24 – Sept. 30: Luke Richardson (Kitchener Rangers)

Sept. 19 – Sept. 23: Hunter Jones (Peterborough Petes)

Battalion’s Justin Brazeau named OHL’s Overage Player of the Year

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Justin Brazeau of the North Bay Battalion is the 2018-19 recipient of the Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy awarded annually to the OHL’s Overage Player of the Year.

Brazeau led the league with 61 goals and finished second overall with 113 points in 68 games played.  He becomes the first member of the Battalion to earn this award after establishing a new franchise record for goals in a season while becoming just the second Battalion player following Wojtek Wolski to surpass the century mark for points in a season.

“It’s always a great feeling anytime you are recognized by the league for your personal accomplishments,” Brazeau said. “I enjoyed my four years in North Bay and couldn’t have asked for anything more. To be able to finish it off with this award, especially with the group of overage players we had in the league this year, is definitely a great feeling.”

A 21-year-old from New Liskeard, Ont., Brazeau played four seasons for the Troops after being chosen by the club in the 13th round of the 2014 OHL Priority Selection.  His 2018-19 campaign featured 33 multi-point performances including five hat-tricks and an OHL best seven-point outing on October 21.  He was recognized as one of the game’s three stars on 23 different occasions with 11 first star honours which tied for second most across the league.  Brazeau was also the only Eastern Conference player to appear as a top three finisher in four different categories of the annual Coaches Poll, winning the Most Dangerous in the Goal Area vote, second Best Shot, third Smartest Player, and third Best Shootout Shooter.  He finishes his OHL career with 128 goals and 238 points which are the most by any player to suit up for the Battalion since they relocated to North Bay in 2013-14.  His 128 goals are second behind Wojtek Wolski (130) on the club’s all-time goal scoring list, while his 238 points rank third all-time behind Wolski (328) and Cody Hodgson (243).  Upon season’s end, Brazeau signed a two-year AHL contract with the Toronto Marlies beginning in 2019-20.

Justin Brazeau of the North Bay Battalion
Justin Brazeau of the North Bay Battalion. Photo by OHL Images

“We’re very proud of Justin and excited to see him win this award,” said Stan Butler, Battalion Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations. “To see a player develop from a 13th round pick into a player recognized around the league for his abilities is quite an accomplishment. The work that Justin put in makes him a special player. Going from six goals in his first year to 61 three seasons later is a great story. Coming from a small town, Justin gives players a lot of hope, especially others from Northern Ontario.”

The Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the Top Overage Player of the Year as selected by OHL General Managers.  Teams were asked to submit a nominee for the award and were not permitted to vote for players from their own hockey club. Players received five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote and one point for a third place vote.

Brazeau received 83 of a possible 95 points in the voting process, followed by Dallas Stars prospect Tye Felhaber of the Ottawa 67’s who received 44 voting points, and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mac Hollowell of the Soo Greyhounds who finished in third place with 27 voting points.

First presented in 1984, the Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy was donated by the trainers of the Ontario Hockey League, in memory of the late Leo Lalonde, former Chief Scout of OHL Central Scouting.  Leo Lalonde was also formerly the Chief Scout for the Belleville Bulls as well as a scout for the Peterborough Petes.

While Brazeau is the first Battalion player to win the award, it has been won three times by former North Bay Centennials including Len Soccio (1988), John Spoltore (1992), and B.J MacPherson (1994).  The five previous award recipients were all members of either the Barrie Colts or the Erie Otters including Aaron Luchuk (Barrie 2018), Darren Raddysh (Erie 2017), Kevin Labanc (Barrie 2016), Joseph Blandisi (Barrie 2015), and Dane Fox (Erie 2014).

Brazeau will be formally presented with the Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy at the 2018-19 OHL Awards Ceremony scheduled for June 5 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Canadian Hockey League commences search for first full-time President

Press Release

Toronto – The Canadian Hockey League (CHL), and its member leagues the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League, are the number one development league for the NHL, Canada’s national hockey teams and USPORTS.

The league and our 60 member clubs are committed to our player experience which includes the leading scholarship program in sport, programs to support mental health, other health and welfare programs and the best coaching and on-ice training in hockey.

The CHL’s three Commissioners and Board of Directors developed and approved a plan to enhance this continuing evolution including hiring the CHL’s first full-time president. The President will report to the commissioners of the three member leagues.

“The CHL, our member leagues and clubs are committed to the best interest of our players both on and off the ice, contributing to the communities in which we play and creating a great experience for our fans,” said David Branch, CHL President and OHL Commissioner.  “The time has come for the CHL to have a full-time president who will focus on continuing to grow and expand our programs.”

“Gilles Courteau, Ron Robison and I look forward to working with the new president and continuing to grow the game and the experience for our key stakeholders: our players,” said Branch, who will continue in his role as Commissioner of the OHL.

The search, which is being conducted by an outside firm, is expected to be completed prior to the 2019/20 hockey season.

Joe Carroll – Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds – Player Profile

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 200 pounds

Date of birth: February 1, 2001

Hometown: Carp, Ontario

Position: Center

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 4, 78th overall, 2017 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: B Prospect. Mid-term: 51st North America

I’ll be honest. When NHL Central Scouting released its Players to Watch List during the preseason and again in November and they listed Joe Carroll as a B prospect, which is regarded as a second or third round pick, I had no issue with that. But when they released their mid-term rankings and I saw him 51st among North American skaters, I felt that was too high.

Now, you look at the recently released final rankings from Central Scouting, they list Carroll at 101 overall among North American Skaters. That may just be the biggest “over-correction” they have done, putting him in the top handful of fallers from the Ontario Hockey League draft class.

Joe Carroll of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Joe Carroll of the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images

After posting a league leading 33 goals and 51 points in 29 games for the Ottawa Valley Titans Bantam AAA squad during the 2015-2016 season, Carroll went on to join the CP Canadians Minor Midget AAA squad for the 2016-2017 season. He appeared in 45 games and tallied 18 goals and 21 assists. He would add two goals in four playoff games and two goals and a helper at the OHL Cup.

The following season, Carroll broke onto the Greyhounds roster and played in 53 games scoring 9 goals and assisting on 9 to go along with 26 penalty minutes. During the Greyhounds playing run to the League Finals he would add 1 goal and 3 helpers in 24 games.

Carroll would also represent Canada at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17.

This season Carroll appeared in 65 games scoring 9 goals and 22 assists while adding 2 goals and 1 assist in 8 playoff games. Carroll accumulated 71 minutes in penalties on the season, second only to Navrin Mutter of the Hamilton Bulldogs among draft eligible players.

Carroll’s 9 goals on the season came from firing 147 shots on goal for a 6.1 shooting percentage. He was most dangerous from the high danger zone areas at 12.5%. He shot just 5.7% and 4.8% from the mid and low danger zone areas respectively. On the faceoff dot Carroll was 269 for 605 or 44.5%.

Carroll is an interesting player to watch. He has size, strength and possesses a powerful long skating stride. He has shown that he has the ability to use those assets to be an effective forechecker, dominate the walls and be a force in front of the opposition net. His puck protection skills are above average and he is very effective playing the cycle game. What has been lacking is showing consistency, not just game-to-game but sometimes from shift-to-shift. But he’s raw and that consistency can come as he matures.

As mentioned, Carroll has a long, powerful skating stride. But it is a somewhat awkward stride that prevents him from developing more speed. Skating isn’t the concern to me it was even just a handful of years ago. Coaching has improved and there are more and more excellent skating coaches that Carroll can take advantage of. If he is willing to take on the challenge, the opportunities are there. I wouldn’t bet against him.

Faceoffs are an area that he needs to put more work into if he continues to play down the middle. However, I think his game will better translate at the next level if he were converted to wing, a position he has played.

Carroll also won’t overpower goaltenders with his shot. He has good hands and can be dangerous in tight. But his goal production has disappointed most watchers this season, not what you want in a draft year. That’s said, he did show that he has some intriguing playmaking skills.

In the end, I think Carroll projects as a third line winger at the NHL level that will chip in with some offence at best. The worst-case scenario sees him as a fourth line energy guy who can provide energy and bring a physical component to a team.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

67’s Marco Rossi named OHL ‘On the Run’ Player of the Week

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that rookie Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67’s is the OHL ‘On the Run’ Player of the Week for the playoff week ending April 21 with eight points in three games scoring four goals and four assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-2.

Rossi, Marco
Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67’s. Photo by OHL Images

Rossi extended his personal point-streak to eight games with a trio of multi-point performances last week that helped the Ottawa 67’s stay perfect in post-season play taking a 3-0 series lead against the Oshawa Generals for the Eastern Conference Championship.  Rossi found the back of the net in all three games beginning Thursday night in the third round series opener where he tallied twice and added two assists as first star of the 6-4 victory.  He scored the game-winner and added an assist in Saturday’s 7-3 triumph in Game 2, then produced the same stat line Sunday in Game 3 netting the insurance marker plus a helper in the 5-1 road win.  The series continues Wednesday in Oshawa where they 67’s have the opportunity to capture their first Bobby Orr Trophy since 2005.

A 17-year-old from Feldkirch, Austria, Rossi leads all first year players in playoff scoring with 15 points in 11 games including five goals and 10 assists.  The 18th overall pick in the 2018 CHL Import Draft was voted to the OHL’s Second All-Rookie Team at centre following a 2018-19 campaign where he delivered 29 goals and 36 assists for 65 points in 53 games.  Born September 23, 2001, Rossi will be eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft.

Watch video highlights of Rossi and the 67’s against the Generals in Game 1, Game 2, and Game 3.

Also considered for the award this week was fellow rookie Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit who scored three goals and two assists for five points in two wins to open the Western Conference Championship Series against the Guelph Storm.  Storm captain and Philadelphia Flyers prospect Isaac Ratcliffe scored four goals and two assists for six points in three games which included a Game 7 victory against the London Knights.  In goal, Vancouver Canucks prospect Michael DiPietro of the 67’s posted a 3-0 record making 69 saves for a goals-against-average of 2.67 and save percentage of .896.

2018-19 OHL ‘On the Run’ Players of the Week – Playoffs:
Apr. 15 – Apr. 21: Marco Rossi (Ottawa 67’s)
Apr. 8 – Apr. 14: Kyle Keyser (Oshawa Generals)
Apr. 1 – Apr. 7: Tye Felhaber (Ottawa 67’s)
Mar. 25 – Mar. 31: Stephen Dhillon (Niagara IceDogs)
Mar. 18 – Mar. 24: Evan Bouchard (London Knights)

2018-19 OHL ‘On the Run’ Players of the Week – Regular Season:

Mar. 11 – Mar. 17: Jason Robertson (Niagara IceDogs)
Mar. 4 – Mar. 10: Greg Meireles (Kitchener Rangers)
Feb. 25 – Mar. 3: Nate Schnarr (Guelph Storm)
Feb. 18 – Feb. 24: Stephen Dhillon (Niagara IceDogs)
Feb. 11 – Feb. 17: Nando Eggenberger (Oshawa Generals)
Feb. 4 – Feb. 10: Jacob Ingham (Mississauga Steelheads)
Jan. 28 – Feb. 3: Riley Damiani (Kitchener Rangers)
Jan. 21 – Jan. 27: Liam Foudy (London Knights)
Jan. 14 – Jan. 20: Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Jan. 7 – Jan. 13: Isaac Ratcliffe (Guelph Storm)
Dec. 31 – Jan. 6: Arthur Kaliyev (Hamilton Bulldogs)
Dec. 24 – Dec. 30: Kyle Maksimovich (Erie Otters)
Dec. 10 – Dec. 16: Andrew MacLean (Owen Sound Attack)
Dec. 3 – Dec. 9: Brett Neumann (Kingston Frontenacs)
Nov. 26 – Dec. 2: Jason Robertson (Niagara IceDogs)
Nov. 19 – Nov. 25: Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Nov. 12 – Nov. 18: Owen Tippett (Mississauga Steelheads)
Nov. 5 – Nov. 11: Jason Robertson (Kingston Frontenacs)
Oct. 29 – Nov. 4: Kevin Hancock (Owen Sound Attack)
Oct. 22 – Oct. 28: Stephen Dhillon (Niagara IceDogs)
Oct. 15 – Oct. 21: Justin Brazeau (North Bay Battalion)
Oct. 8 – Oct. 14: Damien Giroux (Saginaw Spirit)
Oct. 1 – Oct. 7: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (Sudbury Wolves)
Sept. 24 – Sept. 30: Lucas Chiodo (Barrie Colts)
Sept. 19 – Sept. 23: Akil Thomas (Niagara IceDogs)