Wolves’ Quinton Byfield named OHL Rookie of the Year

OHL Announces First and Second All-Rookie Teams

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that forward Quinton Byfield of the Sudbury Wolves is the 2018-19 recipient of the Emms Family Award presented to the OHL’s Rookie of the Year.

Byfield joined the league as the first overall pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection and finished third in rookie scoring with 61 points in 64 games including 29 goals and 32 assists helping the Wolves win more than 40 games for the first time since the 1994-95 season.

“It’s super humbling,” Byfield said. “There’s a lot of good rookies this year that could have won it. I think a lot of them deserved it as well. I couldn’t have done it by myself and owe a lot to my coaches who put trust in me, gave me every opportunity to succeed, and put me in every situation. And my teammates, our off-ice chemistry was unbelievable. We had a very special group, we’re super tight, and that helped us on the ice and really helped me too.

“My billet family, since day one, welcomed me into their family and they supported me along the way,” added Byfield. “To my Mom, Dad, Sister, Oma, they all believed in me, supported me, and sacrificed everything for me just so I could go play hockey. This is just really special for me and I’m really honoured.”

The Newmarket, Ont., native, and graduate from the OMHA champion York-Simcoe Express, scored in his Wolves debut on September 21, part of a two-point performance, the first of 16 multi-point games this season.  The 2020 NHL Draft prospect also represented Canada as an alternate captain at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in November.  He finished second overall in Wolves scoring and lit the lamp more than any other 16-year-old rookie to play for ‘the Pack’ in the last 20 years following Norm Milley’s 30 goals in 1996-97.

“For Quinton coming in, being the number one pick after really wanting to be first overall, he’s done everything for us since the start of the season,” said Wolves head coach Cory Stillman, who won OHL Rookie of the Year honours himself as a member of the Windsor Spitfires in 1990-91. “He’s an extremely talented player and is a treat to come to the rink and watch every night.

Byfield, Quinton (1)
Quinton Byfield of the Sudbury Wolves. Photo by OHL Images

“What makes Quinton special, to me, is how hard he plays in all areas of the game,” Stillman added. “He plays on the power play and on the penalty kill. He plays in the last minute if we’re up a goal or if we’re down a goal. I think the biggest thing with Quinton is that he’s only going to get better.”

Byfield is just the third Wolves player to win Rookie of the Year honours following Benoit Pouliot in 2004-05, and Pat Verbeek in 1981-82.  He is also the ninth player to win after also earning the Jack Ferguson Award as the league’s first overall pick following Jeff O’Neill (Guelph 1992-93), Patrick O’Sullivan (Mississauga 2001-02), Rob Schremp (Mississauga 2002-03), John Tavares (Oshawa 2005-06), Aaron Ekblad (Barrie 2011-12), Connor McDavid (Erie 2012-13), Travis Konecny (Ottawa 2013-14), and Ryan Merkley (Guelph 2016-17).  Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts was last season’s recipient.

The Emms Family Award was donated by Leighton “Hap” Emms, former owner of the Barrie, Niagara Falls, and St. Catharines OHL franchises.  The award is selected by all 20 member club General Managers.  Teams were asked to submit only one nominee from their own club for consideration on the ballot and were not permitted to vote for the player from their own hockey club.  Voting was conducted in two stages beginning with a Conference only vote followed by a Final ballot that included the top three candidates from the initial Conference phase.  Players received five points for a first vote, three points for a second place vote, and one point for a third place vote.

Byfield earned 61 points in a very close voting process just one point ahead of Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit who finished with 60 voting points.  Defenceman Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters finished in third place with 32 voting points.

All three players were also named to the OHL’s First All-Rookie Team with Byfield at centre, Perfetti at left wing, and Jacob Perreault of the Sarnia Sting at right wing.  Drysdale was voted on defence alongside NHL Draft prospect Vladislav Kolyachonok of the Flint Firebirds.  Jet Greaves of the Barrie Colts was voted in goal.  Second All-Rookie Team honours were awarded to forwards Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67’s, Will Cuylle of the Windsor Spitfires, and Tyler Tullio of the Oshawa Generals.  Ryan O’Rourke of the Soo Greyhounds and Daniil Chayka of the Guelph Storm were voted on defence, and Zachary Roy of the Hamilton Bulldogs was chosen in goal.

The OHL All-Rookie Teams were also selected by the OHL’s General Managers.  Players were voted on initially by position within their conference receiving five points for a first place vote, three for a second place vote, and one for a third.  Top vote getters in each position made up the final ballot that was then circulated to all 20 teams.

The Emms Family Award will be formally presented to Byfield at the OHL’s annual Awards Ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Wednesday June 5.  He will be the OHL’s nominee for CHL Rookie of the Year to be announced at the Memorial Cup presented by Kia on Saturday May 25.

2018-19 OHL All-Rookie Teams (voting points in brackets):
First Team:
Centre – Quinton Byfield, Sudbury Wolves (87)
Left Wing – Cole Perfetti, Saginaw Spirit (91)
Right Wing – Jacob Perreault, Sarnia Sting (89)
Defence – Jamie Drysdale, Erie Otters (95)
Defence – Vladislav Kolyachonok, Flint Firebirds (69)
Goaltender – Jet Greaves, Barrie Colts (58)
Second Team:
Centre – Marco Rossi, Ottawa 67’s (52)
Left Wing – Will Cuylle, Windsor Spitfires (52)
Right Wing – Tyler Tullio, Oshawa Generals (35)
Defence – Ryan O’Rourke, Soo Greyhounds (53)
Defence – Daniil Chayka, Guelph Storm (38)
Goaltender – Zachary Roy, Hamilton Bulldogs (39)

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OHL Writers’ Draft Eligible Player of the Month for February

February may be the shortest month of the year, but it produced the best offensive numbers of the season led by Hamilton Bulldogs’ sniper and our draft eligible player of the month, Arthur Kaliyev.

Kaliyev led the way with 11 goals and 10 assists in just 11 games as he attempts to hit the 50-goal, 50-assist plateau on the season. Entering tonight’s action, Kaliyev sits at 47 goals along with 46 assists in 60 games. Among draft eligible players, he is dominating in just about every offensive category.

Kaliyev finished February with points in 9 of his 11 games and 6 of those being multi-point games. Twice he was named the games first star as well as second star on two other occasions.

Arthur Kaliyev of the Hamilton Bulldogs. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Arthur Kaliyev of the Hamilton Bulldogs. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Also Considered were Flint Firebirds’ Ethan Keppen who had 8 goals and 5 assists in 10 games, and Cole MacKay of the Soo Greyhounds with 9 goals and 5 helpers in 12 games. In goal, Jet Greaves of the Barrie Colts led the way 286 of 310 shots in just 8 games for a .919 save-percentage. He was named CHL Goaltender of the Week for the week ending February 4.

Player of the Month

Arthur Kaliyev – Hamilton Bulldogs – February

Arthur Kaliyev – Hamilton Bulldogs – January

Connor McMichael – London Knights – December

Philip Tomasino – Niagara IceDogs – November

Hunter Jones – Peterborough Petes – October

Jet Greaves – Barrie Colts – Player Profile

Height: 6’

Weight: 161 pounds

Date of birth: March 30, 2001

Hometown: Cambridge, Ontario

Position: Goaltender

Catches: Right

OHL Draft: Round 3, 56th overall, 2017 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Not Ranked

The first question that might pop into people’s minds reading this is “why would we be discussing a goaltender not ranked by NHL Central Scouting?” Well, two reasons. There is a perceived opinion out there that NHL Central Scouting and NHL teams prefer bigger netminders. But there are a half-dozen netminders on Central’s list that stand as “small” as Barrie Colts’ netminder Jet Greaves. Secondly, we believe Greaves deserves some consideration when everything about this season is put into context.

Greaves played his Minor Midget AAA hockey for the Cambridge Hawks during the 2016-2017 season and in 17 games posted a 2.41 goals-against-average and .916 save-percentage. The Colts would use the 56th overall pick at the 2017 Priority Selection to draft Greaves.

Greaves spent last season with the Guelph Hurricanes of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. He appeared in 35 games and posted a 3.46 goals-against-average and .899 save-percentage.

Jet Greaves of the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Jet Greaves of the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Now, lets put this, his OHL rookie and NHL Draft season into context.

Greaves had spent the season sharing the crease with two other netminders in Barrie, Kai Edmonds and Maksim Zhukov until the latter jumped ship to the United States Hockey League in mid-January. The Colts currently sit third from the bottom in the standings. They have also scored the second fewest goals in the league, so there isn’t much run support for any of the netminders.

The Colts have allowed the sixth fewest goals in the entire league while allowing 35 shots against per game for a team save-percentage of .903 and a team goals-against-average of 3.31. Greaves’ goals-against-average (2.97) is better then both Edmonds (3.13) and Zhukov’s (3.43) as well as the team average. So too is his save-percentage (.919) versus Edmonds (.902) and Zhukov (.900).

Greaves has been so impressive that the coaching staff rewarded him by starting 4 consecutive games in February. He faced back-to-back 50-plus shots in his first two games stopping 100 of 103 shots directed on his net and earning himself the OHL and CHL Goaltender of the Week honors.  To put that into perspective, 6’5” Guelph Storm goaltender Nicholas Daws has faced 50 shots to date in the month of February and is ranked 19th among North American goaltenders.

Greaves is second among rookie netminders in goals-against-average and tops in save-percentage. In fact, Greaves is second overall in save-percentage among all netminders.  Among this years’ draft crop, Greaves is second to Ethan Taylor (2.95) in goals-against-average and tops in save-percentage. But he sits 7th in minutes played. However, since Zhukov joined Green Bay in the USHL, Greaves minutes have increased and that trend should continue.  

So, what does Greaves – who’s full name is Calvin Jet Greaves (his father is a Jet Li fan) Bring to the table?

Greaves is a superbly athletic netminder who moves in any direction quickly. He’s just as quick in getting into the butterfly and back on his skates to prepare for second chance opportunities. He is technically sound, keeping himself square at the shooter. He plays his angles well and moves to the top of the paint and back with ease.

Greaves is a right hand catching netminder and we all know that can sometimes fool shooters who aren’t accustomed to the trapper being on the other side. But he does require some work with the glove. At times, the puck does go through the webbing, but I feel it is an area that can be worked on.

The area that can not be worked on is Greaves size. He tracks the puck well, and in close he’s good at taking away the bottom of the net and making himself as tall as he can be. But with the puck at a distance and traffic in front of his goal, he’ll need to work on seeing past that traffic.

I’ve been pretty impressed with his play for the better part of the season. Has he done enough to hear his name called in Vancouver? One never knows, but I think he has to date, earned mention and should at least get an invite to an NHL Development Camp should he not be drafted in June.

CHL Announces Weekly Award Winners

Mooseheads’ Samuel Asselin named CHL Player of the Week

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that forward Samuel Asselin of the Halifax Mooseheads is the CHL Player of the Week for the regular season week ending February 3 with 11 points in three games including six goals and five assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-12.

Asselin recorded two multi-goal efforts in a pair of games last week to help push the Mooseheads’ win streak to three games and improve to a 36-11-2-1 record atop the QMJHL’s Maritimes Division. His week began Thursday with a four-point showing, including two goals and two assists, and second star honours in a 7-5 win over the Victoriaville Tigres. The 2018 Memorial Cup champion then followed up that performance Saturday with a five-point night, including his second career hat-trick and two assists, in an 8-2 victory against the Sherbrooke Phoenix en route to first star recognition. He then closed out the week Sunday adding one goal and one assist in a 4-2 win over the Moncton Wildcats and was named the game’s third star. Asselin is the first member of the Mooseheads to be recognized as the CHL Player of the Week this season.

A 20-year-old from L’Assomption, Que., Asselin is playing in his fourth career season. The Mooseheads acquired Asselin from the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in a September trade. He’s tallied a league-leading 40 goals and 29 assists with Halifax this season. During last year’s playoff championship run, Asselin scored three goals and eight assists for 11 points in 20 games.

Also considered for the award this week was Dallas Stars prospect Riley Damiani of the Kitchener Rangers with nine points in three games, including four goals and five assists, and Minnesota Wild prospect Conor Dewar of the Everett Silvertips after scoring four goals and four assists for eight points in two games.

2018-19 CHL Players of the Week – Regular Season:

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)

Colts’ Jet Greaves named Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that rookie Jet Greaves of the Barrie Colts is the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week for the regular season week ending February 3 with a 1-0-0-1 record and a goals-against average of 1.45 and save percentage of .971.

Greaves claims the honour for the first time this season after stopping 100 shots in two games last week in back-to-back 50-save efforts to help the Colts improve to 21-25-2-1 on the season. Against the London Knights on Friday, Greaves turned aside 50 shots, including 21 saves in the opening frame, before being named second star of the eventual 3-2 shootout loss. The following night, Greaves received first star honours for his 50 saves in a 3-1 win over the Mississauga Steelheads.

A 17-year-old from Cambridge, Ont., Greaves was chosen by the Colts in the third round of the 2017 OHL Priority Selection. In his OHL rookie season, Greaves has notched a 5-6-1 record alongside a 2.81 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in 16 games.

Also considered for the award this week was Tristan Cote-Cazenave of the Victoriaville Tigres who posted a 1-1-0-0 record, stopping a total of 71 shots for a goals-against average of 2.40 and save percentage of .934. In the WHL, Reece Klassen of the Spokane Chiefs went 1-0-0-1 with a shutout victory, stopping 34 shots in total for a goals-against average of 0.71 and save percentage of .971.

2018-19 Vaughn CHL Goaltenders of the Week – Regular Season:

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)

Rangers’ Riley Damiani named OHL ‘On the Run’ Player of the Week

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Dallas Stars prospect Riley Damiani of the Kitchener Rangers is the OHL ‘On the Run’ Player of the Week for the regular season week ending February 3 with nine points in three games scoring four goals and five assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-8.

Damiani led the league in scoring last week while helping the Rangers earn four of a possible six points as they jostle for position in the Western Conference standings.  The highlight of his week was back-to-back four point performances in a home-and-home set with the Owen Sound Attack.  He recorded two goals and two assists as first star of Wednesday’s 7-4 road win, followed by a goal with a trio of assists to drive Rickard Hugg’s hat-trick earning second star in Friday’s 6-1 victory at home.  On Saturday Damiani scored his 20th goal of the season, a new career-high, despite a 4-2 loss to the London Knights.  The Rangers currently occupy the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoff race with a 23-23-3-0 record just two points behind the Sarnia Sting for sixth, and three points ahead of the Windsor Spitfires who are in eighth.

An 18-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., Damiani is playing in his third season with the Rangers who chose him in the second round of the 2016 OHL Priority Selection.  He’s currently second on the team in scoring with 57 points in 39 games which exceeds his point total from a year ago by 20.  Damiani finished an impressive month with points in 10 of his 12 games to start 2019 including a career-high five assists on January 18.  He was selected by the Stars in the fifth round of the 2018 NHL Draft.

Watch video highlights of Damiani and the Rangers against the Attack on the road, at home, and against the Knights.

Also considered for the award this week was Colorado Avalanche prospect Brandon Saigeon of the Oshawa Generals with four goals and four assists for eight points in three games, and rookie Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67’s with three goals and five assists for eight points in three games.  In goal, rookie Jet Greaves of the Barrie Colts stopped 100 shots in two games posting a 1-0-0-1 record for an overall goals-against-average of 1.45 and save percentage of .971.

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

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)

OHL Writers’ Draft Eligible Player of the Month for January

For the first time this season, Hamilton Bulldogs’ forward and to prospect for the 2019 National Hockey League Draft Arthur Kaliyev is our draft eligible player of the month after having come close in previous months.

Kaliyev, who is ranked 11th on NHL Central Scouting’s mid term rankings among North American Skaters, appeared in 12 games for the Bulldogs in January scoring 10 goals while assisting on 8 others. He also notched a pair of goals at the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

Arthur Kaliyev of the Hamilton Bulldogs. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Arthur Kaliyev of the Hamilton Bulldogs. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Kaliyev leads all draft eligible players in goals, assists, points, shots and possesses the top three goal scoring streaks of the season as well as the longest assist streak of the season. He was named the OHL Player of the Week for the week ending January 7, 2019. In January, he was named the games’ first star twice and third star once.

Also considered were Mississauga Steelheads defenceman Thomas Harley and Niagara IceDogs forward Philip Tomasino. Harley recorded 4 goals and 11 helpers in 12 contests while Tomasino notched 9 goals and 7 helpers.

Harley was ranked by NHL Central Scouting 9th overall among North Americans and the top prospect from the OHL while Tomasino was ranked 24th.

Among goaltenders, Jet Greaves of the Barrie Colts gets our vote. Despite his record of 2-3-2 in January, Greaves posted a 2.42 goals-against-average and .926 save-percentage. Greaves is not ranked on Central Scouting’s mid term rankings.

Players of the month

Connor McMichael – London Knights – December

Philip Tomasino – Niagara Ice Dogs – November

Hunter Jones – Peterborough Petes – October

Goaltenders: Is This the Year For the OHL?

At the 2018 National Hockey League Draft, the Los Angeles Kings selected Jacob Ingham of the Mississauga Steelheads in the sixth round, 175th overall, while the Las Vegas Goldens Knights chose London Knights puck stopper Jordan Kooy in the seventh round, 208th overall.

At the 2017 Draft, the Vancouver Canucks selected Michael DiPietro of the Windsor Spitfires in the third round, 64th overall. Also selected in the third round was Sault Ste Marie netminder Matthew Villalta, 72nd overall by the Los Angeles Kings. Kaden Fulcher of the Hamilton Bulldogs and Kyle Keyser of the Oshawa Generals were signed as free agents by the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins respectively before the start of the 2017-2018 season.

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

In 2016, Tyler Parsons of the London Knights was selected in the second round, 54th overall, by the Calgary Flames. The New Jersey Devils would nab Evan Cormier from the Saginaw Spirit in the fourth round, 105th overall.  Dylan Wells of the Peterborough Petes was selected in the fifth round. 123rd overall, by the Flames neighbours the Edmonton Oilers. while the Carolina Hurricanes would take Jeremy Helvig of the Kingston Frontenacs in the fifth round, 134th overall.

In 2015, MacKenzie Blackwood would be the only Ontario Hockey League goaltender selected at the draft. The New Jersey Devils would select Blackwood in the second round, 42 overall.

Ask around in hockey circles and many would tell you that goaltending is an area of weakness in the OHL when it comes to the NHL Draft. 2017 looks good at the moment, but Fulcher and Keyser were never drafted which means all 31 NHL Clubs passed on them seven times.

So why would 2019, which takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia, on June 21-22 be any different? Well the simple answer is: I don’t know. I don’t have some magic crystal ball that helps predict the future. Just the sheer number of goaltenders entering their draft year adds some intrigue. Add to them a couple of undrafted goaltenders that will be re-entering the draft adds another dimension.

During the 2016-2017 OHL season, an undrafted (in the OHL) Villalta drew my attention very early on. And as the season progressed, his draft stock began to rise. All the way to number 72 in the draft. So, is there another Matthew Villalta knocking at the door in 2018-2019?

When NHL Central Scouting released it’s players to watch list earlier this month, five OHL goaltenders were found on the list. They include Mack Guzda of the Owen Sound Attack as a B prospect, Luke Cavallin of the Flint Firebirds, Hunter Jones of the Peterborough Petes, Nicholas Daws of the Guelph Storm, and Kari Piiroinen of the Windsor Spitfires, all as C prospects. (a B prospect is considered a second or third rounder while a C prospect is considered a fourth, fifth or sixth round prospect).

It was no surprise to see Guzda at the top of Central’s list as he already had the benefit of an OHL season under his belt. During the 2017-2018 season, Guzda appeared in 30 games for the Attack posting a 3.20 goals-against average and .879 save percentage. But it has been a less-then-expected start for Guzda and his Attack Team. In seven games he boasts a 2-5-0-0 record with a save percentage at just .859 and a goals-against average of 4.11. But I have no doubt that he will improve on those stats as the season progresses.

Much like Villalta during the 2016-2017 season, if you haven’t started paying attention to the Petes’ Hunter Jones, then you should probably start now before you lag behind. He leads all OHL goaltenders in appearances (10), minutes played (539), shots faced (323), saves (303) and wins (8). Among puck stoppers who have played in four or more contests, he trails only Kooy in goals-against average (2.22 versus 2.01) and leads all netminders in save percentage (.938).

In eight of the complete games Jones has started this season, he has faced under 35 shots just twice. He had one poor start, allowing 6 goals against the Hamilton Bulldogs in two periods on September 29, 2018. His other starts would be a record setting pace.

Speaking of the Bulldogs, not making Central Scouting’s opening list is Hamilton netminder Zachary Roy. One has to wonder if things keep going the way they are in the Steel City, if there will be a goaltending controversy in the crease. Nick Donofrio, who went undrafted in 2018 and re-enters the draft, was the backup last season to Fulcher and the incumbent starter for this season.

It’s been a slow start for Donofrio, posting a 3-3-1-0 record with a 3.74 goals-against average and .881 save percentage. Roy was given his first OHL start on October 10 and put in a brilliant 42 save performance in a 5-2 victory over the Windsor Spitfires. A week later, Roy was given the start against the Mississauga Steelheads stopping 29 of 30 shots and getting the 5-1 victory. He was rewarded for his performance and started in back-to-back games and getting a 6-5 overtime victory on the road against the Oshawa Generals. Roy now has a 2.61 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

Perhaps the goaltender that is going to be the toughest to get a read on is Flint Firebirds’ Luke Cavallin. The Firebirds are off to a dismal start at 0-9-0-0 having allowed the most goals (53) and scoring the fewest (17) so wins are going to be tough to come by in Flint.

Emanuel Vella is the number one goaltender in Flint. Cavallin has only appeared in two complete games this season, five in total. He’s come on in relief of Vella twice, not allowing a goal on both occasions. But he was also given the hook on one occasion in a game everyone would like to forget, a 12-1 drubbing by the Erie Otters.

The only way to get a good read on Cavallin is to hope he plays and plays a lot and to constantly have eyes on his performance and not paying attention to the outcome. Because the outcome may not be pretty.

Kari Piiroinen of the Windsor Spitfires is in kind of a similar situation. Not that the Spits are the Firebirds, but that you need to have eyes on Piiroinen constantly as you never know when he will make his next appearance. At least that is what one would think when you are backing up the best netminder in the OHL in Micheal DiPietro.

However, the Finnish born Piiroinen has started three of the Spits nine games and came on in relief of DiPietro in another. He boasts a 2-2-0-0 record with a goals-against average of 2.70 and a save percentage of .913, all of which are better then DiPietro’s stats. It’s possible the Spitfires might consider trading DiPietro in order to recoup some assets and that could benefit Piiroinen and his draft stock.

In Sault Ste Marie, Villalta is the incumbent for the Greyhounds. They began the season with OHL veteran Tyler Johnson as his backup, but he has since made the jump to the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League. In comes Ethan Taylor, who was not on Central Scouting’s list.

Taylor has gotten 2 starts in the last ten days and has come on in relief of Villalta where he stopped all 15 shots he faced in a 6-2 loss the Ottawa 67’s handed the Greyhounds. Taylor has exceptional numbers: a 1-0-1-0 record to go along with his 1.65 goals-against average and .973 save percentage. There was a lot of intrigue surrounding Taylor, and with Johnson moving on, a window of opportunity has opened up for him. Now he has to make the best of his chances when his number is called upon.

The Guelph Storm’s Nicholas Daws did make Central Scouting’s list. He appeared in 14 games for the Storm a season ago posting a goals-against average of 4.06 and a save percentage of .880 and a 1-7-1-1 record. He has started three games for the Storm this season and his stats have regressed from a year ago with his 4.25 goals-against average and .843 saver percentage and a 2-1-0-0 record.

Daws is backing up veteran Anthony Popovich and will likely see more starts then the other backups who are draft eligible. The Storm currently lead the Midwest Division, second overall in the league, with a 6-2-1-0 record but with the league’s eighth worst goals allowed (33).  There is a real opportunity here for Daws and the Storm if he can put it all together and improve on his early season start.

Ryan Dugas of the 3-7-0-0 Kingston Frontenacs is another netminder not on Central Scouting’s list. The Fronts occupy the basement of the East Division and are third from the bottom in the entire league. Although he is backing up veteran Brendan Bonello, Dugas has been a bright spot of sorts for Kingston.

Dugas has appeared in 4 games, one of those being in relief of Bonello, and has a 2-1-0-0 record. His first OHL game was a 27 save shutout performance on September 29 against the Erie Otters. He holds a 2.52 goals-against average and .916 save percentage. He is Kingston’s goalie of the future and if he can steal some starts – and wins – he will draw some attention.

Finally, we have to give a mention to Barrie Colts netminder Jet Greaves. Currently behind veteran Kai Edmonds and 2017 Vegas Golden Knights draft pick Maksim Zhukov who the Colts selected in the 2018 Import Draft, I really like Greaves coming into the season if not for name alone.

The fact is that Edmonds and Zhukov were not getting it done for the Colts, who sit second to last in the Central Division and Greaves got a chance and has outperformed his partners. Although he has a 1-1-0-0 record, his loss came against the Mississauga Steelheads in which he stopped 28 of 30 shots and his teammates could only score once.

Greaves holds a 1.52 goals-against average with a .949 save percentage. It could be in the Colts best interest to give him more starts right now and see if he can run with it.

With all that said and out of the way, 2019 is not the best draft class to come out of the OHL. In fact, it could be one of the worst ever for the OHL. And that could bode well for a goaltending class that is better then usual – at least in sheer numbers.