Draft Eligible Forward of the Month: Nick Lardis – Hamilton Bulldogs
What a month of February it was for Lardis. In 12 games he notched 10 goals and 11 assists. He scored in all but 4 games, had 2 multi goal games and was held pointless just twice during the month. He fired a whopping 51 shots on goal for a 19.6 shooting percentage and took no penalties.
Also considered were Dylan Roobroeck of the Oshawa Generals who had 7 goals and 10 assists in 13 games and Zakary Lavoie of the Niagara IceDogs who notched 7 goals and 10 assists in 14 games.
Draft Eligible Defenceman of the Month: Rodwin Dionicio – Windsor Spitfires
Dionicio gets the nod on back-to-back months from us here. He has been on a tear since the Spitfires acquired him at the trade deadline. He appeared in 12 games in the month of February scoring 4 goals in consecutive games from February 5 through February 11. He also added 12 assists in those 12 games. He was held off the scoreboard in just 4 games. He finished the month with a plus-7 and complied 22 minutes in penalties.
Also considered were Tristan Bertucci of the Flint Firebirds who had 7 goals and 8 assists in 12 games and Hunter Brzustewicz of the Kitchener Rangers who scored twice and assists on 11 others in 12 games.
Draft Eligible Goaltender of the Month: Tristan Malboeuf – Hamilton Bulldogs
Malboeuf appeared in 7 games during the month of February and posted a 4-1-0-0 record. He stopped 163 of the 175 shots he faced for a save-percentage of .931 and included a 40 save shutout on February 20 against the Kitchener Rangers.
Also considered was Collin MacKenzie of the Ottawa 67’s who appeared in 7 games and stopped 133 of 140 shots for a save-percentage of .950. He went 5-0-1-0 on the month.
Draft Eligible Forward of the Month – Colby Barlow – Owen Sound Attack
There is no debating this choice. Barlow went on a tear in the month of January and scored 14 goals and 6 assists in just 12 games to take the honors here and now leads the draft class in goals and points. Actually, he leads the league in goals. You’ll also find him among the leaders in assists and plus/minus.
Barlow had just one game where he didn’t register a goal or a point and that came on January 20 on the road against the London Knights. He had three multi-goal games and 7 multi-point games. For his efforts, the OHL named him Player of the Month for January.
Also considered was Zander Veccia of the Mississauga Steelheads. Veccia appeared in 11 games in January, scoring 7 goals and adding 9 assists. Just how productive was Veccia? Over half his production of 13 goals and 15 assists on the season came in January.
Draft Eligible Defenceman of the Month – Rodwin Dionicio – Windsor Spitfires
If anyone benefited from a trade near trade deadline, it’s Dionicio. He appeared in 11 games for the Spitfires in January and scored twice and assisted on 11 to lead all draft eligible blueliners. He had 4 goals and 3 assists in 17 games prior to the deal. He had two games with 3 helpers. One coming against the Saginaw Spirit on January 12 and the other against the London Knights on January 15.
Also considered was Beau Akey of the Barrie Colts. He appeared in 11 games during the month and scored once and assisted on 9 others. He has 7 goals and 29 assists on the season to lead draft eligible defencemen.
Draft Eligible Goaltender of the Month – Jacob Oster – Oshawa Generals
It was quite the month for Oster after a trade from the Guelph Storm. He appeared in 4 games, going 3-1-0 with a hefty .965 save-percentage and back-to-back shutouts where he stopped 19 of 19 shots he faced against the Kingston Frontenacs and then stopping all 30 he faced against the North Bay Battalion two nights later. Even in his only loss he stopped 35 of 38 shots. He was named Goaltender of the Month by the OHL for the week of January 23-29.
Also considered was Zach Bowen of the London Knights who went 3-0-0 and stopped 80 of 84 shots with one shutout and a save-percentage of .952.
Born in Newark New Jersey, Niagara IceDogs defenceman Rodwin Dionicio has both American and Swiss citizenship, but because he has represented Switzerland at numerous IIHF sanctioned tournaments, he will be considered Swiss in future tournaments. And because he was playing in Switzerland at the time of the OHL Draft, he had to be selected in the CHL Import Draft. And the IceDogs did just that using the 18th overall pick at the 2021 Import Draft. The Dionicio parents were both from the Dominican Republic and moved to Switzerland when Dionicio was just 5 months young.
There is a lot to like about Dionicio. He has good size and his frame is solidly built. He uses that size and bulk to play a physical game. And when he hits, he hits to hurt – not in the literal sense, but he hits very hard. And he uses that physical stature in his competitiveness when it comes to the board battles and in front of his goaltender. He just will not give up.
Dionicio can lead the attack from transition, he handles the puck extremely well, he sees the ice well and he can make plays. He is willing to jump up in the attack and can pace himself to be the late man. In short, you have to be intrigued by the offensive potential. He has the skill set, the IQ and the willingness. But something is lacking.
Dionicio lacks speed. He’s not bad once he gets going, but his first steps are in need of some improvement, He has the strength in his legs, so maybe just fine tuning his technique will get him there. It will only help develop all the offensive instincts he already possesses.
But it’s just not the speed he needs to work on. His pivots from forward to backward skating needs improving as does his east-west mobility – or his lateral movement. The improvements will not just help him offensively, but defensively. It would help him to get to puck retrievals quicker and help stay with opponents and keep them wide or to the outside. It is something he is lacking that leads him to take foolish and unnecessary penalties.
I’ve often said that skating doesn’t worry me as much as it once did because of the coaching players receive when they get to the next level. And it’s possible Dionicio didn’t receive that level of coaching in Switzerland.
That said, the skill set would have me taking Dionicio higher than where I will rank him, but I do have some concern about the skating here and that will cause him to drop.
But he could be a surprise find in later rounds if he can put it together.
The Ontario Hockey League had to postpone more games than anyone wanted to see in December due to the COVID-19 Protocols, but there were some pretty good performances that should not be ignored.
In previous season, I looked for one performance that I would feel comfortable saying that player was the Player of the Month. But because of the lost season one year ago and the number of players re-entering the NHL Entry Draft in 2022, I decided for this year to select one forward, one defenceman and one goaltender. Here we go.
Up front, It’s Mississauga Steelheads forward Luca DelBelBelluz who scored 4 goals and 9 assists in 9 contests in the month of December and a whopping 31 shots on goal. He had 4 multi point games including a four-assist night against North Bay on December 29 and he was held off the scoresheet in just two contests.
DelBelBelluz now has 15 goals and 21 assists on the season and sits second in points on the Steelheads just two points behind James Hardie. Among draft eligible players, he is third in points, tied for third in goals and second in assists and easily leads all draft eligible players in plus/minus with a plus-27.
Also considered were a pair of Hamilton Bulldogs. Avery Hayes had 6 goals and 7 assists in 9 games while Ryan Humphrey had 3 goals and 8 assists in 9 games. Shane Wright of the Kingston Frontenacs had 3 goals and 7 assists but played in just 4 games because of the World Junior Championships and the Fronts being in COVID protocol.
On the blueline I could have gone a number of different ways but settled on Kirill Kudryavtsev of the Soo Greyhounds. The 5’11, 200-pound Russian scored once and added 6 assists in 7 games for the Greyhounds raising his totals to 2 goals and 16 assists in 28 games on the season.
I gave the nod to Kudryavtsev because I liked his all-around game. He was kept off the scoresheet in 2 of those 7 games, but the Greyhounds were 0-1-1 in those games. In the 5 games he registered a point? 4-0-1. He is an important player on the Greyhounds blueline as a rookie.
Also considered were Saginaw Spirit defenceman Pavel Mintyukov with 3 goals and 5 assists in 10 games, Samuel Mayer of the Peterborough Petes with 3 goals and 3 assists in 7 games, Ty Nelson of the North Bay Battalion with 8 assists in 9 games and Rodwin Dionicio of the Niagara IceDogs with a goal and 5 assists in 5 games.
The decision in net was the easiest and that was Pavel Cajan of the Kitchener Rangers. The draft re-entry netminder simply gives the Rangers a chance every time he mans the crease. He went 4-1-1 in the month of December with a stellar .919 save-percentage.
In his only regulation loss, Cajan stopped 32 of 34 shots in a 2-1 loss to the Windsor Spitfires. In his only other loss – in overtime- he stopped 34 of 38 shots in a 4-3 OT loss to the Soo Greyhounds. On the season Cajan has a save-percentage of .904 – third among draft eligible goalies and a goals-against-average of 3.23 – fifth among draft eligible goalies.
Also considered was North Bay Battalion netminder DomDiVincentiis. In 4 appearances he went 1-2-0 with a .909 save-percentage
December – Luca DelBelBelluz – Mississauga Steelheads
Toronto, Ont. – Ontario Hockey League member teams selected 27 players from across 12 different countries in the 30th annual CHL Import Draft held Wednesday online at CHL.ca.
Eighteen OHL clubs made selections with the Hamilton Bulldogs and Mississauga Steelheads passing on both of their picks. The Barrie Colts, Erie Otters, Guelph Storm, Kitchener Rangers, Niagara IceDogs, Oshawa Generals, Sarnia Sting, Soo Greyhounds and Sudbury Wolves each made two selections.
The two-round draft took place online with the order of selection rotating through each of the CHL’s three regional leagues. The OHL’s order of selection was determined through a draft lottery process held back in May. OHL clubs selected in inverse order of their positioning for the 2021 OHL Priority Selection, and conducted the 2021 CHL Import Draft in a serpentine format.
The Barrie Colts led the way for the OHL, selecting Ukrainian-born 18-year-old defenceman Artur Cholach with the third overall pick. Cholach, who spent the 2020-21 season with Sokol Kiev of Ukraine’s top circuit, is the highest-chosen Colt in the CHL Import Draft since Barrie selected eventual OHL Rookie of the Year Andrei Svechnikov with the top choice in 2017. The last OHL player to be chosen third was 2020 Red Tilson Trophy recipient and OHL Goaltender of the Year Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen of the Sudbury Wolves who was the OHL’s top pick in 2018.
The Soo Greyhounds followed at sixth overall, adding Russian defender Kirill Kudryavtsev with their highest pick since 2002. The 6-foot, 176Ib. rearguard spent the 2020-21 season with Loko Yaroslavl of Russia’s top junior circuit, posting seven points (2-5–7) in 20 games. Kudryavtsev isn’t NHL Draft eligible until 2022.
The Kitchener Rangers rounded out the OHL’s top ten selections with the addition of Slovakian winger Filip Mesar at ninth overall. The 17-year-old played in Slovakia’s pro circuit in 2020-21, posting 14 points (4-10–14) in 36 games with HK Poprad before adding four more points (2-2–4) in 15 playoff games. Mesar is a 2022 NHL Draft prospect.
Other picks of intrigue included the Niagara IceDogs going to Switzerland for the third time in the past four years to select defenceman Rodwin Dionicio with the 18th overall selection. He follows countrymen Giancarlo Chanton (2019) and Kyen Sopa (2018) as an IceDogs first round Import Draft selection. The Ottawa 67’s also went to familiar territory, going back to the country they found reigning Red Tilson Trophy recipient Marco Rossi in 2018 with the addition of forward Vinzenz Rohrer from Austria at 27th overall. The North Bay Battalion followed the first overall choice of Matvei Petrov last year with another Russian addition in 6-foot-1 defender Aleksander Lukin at 30th overall. The Kingston Frontenacs nabbed the lone goaltender and NHL prospect selected by OHL teams, taking recently signed Ottawa Senators 2020 third round pick Leevi Merilainen out of Finland at 48th overall. The 18-year-old Merilainen comes off a tremendous season with Karpat of Finland’s top junior league.
In the second round, the Guelph Storm charted new territory with the selection of Belgian-born defender Leo Hafenrichter, making him the first Belgian selected in the CHL Import Draft since the Val-d’Or Foreurs took Mitch Morgan 71st overall in 2008. The Niagara IceDogs picked up British talent Alex Graham with the 105th overall choice. He follows in the footsteps of fellow Brit and Sheffield Steelers forward Liam Kirk who recently signed an entry-level NHL contract with the Arizona Coyotes following a two-year stint with the Peterborough Petes from 2018-20.
OHL member teams selected a total of seven players in their first year of eligibility for the upcoming 2021 NHL Draft in addition to 19 eligible for next year’s 2022 NHL Draft.
Each CHL team is permitted to dress a maximum of two import players each season who are selected annually through the CHL Import Draft.
Draft Picks by Country: Russia – 6 (SOO, LDN, SAR, NB, WSR, GUE) Czech Republic – 5 (SAG, ER, OS, FLNT, SBY) Germany – 3 (PBO, OSH, SOO) Sweden – 3 (SAR, KIT, BAR) Finland – 2 (KGN, SBY) Slovakia – 2 (KIT, ER) Austria – 1 (OTT) Belarus – 1 (OSH) Belgium – 1 (GUE) Great Britain – 1 (NIAG) Switzerland – 1 (NIAG) Ukraine – 1 (BAR)
Draft Picks by Birthdate and NHL Status: 2004-born late and 2023 NHL Draft eligible – 2 2004-born early and 2022 NHL Draft eligible – 16 2003-born late and 2022 NHL Draft eligible – 1 2003-born early and 2021 NHL Draft eligible – 6 2002-born late and 2021 NHL Draft eligible – 1 2002-born early and 2020 NHL Drafted – 1
NHL Draft picks by OHL teams in the CHL Import Draft: 48. Leevi Merilainen (G) (Kingston – 3rd round to Ottawa in 2020) 2021 NHL Draft Prospects Ranked by NHL Central Scouting: 33. Jiri Tichacek (Erie – 104th ranked European skater) 118. Oskar Olausson (Barrie – 13th ranked European skater)
Last summer OHL teams selected a total of 23 players from 10 different countries led by seven players from Russia consisting of 12 forwards, nine defencemen and two goaltenders.
For full coverage of the 2021 CHL Import Draft, 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.