Colts’ Andrei Svechnikov named OHL Rookie of the Year

OHL Announces First and Second All-Rookie Teams

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that forward Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts is the 2017-18 recipient of the Emms Family Award presented to the OHL’s Rookie of the Year. 

Svechnikov led all OHL rookies with 40 goals and 32 assists in just 44 games for a point total of 72 that ranked 25th overall in league scoring and a points-per-game mark of 1.64 that was fifth best. 

Andrei Svechnikovof the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

“I am extremely happy to accept this award as the OHL’s Rookie of the Year,” Svechnikov said. “I’d like to thank my coaches and teammates for all of the help they have given me this year to achieve this goal. I am very excited.” 

The 18-year-old from Barnaul, Russia, is the top ranked prospect for the 2018 NHL Draft among North American skaters as listed by NHL Central Scouting.  He joined the Colts as the first overall pick in the 2017 CHL Import Draft and becomes the club’s fourth player to receive Rookie of the Year honours following Aaron Ekblad (2011-12), Bryan Little (2003-04), and Sheldon Keefe (1998-99). 

“We are really proud of Andrei for the season he had with our club,” said Colts General Manager Jason Ford. “He came into the lineup and made an immediate impact. We feel that the composure he showed on and off the ice, really excelled his game to this level, which ultimately earned himself this award. We could not be more proud of him for what he did this past year and we wish him the best of luck at the NHL Draft this June in Dallas.” 

Svechnikov was an OHL star from start to finish in 2017-18 beginning with a two-goal performance in his debut against the Ottawa 67’s on September 21, right through to season’s end where he carried the league’s longest point-streak at 23 games from January 18 through the final game of the regular season on March 17.  He recorded 24 multi-point games including a stretch of nine-straight in January and was named OHL Rookie of the Month four of the six times the award was announced.  The Russian National Junior Team member was also recognized in the annual Coaches Poll where he was voted Best Skater and second Best Shot in the Eastern Conference.  His 72 points are the most by a Colts rookie since Mark Scheifele produced 75 in 66 games back in 2010-11, while his 1.64 points-per-game mark is the best among OHL rookies since London Knights Patrick Kane and Sam Gagner posted 2.50 and 2.23 figures respectively in 2006-07. 

First presented in 1973, Emms Family Award recipients include Wayne Gretzky (Sault Ste. Marie 1977-78), Joe Thornton (Sault Ste. Marie 1995-96), Rick Nash (London 2000-01), John Tavares (Oshawa 2005-06), Taylor Hall (Windsor 2007-08), Connor McDavid (Erie 2012-13), Travis Konecny (Ottawa 2013-14), Alex DeBrincat (Erie 2014-15), Alexander Nylander (Mississauga 2015-16), and Ryan Merkley (Guelph 2016-17). 

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. 

Svechnikov earned 86 of a possible 95 voting points ahead of forward Cam Hillis of the Guelph Storm who finished second with 37 voting points and forward Arthur Kaliyev of the Hamilton Bulldogs who finished in third place with 31 voting points. 

The Emms Family Award will be formally presented to Svechnikov at the OHL’s annual Awards Ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Wednesday June 6.  He will be the OHL’s nominee for CHL Rookie of the Year to be announced at the Mastercard Memorial Cup on Saturday May 26 

Svechnikov was also announced to the OHL’s First All-Rookie Team at right wing along with Hillis at centre and fellow NHL Draft eligible forward Blade Jenkins of the Saginaw Spirit at left wing.  Rasmus Sandin of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Alec Regula of the London Knights comprise the First Team defence corps, with Mack Guzda of the Owen Sound Attack between-the-pipes.  Kaliyev was among the Second Team honourees voted behind Svechnikov at right wing and joined up front by first overall Priority Selection pick Ryan Suzuki of the Colts at centre, and Maxim Golod of the Erie Otters at left wing.  Oshawa Generals Mitchell Brewer and Nico Gross were both voted Second Team defenders, with the Knights’ Jordan Kooy 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. 

2017-18 OHL All-Rookie Teams (voting points in brackets): 

First Team:

Centre – Cam Hillis, Guelph Storm (68)

Left Wing – Blade Jenkins, Saginaw Spirit (84)

Right Wing – Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie Colts (95)

Defence – Rasmus Sandin, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (87)

Defence – Alec Regula, London Knights (57)

Goaltender – Mack Guzda, Owen Sound Attack (55) 

Second Team:

Centre – Ryan Suzuki, Barrie Colts (53)

Left Wing – Maxim Golod, Erie Otters (36)

Right Wing – Arthur Kaliyev, Hamilton Bulldogs (59)

Defence – Mitchell Brewer, Oshawa Generals (34)

Defence – Nico Gross, Oshawa Generals (32)

Goaltender – Jordan Kooy, London Knights (50)

 

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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’s Draft Eligible Statistical Leaders: February

With all due respect to London Knights’ star defenceman Evan Bouchard, were it not for a two-month absence of Barrie Colts’ superstar Andrei Svechnikov, things may look a little different then they do statistically as we roll into the final couple weeks of the Ontario Hockey League season.

As you may be aware by now, I am a big fan of Bouchard, but one cannot deny that a healthy Svechnikov would change the leader board. However, for the third time this season, both were named by the OHL as best defenceman and best rookie respectively.

Andrei Svechnikovof the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Bouchard led all draft eligible players in points with 76. He is followed by Akil Thomas of the Niagara IceDogs with 68. A trio of players that includes Aidan Dudas of the Owen Sound Attack, Ryan McLeod of the Mississauga Steelheads and Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm are tied for third with 58 points. Only Allan McShane of the Oshawa Generals lies between them and Svechnikov.

It goes without saying then that Bouchard also leads defencemen in scoring. Not only the draft eligible defencemen but all defencemen, and barring a meltdown in the final 9 games, he should end the season at the top of the list. Merkley sits in second place while Rasmus Sandin of the Soo Greyhounds places third with 39 points.

Despite playing in 20-plus fewer games, Svechnikov leads the way in goal scoring with 31. He is followed by Dudas with 28. Pavel Gogolev of the Peterborough Petes, who is climbing fast, comes in third with 26 goals.

Here is a list of leaders (first time draft eligible players) in a variety of categories. For official stats, always refer to the OHL website.

Points Leaders
Player Team GP G A Pts
Evan Bouchard London Knights 58 21 55 76
Akil Thomas Niagara IceDogs 59 19 49 68
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 59 28 30 58
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 60 19 39 58
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 54 12 46 58
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 59 17 39 56
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 36 31 24 55
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 57 20 34 54
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 57 19 35 54
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 59 23 27 50
Goal Scoring Leaders
Player Team GP G GPG
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 36 31 0.86
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 59 28 0.47
Pavel Gogolev Peterborough Petes 57 26 0.46
Serron Noel Oshawa Generals 54 25 0.46
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 59 23 0.39
Evan Bouchard London Knights 58 21 0.36
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 57 20 0.35
Liam Foudy London Knights 56 20 0.36
Akil Thomas Niagara IceDogs 59 19 0.32
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 60 19 0.32
Assist Leaders
Player Team GP A APG
Evan Bouchard London Knights 58 55 0.95
Akil Thomas Niagara IceDogs 59 49 0.83
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 54 46 0.85
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 59 39 0.66
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 60 39 0.65
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 57 35 0.61
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 57 34 0.60
Nathan Dunkley London Knights 51 32 0.63
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 43 31 0.72
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev Peterborough Petes 59 30 0.51
Defencemen Point Leaders
Player Team GP G A Pts
Evan Bouchard London Knights 58 21 55 76
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 54 12 46 58
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 43 8 31 39
Giovanni Vallati Kitchener Rangers 57 3 20 23
Merrick Rippon Ottawa 67’s 59 3 18 21
Riley McCourt Flint Firebirds 48 4 16 20
Caleb Everett Saginaw Spirit 50 5 14 19
Connor Corcoran Windsor Spitfires 54 3 16 19
Plus/Minus Leaders
Player Team GP +/-
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 43 +33
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 57 +26
Tyler Tucker Barrie Colts 52 +21
Ryan Roth Soo Greyhounds 60 +19
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 36 +16
Evan Bouchard London Knights 58 +16
Nathan Dunkley London Knights 51 +15
Curtis Douglas Windsor Spitfires 57 +14
Alec Regula London Knights 58 +12
Holden Wale Soo Greyhounds 33 +11
Penalty Minutes Leaders
Player Team GP PIM M/G
Tyler Tucker Barrie Colts 52 75 1.44
Kevin Bahl Ottawa 67’s 50 72 1.44
Daylon Groulx Owen Sound Attack 49 70 1.43
Merrick Rippon Ottawa 67’s 39 63 1.62
Curtis Douglas Windsor Spitfires 57 61 1.07
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 54 59 1.09
Max Grondin Saginaw Spirit 58 59 1.02
Faceoff Leaders  (minimum 200 faceoffs)
Player Team GP FOA FOW %
Billy Moskal London Knights 57 633 371 58.6
Nathan Dunkley London Knights 51 564 314 55.7
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 59 737 410 55.6
Akil Thomas Niagara IceDogs 59 992 535 53.9
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 60 1238 662 53.5
David Levin Sudbury Wolves 41 342 176 51.5
Blade Jenkins Saginaw Spirit 60 244 123 50.4
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 59 1292 647 50.1
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 57 913 455 49.8
Max Grondin Saginaw Spirit 58 636 317 49.8
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 59 815 404 49.6
Longest Goal Scoring Streak
Player Team From To Gms Goals
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 1/26 2/9 7 11
Brady Hinz Sarnia Sting 10/9 10/19 5 7
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 2/2 2/19 5 6
Kody Clark Ottawa 67’s 10/12 10/21 5 6
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 11/26 12/3 4 5
Longest Assist Streak
Player Team From To Gms Assts
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 10/22 11/16 9 13
Akil Thomas Niagara IceDogs 9/30 10/19 8 10
Evan Bouchard London Knights 2/10 2/25 8 10
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 10/27 11/9 6 9
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 12/29 1/10 6 6
Longest Point Streak
Player Team From To Gms Pts
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 1/18 2/25 15 29
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 10/6 11/10 14 20
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 12/9 1/13 12 18
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 1/27 2/19 11 19
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 11/19 12/15 10 16
Shooting Percentage
Player Team GP G S %
Serron Noel Oshawa Generals 54 25 95 26.32
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 36 31 137 22.63
Nathan Dunkley London Knights 52 18 87 20.69
Brady Hinz Peterborough Petes 60 18 89 20.22
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 57 19 98 19.39
Shots On Goal Leaders
Player Team GP SOG
Evan Bouchard London Knights 58 252
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 59 215
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 59 203
Akil Thomas Niagara IceDogs 59 177
Pavel Gogolev Peterborough Petes 57 161
Goaltenders Leaders – Goals Against Average
Player Team GP Min GA Avg
Jordan Kooy London Knights 21 1000 52 3.12
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 16 750 40 3.20
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 14 741 40 3.24
Jacob Ingham Mississauga Steelheads 38 2136 134 3.76
Mario Peccia Oshawa Generals 9 390 26 4.00
Goaltending Leaders – Save Percentage
Player Team GP SH  SVS SV%
Jordan Kooy London Knights 21 529 477 0.902
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 16 371 331 0.892
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 14 342 302 0.883
Jacob Ingham Mississauga Steelheads 38 1098 964 0.878
Mario Peccia Oshawa Generals 9 209 183 0.876
Goaltending Leaders – Wins
Player Team GP W L OL
Jacob Ingham Mississauga Steelheads 39 13 20 2
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 14 9 1 1
Jordan Kooy London Knights 21 8 7 1
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 16 7 4 0
Cameron Lamour Saginaw Spirit 15 5 5 1
Goaltending Leaders – Shutouts
Player Team GP SO
Mario Peccia Oshawa Generals 9 1
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 14 1
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 16 1

OHL’s Draft Eligible Statistical Leaders: January

January 31 brings us within a hair of the three-quarter mark of the Ontario Hockey League season and there are many interesting individual races in a variety of statistical categories. As always, we look at players eligible for the National Hockey League Draft in June in Dallas Texas, for the first time. That is not meant to take away from players re-entering the draft. While I believe some of them will get drafted the second time around, history has shown that they are usually passed over the second time.

It’s hard to imagine, or maybe it is not, where Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts would be had he not missed almost two months with a wrist injury. Despite missing seven weeks and playing in twenty fewer games, Svechnikov leads all draft eligible players with 23 goals in 27 games. That’s two more then Aidan Dudas of the Owen Sound Attack and three more then Ty Dellandria of the Flint Firebirds, who both have played 47 games.

Andrei Svechnikovof the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Thanks in part to Svechnikov’s absence, a pair of highly touted defensemen lead all players in points. Evan Bouchard of the London Knights leads the pack with 60 points in 47 games. He is followed closely by Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm who has 57 points in 47 games. Akil Thomas of the Niagara IceDogs comes in third with 56 points in 47 games.

Of course, it goes without saying that Bouchard and Merkley lead all defensemen in the point scoring race. Rasmus Sandin of the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds sits in the next tier by himself with 30 points in 34 games. Yours truly has made it no secret that Sandin would be my choice as the second defenseman taken from the OHL. Giovanni Vallati of the Kitchener Rangers comes in fourth with 20 points in 47 games.

Over the years, there has been a great debate over the value of the plus-minus stat. Whether you agree or not, there is some value to the stat. And Sandin leads the way with a plus-28. That’s a comfortable plus-10 more than teammate Barrett Hayton and Nathan Dunkley of the London Knights.

Serron Noel of the Oshawa Generals led the entire OHL for most of the season in shooting percentage. As of January 31, he drops to second, but still leads all draft eligible players at 25%. Svechnikov comes in second, scoring on 22.3% of his shots, while Cam Hillis of the Guelph Storm comes in third at 21.8%.

Bouchard leads all shooters in shots on goal with 211, which is good enough for second overall in the OHL. He has a comfortable lead over Dellandria (173) and Dudas (172).

While we take great care in compiling stats, always refer to the OHL website for official stats.

Points Leaders
Player Team GP G A Pts
Evan Bouchard London Knights 47 16 44 60
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 47 12 45 57
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 47 13 43 56
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 47 17 36 53
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 47 21 25 46
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 47 18 28 46
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 47 17 27 44
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 47 20 21 41
Nathan Dunkley London Knights 40 15 24 39
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 27 23 15 38
Goal Scoring Leaders
Player Team GP G GPG
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 27 23 0.85
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 47 21 0.45
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 47 20 0.43
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 47 18 0.38
Serron Noel Oshawa Generals 42 18 0.43
Pavel Gogolev Peterborough Petes 43 18 0.42
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 47 17 0.36
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 47 17 0.36
Evan Bouchard London Knights 47 16 0.34
Kody Clark Ottawa 67’s 38 16 0.42
Assist Leaders
Player Team GP A APG
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 47 45 0.96
Evan Bouchard London Knights 47 44 0.94
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 47 43 0.91
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 47 36 0.77
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 47 28 0.60
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 47 27 0.57
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 47 27 0.57
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 47 25 0.53
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 34 24 0.71
Nathan Dunkley London Knights 40 24 0.60
Defencemen Point Leaders
Player Team GP G A Pts
Evan Bouchard London Knights 47 16 44 60
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 47 12 45 57
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 34 6 24 30
Giovanni Vallati Kitchener Rangers 46 3 17 20
Merrick Rippon Ottawa 67’s 48 2 16 18
Peter Stratis Sudbury Wolves 49 5 12 17
Caleb Everett Saginaw Spirit 39 4 13 17
Kevin Bahl Ottawa 67’s 48 1 16 17
Plus/Minus Leaders
Player Team GP +/-
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 34 +28
Nathan Dunkley London Knights 40 +18
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 47 +18
Evan Bouchard London Knights 47 +17
Tyler Tucker Barrie Colts 40 +16
Adam Liska Kitchener Rangers 44 +12
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 27 +11
Alec Regula London Knights 47 +11
William Sirman Windsor Spitfires 46 +10
Ryan Roth Soo Greyhounds 49 +10
Penalty Minutes Leaders
Player Team GP PIM M/G
Tyler Tucker Barrie Colts 40 67 1.68
Kevin Bahl Ottawa 67’s 48 67 1.40
Daylon Groulx Owen Sound Attack 39 60 1.54
Merrick Rippon Ottawa 67’s 48 57 1.19
Curtis Douglas Windsor Spitfires 46 55 1.20
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 47 50 1.06
Max Grondin Saginaw Spirit 46 47 1.02
Faceoff Leaders  (Minimum 200 faceoffs)
Player Team GP FOA FOW %
Billy Moskal London Knights 46 445 266 59.8
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 47 695 382 55.0
Nathan Dunkley London Knights 40 484 263 54.3
David Levin Sudbury Wolves 32 232 125 53.9
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 48 1043 556 53.3
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 47 761 405 53.2
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 47 985 500 50.8
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 47 662 326 49.2
Barret Kirwin Guelph Storm 48 659 324 49.2
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 48 776 379 48.8
Longest Goal Scoring Streak
Player Team From To Gms Goals
Brady Hinz Sarnia Sting 10/9 10/19 5 7
Kody Clark Ottawa 67’s 10/12 10/21 5 6
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 11/26 12/3 4 5
Blade Jenkins Saginaw Spirit 10/29 11/4 4 6
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 1/19 1/26 3 6
Longest Assist Streak
Player Team From To Gms Assts
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 10/22 11/16 9 13
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 9/30 10/19 8 10
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 1/11 1/28 8 10
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 10/27 11/9 6 9
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 12/7 12/31 6 6
Longest Point Streak
Player Team From To Gms Pts
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 10/6 11/10 14 20
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 12/9 1/13 12 18
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 11/19 12/15 10 16
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 10/22 11/16 9 17
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 9/29 10/19 9 15
Shooting Percentage
Player Team GP G S %
Serron Noel Oshawa Generals 42 18 72 25.0
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 27 23 103 22.3
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 48 19 87 21.8
Nathan Dunkley London Knights 40 15 74 20.3
Brady Hinz Peterborough Petes 49 14 73 19.2
Shots On Goal Leaders
Player Team GP SOG
Evan Bouchard London Knights 47 211
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 47 173
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 47 172
Riley Damiani Kitchener Rangers 49 133
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 47 131
Goaltenders Leaders – Goals Against Average (Min 10 games)
Player Team GP Min GA Avg
Jordon Kooy London Knights 17 827 40 2.90
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 11 581 30 3.10
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 12 569 32 3.37
Jacob Ingham Mississauga Steelheads 33 1865 117 3.76
Cameron Lamour Saginaw Spirit 12 522 37 4.25
Goaltending Leaders – Save Percentage (Min 10 games)
Player Team GP SH  SVS SV%
Jordon Kooy London Knights 17 442 402 0.910
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 11 270 240 0.889
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 12 278 246 0.885
Jacob Ingham Mississauga Steelheads 33 959 842 0.878
Marshall Frappier Sudbury Wolves 13 376 329 0.875
Goaltending Leaders – Wins
Player Team GP W L OL
Jacob Ingham Mississauga Steelheads 17 13 16 1
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 11 7 1 1
Jordon Kooy London Knights 17 6 6 1
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 12 5 4 0
Cameron Lamour Saginaw Spirit 12 5 4 0
Goaltending Leaders – Shutouts
Player Team GP SO
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 11 1
Mario Peccia Oshawa Generals 8 1

Rasmus Sandin – Soo Greyhounds – Player Profile

Height: 5’11”

Weight:  190 pounds

Date of birth: March 7, 2000

Hometown: Uppsala, Sweden

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 52nd overall, 2017 CHL Import Draft

Much of the 2018 National Hockey League Draft chatter, when talking about Ontario Hockey League defencemen, has been centered around the Guelph Storm’s Ryan Merkley and the London Knights’ Evan Bouchard.

Don’t look now, but here comes Rasmus Sandin of the Soo Greyhounds.

While Sandin isn’t considered in some circles to be in the same class as Merkley or Bouchard, there is a compelling case to be made that he could very well be the second defenceman taking from the OHL. Yours truly is firmly on that bandwagon.

Sandin, Rasmus (1)
Rasmus Sandin. Photo courtesy of the Ontario Hockey League.

If one wasn’t convinced earlier in the season, then the admirable job Sandin has done in the absence of the Greyhounds’ top defenceman Conor Timmins, who is representing Canada at the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York should be drawing your attention. In recognition of his performance, he was named OHL Rookie of the Month for December.

Sandin wasn’t an unknown. Coming into this season, he was ranked as a B Prospect by NHL Central Scouting on their Players to Watch List.  On their updated list in November, Sandin was among 139 Canadian Hockey League players listed, this time as an A Prospect.  (B prospects are considered a second or third round pick while an A prospect is considered a first-round pick.)

Sandin was the 52nd overall pick at the CHL Import Draft in 2017. But Sandin was under a contractual obligation with Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League for this season. He appeared in five games in Sweden’s top league (one assist) before Greyhounds General Manage Kyle Raftis could secure his services. Raftis worked diligently for some time to make it come to fruition.

What exactly have the Greyhounds done since his arrival? Well, he helped solidify their blue line for one thing. And the Greyhounds have gone on to win 23 of the 24 games he’s been in the lineup – 23 straight and 2 shy of the OHL record held by the Kitchener Rangers.

I’m not about to suggest that is all due to Rasmus Sandin. However, for a team to go on such an amazing run, you need 20 players all pulling in the same direction and playing almost flawlessly on any given night. And Sandin gives you that.

Last season, Sandin played in Sweden’s top junior league, Super Elite League, with Brynas and in 36 games scored 3 goals and added 18 assists. He also captained Sweden’s entry at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 where he had 2 assists in 6 games and captured Gold with Sweden.

Sandin’s excellent leadership qualities were at the forefront again in August as he was named Sweden’s captain for their squad at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial. The Swede’s would capture a Bronze at the tournament that begins the year for draft eligible players. He would register 3 assists in 5 games.

Internationally, Sandin has also represented Sweden at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 tournaments.

As with most sub-six-foot defencemen, questions arise about size. But at 190 pounds, he has the bulk most of his peers are still trying to add on. He has the upper body strength to engage physically while battling along the wall or in front of his goal. While he isn’t a “physical defenceman” he can separate players from the puck and uses his strength to protect the puck. He shows no signs of playing timid and will absorb the hit to make a play.

While there are also questions about a lack of high end speed or an explosive first step, it’s not something that gets him into trouble. He’s not a slow skater by any means and it is something he can continue to work on to improve.

But he’s also a very smart skater, skating smartly to conserve his energy which allows him to eat up valuable minutes. He controls his edges very well, has very good lateral movement, pivots and turns very well and skates backwards with relative ease.

Smart is an adjective you will hear a lot about Sandin. Any disadvantage he has, he overcomes because of it. In the defensive zone he possesses excellent gap control with near flawless positioning with his body or very active stick. He is very adept at angling players out and keeping them to the outside, although he can sometimes be beaten on the outside by a speedy forward.

Sandin is excellent at retrieving pucks. He plays a calm, unrushed game. He can clear the zone with an excellent, crisp, tape-to-tape first pass enabling him to elude the forecheck effectively. He stretches the ice extremely well and can “lead” teammates with a perfect pass. But he can also skate out of danger with an uncanny knack to slow the pace down, and then reads and reacts patiently. He is also an effective penalty killer and gets quality PK time with the Greyhounds.

Offensively, Sandin isn’t as flashy as Merkley or Bouchard. But at the time of writing this, he leads all OHL rookies in scoring and is third only to Bouchard and Merkley in offense from the blue line among draft eligible players, just shy of a point-per-game pace. He’s tenth among all draft eligible players in assists, while playing fewer games.

Again, he uses his hockey smarts and knows when to jump into the play to create offense. He knows when to pinch in and go down low and rarely gets beaten. He can quarterback the powerplay and makes excellent passes. He doesn’t possess an overpowering or heavy shot, but he can get it off with a purpose, whether looking for a deflection or to create a rebound.

You can certainly make an argument that he is the best two-way defender available from the OHL and you wouldn’t get much of an argument.

I had the opportunity to have a lengthy chat with Rasmus’ father Patric Sandin about Rasmus the hockey player and Rasmus the person.

The elder Sandin told us that Rasmus is self taught in a lot of ways.

“When he was three years old he used to borrow his moms inline size 8 skates and skate all over the house with absolute full control. He learned to ride a bicycle when he was turning 5 without any help.” He added, “first time I saw him on a bicycle he was riding his moms bicycle downhill in full speed and he was only 5!! Crazy kid.”

Rasmus is also very family oriented and close with his family. His older brother Linus, who is four years older and plays for Rogle of the Swedish Hockey League has had a major influence on him. Patric told us “Linus has always let Rasmus to be with him and play with the older guys.”

It speaks volumes to Rasmus’ competitiveness and willingness to be the best he can be:

“When Linus was going to a training camp at 11 years old, Rasmus also wanted to go even though he was only 7. We told him ‘if he could tie his own skates properly he could go and if the camp was willing to have a boy who was several years younger to sleep over and compete with the older guys’. Rasmus directly started to practice tying his own skates and after two days hard work he managed to do that. He went to the camp with the much older boys and after that he has always been independent and competed with older kids.”

That independence would come in handy and in very short order for Rasmus.

“‘He is the most mature boy I ever met’ is something I hear from people who meet Rasmus. He has been living by himself since he was 14 years old when he played for Modo and after that he moved to Brynas when he was 15. At 17 he got a contract and moved to Rogle with his brother. After five games with Rogle in SHL he decided to move to SSM because he was absolutely confident that it would make him a better hockey player.”

But how does a “child” survive without mom’s home cooking? “He is an excellent cook, loves to make a nice steak with belongings and crossed asparagus and a good sauce. He always takes a picture of it and sends me that picture. There is nothing he can’t do if you ask Rasmus himself.” Said Patric.

“He really loves his family and is very close with his brother. Rasmus is the whole package – not just hockey – I think. He always stands up for those who need help whatever it is. He is a good friend I think. We are really proud of our two boys. Not just of the hockey… especially that they are really nice and good to other people.”

And proud parents they should be.

OHL Top Performers of the Month for December

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the Top OHL Performers of the Month for regular season games played in December 2017, including the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds trio of Morgan Frost, Rasmus Sandin and Matthew Villalta along with London Knights defenceman Evan Bouchard.

OHL Player of the Month – Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds):


Philadelphia Flyers prospect Morgan Frost of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the OHL Player of the Month for December after leading the league with 20 points including eight goals, 12 assists and a plus/minus rating of plus-18 over 10 games. The third-year centreman continued a 14-game point streak through the end of the month, registering multi-point outputs in eight of the 10 games he played. Frost earned first star honours twice this past month, scoring twice on Dec. 13th against Flint before registering four points (2-2–4) on Dec. 16th in Guelph.  His most recent performance featured a goal and an assist against the Guelph Storm on Dec. 30th as the Greyhounds pushed their current winning streak to 23 games.

Morgan Frost of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Morgan Frost of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

An 18-year-old native of Aurora, Ont., Frost leads the OHL in scoring with 60 points (21-39–60) over 36 games while also leading all players with a plus-46 plus/minus rating. He has recorded at least one point in 20 games of the Greyhounds’ current 23-game winning streak that dates back to Oct. 28th. The. 6-foot, 180Ib. centreman represented Team OHL in the 2017 CIBC Canada-Russia Series earlier this season after being chosen in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers last summer. Frost was Sault Ste. Marie’s fourth round pick in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection from the Barrie Colts Minor Midgets.

OHL Defenceman of the Month – Evan Bouchard (London Knights):


For the second straight month, draft eligible London Knights blueliner Evan Bouchard is the OHL Defenceman of the Month. Bouchard led OHL rearguards with 16 points including five goals and 11 assists over 11 games along with a plus/minus rating of plus-7. The 6-foot-2, 191Ib. defender had points in nine of his 11 games, helping the Knights to a 7-3-0-1 month of December. Bouchard started the month by earning third star honours with a goal and an assist on Dec. 1st against Oshawa. A week later his goal and an assist on Dec. 8th against Peterborough earned him second star recognition. Bouchard earned first star honours on Dec. 12th in Erie, scoring the overtime winner while also recording an assist. He ended 2017 with a three-assist outing on Dec. 31st in Sarnia.

Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

An 18-year-old product of Oakville, Ont., Bouchard currently leads OHL defencemen with 46 points including 13 goals and 33 assists along with a plus/minus rating of plus-14 in 37 games. The right-handed shooting blueliner has a total of 19 points on the power play this season. He represented the OHL in the 2017 CIBC Canada-Russia Series and has been named to the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game set for Jan. 25th in Guelph. Bouchard was an ‘A’ rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting’s November ‘Players to Watch’ List. Bouchard was London’s first round pick in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection from the Oakville Rangers Minor Midgets.

OHL Rookie of the Month – Rasmus Sandin (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds):


Draft eligible Swedish blueliner Rasmus Sandin of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the OHL Rookie of the Month for December. The 17-year-old had nine points including two goals and seven assists in 11 games from the back end this past month, helping the Greyhounds continue a 23-game winning streak. Sandin recorded two assists on Dec. 10th against Windsor before earning first star honours with a career-high three points (2-1–3) on Dec. 29th against Flint, setting up teammate Barrett Hayton for a late game-winning goal.

A 17-year-old native of Uppsala, Sweden, Sandin currently leads OHL rookie defencemen in scoring with 21 points (4-17–21) and a plus-19 rating in 24 games this season. After starting the season with Rogle BK of the Swedish Elite League, Sandin joined the Greyhounds in October and the team has proceeded to win 23 of their 24 games with him in the lineup. He has been named to the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 25th in Guelph and was an ‘A’ rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting’s November ‘Players to Watch’ List. Sandin was Sault Ste. Marie’s first round pick in the 2017 CHL Import Draft.

Vaughn OHL Goaltender of the Month – Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds):


For the second straight month, Los Angeles Kings prospect Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the Vaughn OHL Goaltender of the Month. The 18-year-old played to a perfect 7-0-0-0 record with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage this past month, continuing the Hounds’ 23-game winning streak along with a 16-game winning streak of his own. Villalta stopped 25 of 26 shots on Dec. 16th in Guelph before returning from the holiday break to earn second star honours with 30 saves on Dec. 28th against Saginaw. His latest outing included 39 saves and three shootout denials as the Greyhounds won their 23rd straight contest, defeating the Guelph Storm on Dec. 30th.

Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

A 6-foot-3, 183Ib. native of Godfrey, Ont. outside of Kingston, Villalta leads OHL goaltenders with a 2.45 goals-against average along with a 23-2-1-0 record, a .912 save percentage and one shutout. He holds an impressive career record of 48-5-1-0 over 59 career regular season games to go with a 2.43 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage and two shutouts. A free agent addition by the Greyhounds out of Training Camp in 2016, Villalta was a third round pick by the Los Angeles Kings this past summer.

2017-18 OHL Performers of the Month:

Player of the Month:
December – Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
November – Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)
October – Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)

Defenceman of the Month:

December – Evan Bouchard (London Knights)
November – Evan Bouchard (London Knights)
October – Sean Durzi (Owen Sound Attack)

Rookie of the Month:
December – Rasmus Sandin (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
November – Blade Jenkins (Saginaw Spirit)
October – Andrei Svechnikov (Barrie Colts)

Vaughn Goaltender of the Month:
December – Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
November – Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
October – Justin Fazio (Sarnia Sting)

2017 CHL Import Draft Results

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced the final results of the 2017 CHL Import Draft.

The 26th annual CHL Import Draft included a total of 72 players consisting of 50 forwards and 22 defencemen selected from 11 different countries featuring a draft-high 19 players from Russia.

The two-round draft took place online with the order of selection rotating through each of the CHL’s three leagues using an inverse order of final regular season standings within each league from the 2016-17 season.

The Barrie Colts used the first overall pick to acquire Russian forward Andrei Svechnikov, a 2018 NHL Draft prospect who recently earned bronze at the 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.  His international hockey success this season also included a MVP performance at the World Junior A Challenge, and a bronze medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge where he led the tournament in points.  The Moncton Wildcats used the second overall pick to select fellow Russian forward and 2018 NHL Draft prospect Alexander Khovanov who was an Under-17 teammate of Svechnikov capturing bronze in Sault Ste. Marie last November.  At third overall the Kootenay ICE selected Switzerland’s Gilian Kohler, a forward also eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft.

CLICK HERE TO SEE 2017 CHL IMPORT DRAFT ORDER AND RESULTS

The 2017 CHL Import Draft featured 11 players previously selected by NHL teams in 2016 and 2017 drafts.  Of that group, five players were selected in the first two rounds this past weekend in Chicago including first round picks Martin Necas (12th, Carolina) chosen 10th overall by the Saginaw Spirit, Timothy Liljegren (17th, Toronto) chosen 13th overall by the Niagara IceDogs, and Filip Chytil (21st, New York Rangers) chosen seventh overall by the North Bay Battalion.  Second round NHL Draft picks selected in the Import Draft include Alexandre Texier (45th, Columbus) taken 17th overall by the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, and Joni Ikonen (58th, Montreal) chosen 28th overall by the Hamilton Bulldogs.

A total of 37 players selected in the 2017 CHL Import Draft are first-year eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft, while four players selected are not eligible for the NHL Draft until 2019.

Each team in the CHL is permitted to dress and play a maximum of two import players each season who are selected annually through the CHL Import Draft.

2017 CHL Import Draft Summary:

Draft Picks by Position:
Forward – 50
Defence – 22

Draft Picks by Country:
Russia – 19
Czech Republic – 15
Sweden – 8
Slovakia – 7
Belarus – 6
Germany – 6
Finland – 4
Switzerland – 4
Denmark – 1
France – 1
Slovenia – 1

Draft picks by Birthdate and NHL Status:
2000-born late and 2019 NHL Draft eligible – 4
2000-born and 2018 NHL Draft eligible – 29
1999-born late and 2018 NHL Draft eligible – 8
1999-born and 2017 NHL Drafted – 8
1999-born early and NHL Undrafted – 15
1998-born and NHL Drafted – 3
1998-born and NHL Undrafted – 5

NHL Draft picks in CHL Import Draft:
4. Alexei Toropchenko (Guelph – 4th round to St. Louis in 2017)
7. Filip Chytil (North Bay – 1st round to NY Rangers in 2017)
10. Martin Necas (Saginaw – 1st round to Carolina in 2017)
13. Timothy Liljegren (Niagara – 1st round to Toronto in 2017)
17. Alexandre Texier (Baie-Comeau – 4th round to Columbus in 2017)
28. Joni Ikonen (Hamilton – 2nd round to Montreal in 2017)
41. Jan Drozg (Shawinigan – 5th round to Pittsburgh in 2017)
45. Oleg Sosunov (Moose Jaw – 6th round to Tampa Bay in 2016)
49. Jesper Bratt (London – 6th round to New Jersey in 2016)
53. Ostap Safin (Saint John – 4th round to Edmonton in 2017)
119. Linus Nassen (Medicine Hat – 3rd round to Florida in 2016)

A total of 15 players acquired through the CHL Import Draft were recently selected in the 2017 NHL Draft including New Jersey Devils first overall pick Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads. Other first round picks included Finnish defencemen Juuso Valimaki of the Tri-City Americans selected 16th overall by the Calgary Flames and Henri Jokiharju of the Portland Winterhawks selected 29th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Last season a total of 79 players were selected from 11 different countries led by 24 players from Russia and consisting of 53 forwards and 26 defencemen.