Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Top 10 - Jumping Ship to the OHL - Fourth Edition

 This one has been a little overdue, but I've been busy with the 30 Teams in 30 Days feature. This entry has become a tradition at the blog, where we look at some of the players leaving their current teams or commitments to play in the Ontario Hockey League. Some are certain, others are not.

Just a very quick disclaimer. While some research has been done for this article, some of the players listed here are not DEFINITELY coming to the OHL. And in some cases, some of them haven't even been mentioned in rumours as to be considering the OHL. The purpose of this article is to inform OHL fans of possible players that could be joining their line up in the future. It's all here say, and is in no way (for the most part) substantiated.

Let's look at the list.

10. Justin Bailey - Kitchener Rangers
A bit of a stretch for this article, considering he saw only a couple games in the USHL last year, but Bailey is a great recruit for the league. It was announced recently that Bailey would be joining the Rangers this year and not suiting up for the Indiana Ice of the USHL. Bailey will be playing for the U.S. at the upcoming Ivan Hlinka tournament, where we'll likely find out a lot about the type of impact he can make next year. He's got great size and is apparently very skilled. The Rangers could have a bit of an opening on their 2nd line for the coming year, perhaps Bailey will be the one who seizes the opportunity and grabs that spot.

9. Blake Clarke - Brampton Battalion
The Battalion's 1st round pick at this year's priority draft, has committed to playing for Brampton next year. He spent some time in the USHL last year, seeing action in 13 games for Fargo. Clarke will be one of the youngest players in the OHL next year, with a late December birth date. Through the first three months of action, he'll be 15 years old. So I'm not too sure how much we can expect him to contribute. But Sean Lafortune and the believed him to be a top 10 talent for the draft, and a budding power forward with a lethal shot. Lots of potential for the future.

8. Adam Clendening - London Knights
This is definitely a long shot, but it's still worth mentioning. The talented offensive defenseman signed with Chicago this offseason, leaving Boston University after his sophomore year. The intention is obviously to have him play for Rockford of the AHL. But...if he ends up getting overmatched there, the Hawks would still have the option of sending Clendening to the OHL for his overage season. It wouldn't be the first time something like that has happened. If he's in the OHL, Clendening would obviously end up being one of the league's premier defenseman. As I said, it's an extreme long shot, but the possibility, however tiny it is, is still there.

UPDATE - I totally spaced on the whole "Mike Van Ryn" rule. Because Clendening did not play in the OHL (or the CHL) as a 19 year old, he is ineligible to play in the OHL as an overager. The same thing kept Vinny Saponari from playing for Kitchener in 2010. So it'll be Rockford, the ECHL, or the Chicago Blackhawks for Clendening this year. Thanks to a reader for pointing out the brain fart.

7. Devin Shore - Barrie Colts
While the possibility of Shore heading to Barrie decreases with each passing day, it does still remain. Shore seems committed to playing for Maine next year, and the Stars (and the pro NCAA Joe Nieuwendyk) seem content with that decision. But there is absolutely no denying that the Colts are desperate to add the Stars 2nd round pick to their line-up and I'm sure they'll be pushing the envelope right up until the start of the season. Shore is a well rounded offensive winger who has a very high hockey sense. In Barrie, he'd help to ease the losses of Tanner Pearson, Ivan Telegin, and possibly Mark Scheifele. It does seem like an extreme long shot at this point though.

6. Riley Barber - Windsor Spitfires
Barber has long been attached to the Spits, but each year he spurns Windsor and plays elsewhere. The Capitals draft pick in 2012 appears ready to head to Miami University next year and again spurn the Spits. But, as we all know by now, things can change when it comes to commitments. If Barber does decide to play for Windsor, he'd likely step right into the team's top 6 and be an impact player. His aggressive and high energy style would fit right in.

5. Alex Broadhurst - London Knights
Even though he hasn't officially signed with London yet, all signs are pointing to the Hawks draft pick playing for the Knights next year. London took Broadhurst in the 2nd round this year, which caught a lot of people off guard. But, he's a terrific offensive talent, as his production in the USHL indicates. He finished 3rd in USHL scoring and gained a lot of notoriety for his 3 shorthanded goal game this year (LINK). I'm sure the Knights are expecting him to jump right on to one of their top two lines, and play in all situations.

4. Connor Carrick - Plymouth Whalers
After acquiring Carrick's rights from Guelph, the Whalers quickly signed the U.S. Under 18 team standout. Carrick, a draft pick of Washington this year, is a solid two-way defenseman who I thought was great at the Under 18's this year. Plymouth is losing Austin Levi, Beau Schmitz, and Dario Trutmann on the blueline, so they badly needed to inject some talent into their backend. Carrick should be able to play in all situations, including taking Schmitz's spot as the quarterback of the first powerplay unit. I think he'll have a very solid year and I'm excited to see him play.

3. Tyler Biggs - Oshawa Generals
Will he or won't he? We were having this same discussion at this point last year, but Biggs (the Leafs first round pick) ended up going to Miami University where he had a mediocre freshman campaign. The Leafs then signed Biggs this offseason, pouring gasoline back on the Biggs to Oshawa fire. It appears that the Leafs' first choice is for Biggs to play for the Marlies in the AHL. But a lot of people seem to think that he's not ready offensively for that next step. Sending him to Oshawa, where he can get first line minutes and all the powerplay time he can handle, could be a smart move to increase his confidence with the puck. The Generals sure could use this big, power forward in their top 6.

2. Patrick Sieloff - Windsor Spitfires
Adding Sieloff this offseason was an absolutely massive move by the Spits. Last year, their inexperienced defense really let them down. They were missing that true shutdown type. Sieloff is that guy. The Flames 2nd rounder is a physical beast who thrives in his own end. I thought he was fantastic at this year's Under 18's and I think he'll make a terrific partner for Nick Ebert. That could be huge for the Spits in the sense that Sieloff could help to stabilize Ebert and get him back on track.

1. Ryan Hartman - Plymouth Whalers
The Whalers did great this offseason to land Carrick and Hartman as recruits. Hartman is a physical, power winger who is also offensively talented. He's a late birth date 1994, so he shouldn't need much time to adjust. Hartman is currently projected as a first round pick in 2013, so there's no doubt that he'll be expected to perform in the Whalers' top 6 forwards. Based on what I saw of him at this year's Under 18's, I definitely think he can handle it. This guy was born to play for Vellucci.

Honorable Mention

Jacob Trouba - Kitchener Rangers
It'd be crazy to write this article and not mention Trouba. Of course, everything points to Trouba going to Michigan and being a Wolverine for 2012/2013. There's also the ugly lawsuit going on between Kitchener and a Michigan newspaper for a report about a money offer. Needless to say, if Trouba HAD decided to join Kitchener, he'd immediately become one of the league's top defenseman and a potential two way beast. Alas, it doesn't appear meant to be.

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