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?

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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

Smith and Veleno named Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Captains

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with Sherwin-Williams today announced the captains and alternate captains for the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game which takes place on Thursday January 25 hosted by the Guelph Storm.

Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs and Joe Veleno of the Drummondville Voltigeurs have both been named captains for the 23rd annual showcase of the CHL’s top-40 NHL Draft eligible players as selected by NHL teams.  Smith will lead Team Orr along with alternate captains Jared McIsaac of the Halifax Mooseheads and Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts.  Veleno will lead Team Cherry with alternates Evan Bouchard of the London Knights, and Ryan Merkley of the Storm.

Top Prospects Game

“It’s an honour to be selected to be the captain of Team Orr,” Smith said. “I’ve watched the Top Prospects Game on TV for years now and have watched friends and teammates participate. It was a goal of mine at the beginning of the season to make the roster and to be named captain makes it all that much more special. I’m looking forward to competing against and with many of my buddies from across the CHL as well as meeting some new players.”

A 17-year-old from Lloydminster, Alberta, Smith is playing in his second full season with the Chiefs after being selected by the club first overall in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.  The defenceman has already established career-highs in all offensive categories this season with six goals and 37 assists for 43 points in 44 games.  Internationally, Smith captained Team Canada to a silver medal finish at the 2016 Youth Winter Olympic games, and also served as captain for Team Canada Black at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge earning a silver medal and tournament all-star honours.  Most recently he was an alternate captain at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial helping Canada capture gold.

“Just to be there with all the other prospects means a lot to me and, to be captain, is something very special for myself,” Veleno said. “I think it’s a very special event for players like us who will probably end up getting drafted this summer. It’ll be fun, I’m super excited and proud to be named captain!”

An 18-year-old from Kirkland, Quebec, Veleno is playing in his third QMJHL season after becoming the league’s first player granted exceptional status in 2015 prior to being selected first overall by the Saint John Sea Dogs.  Before joining the Voltigeurs in December, Veleno served as captain for the defending QMJHL champion Sea Dogs where he tallied 114 points in 138 games.  The forward has 10 assists in his first eight games in Drummondville helping the Voltigeurs put together a seven-game win-streak.  Earlier this season Veleno competed for Team QMJHL in the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series, and in August served as Canada’s captain at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial winning gold.

Over the past 22 years, 13 Chiefs and eight Voltigeurs have competed in this event.  Smith is the first from his club to be named captain, while Veleno follows Sean Couturier who captained Team Cherry at the 2011 event in Toronto.

Team Orr leaders McIsaac and Svechnikov have also represented their countries on the international stage in recent months.  McIsaac, a 17-year-old defenceman from Truro, Nova Scotia, played in the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series and was a member of Canada’s gold medal winning Ivan Hlinka team.  Svechnikov, a 17-year-old from Barnaul, Russia, competed at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.  McIsaac is playing in his second QMJHL season after being the second overall pick in 2016 and currently has 26 points through 42 games.  This is Svechnikov’s rookie season in Barrie after being chosen first overall by the Colts in the 2017 CHL Import Draft.  In 21 games the forward has 16 goals and 10 assists for 26 points.

Team Cherry leaders Bouchard and Merkley are two of the OHL’s top offensive defencemen and are currently tied for most points at the position with 50.  Bouchard, an 18-year-old from Oakville, Ontario, was recently named Knights captain playing in his third season since being chosen in the first round of the 2015 OHL Priority Selection.  He competed in the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series and has a career-high 15 goals and 35 assists through 43 games.  Merkley, a 17-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario, was the first overall pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection and earned OHL Rookie of the Year honours last season.  He helped Canada win gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial and so far this season has scored 11 goals with 39 assists through 42 games.

Since 2010, Team Cherry captains have included Nolan Patrick, Jakob Chychrun, Anthony Beauvillier, Sam Reinhart, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Murray, Sean Couturier, and Taylor Hall, while recent Team Orr captains include Nico Hischier, Matthew Tkachuk, Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Seth Jones, Colton Sissons, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Tyler Seguin.

Click here to see full Team Cherry and Team Orr rosters for the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

The 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by title partner Sherwin-Williams, and CHL associate sponsors CIBC and Cooper Tires.  The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports. Tickets are still available through the box office at 1-519-837-9690 or visit Ticketmaster to purchase online. For more information please visit http://sherwin-williamstopprospects.ca.   Ask Sherwin-Williams™ For 150 years, Sherwin-Williams has been an industry leader in the development of technologically advanced paint and coatings. As North America’s largest specialty retailer of paint and painting supplies, Sherwin-Williams is dedicated to supporting both do-it-yourselfers and painting professionals with exceptional and exclusive products, resources to make confident colour selections and expert, personalized service at its more than 4,000 neighbourhood stores. For more information, visit sherwin-williams.ca. Join Sherwin-Williams on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tumblr.

OHL Writers Draft Eligible Player of the Month December

It seems like the easiest thing to do would be to take November’s write-up, change a couple of names, and use it for December.

But how much fun would that be?

Barrie Colts superstar and consensus top-two pick for the 2018 National Hockey League Draft Andrei Svechnikov returned from injury and appeared in 6 games scoring 4 goals and 3 assists before leaving to represent Russia at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo where he has 5 assists to date.

Adam Liska of the Kitchener Rangers posted 4 goals and 4 assists in just 6 games before he departed for Buffalo to represent his native Slovakia.

I wanted to specifically recognize those two players, but I also wanted to take the whole month into consideration without taking into consideration what was happening at the World Juniors.

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

There are a few players that deserve recognition. Akil Thomas of the Niagara IceDogs posted 4 goals and 8 assists in 10 games and is currently riding a 6-game point streak. Barrett Hayton has been huge in helping the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds stretch their winning streak to 23 games in the absence of Boris Katchouk. Hayton registered 5 goals and 8 assists in 11 games.

Like November there are also two dynamic defencemen in the picture: Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm and Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Merkley has 3 goals and 10 assists in 11 games and leads the Storm in scoring. He also had a 6-game point streak where he scored 3 goals and 8 assists.

Bouchard notched 5 goals and added 11 assists in 11 games and is tied for his team lead in points. Bouchard has an active point streak of 6 games heading into January with 3goals and 7 assists and now leads all draft eligible players in points as well as a large lead in shots on goal.

Like November however, I must go with one of the two defencemen who run their team’s offence. But like November, it’s not just about the offence and I have to once again go with Bouchard.

Bouchard finished December with a plus-7. He averaged over 30 minutes per game playing in all situations with some very clutch offence. He notched 3 game winning goals, two if them coming in overtime while setting up 2 game winning goals, one in overtime.

Bouchard was named the game’s first star once, second star once and third star twice in December.

Player of the Month

Evan Bouchard – London Knights (November)

Brady Hinz – Sarnia Sting (October)

Matthew Struthers – Owen Sound Attack (September)

OHL Draft Eligible Statistical Leaders: December

Welcome to 2018!

Now that we’ve entered the new year, let’s look at the leaders among the Ontario Hockey League players eligible for the 2018 National Hockey League Draft.

With Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts missing time first due to injury and then the World Junior Championships, it’s left a wide-open race for the leaderboard in several categories.

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

As was the case in December, the two players who benefited most by Svechnikov’s absence were a pair of highly touted defencemen, Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm and Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. It’s been a see-saw, back and forth battle between the pair with Bouchard barely coming out on top at the end of December with 46 points, two more than Merkley. The latter held a one-point advantage at the end of November.

The absence of Svechnikov has also left the goal scoring department in a tight race, that is until he returns to action. Aidan Dudas of the Owen Sound Attack leads with 16 goals in 36 games. That’s just three more goals than Nathan Dunkley of the Kingston Frontenacs who comes in tenth with 13 goals.

Not to be lost in that group is Svechnikov’s 14 goals in 16 games. And no one comes close to his .88 goals-per-game. Serron Noel of the Oshawa Generals follows up in goals-per-game with 15 goals in 31 games, or .48 goals per game.

Here is the list of leaders in a variety of categories. Only players eligible for the NHL Draft for the first time are listed. We take great care in compiling the stats, but as is always the case, refer to the OHL website for official stats.

Points Leaders
Player Team GP G A Pts
Evan Bouchard London Knights 36 13 33 46
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 36 10 34 44
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 35 10 28 38
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 37 10 28 38
Aiden Dudas Owen Sound Attack 35 16 21 37
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 36 15 19 34
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 31 13 20 33
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 36 10 23 33
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 36 14 18 32
Damien Giroux Saginaw Spirit 35 14 16 30
Goal Scoring Leaders
Player Team GP G GPG
Aiden Dudas Owen Sound Attack 36 16 0.44
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 36 15 0.42
Serron Noel Oshawa Generals 31 15 0.48
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 36 14 0.39
Damien Giroux Saginaw Spirit 35 14 0.40
Kody Clark Ottawa 67’s 32 14 0.44
Pavel Gogolev Peterborough Petes 34 14 0.41
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 16 14 0.88
Evan Bouchard London Knights 36 13 0.36
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 31 13 0.42
Assist Leaders
Player Team GP A APG
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 36 34 0.94
Evan Bouchard London Knights 36 33 0.92
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 35 28 0.80
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 37 28 0.76
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 36 23 0.64
Aiden Dudas Owen Sound Attack 35 21 0.60
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 31 20 0.65
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 36 19 0.53
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 36 18 0.50
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 24 17 0.71
Defencemen Point Leaders
Player Team GP G A Pts
Evan Bouchard London Knights 36 13 33 46
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 36 10 34 44
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 24 4 17 21
Caleb Everett Saginaw Spirit 26 4 12 16
Giovanni Vallati Kitchener Rangers 34 3 12 15
Declan Chisholm Peterborough Petes 29 2 12 14
Peter Stratis Ottawa 67’s 37 4 8 12
Kevin Bahl Ottawa 67’s 37 1 11 12
Plus/Minus Leaders
Player Team GP +/-
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 24 +19
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 31 +17
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 36 +15
Evan Bouchard London Knights 36 +14
Ryan Roth Soo Greyhounds 37 +13
William Sirman Windsor Spitfires 34 +12
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 16 +10
Tyler Tucker Barrie Colts 28 +10
Alec Regula London Knights 36 +9
Brett Jacklin Soo Greyhounds 28 +8
Penalty Minutes Leaders
Player Team GP PIM M/G
Kevin Bahl Ottawa 67’s 37 54 1.46
Tyler Tucker Barrie Colts 28 53 1.89
Daylon Groulx Owen Sound Attack 28 52 1.86
Curtis Douglas Windsor Spitfires 33 41 1.24
Max Grondin Saginaw Spirit 33 41 1.24
Dawson Baker Sudbury Wolves 36 40 1.11
Merrick Rippon Mississauga Steelheads 37 39 1.05
Faceoff Leaders – minimum 150 faceoffs
Player Team GP FOA FOW %
David Levin Sudbury Wolves 19 187 105 56.1
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 31 412 223 54.1
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 36 565 302 53.5
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 37 808 431 53.3
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 35 555 293 52.8
Aiden Dudas Owen Sound Attack 35 509 261 51.3
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 36 730 374 51.2
Mitchell Hoelscher Ottawa 67’s 36 213 108 50.7
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 36 598 301 50.3
Matthew Struthers Owen Sound Attack 32 404 202 50.0
Barret Kirwin Guelph Storm 36 526 262 49.8
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 Merkley Guelph Storm 12/8 12/15 3 3
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 McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 10/27 11/5 6 9
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 12/7 12/31 6 6
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 11/24 12/6 6 8
Longest Point Streak
Player Team From To Gms Pts
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 10/6 11/10 14 20
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
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 11/19 12/3 7 14
Shooting Percentage
Player Team GP G S %
Serron Noel Oshawa Generals 31 15 53 28.3
Brady Hinz Sarnia Sting 36 13 55 23.6
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 31 13 55 23.6
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 36 14 62 22.6
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 16 14 64 21.9
Shots On Goal Leaders
Player Team GP SOG
Evan Bouchard London Knights 36 155
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 35 129
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 36 125
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 36 113
Riley Damiani Kitchener Rangers 36 97
Goaltenders Leaders – Goals Against Average
Player Team GP Min GA Avg
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 9 461 24 3.12
Jordan Kooy London Knights 10 456 25 3.29
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 7 362 20 3.31
Jacob Ingham Mississauga Steelheads 25 1382 89 3.86
x x
Goaltending Leaders – Save Percentage
Player Team GP SH  SVS SV%
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 9 225 201 0.893
Jordan Kooy London Knights 10 229 204 0.891
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 7 181 161 0.890
Mario Peccia Oshawa Generals 7 183 160 0.874
Marshall Frappier Sudbury Wolves 10 302 264 0.874
Goaltending Leaders – Wins
Player Team GP W L OL
Jacob Ingham Mississauga Steelheads 25 7 14 1
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 9 5 1 1
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 7 5 1 1
Cameron Lamour Saginaw Spirit 7 3 2 0
Mario Peccia Oshawa Generals 7 2 4 0
Goaltending Leaders – Shutouts
Player Team GP SO
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 9 1
Mario Peccia Oshawa Generals 7 1

Showdown 2018: Merkley Versus Bouchard

In 2017 it was Nicolas Hague (Mississauga Steelheads) versus Conor Timmins (Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds). In 2016 it was Olli Juolevi (London Knights) versus Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor Spitfires) versus Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia Sting).

But when the debate arises between Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm or Evan Bouchard of the London Knights as to who should be the first defenceman selected from the Ontario Hockey League at the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft, I flash back to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

During that 2010-2011 OHL season, it was  long debated among draft geeks on whether it should be Dougie Hamilton (Niagara Ice Dogs) or Ryan Murphy (Kitchener Rangers) that should be selected first. In a lot of ways, there are similarities between the Hamilton – Murphy debate and the Merkley – Bouchard debate.

Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Evan Bouchard of the London Knights and Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

At the time of his draft, Murphy was 5’11” and 170 pounds, Merkley is 5’11” and 163 pounds. Hamilton was drafted at 6’5” and 193 pounds while Bouchard, not as tall as Hamilton, measures in at 6’3” and 191 pounds.

Murphy was labeled an elite skater with a howitzer of a shot who used his skating advantage to succeed offensively. He was a dominant force on the powerplay through his OHL time. There were questions about his defensive game, although sometimes unwarranted. And of course, the size questions and whether the smaller statured defender could succeed at the NHL level never ended. But it was a pair of severe concussions in the OHL that may just affected Murphy’s development.

Six years later, some of the same things are now being repeated. Merkley is also an elite skater who uses it to his advantage offensively. As with Murphy, there are some significant questions being asked about his defensive game. And while they are identical in size, to date Merkley has avoided severe injury.

Let’s compare the pairs’ offensive output in their first two OHL seasons (the second season being their draft year). In Merkley’s case, it’s been less than half a season so we’ll look at his current stats and the pace he is on for the season.

SEASON GP G A PTS
Ryan Murphy 2009-2010 62 6 33 39
Ryan Merkley 2016-2017 62 12 43 55
Ryan Murphy 2010-2011* 63 26 53 79
Ryan Merkley 2017-2018* 33 10 32 42
On pace for 68 21 66 87

 

Merkley clearly out-produced Murphy during their respective rookie seasons. However, their draft years are virtually identical in terms of offensive output when translating Merkley’s current pact over a 68-game schedule.

Hamilton was considered one of a growing breed of big defencemen with excellent mobility with the ability to translate from defence to offence in many ways. While there is a minimal size difference between Hamilton and Bouchard, the same is being attributed to Bouchard as was to Hamilton.

In 2011, Hamilton was considered the better all-around player. The same is being said about Bouchard in the current debate. Hamilton was a force on the Ice Dogs powerplay and his offensive game underrated compared to Murphy’s. Ditto for Bouchard. If there is one key difference between Bouchard and Hamilton, it’s that Bouchard is more willing to use his size. Of course, that is my own opinion.

When comparing Hamilton’s stats to Bouchard’s stats, it must be noted that because of a late birthdate, Bouchard started his OHL career as a 15-year-old. Therefore, Bouchard’s draft year is his third season while Hamilton was drafted in his second season (* denotes draft year). Ultimately, you are comparing Bouchard’s draft year to Hamilton’s draft year plus one.

SEASON GP G A PTS
Dougie Hamilton 2009-2010 64 3 13 16
Evan Bouchard 2015-2016 43 2 15 17
Dougie Hamilton 2010-2011* 67 12 46 58
Evan Bouchard 2016-2017 68 11 33 44
Dougie Hamilton 2011-2012 50 17 55 77
Evan Bouchard 2017-2018* 34 12 30 42
On pace for 68 24 60 84

 

Hamilton’s and Bouchard’s rookie seasons are about as identical as they come, although Hamilton was older and played in 19 more games. But if you jump to their respective draft years and the pace Bouchard is currently on, then it becomes lopsided in Bouchard’s favor.

The Boston Bruins decided that the size and the better all-around player was the best choice and selected Hamilton with the ninth overall pick. Murphy was selected three picks later by the Carolina Hurricanes.

The question is: will NHL teams see it the same way in 2018?

Bouchard was not getting the attention he truly deserved with many of the independent, public scouting services having him ranked in the second-round while Merkley was ranked in the first. But that’s changing as of late. It is after all, a what have you done for me lately business.

I do wonder though, what were they watching for the past three seasons?

Ryan Merkley – Guelph Storm – Player Profile

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 163 pounds

Date of birth: August 14, 2000

Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario

Position: Defence

Shoots: Right

OHL Draft: First overall pick, 2016 Priority Selection

Dynamic.

In one word, that is Guelph Storm defenceman Ryan Merkley. When NHL Central Scouting released its preseason players to watch list, and its updated list in November, Merkley and the London Knights’ Evan Bouchard were the only two defenders you’d find rated as an A Prospect – typically a first-round pick.

Their styles are on the opposite end of the spectrum, and yet there are some similarities between the pair. When it comes down to decision time, it may just boil down to projection when choosing between the two. You can find my thoughts on Bouchard here.

Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Merkley played his Minor Midget hockey for the Toronto Junior Canadiens during the 2015-2016 season. He notched 7 goals and 37 assists in 33 games as the leader for the Canadiens. He would add one goal and three assists in 6 games for the Canadiens at the OHL Cup.

Merkley would also represent Team GTHL at the OHL Gold Cup helping them capture gold. In 5 games, he scored once and added seven assists. He was named the GTHL player of the year and the Storm would make him the first overall pick at the 2016 Priority Draft.

Merkley burst onto the OHL scene a season ago and he didn’t disappoint. In 62 games, he scored 12 goals and 43 assists. He would be named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team, finished first among rookies in assists (43) and points (55) and captured the Emms Family Award as Rookie of the Year.

Merkley would also represent Canada at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 with Canada Red. He would score twice for Canada in five games.

This season began with Merkley representing Canada once more, this time capturing gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial. In the five games the Canadians played, Merkley finished up with six assists and doing his part in helping Canada win gold.

This OHL season, Merkley has picked up right where he left off. At the time of writing this, Merkley sits tied for second among all OHL defenders in scoring with 8 goals and 28 assists in 29 games, behind only Sean Durzi of the Owen Sound Attack (14 goals, 26 assists) and tied with Bouchard (10 goals, 26 assists).

So where do we stand with Merkley?

To begin with, Merkley is a phenomenal skater with excellent speed. He’s strong on his edges with an excellent ability to change direction in a split second. He can beat most players north-south and east-west. He’s also an excellent passer who excels at making quick, accurate short passes or long stretch passes out of his zone.

This makes Merkley very good at clearing the d-zone, but it is not always picture perfect. He’s sometimes caught forcing the play, one that is not always there. He is still prone to turning over the puck, but there have been improvements in that area. A season ago, you could attribute it to playing on the Western Conference’s last place team and trying to do it all himself. He’s a very smart hockey player so he should be able to get that out of his game.

There will always be the size question when it comes to Merkley. The Storm list him at a generous 5’11” and 163 pounds. Adding strength and mass will be critical for him. While his superb skating allows him some good defensive coverage, he can be outmuscled. When he does turn over the puck, the lack of strength causes  him to sometimes take needless and foolish penalties. Yet, his defensive positioning is solid, and he has an active stick which he uses extremely well. It’s fair to have concerns about his minus-14 on a squad that is minus-2 overall.

Offensively, Merkley’s talents are bordering on elite. As mentioned, he’s an excellent passer. His skating allows him to walk the line with ease and create and find lanes to setup teammates. He possesses an excellent shot from the point that he can get off quickly, accurately and with purpose. It can only get heavier as he adds strength. And he’s perfected the slap-pass.

Merkley is an elite powerplay quarterback. He’s an intelligent player who is able to read the play easily and react quickly. With the extra space, he’s able to find the open man. His skating allows him to get into the open space to receive a pass and use his shot. Just how effective is he on the powerplay?  Well, two of his eight goals have come with the extra man while twenty of his twenty-eight assists have been on the man advantage.

I don’t want to make it sound as though all Merkley is, is a powerplay specialist. He has the tools and mindset to be much more than that. The question NHL teams will be asking themselves is “how likely is it that he achieves that, and are there other defencemen more likely to achieve their potential?”

This is the problem with the inexact science known as drafting. Trying to project potential. Time is the only real answer to the question general managers will be asking their scouts in draft meetings come June.

At least its fun trying.

Ryan Merkley

Eliteprospects.com hockey stat of Ryan Merkley

OHL Writers Draft Eligible Player of the Month: November

Not an easy month to pick just one player as there is a trio of players who you could pick and not be wrong with your choice.

It all came down to Nathan Dunkley of the Kingston Frontenacs, Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm and Evan Bouchard of the London Knights.

Dunkley led the way with 8 goals and 11 assists in 12 games for the Frontenacs. Bouchard followed with 5 goals and 13 assists in 10 games and Merkley with 3 goals and 13 assists in 10 games. As good a month as Dunkley had in November however, I must go with one of the defencemen.

The difference came down to the plus/minus for the pair of blueliners. Bouchard finished the month with a plus-11 while Merkley finished with a minus-1, thus Bouchard gets the nod for draft eligible player of the month.

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

Bouchard had points in 8 of his 10 games in November with 6 of those games in which he recorded a point being multi-point games. He finished with a negative plus/minus just twice in November. He was named a games’ first star once and third star twice. The first star honours came in a head-to-head matchup with Merkley in which Bouchard recorded a goal and two assists.

Bouchard now sits second among all draft eligible players in points and assists, coincidently right behind Merkley.

The OHL named Bouchard defenceman of the month for November while Jenkins was named Rookie of the Month.

Previous Player of the Month

Brady Hinz – Sarnia Sting (October)

Matthew Struthers – Owen Sound Attack (September)

CHL Announces Weekly Award Winners

Top clubs produce top stars of the week including Broncos’ Heponiemi and Sting’s Fazio 

 

Broncos’ Aleksi Heponiemi named CHL Player of the Week 

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that Florida Panthers prospect Aleksi Heponiemi of the Swift Current Broncos is the CHL Player of the Week for the week ending November 12 after recording nine points in two games including two goals and seven assists. 

Heponiemi produced a pair of multi-point performances last week for the Broncos who picked up two wins to keep pace in the competitive WHL East Division where they rank second with a 13-3-1-0 record.  On Friday night he collected his third five-point effort of the season with a goal and four assists as part of a 6-4 road win against the Saskatoon Blades, then scored once with three assists on Saturday earning third star honours in a 6-0 win against the Lethbridge Hurricanes. 

An 18-year-old from Tampere, Finland, Heponiemi is playing in his second WHL season after being selected by the Broncos tenth overall in the 2016 CHL Import Draft.  The second round pick by the Panthers in the 2017 NHL Draft is now tied atop the WHL’s scoring race with teammate Tyler Steenbergen with 46 points including 14 goals and a league-high 32 assists in 15 games. 

Also considered for the award this week were a pair of defencemen including Nicolas Beaudin of the Drummondville Voltigeurs with two goals and four assists for six points in two games, and 2018 NHL Draft prospect Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm with one goal and five assists for six points in two games. 

2017-18 CHL Players of the Week:

Nov. 6 – Nov. 12: Aleksi Heponiemi (Swift Current Broncos)
Oct. 30 – Nov. 5: Albert Michnac (Mississauga Steelheads)
Oct. 23 – Oct. 29: Aaron Luchuk (Windsor Spitfires)
Oct. 16 – Oct. 22: Drake Batherson (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles)
Oct. 9 – Oct. 15: Tyler Soy (Victoria Royals)
Oct. 2 – Oct. 8: Kale Clague (Brandon Wheat Kings)
Sept. 25 – Oct. 1: Tyler Steenbergen (Swift Current Broncos)
Sept. 21 – Sept. 24: Kole Lind (Kelowna Rockets)

Sting’s Justin Fazio named Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week 

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that Justin Fazio of the Sarnia Sting is the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week for the week ending November 12 after posting a 1-0-1-0 record including one shutout with a goals-against-average of 1.98 and save percentage of .926. 

Fazio stopped 72 shots last week helping the Sting earn three of a possible four points against tough OHL Western Conference competition to maintain first place in the league’s overall standings with a 16-3-1-0 record.  On Friday night Fazio turned aside 33 shots despite a 4-3 overtime loss to the second place Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, then rebounded Sunday to earn his first shutout of the season with 39 saves as third star of a 7-0 win against the Owen Sound Attack.

A 20-year-old from Sarnia, Ont., Fazio is playing in his fifth career season with his hometown Sting after being chosen by the club in the fourth round of the 2013 OHL Priority Selection.  The overage netminder became the club’s all-time wins leader earlier this season and now has 67 in his tenure powered by a league-high 12 victories so far in 2017-18.  In 15 appearance this season he carries a goals-against-average of 2.64 and save percentage of .929.   

Also considered for the award this week was Mark Grametbauer of the Moncton Wildcats who went 2-0-0-0 with 60 saves for a goals-against-average of 1.50 and save percentage of .952, and Brody Willms of the Moose Jaw Warriors who posted a 2-0-0-0 record making 54 saves for a goals-against-average of 1.50 and save percentage of .947. 

2017-18 Vaughn CHL Goaltenders of the Week:

Nov. 6 – Nov. 12: Justin Fazio (Sarnia Sting)
Oct. 30 – Nov. 5: Cole Kehler (Portland Winterhawks)
Oct. 23 – Oct. 29: Dustin Wolf (Everett Silvertips)
Oct. 16 – Oct. 22: Samuel Harvey (Rouyn-Noranada Huskies)
Oct. 9 – Oct. 15: Logan Flodell (Swift Current Broncos)
Oct. 2 – Oct. 8: Cole Kehler (Portland Winterhawks)
Sept. 25 – Oct. 1: Dereck Baribeau (Quebec Remparts)
Sept. 21 – Sept. 24: Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires)