Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thoughts on Guelph from October 30 vs. Niagara


Tonight the Storm took on the Ice Dogs in St. Catharines. It was a relatively uneventful game that ended in a 3-1 victory for Niagara.

Here's some thoughts on the Storm...

Thomas McCollum (Drafted 2008 by Detroit/30th)

McCollum is widely considered one of the better goaltenders in the OHL. And there are a lot of reasons why. For one, he's a big goalie who takes up a lot of the net and loves to challenge shooters. He's also very athletic and moves well in his crease. Because he's a big body, he manages to get a piece of pretty much everything that comes his way. However, this can be a downside as well. McCollum still gives up a ton of rebounds. In the times I saw him play last year, this was the one problem I had with his game. And in tonight's game, rebound control was definitely a concern. He rarely was able to cover the puck and hold on to the initial shot and was giving up a lot of juicy rebounds in front of the net. One instance in particular on a very weak shot lead to an Ice Dog goal. But then again, maybe he was just fighting the puck a little bit tonight because I've seen him better. On the plus though, like I've stated, he's big, he's agile and he gets in front of a lot of rubber. He's just going to need a little bit of goaltending coaching to improve that rebound control.

Peter Holland (2009 Draft Eligible)

Holland has emerged as one of the top 1991's in the OHL. He skates very well and he moves the puck into the offensive zone with ease. Once he's in the offensive zone, he shows a lot of hockey sense. Made a few really nice passes tonight and was involved offensively despite failing to hit the scoresheet. Defensively he did make one mistake in coverage that directly lead to an Ice Dog goal. He was floating up near the blueline, while his man was free to bang home a rebound before he could get back to him. A mistake by a young player who did show some effort in getting back defensively the rest of the night. He reminds me a lot of Cody Hodgson and I think projects similarily. I'd like to see him again this season for sure.

Taylor Beck (2009 Draft Eligible)

Beck was fairly invisible tonight. I was looking forward to seing him for the first time this season and was hoping to see some of these improvements I'd heard about. But he really didn't do anything for me tonight. He did forecheck well and showed some speed in attacking the puck carrier. He also fought hard for a few loose pucks, in one instance creating a scoring chance by throwing it out front. He was instrumental in forcing a turnover which lead to the Storm goal. But other than some solid forechecking and some hustle, he didn't show me much individual offensive ability. Maybe an off game...

Luke Pither (Undrafted 1989)

Pither has always been a guy I've felt could have been drafted already. Despite being fairly invisible in the first period, Pither was definitely the Storm's most impressive forward the rest of the night. He looked especially great at the faceoff circle, where he won nearly all his draws. He got himself into scoring lanes and nearly buried a few scoring opportunities, ringing one off the post once. He's got great puck skills too, although after pulling off one sweet move with his head down, he got drilled by Niagara's Alex Friesen. If he continues to have a strong season, I'm pretty confident he'll at least get a look from someone, if not this year, than after his overage season.

Anthony Nigro (Drafted 2008 by St. Louis/155th)

Nigro was really solid tonight. He's by no means a flashy player, but he works hard out there every shift. Looked great on the penalty kill and is not afraid to sacrifice his body to block a shot. He showed good work along the boards and worked the cycle well with his linemmates, creating a few scoring chances, particularly on the powerplay. He's a great skater too, which will help him moving on to the next level in a checking line role. And I say checking line role because I'm not sure he's offensively talented enough to play a large role at the next level. But I do think he's going to have at least some role at the NHL level. Reminds me a lot of Manny Malhotra from his OHL days.

Corey Syvret (Drafted 2007 by Florida/181st)

Syvret is a guy who's never really impressed me. He makes a pretty good first pass and does a decent job with defensive zone coverage and one on one play. He made one poor play near the beginning of the game, where he turned the puck over after being pressured by a forechecker. For me though, he just lacks a lot of the natural physical tools to move on to the next level. He's a good OHL defenceman, but he's not a good enough puck mover to play that role in the NHL, nor is he big enough, or good enough defensively to play a stay at home role. He's a bit of a tweener. He's not nearly as good of an OHL defenseman as his brother Danny, and his brother Danny is entering his 4th professional season and still hasn't nailed down an NHL job. I'd be surprised if Florida signed him after this season.

That's it for tonight's game.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Video Flashback

Every now and then, I'll post what I'm going to call, "Video Flashbacks." Just interesting or exciting videos from past OHL action.

Here is a fight between Mike Richards and Corey Perry from a game a few years ago between the Rangers and Knights.
video

Thoughts on Saginaw from October 25 vs. Niagara


Last Saturday the Saginaw Spirit came to the Garden City to take on the Ice Dogs and were defeated 5-4. Was my first time seeing the Spirit this season. Here are my thoughts on some of the Spirit players...

Adam Comrie (Drafted 2008 by Florida/80th)

He was every bit as impressive as the times I saw him last year, maybe more so. He scored a goal with a huge blast from the point. He looks a lot more confident in using his shot this year. He's always had that big cannon from the point, but he looks more anxious to use it. He was unleashing it all night on the Ice Dogs. It's actually quite accurate too and he generated a few scoring chances off it later in the game. He also looks more confident in using his strong skating ability to rush the puck up the ice this year. He was joining the rush a lot more than I saw him doing last year. I think this is good because as mentioned his skating ability allows him to join the rush, but also get back on defense. Defensively he was solid and remains a very solid positional player. Ideally, because of his size, I'd still like to see him become more aggressive physically. But he's not timid out there either. His puck skills skill need a bit of work though. Comrie still looks kind of stiff when he's handling the puck, especially at the point on the powerplay. In terms of a player comparison. I think it's pretty tough to say. I think the one guy Comrie may remind me of, or at least has the chance to develop into, is Sami Salo. Good two way player, works the point with a hard shot, and is a big guy who can skate and lay the body.

Nick Crawford (Drafted 2008 by Buffalo/164th)

Crawford was another guy that impressed me a lot. Can't say I ever really noticed him much last season, but he was very noticeable on Saturday. As evidenced by his 3 assists, he moved the puck very well with a good first pass. He also has the skating and puck handling ability to rush the puck up the ice with confidence. He saw a ton of powerplay time and was definitely the Spirit's go to guy, playing the full 2 minutes in some instances. Defensively, he was alright. He took the body a few times, but also got caught a few times in making pinches. When he moves on to the next level, he'll definitely need to add some strength because he got outworked a few times infront of the net and in the corners. But as a puck moving defenseman, he definitely appears to have NHL upside.

Jack Combs (Undrafted Overager)

Combs has already impressed me. He attended the prospect and training camp of the Colorado Avalanche this year but failed to earn a contract, thus his return to Saginaw for his overage year. They must be happy to have him back though. He's a great offensive player, particularily a great playmaker. He can skate fairly well and really seems to have a head for the game. He was in on all four of Saginaw's goals Saturday evening. Defensively he isn't quite as involved, but I'm sure this is an area he'd like to improve upon as well. And physically, he seems to get involved and isn't afraid to go to the net, which is what you like to see with somewhat undersized players. I'd be really surprised if he doesn't get an NHL contract after this season, especially considering some of the names that did last offseason (cough, Justin Soryal, cough).

Jordan Skellet (Undrafted 89)

Skellet is another guy that I enjoy watching play. Was always impressed with him when the Otters came to St. Catharines last year. He's a bit of a pest out there and is always buzzing around the ice looking for either an opportunity to score or an opportunity to hit someone. He drives to the net with and without the puck. He's undersized, but he skates fairly well and is involved in many different aspects of the game. He's had a great start to his year with Saginaw after sitting out the start of the year, while he waited for a trade from Erie. If he keeps this up, and as long as NHL teams don't blacklist him for his trade demand, he should begin to get serious sniffs from NHL teams, at least as maybe a late round draft pick in the coming years.

Chris Chappell (Undrafted Overager)

Another guy who really impressed me. He had a hell of a game. Chappell is their captain and a guy who's looking like a serious breakout candidate. Career high before this game was 14 goals (last season). He's already got 9. He's a big monster, listed at 6'4, 212. But he can skate. Blew through the Ice Dogs defense for one of his two goals on the night. Had other scoring opportunities as well. Looks to be a big strong guy with good skill. Not sure how he managed to put up so few points before this season. Definitely a guy to watch.

Jordan Szwarz (2009 Eligible)

Szwarz never hit the scoresheet, but he impressed me at times. Was more so a factor at the beginning of the game, but you can tell he has skill. Looked like a very good skater who was elusive and could find the openings for scoring chances. Just missed wiring one top corner on one attempt in the slot. Other times he was invisible and not involved physically. So he appears to be an enigma, not unlike many draft eligible players in this league. But he's off to a good start this year and looks to be a guy who'll find himself somewhere on the draft radar.

Edward Pasquale (2009 Eligible)

Pasquale didn't start the game. The Spirit gave the start to rookie Joe Lepara, who lasted a few minutes into the 2nd period. But Pasquale is a solid goaltender. He's a very big presence in the net and makes himself even bigger when he comes out to challenge shooters. Only let in one goal, the game winner by Chris DeSousa. He really kept Saginaw in the game and allowed them to get back into it and tie it up. Wasn't incredibly flashy but, as long as he's stopping pucks, that's all that matters. It'll be an interesting race to see who emerges as the top draft eligible goalie. But it definitely looks like Pasquale is in the mix.

That's all I've got. Now if you're asking yourself, why are all these reports positive. Don't get used to it. It's just that the main Saginaw guys did look fairly solid. I could have wrote a very negative report about rookie goalie Joe Lepara, but I chose to spare him that. The one guy I really wish I could have seen was T.J. Brodie. He didn't play in the game, but has had a great start to his season.



Tuesday, October 28, 2008

OHL Announces Rosters for the 2008 ADT Canada Russia Challenge

Today, the OHL released the game rosters for the two ADT Canada/Russia Challenge games being played in Guelph and St. Catharines later this November.

The rosters break down as follows...

"Game 1 – Guelph, ON – November 20
Forwards (OHL Club):
Matt Duchene (Brampton Battalion)
Casey Cizikas (Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors)
Peter Holland (Guelph Storm)
Anthony Nigro (Guelph Storm)
Cody Hodgson (Brampton Battalion)
Chris Terry (Plymouth Whalers)
Nazem Kadri (London Knights)
Taylor Hall (Windsor Spitfires)
Greg Nemisz (Windsor Spitfires)
Dale Mitchell (Windsor Spitfires)
Logan Couture (Ottawa 67’s)
John Tavares (Oshawa Generals)

Defence (OHL Club):
Michael Del Zotto (Oshawa Generals)
Ryan Ellis (Windsor Spitfires)
Cameron Gaunce (Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors)
Mark Cundari (Windsor Spitfires)
Tyler Cuma (Ottawa 67’s)
T.J. Brodie (Saginaw Spirit)

Goaltenders (OHL Club):
Chris Carrozzi (Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors)
Tyler Beskorowany (Owen Sound Attack)


Game 2 – St. Catharines, ON – November 24
Forwards:
Matt Duchene (Brampton Battalion)
Jamie Arniel (Sarnia Sting)
Zack Kassian (Peterborough Petes)
Andrew Agozzino (Niagara IceDogs)
Cody Hodgson (Brampton Battalion)
Nazem Kadri (London Knights)
Bryan Cameron (Belleville Bulls)
Taylor Hall (Windsor Spitfires)
Greg Nemisz (Windsor Spitfires)
Logan Couture (Ottawa 67’s)
John Tavares (Oshawa Generals)
Eric O’Dell (Sudbury Wolves))

Defence (OHL Club):
Michael Del Zotto (Oshawa Generals)
P.K. Subban (Belleville Bulls)
Ryan Ellis (Windsor Spitfires)
Shawn Lalonde (Belleville Bulls)
Cameron Gaunce (Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors)
Mark Katic (Sarnia Sting)

Goaltenders (OHL Club):
Mike Murphy (Belleville Bulls)
Trevor Cann (Peterborough Petes)"

Credit to http://www.ontariohockeyleague.com/news/?id=5855 for the roster information.

Last year, the Russians actually sent over a competitive team, compared to previous years where the teams just weren't up to par. Hopefully this trend continues and we get a couple really solid hockey games. Both games will be aired nationally on Sportsnet. Once I can get a hold of the Russian roster for the games, I'll post that.

As for the roster itself. No really huge surprises. Remember that these games are for players who are eligible for the World Junior Championships, so Overagers aren't being picked. These rosters have been created with the aid of Hockey Canada in hopes that they can see some of these players against high level competition to determine whether they are serious contenders for a roster spot, or at least training camp invitation, for Team Canada.

The only really surprising omission for me came in the form of Ice Dogs defenceman Drew Schiestel. Schiestel is tied for 2nd in OHL defenceman scoring with 16 points. He's a very competent puck moving defenseman who's also one of the best skaters in the OHL. He also could have played infront of his home team's crowd in the St. Catharines game. The only players I could have seen Drew take the place of are Mark Cundari and T.J. Brodie. However, both Cundari and Brodie have had great starts to the season as well. Cundari signed an NHL contract with the St. Louis Blues following an invite to their training camp at the beginning of the season. The Windsor blueliner also leads the OHL at +14 and is tied for 2nd with 5 goals from the blueline. Brodie is another solid, two way defender and is the guy I would have liked to seen Schiestel replace. But I suppose Schiestel's inconsistencies on the defensive side of things scared away Team Canada, but the again, it didn't scare them away from inviting Ryan Ellis, Michael Del Zotto, Mark Katic, P.K. Subban, and Cameron Gaunce!

The only other semi surprising non invitee could be Stefan Della Rovere, a forward from Barrie. He's a banging/pest type player who's taken huge steps forward offensively so far this season, with his 12 goals tied for 2nd in the OHL thus far.

But this really is minor nitpicking. Both of these games, should make for great hockey and great entertainment.

Welcome

Welcome to all visitors,

My name is Brock Otten. I've been interested in hockey prospects for quite some time, and have always enjoyed watching the CHL, specifically the Ontario Hockey League. I got into writing for a leading hockey prospect website called Hockeysfuture for a little while and that was a great experience. I still post on the message boards there and enjoy spreading my knowledge of the game and its players. I intend to use this blog to update visitors about prospects playing in the OHL, as this is the league I'm able to follow and watch. I currently live in the Niagara area so a lot of the action I get to see comes from Niagara Ice Dog games and thus a lot of my observations are made from watching opposing teams play the Dogs. I'm by no means an expert, but simply someone who hopes to inform some people looking for information or scouting reports on their NHL teams prospects that they may not get to see as much as they'd like. I'll also try to update the blog with information on players eligible for the upcoming NHL drafts.

Anyway enough ranting about my intentions, I hope you enjoy and visit often!

Brock Otten