FRONTENACS, BATTALION AND KNIGHTS INCLUDED IN WEEK 11 EDITION OF KIA CHL TOP 10 RANKINGS

Toronto, Ont. – The Canadian Hockey League announced today the Week 11 edition of the Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings for the 2021-22 season.

The WHL’s Winnipeg ICE and Edmonton Oil Kings hold down the top two spots on the list, but the Kingston Frontenacs have surged to third, riding an eight-game winning streak to an OHL-best record of 17-5-3-0. The Frontenacs took six points out of a three-in-three set with wins over Hamilton, Niagara and Mississauga last weekend, doing so without star centreman Shane Wright in the lineup. The overage duo of Lucas Edmonds and Jordan Frasca combined for 21 points, with the former claiming OHL Player of the Week honours while climbing to the top of the OHL scoring race. The red hot Frontenacs have dates with the Barrie Colts on Friday and the Oshawa Generals on Sunday heading into the holiday break.

The North Bay Battalion slide from sixth down to eighth this week, defeating the Soo Greyhounds 5-4 in overtime on Thursday before suffering consecutive one-goal losses to the Barrie Colts. Battalion forward Brandon Coe saw a 14-game point streak come to an end as he was held off the scoresheet in consecutive games for the first time all season. The 16-8-1-2 Troops are back in action with a three-in-three starting Thursday night at home to Niagara. They hit the road for games in Mississauga on Friday and Niagara on Saturday.

The 17-7-1-0 London Knights are still hanging around inside the Top-10, falling to 10th on the list. Without the services of captain Luke Evangelista and star goaltender Brett Brochu at Canada’s National Junior Team Selection Camp, the Knights fell 4-1 to the Windsor Spitfires at home on Friday before losing to the visiting Guelph Storm by a score of 4-0 on Saturday. Evangelista will return to the lineup this weekend as the Knights are scheduled to host the Owen Sound Attack on Friday before visiting Guelph on Saturday afternoon.

The Mississauga Steelheads are an honourable mention following wins in two of three outings last week. The Trout defeated the Peterborough Petes 2-1 in overtime on Thursday, bludgeoned the Niagara IceDogs by a score of 9-1 at home on Friday and fell to the visiting Kingston Frontenacs 5-3 on Sunday. The Steelheads sit three points back of first place North Bay in the Central Division.

For further analysis on the Week 11 edition of the Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings, visit CHL.ca.


About the Ontario Hockey League
The Ontario Hockey League is a proud member of the Canadian Hockey League which is the world’s largest development hockey league with 60 teams in nine Canadian provinces and four American states. In addition to the OHL, the CHL is made up of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The CHL supplies more players to the National Hockey League and U SPORTS than any other league.

BATTALION, KNIGHTS AND FRONTENACS INCLUDED IN WEEK 10 EDITION OF KIA CHL TOP 10 RANKINGS

Toronto, Ont. – The Canadian Hockey League announced today the Week 10 edition of the Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings for the 2021-22 season.

The North Bay Battalion are the top-ranked team in the Ontario Hockey League for the first time this season, taking back-to-back road wins over the Hamilton Bulldogs and Niagara IceDogs last weekend to slot in at sixth. The 15-7-1-1 Battalion lead the Eastern Conference and feature three of the League’s top 10 scorers in newly signed San Jose Sharks prospect Brandon Coe (14-32–46), Edmonton Oilers draftee Matvey Petrov (16-23–39) and November’s OHL Player of the Month, Kyle Jackson (15-22–37). North Bay has been consistent on the special teams front, owning the League’s fifth-ranked power play and penalty kill under head coach Ryan Oulahen. The Troops are at home to the Soo Greyhounds on Thursday before a home-and-home with the Barrie Colts on Saturday and Sunday.

The London Knights remain in the picture for an eighth consecutive week, coming in at number seven on the list. The Knights defeated the Kitchener Rangers 6-2 on Tuesday after mixed results over the weekend. London fell for a third time this season to the Sarnia Sting at home on Saturday, and defeated the Erie Otters by a score of 4-1 on Friday. Knights captain Luke Evangelista joins goaltender Brett Brochu in heading off to Canada’s National Junior Team Selection Camp in Calgary, Alta. The Nashville Predators prospect is on an eight-game point streak and leads London with 40 points (20-20–40). Rookie winger Colton Smith (12-5–17) leads the club with eight power play goals on the season, powering London’s 28.9 percent second-ranked man advantage. The Knights return to action at home to the Windsor Spitfires on Friday.

The Kingston Frontenacs are back inside the top 10 at number nine following a two week absence thanks to five consecutive wins. The Fronts edged the Peterborough Petes 6-5 on the road Thursday night before outscoring the Oshawa Generals and Ottawa 67’s 10-1 in consecutive victories on Friday and Sunday. Ottawa Senators prospect Leevi Merilainen earned his first career OHL shutout and was named OHL Goaltender of the Week while top NHL Draft prospect Shane Wright was a force, recording eight points (2-6–8) across three games. The Fronts have a big date with the Hamilton Bulldogs on home ice Friday night. Kingston edged Hamilton 5-4 in a shootout in their last meeting on Nov. 27th.

The Mississauga Steelheads received an honourable mention, scoring back-to-back one-goal wins over Ottawa and Oshawa last week. The Steelheads are 13-6-1-1, four points back of first place North Bay in the Central Division.

For further analysis on the Week 10 edition of the Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings, visit CHL.ca.


About the Ontario Hockey League
The Ontario Hockey League is a proud member of the Canadian Hockey League which is the world’s largest development hockey league with 60 teams in nine Canadian provinces and four American states. In addition to the OHL, the CHL is made up of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The CHL supplies more players to the National Hockey League and U SPORTS than any other league.

KNIGHTS, BATTALION AND BULLDOGS INCLUDED IN WEEK 9 EDITION OF KIA CHL TOP 10 RANKINGS

Toronto, Ont. – The Canadian Hockey League announced on Wednesday the Week 9 edition of the Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings for the 2021-22 season.

The London Knights remain the fifth-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League, trailing a quartet of WHL clubs in the Winnipeg ICE, Kamloops Blazers, Everett Silvertips and Edmonton Oil Kings. London took four of a possible six points last week with a 5-2 win over the Windsor Spitfires on Wednesday, a 3-2 road loss to the Guelph Storm on Friday and a 5-4 shootout win over the Owen Sound Attack on Saturday. Luke Evangelista continues to produce at a torrid pace with goals in five consecutive games. Goaltender Brett Brochu, who was recently named to Canada’s National Junior Team, leads the OHL with 14 wins this season to go with a 2.59 goals-against average and .918 save percentage through 19 games. London prepares for a weekend at home with a visit from the Erie Otters on Friday before the Sarnia Sting come to town on Saturday.

The Central Division-leading North Bay Battalion rise one spot to eighth on this week’s Top 10. The Troops saw a four-game winning streak snapped by the Peterborough Petes on Thursday as Mason McTavish scored a hat trick in his return to the lineup. The OHL’s Player of the Month for November, Kyle Jackson, recorded his third four-point performance of the season on Friday in Kingston as the Battalion took a 5-2 win. The Troops fell 3-2 in overtime to the Ottawa 67’s on Saturday. In addition to Jackson’s recognition, Montreal Canadiens prospect Joe Vrbetic is the OHL Goaltender of the Month for November. The Battalion are on the road this weekend with stops in Hamilton on Friday and Niagara on Saturday.

The Hamilton Bulldogs are back inside the Top 10 for the second time this season, returning after a five week absence. Collecting five of a possible six points, the East Division-leading Bulldogs took road wins in Niagara and Oshawa last week to land 10th on the rankings. Montreal Canadiens prospect Jan Mysak leads the way on the scoresheet with 28 points (15-13–28) while overage blueliner Nathan Staios was recently named OHL Defenceman of the Month for November. George Diaco carries a nine-game point streak into a Thursday night visit to the Barrie Colts before the Dogs return home on Friday and Sunday to faceoff against North Bay and Erie.

A successful weekend has the Kingston Frontenacs back in as an honourable mention. The Fronts scored back-to-back road wins over tough opponents in Hamilton and Mississauga to stay in the East Division conversation just two points back of the Bulldogs. Dallas Stars prospect Francesco Arcuri was a big part of Kingston’s success last week with six points (3-3–6) over three games.

The Guelph Storm are also an honourable mention as they continue to play solid hockey. The Storm have won four in a row, defeating the London Knights 3-2 on Friday before defeating the Erie Otters on back-to-back nights to improve to 13-6-1-1. The Storm try and stay hot this weekend with visits to Sault Ste. Marie and Saginaw on Friday and Saturday.

For further analysis on the Week 9 edition of the Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings, visit CHL.ca.


About the Ontario Hockey League
The Ontario Hockey League is a proud member of the Canadian Hockey League which is the world’s largest development hockey league with 60 teams in nine Canadian provinces and four American states. In addition to the OHL, the CHL is made up of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The CHL supplies more players to the National Hockey League and U SPORTS than any other league.

KNIGHTS, STEELHEADS AND BATTALION INCLUDED IN WEEK 8 EDITION OF KIA CHL TOP 10 RANKINGS

Toronto, Ont. – The Canadian Hockey League announced today the Week 8 edition of the Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings for the 2021-22 season.

It was a big week for the Western Hockey League as WHL clubs occupy the top four spots on the list including the Winnipeg ICE, Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers and Edmonton Oil Kings.

The London Knights are down two spots to fifth on this week’s list after a four-game week that yielded a pair of victories. The Knights suffered consecutive losses to the Sarnia Sting on Tuesday and Friday before rebounding to claim four points in a home-and-home with the Kitchener Rangers. Captain Luke Evangelista strung together back-to-back four-point performances on Saturday and Sunday, giving him the League’s third-highest point-per-game clip of 1.80. The Nashville Predators prospect has 27 points (15-12–27) over 15 games this season and sits second in OHL shots on goal with 87. The Knights also saw the debut of rookie netminder Owen Flores on Sunday in Kitchener as he gave Brett Brochu a rest, making 27 saves for his first OHL win.

The Mississauga Steelheads have forced their way into the Top 10 for the first time this season after another perfect week. The eighth-ranked Trout went 3-0 with wins over Niagara, Barrie and Sudbury, continuing a stretch of eight wins in their last nine games. Draft eligible centre Luca Del Bel Belluz recorded his first OHL hat-trick on Sunday against Sudbury, Chicago Blackhawks prospect and captain Ethan Del Mastro leads the OHL with a plus-20 rating and overage netminder Roman Basran leads the League with a 2.25 goals-against average. The Trout lead the OHL with an average of 38.6 shots-per-game while surrendering a League-low 24.3.

Another hot Central Division squad, the North Bay Battalion also make their season debut in the Top 10, coming in at ninth. Reigning OHL Player of the Week Brandon Coe and the Battalion scored victories over Ottawa, Oshawa and Niagara last week to improve to 12-6-0-1, three points up on second place Mississauga in the Central Division. Coe sits second in OHL scoring with 33 points (9-24–33) and is joined by teammates Kyle Jackson (11-18–29) and Matvey Petrov (15-12–27) among the OHL’s top 10 scorers. Montreal Canadiens prospect Joe Vrbetic recently came off a shutout streak of 203 minutes and four seconds in the North Bay crease. He’s one of two OHL goaltenders with a double-digit win total, owning a record of 10-2-0-1. The Troops defeated the eighth-ranked Steelheads 7-1 in their only meeting so far this season back on Oct. 15th.

The Kingston Frontenacs fell out of the Top 10 for just the second time this season despite grabbing three of a possible four points last week. The honourable mention Fronts defeated the Peterborough Petes 5-3 on Friday before falling 4-3 in a shootout to the Oshawa Generals on Sunday. Overage winger Lucas Edmonds remains hot with 10 points in his last three games.

For further analysis on the Week 8 edition of the Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings, visit CHL.ca.


About the Ontario Hockey League
The Ontario Hockey League is a proud member of the Canadian Hockey League which is the world’s largest development hockey league with 60 teams in nine Canadian provinces and four American states. In addition to the OHL, the CHL is made up of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The CHL supplies more players to the National Hockey League and U SPORTS than any other league. For more information visit http://www.ontariohockeyleague.com/.

KNIGHTS AND GREYHOUNDS INCLUDED IN WEEK 6 EDITION OF KIA CHL TOP 10 RANKINGS

Toronto, Ont. – The Canadian Hockey League announced today the Week 6 edition of the Kia CHL Top-10 Rankings for the 2021-22 season.

The London Knights hold steady at number two in the CHL this week behind the WHL’s Winnipeg ICE despite dropping consecutive decisions, first seeing their nine-game season-opening winning streak snapped at the hands of the Flint Firebirds on Saturday. The Knights picked up a point but fell 4-3 in overtime to the Guelph Storm on Tuesday night. London continues to hold the OHL’s best winning percentage of .864, outscoring opponents 39-25. The Knights have been without captain and leading scorer Luke Evangelista in each of their losses and they try and return to the win column on Friday at home to the Soo Greyhounds, who we’ll cover next.

The Hounds enter the Top-10 for the first time all season, sitting 10th on the rankings with a 9-5-0-0 record. The highest-scoring team in the OHL with 65 goals scored, the Greyhounds feature two of the League’s top three scorers with Calgary Flames prospect Rory Kerins (9-14–23) and winger Tye Kartye (13-8–21) leading the way. They opened last week with an 8-4 home ice victory over the Saginaw Spirit before splitting a pair of high-scoring home dates against the Guelph Storm. The Greyhounds are on the road this coming weekend, making stops in London and Windsor.

The Flint Firebirds are an honourable mention in this week’s rankings after defeating the Kitchener Rangers behind a Brennan Othmann hat-trick on Friday before returning home to hand the London Knights their first loss of the season on Saturday. The Firebirds have won four of their last five games and own a 6-3-0-0 record, preparing to face the rival Saginaw Spirit at home on Friday.

The Ottawa 67’s have earned themselves an honourable mention, leading the East Division with an 8-4-0-1 record, gathering at least a point in three straight. Prior to Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Kingston Frontenacs, the 67’s had scored consecutive victories over the Peterborough Petes and North Bay Battalion. Calgary Flames prospect Jack Beck, who missed Tuesday’s contest, leads the club in scoring with 17 points (11-6–17) in 12 games.

For further analysis on the Week 6 edition of the Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings, visit CHL.ca.


About the Ontario Hockey League
The Ontario Hockey League is a proud member of the Canadian Hockey League which is the world’s largest development hockey league with 60 teams in nine Canadian provinces and four American states. In addition to the OHL, the CHL is made up of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The CHL supplies more players to the National Hockey League and U SPORTS than any other league.

KNIGHTS AND FRONTENACS INCLUDED IN WEEK 5 EDITION OF KIA CHL TOP 10 RANKINGS

Toronto, Ont. – The Canadian Hockey League announced today the Week 5 edition of the Kia CHL Top-10 Rankings for the 2021-22 season.

The London Knights are up another two spots this week, climbing to second in the Canadian Hockey League as the only remaining undefeated squad. The 8-0 Knights rattled off two more wins last week, defeating the Owen Sound Attack for a fourth time this season on Wednesday as OHL Goaltender of the Month Brett Brochu earned first star honours in a 4-1 decision. The Knights were at home on Friday, defeating their 402 rival the Sarnia Sting by a score of 5-2 thanks to a hat-trick from captain Luke Evangelista. The Knights own the League’s top power play, one currently operating at 33 percent while sitting second in OHL penalty killing metrics with a 91.4 percent efficiency rate shorthanded. The Knights return to the ice on Friday at home to Owen Sound before crossing the border to visit the Flint Firebirds on Saturday night.

The Kingston Frontenacs are in the Top 10 for the sixth straight edition, rising one spot to number nine in the CHL. The Fronts fell 3-2 in overtime to the Ottawa 67’s at home on Friday before exacting vengeance on the Barber Poles Saturday afternoon in the nation’s capital. Los Angeles Kings prospect Martin Chromiak enjoyed a career performance with his first OHL hat-trick that was capped off by a lacrosse-style third period game winner in a 4-3 decision. Saturday’s win was goaltender Aidan Spooner‘s first in the OHL. Top 2022 NHL Draft prospect Shane Wright and the Frontenacs are at home for three straight this week, hitting the ice on Wednesday against the Mississauga Steelheads, hosting the North Bay Battalion on Friday and taking on the Peterborough Petes on Sunday afternoon.

The ascending Saginaw Spirit and Soo Greyhounds are both honourable mention teams this week, with the Spirit having earned a point in five consecutive games, entering a fresh week off a 4-1 triumph over the Flint Firebirds last Wednesday. The 7-4-0-0 Greyhounds currently hold down top spot in the West Division. The Spirit make their first trip to Ontario on Wednesday to take on the Greyhounds in a game fans won’t want to miss.

For further analysis on the Week 5 edition of the Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings, visit CHL.ca.


About the Ontario Hockey League
The Ontario Hockey League is a proud member of the Canadian Hockey League which is the world’s largest development hockey league with 60 teams in nine Canadian provinces and four American states. In addition to the OHL, the CHL is made up of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The CHL supplies more players to the National Hockey League and U SPORTS than any other league.

KNIGHTS, RANGERS AND FRONTENACS INCLUDED IN WEEK 4 EDITION OF KIA CHL TOP 10 RANKINGS

Toronto, Ont. – The Canadian Hockey League announced today the Week 4 edition of the Kia CHL Top-10 Rankings for the 2021-22 season.

Following the Quebec Remparts, Winnipeg ICE and Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the undefeated 6-0 London Knights rise one spot to number four in this week’s rankings. The Knights won their lone game of the weekend, defeating the visiting Owen Sound Attack 2-1 on Friday as Brett Brochu turned aside 36 of 37 shots and Nashville Predators prospect Luke Evangelista scored the shorthanded game winner early in the third period. The Knights also had Dallas Stars prospect Antonio Stranges in their lineup for the first time this season after the shifty winger returned from injury. London hits the road to face Owen Sound on Wednesday before a home date with the Sarnia Sting on Friday night.

A weekend split saw the Kitchener Rangers enter the Top-10 for the first time this season, defeating the Windsor Spitfires in a thrilling shootout finish on Friday as Pavel Cajan stood tall in the crease and rookie Carson Rehkopf netted the winner in a 3-2 decision. The Blueshirts fell 4-2 to the rival Guelph Storm on Sunday to see their undefeated start come to a halt as they own a mark of 5-1-0-0 entering a week with a Wednesday/Friday home-and-home against the Soo Greyhounds before visiting the Windsor Spitfires on Saturday.

The Kingston Frontenacs keep hanging around inside the Top-10, falling one spot to tenth despite a 6-1 triumph over the Peterborough Petes at home on Friday. Lucas Edmonds scored two more goals in the win and now leads the team with 12 points (5-7–12) over six games. Dallas Stars prospect Francesco Arcuri recorded a career-high four points and has eight (3-5–8) over his first four games while overage centre Jordan Frasca has nine (3-6–9) to his credit through six games.

Netting four out of a possible six points in a three-in-three road trip last weekend has the Ottawa 67’s as an honourable mention this week. The Barber Poles fell 5-2 to the Mississauga Steelheads on Friday before taking a 3-0 shutout win over the Barrie Colts in Saturday’s CHL on CBC broadcast. St. Louis Blues prospect Will Cranley stopped all 28 shots he faced for his fifth career shutout. Ottawa wrapped up the weekend in thrilling fashion, scoring three third period goals in under a minute en route to stunning the Oshawa Generals 5-4 in a shootout on a winner from Brenden Sirizzotti.

For further analysis on the Week 4 edition of the Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings, visit CHL.ca.


About the Ontario Hockey League
The Ontario Hockey League is a proud member of the Canadian Hockey League which is the world’s largest development hockey league with 60 teams in nine Canadian provinces and four American states. In addition to the OHL, the CHL is made up of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The CHL supplies more players to the National Hockey League and U SPORTS than any other league.

KNIGHTS, BULLDOGS AND FRONTENACS INCLUDED IN WEEK 3 EDITION OF KIA CHL TOP 10 RANKINGS

Toronto, Ont. – The Canadian Hockey League announced today the Week 3 edition of the Kia CHL Top-10 Rankings for the 2021-22 season.

The London Knights continue to climb following another perfect week of hockey as they went 3-0 with a pair of victories over the Windsor Spitfires along with one over the Sarnia Sting. Led by OHL Goaltender of the Week Brett Brochu, the Knights also got a big performance from rookie winger Colton Smith who scored his first two career OHL goals on Friday before following-up Saturday in Sarnia with his first hat trick. Nashville Predators prospect and captain Luke Evangelista leads the club with eight points (4-4–8) through five contests while Smith and 19-year-old forward Sean McGurn each have seven to their credit.

The Hamilton Bulldogs make their first appearance of the season on the weekly rankings, coming in at seventh with a perfect 4-0 record. The ‘Dogs scored consecutive 4-0 shutout victories over the Niagara IceDogs in a home-and-home set last weekend. Marco Costantini turned aside all 36 shots he faced on Friday for his first career shutout before rookie Tristan Malboeuf logged a perfect League debut on the road, making 27 saves for the shutout win. The Bulldogs, under new head coach Jay McKee, have been led offensively by 19-year-old forward Logan Morrison who has paced them with eight points (2-6–8) over four games.

The Kingston Frontenacs held steady at ninth on the list, defeating the Sudbury Wolves 5-4 at home on Friday before a 3-1 road win over the Peterborough Petes on Saturday. The 3-2-0-0 Frontenacs have benefitted from the addition of overage forward Lucas Edmonds this year as the first-year talent who previously played in Sweden has nine points (3-6–9) through his first five contests. Top 2022 NHL Draft prospect Shane Wright has six points (2-4–6) through his first five games of the season. The Fronts try and continue their forward momentum on Friday when they play host to the Peterborough Petes.

The undefeated Kitchener Rangers are in the honourable mention category this week after defeating the Guelph Storm 4-2 on Tuesday to improve to 4-0. The Blueshirts have spread the scoring around early in the season, with Mike PetizianFrancesco PinelliReid Valade and defenceman Roman Schmidt all with three goals to their credit. The Rangers will try and crack the top-10 with a strong showing against the Windsor Spitfires on Friday before they pay a visit to the nearby Storm on Sunday afternoon.

For further analysis on the Week 3 edition of the Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings, visit CHL.ca.


About the Ontario Hockey League
The Ontario Hockey League is a proud member of the Canadian Hockey League which is the world’s largest development hockey league with 60 teams in nine Canadian provinces and four American states. In addition to the OHL, the CHL is made up of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The CHL supplies more players to the National Hockey League and U SPORTS than any other league.

Kirill Steklov – London Knights – Player Profile

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 185 Pounds

Date of birth: March 30, 2002

Hometown: Tallinn, Estonia

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 56th overall, 2019 CHL Import Draft

NHL Central Scouting Rankings

Pre-season

November Mid-term Final
C Prospect B Prospect 69 N.A.

106 N.A.

The 2018-2019 season saw London Knights’ Defenceman Kirill Steklov split time with Vityaz Podolsk Under-17 and Under 18 squads. With Podolsk Under-17, Steklov appeared in 22 games and scored once while adding 11 assists. But when he joined the older squad, I think his offensive abilities may have surprised many. In 9 games, he scored twice and assisted on 5 others. He improved on those in the playoffs with 3 goals and 4 helpers in 6 games.

The Knights saw enough of him to select him with the 56th overall pick at the 2019 CHL Import Draft and in early July committed to joining the Knights. General Manager Mark Hunter had this to say:

“Kirill will make an immediate impact on our roster for this upcoming season.” We’ve been watching Kirill throughout last season and were very impressed with his talents on the ice.  Kirill fits the new style of defenceman; having an offensive skill set to compliment his defensive strengths.  We were very excited that we were able to select him in the Import Draft and are looking forward to having him play for the London Knights.”

Steklov would begin the year representing Russia at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup – he has Estonian and Russian duo nationalities. Steklov had one assist in 5 games as Russia went on to capture a Gold Medal. Altogether, he has represented Russia internationally on 44 occasions.

Kirill Steklov of the London Knights. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Kirill Steklov of the London Knights. Photo by Luke Durda / OHL Images

This season, Steklov appeared in 50 games for the Knights, scoring twice and adding 7 helpers. But as is often the case on a Dale Hunter coached team, your first year isn’t always about offence, but playing defence first. And when your team boasts offensive dynamo Ryan Merkley and third year OHL’er Alec Regula who finished second and sixth respectively in OHL defencemen scoring, the Knights didn’t need Steklov to provide offence. Add to that pair Hunter Skinner (112 overall at the 2019 draft by the New York Rangers) and Markus Phillips – acquired at trade deadline – (118 overall at the 2017 draft by Los Angeles Kings) and veteran Gerard Keane, there wasn’t much ice time to go around after the deadline.

Reading the book on Steklov is not an easy one. He is the ultimate definition of a raw defender. You have to love the size at 6’4” and the reach he possesses. And he has above average mobility to go with that size. He’s shown an ability to stand his blue line and deny zone entries with his reach. His skating is good enough to keep gaps tight and force players to the outside. He has the size and strength to win battles along the walls and to keep opponents from the front of his net. He’s difficult to beat one-on-one.

Steklov showed flashes of all those things. But the consistency was lacking and that could be due in part to lack of ice time, getting the repetitions and building confidence and growing accustomed to the smaller ice surface. Being away from home and his family isn’t an “excuse” as he left his family behind at a very young age in his native Estonia to pursue his hockey career in Russia. But even so, moving to London presented a different lifestyle and a new language.

As we saw with Vityaz Podolsk Under-18, we know Steklov has offensive upside. But just how much is still a question mark. He’s shown flashes of activating offensively. But there is also hesitation in his game when he is carrying the puck. He also plays it to safe at the offensive blue line, almost looking to worried about making a mistake and would rather play it safe (nothing wrong with that). Again, this could be an experience, adjustment period and a confidence thing.

Steklov should get a long look at the 2020 NHL Draft. But one has to look past the rawness and attempt to get a read on his potential.

OHL Writers’ Draft Eligible Player of the Year

First off, I want to begin by saying I hope you are all safe and healthy in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. We all have to do our part to keep our families, our friends, our neighbours and ourselves from catching and spreading this terrible virus.

We don’t know when hockey will return, and for this piece here, we don’t know when the National Hockey League Draft will take place and how exactly the NHL will conduct the draft or how the draft order will be set. But here at OHLW, we will continue to bring you the usual content regarding the draft as we will get through this and it will eventually take place.

Our draft eligible player of the year isn’t always a reflection of the player we believe should be the first Ontario Hockey League player selected at the draft, but rather the player that performed the best from the first drop of the puck to the final horn of the season.

This year, for us, that player is Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67’s.

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

Rossi led the entire OHL in assists (81) and points (120) and finished tenth in goals (39) en route to capturing the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy for most points on the season. He also led the entire league in plus/minus with a plus-69, and finished second in powerplay assists (31).

Rossi was named in the recent Coaches Poll as the Eastern Conference’s smartest player, best playmaker and best shootout shooter. He finished second in the voting as best on face-offs and defensive forward. He was voted as the third best penalty killer by the coaches.

On three occasions, November, December and February, Rossi was selected our draft eligible player of the month. The quest for perfection was interrupted twice by a player we gave consideration here to: Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit.

Perfetti finished second only to Rossi in the OHL scoring race with 111 points and assists (74). It’s the first time since the 2014-2015 season when teammates Dylan Strome and Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters that draft eligible players finished one-two in the OHL scoring race. Prior to those two accomplishing the feat, you’d have to go back to 2009-2010 when Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin both finished with 106 points and went one-two respectively at the NHL Draft.

We also gave some quick consideration to London Knights’ netminder Brett Brochu. In a season where there were more questions then answers coming into the season, Brochu took to the crease and ran with it. He set an OHL record with 32 wins for a first year netminder on lost just 6 games on the year. Not bad for a goaltender not ranked on NHL Central Scouting’s Players to Watch Lists or mid-term rankings!