2018 NHL Draft: Where’s the Offence From the OHL?

If it sounds like we’re beating a dead horse, it’s because we are. If Barrie Colts’ superstar Andrei Svechnikov had not missed two months of the season, things would look different. Despite that, it is in the end, a legitimate question to ask.

The 2017 National Hockey League Draft was a very good draft and there were some pretty good offensive players selected from the Ontario Hockey League. But when comparing 2018 to 2017 we must ask, where’s the offense? So, let’s compare the two.

A season ago, Nick Suzuki led all draft eligible players with 96 points. This season, London Knights’ defenceman Evan Bouchard led the way with 87 points. Svechnikov placed third with 72 points behind Akil Thomas of the Niagara Ice Dogs with 81 points. It’s reasonable to assume had he not missed 24 games, Svechnikov would have surpassed Suzuki’s total.

Akil Thomas of the Niagara IceDogs. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Akil Thomas of the Niagara IceDogs. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

A deeper look tells us that Gabriel Vilardi missed almost as much time as Svechnikov, missing 19 games yet putting up 61 points. But when we compare the top ten producers from the 2017 draft to those that will be selected in June, some may be surprised by the comparisons.

The top ten from 2017 registered a combined 701 points in 635 games. The 2018 class played an equal number of 635 games and contributed a combined 685 points. If we were to project Svechnikov and Vilardi over a full season, then we’d find the difference at just 4 points.

Last season we saw Jonah Gadjovich (46), Suzuki (45), Owen Tippett (44) and Jason Robertson (42) all score 40 or more goals. This season saw only Svechnikov hit the mark with 40. In fact, only Aidan Dudas (31) and Pavel Gogolev (30) hit the 30-goal mark. All the top ten in 2017 scored 25 or more while 7 of the top ten hit the total this season.

Playmaking however seems to be up this year, at least according to the numbers. Last season the top ten provided teammates with 419 helpers, but this season the top ten assisted on 451 goals. Both years were led by a blueliner. Bouchard assisted on 62 goals while Conor Timmins assisted on 54. The difference though, was top heavy with the bottom five virtually equal from year to year.

Points by blueliners was also extremely top heavy. Bouchard (87) and Ryan Merkley (67) combined for 154 points this season. In 2017, Timmins (61) and Nicolas Hague (46) combined for just 107 points. Rasmus Sandin (45) and Markus Phillips (43) were virtually equal, but Sandin played in 15 fewer games. The rest of the class however is more favorable to 2017 with the next five point-getters finishing with 35 points or more, but none of the rest of the 2018 class finished with more than 26 points.

With Bouchard and Merkley out-performing their cousins from a year ago, how much does the 47-point difference skew the numbers among the forwards? Timmins was the only defenseman to place in the top 10 a year ago. If we are concentrating solely on forwards, 2017 wins hands down.

So where is the offense?

OHL This Week for April 26-30, 2017

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Toronto, ON – The Mississauga Steelheads have advanced to the Rogers OHL Championship Series and await the winner between the Erie Otters and Owen Sound Attack currently deadlocked at 2-2 in the Western Conference Final.  That story and more around the OHL this week.

MISSISSAUGA STEELHEADS ARE EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS:

The Mississauga Steelheads have claimed the Bobby Orr Trophy as Eastern Conference Champions for the first time in team history, sending Mississauga to its first Rogers OHL Championship Series since 2011. The Steelheads took a commanding 7-0 home ice victory in Game 4 on Wednesday, taking a clean sweep of their Eastern Conference Championship Series against the Peterborough Petes. Read more / Photo Gallery / Highlights / Post-Game

WATCH EVERY PLAYOFF GAME WITH OHL LIVE PLAYOFF PACKAGES:

Don’t miss a game! Follow your team throughout the #OHLPlayoffs with new OHL LIVE Playoff Packages including the flexibility of single game, team pass and all access options. Visit OHLLIVE.com for full details.

LIFTMASTER ROAD TO THE MASTERCARD MEMORIAL CUP:

Get caught up on what’s going on around the entire CHL Playoffs in the third edition of LiftMaster Road to the Mastercard Memorial Cup.  11 teams remain in the hunt to join the Windsor Spitfires in May as third round action winds down.  LiftMaster is the Official Garage Door Opener of the Canadian Hockey League. Watch.

OTTERS’ DARREN RADDYSH NAMED OHL OVERAGE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:

Erie Otters defenceman Darren Raddysh has been voted the 2016-17 Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy recipient presented annually to the OHL’s Overage Player of the Year. Raddysh led all overage players in scoring this season with 81 points in 62 games including 16 goals and 65 assists.  His 81 points were tops among OHL defencemen and established a new Otters single season mark for production from the blueline. Read more

ATTACK’S NICK SUZUKI NAMED OHL’S MOST SPORTSMANLIKE PLAYER:

2017 NHL Draft prospect Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack is the William Hanley Trophy recipient awarded to the league’s Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year. Suzuki finished fifth in league scoring with 96 points including 45 goals and 51 assists in 65 games played with a plus-minus rating of plus-51 that ranked seventh among all OHL skaters.  He recorded just 10 penalty minutes in 2016-17 which was fewest among the league’s top-10 scorers serving just one minor penalty during the final 26 games of the season. Read more

CHMELEVSKI, GIBSON AND HANNA EARN 2017 OHL ACADEMIC AWARDS:

Sasha Chmelevski of the Ottawa 67’s is the recipient of the Bobby Smith Trophy as Scholastic Player of the Year, with Stephen Gibson of the Mississauga Steelheads earning the Roger Neilson Memorial Award as the Top Post-Secondary School Student, and Quinn Hanna of the Guelph Storm named the Ivan Tennant Memorial Award recipient for Top High School Student. All three players will be formally presented with their awards at the annual OHL Awards Ceremony on Thursday June 8.  Chmelevski will be the OHL’s nominee for CHL Scholastic Player of the Year which will be announced on Saturday May 27 as part of the events at the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup in Windsor. Read more

STAYING THE COURSE: HOW THE STEELHEADS TURNED THINGS AROUND:

A look at the Mississauga Steelheads’ ascension from holding the OHL’s worst record in early December to being crowned Central Division champions at season’s end. Head coach James Richmond and his staff stayed the course and benefited from the midseason additions of Spencer Watson and Vili Saarijarvi. Read more

EAST DIVISION CHAMPION PETES RETURN TO PROMINENCE:

The Peterborough Petes played in their first Eastern Conference Final since 2006, becoming the talk of the town once again. Former Petes goaltender turned coach Andrew Verner reflects on his playing days in the Electric City and discusses the competitive standard this year’s club set for future seasons. Read more

GADJOVICH AND HANCOCK EMBODY ATTACK IDENTITY:

Forwards Jonah Gadjovich and Kevin Hancock represent an Owen Sound Attack hockey club that flew under the radar and improved into one of the league’s best. The two draft eligible forwards received high praise in the Western Conference Coaches Poll in categories that are the essence of this year’s Attack; improved and underrated. Read more

FOUR YEARS RUNNING FOR TRIO OF OTTERS:

Erie Otters veterans Dylan Strome, Kyle Pettit, and Darren Raddysh are competing in their fourth straight Western Conference Championship Series. The Otters hope this season will be their year to celebrate the Flagship City’s first OHL title since 2002. Read more

4 OHL PLAYERS EARN MEDALS AT WORLD UNDER-18 HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP:

Four OHL players earned medals at the 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship in Poprad and Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia. A total of 15 OHL players competed in the annual event including nine who competed for Canada in a fifth place finish following a quarterfinal loss to Sweden. Read more

ICEDOGS NAME JOEY BURKE GENERAL MANAGER:

The Niagara IceDogs have named former Director of Player Personnel Joey Burke as General Manager of the club. Burke, who has been with the IceDogs since their inaugural season in Niagara in 2007-08. He has served as the club’s Assistant General Manager since the beginning of the 2010 season. Read more

67’s ANNOUNCE RESIGNATION OF HEAD COACH & GM JEFF BROWN:

The Ottawa 67’s have announced that Head Coach and General Manager Jeff Brown has resigned for personal reasons. Brown took over coaching duties with the 67’s in the 2014-15 season and was promoted to the dual role of Head Coach and General Manager in May 2015. In his first season behind the bench, the 67’s finished second in the OHL’s Eastern Division and secured a playoff spot after missing the post-season in the two previous seasons. The team qualified for the playoffs in each year of Brown’s tenure as Head Coach. Read more

GREYHOUNDS’ KATCHOUK SIGNS WITH LIGHTNING:

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds forward Boris Katchouk to a three-year, entry-level NHL contract. Katchouk, 18, played in 66 games with the Greyhounds this season, recording 35 goals and 64 points to go along with 46 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-1,192-pound forward ranked second on the Greyhounds for goals, third for points and fifth for assists. Katchouk paced the entire OHL for shorthanded goals with seven.  Read more

GREYHOUNDS’ KOPACKA SIGNS WITH DUCKS:

The Anaheim Ducks have signed Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds forward Jack Kopacka to a three-year, entry-level NHL contract. Selected in the fourth round (93rd overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft, Kopacka recorded 30-19=49 points with a +8 rating and 16 PIM in 65 games with the Greyhounds in 2016-17. The 6-2, 202-pound forward set OHL career highs during the regular season in goals, points and plus/minus. He also ranked second on the Greyhounds in playoff scoring (5-6=11) and assists in 11 postseason appearances this spring. Read more

STEELHEADS’ MANCINA NAMED PIONEER ENERGY OHL PLAYER OF THE WEEK & VAUGHN CHL GOALTENDER OF THE WEEK:

Matthew Mancina of the Mississauga Steelheads is the Pioneer Energy OHL Player of the Week for the playoff week ending April 23 after posting a 2-0 record including a shutout victory with a goals-against-average of 1.50 and save percentage of .944. Mancina turned aside 51 shots last week for the Steelheads who opened the Eastern Conference Championship Series with a pair of road victories to take a 2-0 series lead against the Peterborough Petes. Mancina’s standout performance also earned him Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week honours. Read more

JAMIESON REES COMMITS TO STING:

The Sarnia Sting have received a commitment from 2017 first round, ninth overall selection Jamieson Rees. Rees, who captained the Mississauga Reps to an OHL Cup title, was also named to the OHL Cup Gatorade All-Star Team after recording 11 points (6-5–11) over eight games with a rating of plus-13. Read more

ALEXANDRE HOGUE COMMITS TO STING:

The Sarnia Sting have received a commitment from 2017 second round (37th overall) selection Alexandre Hogue. The HEO Player of the Year had 14 goals, 33 assists and 47 points in 45 games with the Cumberland Grads U18 Midgets. The Embrun, Ont. native is expected to suit up for Team HEO in the upcoming OHL Gold Cup taking place at the Activia Sportsplex in Kitchener from May 4-7. Read more

NATHAN STAIOS COMMITS TO SPITFIRES:

The Windsor Spitfires have received a commitment from 2017 first round, 17th overall pick Nathan Staios. The son of longtime NHL defenceman Steve Staios – who is now president and general manager of the Hamilton Bulldogs – Staios had five goals, 11 assists and 32 penalty minutes in 16 games for the the Vaughn Kings Minor Midgets in 2016-17. Read more

BLAKE MURRAY COMMITS TO WOLVES:

The Sudbury Wolves have received a commitment from 2017 first round, seventh overall pick Blake Murray. An Uxbridge, ON, native, Murray led the Whitby Wildcats Minor Midgets to an OMHA Championship this past season before reaching the OHL Cup Quarterfinals. Read more

JOE RUPOLI COMMITS TO GENERALS:

The Oshawa Generals have received a commitment from 2016 fifth round selection Joe Rupoli. The defenceman from Oakville played with the OJHL’s Mississauga Chargers this past season, recording three goals, 12 assists and 15 points over 48 games. Read more

OHL CLUBS HOST SPRING DEVELOPMENT CAMPS:

A total of nine OHL clubs hosted Development Camps last weekend, giving prospective players and their families an opportunity to meet coaches, staff, media, and fans in their respective organizations. Players taken in the 2016 and 2017 OHL Priority Selections in addition to 2017 OHL Under-18 Priority Selection picks and other free agent invitees attended the Development Camps that featured a fitness testing element in addition to on-ice scrimmages and information sessions over the course of the weekend. Read more

7 OHL U18 PRIORITY SELECTION PICKS REPRESENTING MISSISSAUGA REBELS AT TELUS CUP:

Seven players chosen in the 2017 OHL Under-18 Priority Selection are competing in the Telus Cup with the Mississauga Rebels Midgets. The Rebels represent the Central region at this year’s event in Prince George, BC and feature OHL prospects in Evan Benwell (Windsor Spitfires), Elijah Gonsalves (London Knights), Josiah Degazon (Barrie Colts), Bair Gendunov (Saginaw Spirit), Massimo Petricca (Barrie Colts), Eric Mergelas (Sudbury Wolves and Calder Lund (Flint Firebirds). For full coverage of the 2017 Telus Cup, please visit hockeycanada.ca.

OHL TO HOST 5TH ANNUAL OHL GOLD CUP HIGH PERFORMANCE OFFICIATING CAMP:

The Ontario Hockey League will be hosting its 5th annual OHL Gold Cup High Performance Officiating Exposure Camp from May 3-7 to enhance the development and performance of the top officiating prospects in Canada. This camp will be an opportunity for officials to showcase their skills and abilities to members of the OHL Officiating Department. A total of 20 officials out of over 80 applications have been selected to participate. Read more

2017 OHL COACHES CONFERENCE SCHEDULED FOR JUNE 3rd:

The 4th annual OHL Coaches Conference is scheduled for Saturday June 3rd on the campus of UOIT in Oshawa, ON. This event provides minor hockey coaches the opportunity to learn from OHL, AHL, and NHL personnel in an interactive professional development day. Programs are open to any coach registered within the OHF, OHA, OWHA, HEO, or HNO, coaching Pee-Wee ‘AAA’, Minor Bantam and Major Bantam ‘AE to AAA’, Minor Midget and Midget ‘AE to AAA’. Read more

WIN A TRIP TO THE MASTERCARD MEMORIAL CUP WITH SPORTSNET #WHATTOWIN:

What do you do to win? Show Sportsnet your skills using #WhatToWin on Twitter, and you could win a trip to the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup! Details.

ENTER WITH BRP FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A TRIP TO THE MASTERCARD MEMORIAL CUP:

A proud partner of the Canadian Hockey League, BRP has launched a great new contest that gives fans a chance to win a trip for four to the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup in Windsor! Fill out all of the information and enter for your chance to win. Visit brpcontest.com.

JANES SAVES OF THE YEAR CONTEST CONTINUES:

Voting is now open for the #JanesSaves of the Year! Head to www.JanesSaves.ca and vote for the best OHL Save of the Year! Enter for your chance to win a trip for 4 to the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup and score a FREE box of Janes ultimates™

VOTE SPENCER WATSON IN #CIBCSHOWDOWN:

Los Angeles Kings prospect Spencer Watson of the Mississauga Steelheads is the OHL’s representative in this week’s edition of CIBC Showdown, a weekly contest that features one great play from all three leagues. Watch his play and vote at chlshowdown.ca.

OHL PLAYERS REWARDED WITH PRO OPPORTUNITIES FOLLOWING 2016-17 SEASON:

Several OHL players now on the other side of the 2016-17 season have received pro opportunities with AHL and ECHL clubs. The following players have recently signed professional and amateur tryout contracts with pro clubs since their OHL playoff elimination: Jeremy Brodeur (Oshawa Generals/Toledo Walleye – ECHL), Connor Bunnaman (Kitchener Rangers/Lehigh Valley Phantoms – AHL), Max Jones (London Knights/San Diego Gulls – AHL), Boris Katchouk (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds/Syracuse Crunch – AHL), JJ Piccinich (London Knights/Toronto Marlies – AHL), Mitchell Stephens (London Knights/Syracuse Crunch – AHL),

2017 MASTERCARD MEMORIAL CUP SINGLE GAME TICKETS NOW ON SALE:

2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup single-game tickets are now on sale. Tickets for games featuring the host Windsor Spitfires are available at a cost of $90+HST while games featuring two of the other three participating teams are priced at $75+HST. Read more

ALUMNI NOTES:

47 OHL graduates advance to second round of NHL Playoffs: A total of 47 OHL graduates have reached the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers advanced in the Western Conference while the New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins moved on in the East. Read more

Marner added to Canada’s Roster for 2017 IIHF World Championship: Fresh off an outstanding rookie season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, London Knights graduate and 2016 CHL Player of the Year Mitch Marner has been added to Canada’s roster for the 2017 IIHF World Hockey Championship. Marner will be representing his country in international competition for the third time in his career; he won gold at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, and was part of Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. The Thornhill, Ont. native as Toronto’s rookie leader in regular season assists, posting 42 in 77 games this past season. He played three seasons with London from 2013-16, leading the Knights to an OHL title and a Mastercard Memorial Cup championship last spring.

Brooks named OHA Coach of the Year: OHL graduate and former coach of the Guelph Storm Jason Brooks has been named the 2017 OHA Coach of the Year. Brooks steered the Listowel Jr. B Cyclones to the franchise’s first Cherrey Cup title since 2005 this season, winning 40 games during the regular season. The Cyclones defeated the Elmira Sugar Kings to win the Cherrey Cup before falling to the London Nationals in the Sutherland Cup Semi-Final. Brooks played with the Cyclones before an OHL career spent with the Ottawa 67’s and London Knights from 1993-96. He spent nine years with the Storm organization from 2001-10 in a variety of roles, winning an OHL title with the club in 2004. He finished his most recent OHL coaching stint with the Niagara IceDogs in 2013. Brooks revealed to the Stratford Beacon-Herald this past week that he began undergoing chemotherapy in early February on a benign brain tumour that continued to grow. The Ontario Hockey League wishes Jason nothing but the best in his fight and congratulates him on a great season in Listowel.

Bruins name Cassidy head coach: After filling in on an interim basis, Bruce Cassidy has been named head coach of the Boston Bruins for the 2017-18 season. The Bruins went 18-8-1 under Cassidy, making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2014, though the Bruins did not make it out of the first round. He replaced Claude Julien, the Bruins’ coach for a decade, who was fired on Feb. 7.  Cassidy played with Brian Kilrea’s Ottawa 67’s from 1982-85 before an 11-year pro career. He coached the Kingston Frontenacs in parts of two seasons from 2006-08.

SCHEDULE:

Wednesday April 26th
Peterborough 0 at Mississauga 7 (Game 4) – Highlights
Erie 4 at Owen Sound 3 (Game 4) – Highlights

Friday April 28th:
Owen Sound at Erie (Game 5) – 7:00pm

Sunday April 30th:
Erie at Owen Sound (Game 6) – 2:00pm

Monday May 1st:
Owen Sound at Erie (Game 7) – 7:00pm*

Be sure to catch all of this weekend’s action at ohllive.com.

OHL Writers’ Draft Eligible Player of the Month

We have yet to have a repeat player as our draft eligible player of the month and that continues through January.

For the month of January, look no further than Owen Tippett of the Mississauga Steelheads.

Owen Tippett of the Mississauga Steelheads. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Owen Tippett of the Mississauga Steelheads. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

The 6’2” 205 pounder appeared 9 games for the Steelheads in January while also playing in the Sherwin-Williams NHL/CHL Top Prospects Game. Tippett scored 7 goals and added 9 assists in those 9 games. The Steelheads went 7-1-4 in January and 6-1-2 with Tippett in the lineup.

Tippett received first star honors once, second star three times and third star once during January.

Tippett leads all draft eligible players in goals and points while also having the longest points, goals and assists streaks among draft eligible players. He also leads the entire Ontario Hockey League in shot attempts with 221 in 45 games played.

We also considered Jonah Gadjovich of the Owen Sound Attack who had 10 goals and 7 assists in 11 games, Jason Robertson of the Kingston Frontenacs with 9 goals and 7 assists in 12 games, and Michael DiPietro of the Windsor Spitfires who went 6-2-1 with a .941 save percentage with one shutout.

Previously

December – Michael DiPietro, Windsor Spitfires

November – Nick Suzuki, Owen Sound Attack

October – Gabriel Vilardi – Windsor Spitfires

September – Greg Meireles – Kitchener Rangers

Jonah Gadjovich – Owen Sound Attack – Player Profile

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 201 pounds

Date of birth: October 12, 1998

Hometown: Whitby, Ontario

Position: Left Wing

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 2, 39th overall, 2014 Priority Selection

Jonah Gadjovich played his minor midget AAA hockey with the Whitby Wildcats during the 2013-2014 season where he scored 15 goals and added 15 assists in 23 games. He also played in the OHL Cup and the OHL Gold cup and appeared in 5 games in each of the Championships scoring once and adding three assists in each.

The Owen Sound Attack would select Gadjovich in the second round, thirty-ninth overall in the 2014 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

Jonah Gadjovich of the Owen Sound Attack. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Jonah Gadjovich of the Owen Sound Attack. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

The Owen Sound Attack have won 12 straight games and Gadjovich has played a major role in that run. In that span he has 15 goals and 8 assists giving him 25 goals and 16 assists through 36 games on the season. His 41 points put him fourth on the Attack scoring list.

As a late ’98 birthdate, Gadjovich is in his third season with the Attack. His rookie campaign saw him put up 4-5-9 totals in 60 games. He followed that up during the 2015-2016 season with 14-10-24 totals in 66 games. This season, he is playing in all situations and has 7 powerplay goals and a shorthanded goal.

Gadjovich plays with a shoot first mentality, being held off the shot board just once this season and all but two others have been multi-shot games, with a game high of twelve which he’s accomplished twice. And why wouldn’t he since he’s scoring on 15.7% of those shots.

Gadjovich is an average skater, but his size and strength enable him to drive the net with or without the puck, usually resulting in a scoring chance. He has a very good shot and not a stretch to say the best backhand in this draft class.

Gadjovich will battle for pucks in all the dirty areas, will take the hit to make a play and will throw a hit to separate his opponent from the puck. He is also very good at anticipating, taking away passes and causing turnovers.

Gadjovich was ranked 22nd among OHL skaters 6oth among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting mid-term ranking.

Jonah Gadjovich hockey statistics and profile at hockeydb.com

Statistics of Jonah Gadjovich, a hockey player from Whitby, ONT born Oct 12 1998 who was active from 2014 to 2017.