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?


Markus Phillips – Owen Sound Attack – Player Profile

Height: 6’0”

Weight:  200 Pounds

Date of birth: March 21, 1999

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Position:  Defence

Shoots:  Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 9th overall, 2015 Priority Selection

Owen Sound Attack defenceman Markus Phillips played his midget hockey with the Toronto Titans, where he captained the team and notched four goals and 17 assists in 24 games from the blueline. Before joining the Attack a season ago where he had 3 goals and 9 assists in 63 games, Phillips has virtually played for a winner everywhere he’s played.

Phillips is an Ontario Hockey Federation AAA champions – and all-star, he won a Kraft Cup championship with the Titans, he’s an OHL Gold Cup champion, he was a member of team OHL at the CIBC Canada-Russia series. His superb leadership qualities helped along the way.

Markus Phillips of the Owen Sound Attack. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Markus Phillips of the Owen Sound Attack. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

In August 2016, Phillips participated in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial and his leadership qualities didn’t go unnoticed as he was named Captain of the squad. But Canada finished a disappointing fifth in a tournament they’ve dominated. He again Captained team Canada-Red at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17, losing out to Sweden in the Bronze Medal Game after going undefeated in the preliminary round.

Finally, Phillips was the youngest defenceman for Team Canada at the World Hockey Championships Under-18 in 2016 which had the likes of Dante Fabbro, Jakob Chychrun, Logan Stanley and Nicolas Hague on the roster.  Canada would be denied a medal losing the Bronze Medal game to the United States.

Phillips took part in the Sherwin Williams NHL/CHL Top Prospects game and while it wasn’t a spectacular performance, it was a solid performance.

Phillips is a stocky two-way defenceman with a solid build who can make a mark at both ends of the ice. He is considered an offensive defenceman in many circles, but you can’t take away from his defensive game. His strength in the d-zone comes from excellent positioning. He is a strong skater who is hard to beat one-on-one. While not overly big, he’s strong and holds his own in battles along the walls and while protecting the front of his goal.

Phillips likes to jump up on the rush, and while a season ago he was making ill-advised decisions doing so, he has greatly improved in that area. He’s making smarter first passes and he can lug the puck with speed and does an excellent job at protecting it. Once in the zone he has very good vision and is an excellent passer, and when you combine those assets, he’s very good at setting up teammates. Simply put, he creates scoring chances.

Phillips currently has 10 goals and 18 assists in 49 games and is a plus-25. His 28 points place him 4th among draft eligible defencemen in points while his 10 goals place him third.

Phillips was ranked 62nd on NHL Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings in January for the 2017 NHL Draft.

Markus Phillips

This is the profile page of Markus Phillips at http://www.eliteprospects.com

CHL’s Top Prospects Perform in Sport Testing Combine

Quebec City, QC – 40 of the CHL’s top prospects eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft were put to the test on Sunday at Centre Videotron one day before Team Cherry and Team Orr face-off at the 2017 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

Players seized the opportunity to showcase their individual strengths with Sport Testing once again putting the next wave of NHL Draft talent through a series of tests to gauge fitness and skill levels for NHL management and scouts.


Alex Formenton of the London Knights, ranked 24th by NHL Central Scouting in their Midterm Rankings, finished atop the overall standings in the on-ice portion of the tests which included forward and backward sprints, reaction, weave agility, and transition agility each performed with and without the puck.  Defenceman Antoine Crete-Belzile of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (ranked 66th by NHL CS) finished second in on-ice tests, followed by fellow rearguard Markus Phillips of the Owen Sound Attack (ranked 62nd by NHL CS) in third position, forward Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads (ranked 2nd by NHL CS) in fourth, and Michael Rasmussen of the Tri-City Americans (ranked 6th by NHL CS) finished fifth in the skating drills.

Defenceman Jacob Paquette of the Kingston Frontenacs (ranked 90th by NHL CS) led the way in off-ice tests conducted earlier in the day which included strength testing, agility runs, sprints, and various leg power evaluations.  Forward Morgan Frost of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (ranked 29th by NHL CS) finished second in off-ice tests, and Owen Tippett of the Mississauga Steelheads (ranked 4th by NHL CS) finished in third position.  Alex Formenton also finished near the top in off-ice tests landing in fourth place overall, followed by Isaac Ratcliffe of the Guelph Storm (ranked 20th by NHL CS) in fifth.

In specialized Sport Testing for goalies, Michael DiPietro of the Windsor Spitfires claimed top honours in an array of reaction, agility, and movement challenges.

2017 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game – Sport Testing Combine Top Performers:

On-Ice Tests:

30M Forward Skate:

1 – Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) 3.991

2 – Stelio Mattheos (Brandon Wheat Kings)

3 – Cody Glass (Portland Winterhawks)

30M Forward Skate with Puck:

1 – Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

2 – Stelio Mattheos (Brandon Wheat Kings)

3 – Henri Jokiharju (Portland Winterhawks)

30M Backward Skate:

1 – Michael Rasmussen (Tri-City Americans)

2 – Markus Phillips (Owen Sound Attack)

3 – Nico Hischier (Halifax Mooseheads)

 30M Backward Skate with Puck:

1 – Markus Phillips (Owen Sound Attack)

2 – Nico Hischier (Halifax Mooseheads)

3 – Antoine Crete-Belzile (Blainville-Boisbriand Armada)

Transition Agility:

1 – Alex Formenton (London Knights)

2 – Antoine Crete-Belzile (Blainville-Boisbriand Armada)

3 – Henri Jokiharju (Portland Winterhawks)

Transition Agility with Puck:

1 – Owen Tippett (Mississauga Steelheads)

2 – Alex Formenton (London Knights)

3 – Markus Phillips (Owen Sound Attack)

Weave Agility:

1 – Alex Formenton (London Knights)

2 – Kailer Yamamoto (Spokane Chiefs)

3 – Antoine Morand (Acadie-Bathurst Titan)

Weave Agility with Puck:

1 – Kailer Yamamoto (Spokane Chiefs)

2 – Nico Hischier (Halifax Mooseheads)

3 – Alex Formenton (London Knights)


1 – Stelio Mattheos (Brandon Wheat Kings)

2 – Adam Ruzicka (Sarnia Sting)

3 – Kailer Yamamoto (Spokane Chiefs)

Reaction with Puck:

1 – Juuso Valimaki (Tri-City Americans)

2 – Alex Formenton (London Knights)

3 – Michael Rasmussen (Tri-City Americans)

Off-Ice Tests:

Pro-Agility Left:

1 – Ivan Lodnia (Erie Otters)

2 – Nick Suzuki (Owen Sound Attack)

3 – Kailer Yamamoto (Spokane Chiefs)

Pro-Agility Right:

1 – Kailer Yamamoto (Spokane Chiefs)

2 – Juuso Valimaki (Tri-City Americans)

3 – Ivan Lodnia (Erie Otters)

Vertical Jump:

1 – Alex Formenton (London Knights)

2 – Jake Leschyshyn (Regina Pats)

3 – Jacob Paquette (Kingston Frontenacs)

Broad Jump:

1 – Eemeli Rasanen (Kingston Frontenacs)

2 – Ian Scott (Prince Albert Raiders)

2 – Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Medicine Ball Toss:

1 – Nicolas Hague (Mississauga Steelheads)

2 – Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires)

3 – Markus Phillips (Owen Sound Attack)

Grip Left:

1 – Adam Ruzicka (Sarnia Sting)

2 – Nikita Popugaev (Prince George Cougars)

3 – Jacob Paquette (Kingston Frontenacs)

Grip Right:

1 – Adam Ruzicka (Sarnia Sting)

2 – Owen Tippett (Mississauga Steelheads)

3 – Jacob Paquette (Kingston Frontenacs)

Sport Testing scores provide valuable performance benchmarks to coaches and players at all levels of hockey with data collected at the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game shared with NHL Central Scouting and distributed to all 30 NHL teams.

For more information please visit www.sporttesting.com.

OHL Announces 2016 CIBC Canada Russia Series Rosters

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League in association with the Canadian Hockey League, the North Bay Battalion, and the Hamilton Bulldogs hockey clubs today announced the Team OHL rosters for the 2016 CIBC Canada Russia Series.


Team OHL will compete against the Russian National Junior Team in Game 3 of the series in North Bay on Thursday November 10, with Game 4 to be played in Hamilton on Monday November 14.  The series also includes two games in the Western Hockey League prior to both OHL games, and ends with two games hosted by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

25 players will represent the OHL in the 2016 CIBC Canada Russia Series including eight players who received invites to Canada’s National Junior Team Summer Showcase.  Among that group is Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Mitchell Stephens of the Saginaw Spirit who represented Team Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship last season in Finland.  The group also includes Spirit netminder and New Jersey Devils prospect Evan Cormier, along with Lightning prospect Matthew Spencer of the Peterborough Petes and New York Islanders prospect Mitchell Vande Sompel of the Oshawa Generals on defence.  At forward, Summer Showcase invites on Team OHL include Lightning prospect Anthony Cirelli of the Generals, Chicago Blackhawks prospect Graham Knott of the Niagara IceDogs, Devils prospect Michael McLeod of the Mississauga Steelheads, and Boston Bruins prospect Zachary Senyshyn of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

Both 2016 CIBC Canada Russia Series hosts will be represented by hometown players including Vancouver Canucks prospect Brett McKenzie of the North Bay Battalion, and Montreal Canadiens prospect Will Bitten of the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Behind the bench for Team OHL in North Bay will be Canadian National Junior Team assistant coach and 2016 OHL Coach of the Year Kris Knoblauch of the Erie Otters alongside Battalion head coach and Director of Hockey Operations Stan Butler who won gold with Canada’s Summer Under-18 Team at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup and previously served as head coach of Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2001 and 2002 IIHF World Junior Championship.  In Hamilton, Knoblauch will be joined behind the bench by Canadian National Junior Team head coach Dominque Ducharme of the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs.

The Team OHL rosters were assembled by a Selection Committee that includes Attack General Manager and member of Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence Management Group Dale DeGray, and Storm General Manager Mike Kelly.  Both DeGray and Kelly worked in consultation with Hockey Canada Director of Player Personnel Ryan Jankowski.

In 13 years of competition against the Russian National Junior Team, the OHL has a record of 22-3-1 in this series following 2015 victories of 3-0 and 2-1 in Owen Sound and Windsor respectively.

Team OHL Roster – North Bay – November 10

 *players competing in both games

Goaltenders (2):

Evan Cormier (Saginaw Spirit)*
Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes)

Defencemen (5):

Kyle Capobianco (Sudbury Wolves)
Nicolas Hague (Mississauga Steelheads)*
Matt Spencer (Peterborough Petes)
Logan Stanley (Windsor Spitfires)
Mitchell Vande Sompel (Oshawa Generals)

Forwards‎ (11):

Will Bitten (Hamilton Bulldogs)*
Anthony Cirelli (Oshawa Generals)
Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)*
Adam Mascherin (Kitchener Rangers)*
Brett McKenzie (North Bay Battalion)*
Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads)*
Zachary Senyshyn (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)*
Givani Smith (Guelph Storm)*
Blake Speers (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)*
Mitchell Stephens (Saginaw Spirit)*
Gabriel Vilardi (Windsor Spitfires)


Head Coach – Kris Knoblauch (Erie Otters)

Assistant Coach – Stan Butler (North Bay Battalion)

Athletic Therapist/Equipment Manager – James Borrelli (North Bay Battalion)
Assistant Equipment Manager – Daryl Ashenden

Team OHL Roster – Hamilton – November 14

*players competing in both games

Goaltenders (2):

Evan Cormier (Saginaw Spirit)*
Michael McNiven (Owen Sound Attack)

Defencemen (5):

Jacob Friend (Owen Sound Attack)
Nicolas Hague (Mississauga Steelheads)*
Garrett McFadden (Guelph Storm)
Victor Mete (London Knights)
Markus Phillips (Owen Sound Attack)

Forwards (11):

Will Bitten (Hamilton Bulldogs)*
Graham Knott (Niagara IceDogs)
Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)*
Adam Mascherin (Kitchener Rangers)*
Brett McKenzie (North Bay Battalion)*
Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads)*
Taylor Raddysh (Erie Otters)
Zachary Senyshyn (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)*
Givani Smith (Guelph Storm)*
Blake Speers (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)*
Mitchell Stephens (Saginaw Spirit)*


Head Coach – Dominique Ducharme (Drummondville Voltigeurs)

Assistant Coach – Kris Knoblauch (Erie Otters)

Athletic Therapist – JP Laciak (Hamilton Bulldogs)

Equipment Manager – Kasey LaMorre (Hamilton Bulldogs)

The CHL Canada Russia Series has been an integral part of the identification process for Team Canada for the past 13 years prior to the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.  The event features a team of CHL All-Stars representing each of the three regional leagues competing against the Russian National Junior team.

The 2016 CIBC Canada Russia series is supported by title sponsor and Official Bank of the CHL, CIBC, and CHL associate sponsors Cooper Tire, autoTRADER.ca and Sherwin-Williams.  All games will be broadcast nationally on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.

2016 CIBC Canada Russia Series Schedule:

Game 1 – Monday November 7 at Prince George, BC

Game 2 – Tuesday November 8 at Edmonton, AB

Game 3 – Thursday November 10 at North Bay, ON

Game 4 – Monday November 14 at Hamilton, ON

Game 5 – Tuesday November 15 at Chicoutimi, QC

Game 6 – Thursday November 17 at Baie-Comeau, QC

For event information including how to purchase tickets please visit www.chlcanadarussia.ca.