Wednesday, September 21, 2016

2016/17 Season Preview: Award Predictions

The 2016/17 season kicks off tonight. This award segment concludes my season preview. Let the games begin!

Red Tilson Trophy (MVP) - Logan Brown  
At this point, I like Brown as the front runner for this one. He was absolutely dominant in the 2nd half last year and he'll look to continue that trend into this year. The Spitfires should be right up near the top of the Conference as they get ready to host the Memorial Cup. I look for Brown to physically dominate the competition and to be the offensive leader of the Spitfires. Two other guys who I think have an excellent shot also come from the West; Adam Mascherin and Blake Speers. I expect both to be among the top 10 of league scorers and they'll be on teams that will compete for the Western Conference crown. From the East, I look at Michael McLeod as a serious contender. He's going to see all the ice time he can handle in Mississauga and if they succeed this year, it will be because of his ability to control both ends of the ice. Of course, if Mitch Marner, Dylan Strome, and Travis Konecny return to the league, all three will also be in the conversation.

OHL Goaltender of the Year - Michael McNiven
A bit of a bold prediction. But I really like the way this year's Owen Sound team is constructed and McNiven is going to play a TON for Owen Sound. He was a lot better last year than his stats would indicate and I look for him to put it all together (in terms of consistency) this year. Another obvious candidate is Tyler Parsons in London. Such a phenomenal goaltender and the Knights will be up near the top of the Conference yet again. Jeremy Helvig in Kingston is another name I'll throw out there. I expect Kingston to be better than people are suggesting they will and Helvig will be a big reason for that. His breakout last year was no fluke. Matt Mancina and Michael Dipietro are the two other names I'll throw out there as serious preseason contenders.

Max Kaminski Trophy (Top defender) - Jakob Chychrun
Chychrun looked quite good this preseason and I think that he's going to play this season with a serious chip on his shoulder after falling a bit at the NHL draft. He can impact the game at both ends of the ice and I see a huge jump coming for his offensive production this year. Mitchell Vande Sompel is another guy that I expect to have a huge year. He'll be a leader in Oshawa and is fully healthy after last year's quiet year. Of course, the reigning winner will be returning to the league in Mikhail Sergachev, so you can't count him out. He'll be right up there. Ditto for Olli Juolevi in London, assuming he returns. A couple bold mentions would be overagers Thomas Schemitsch and Stephen Desrocher who could have monster offensive seasons this year. Lastly, Cam Dineen in North Bay will have a chance to replicate his offensive success of last year, but with a little less fire power up front, I'm not sure he'll be quite as successful offensively.

Emms Family Award (ROY) - Cedric Schiemenz 
Definitely a bold prediction, but I was so incredibly impressed with him this preseason. Kitchener will have a very solid lineup and he should be a point per game player so long as he plays as well as he did in the preseason. Fellow preseason top performer Linus Nyman should also be up there in rookie scoring and needs to be considered as a serious candidate as well. Guelph has two players I expect to receive consideration, forward Nate Schnarr and defender (and first overall pick) Ryan Merkley. Another 16 year old defender to keep an eye on is Owen Lalonde in Sudbury, who had a very good preseason. Barrie defender Tom Hedberg and Sarnia forward Adam Ruzicka could be two other names to keep an eye on. And a dark horse? What about Jacob McGrath in Sudbury? He's going to get a chance to be the starter on a team hoping to get back to the playoffs.

Leo Lalande Trophy (OA of the Year) - Matt Mancina
Despite a lack of scoring depth, I think you have to consider the Steelheads the front runners for the Eastern Conference and Matt Mancina will be the workhorse in net for them. He'll have a solid defense in front of him and should have a very good year. I look at three defenders being serious contenders as well; Thomas Schemitsch, Stephen Desrocher, and Dylan Di Perna. I expect all three guys to have big offensive seasons on good teams. London's JJ Piccinich should be in for a big offensive season. A real wild card that I'll throw out there is Bobby MacIntyre in Sault Ste. Marie. He has fit in extremely well in that lineup and they'll be able to score a ton of goals this year. He could be an 80+ point player quite easily.

Matt Leyden Trophy (Coach of the Year) - Rocky Thompson
As mentioned in my standings prediction, I expect Windsor to be the cream of the crop this year. And that makes Thompson the front runner for the Matt Leyden IMO. How about first year coach Jay McKee in Kitchener? The Rangers should be a great team this year and he could be a serious candidate. Ditto for Drew Bannister in SSM. An under the radar candidate could be John Gruden in Hamilton. I expect the Bulldogs to be quite good this year and if he can vault them to a division title, he'd deserve a very long look for this honor.

Eddie Powers Trophy (Scoring Champ) - Logan Brown
A tough one to predict this year, especially given the uncertainty surrounding Strome and Marner. So I'm sticking with Brown, given that he's also my Red Tilson prediction. The Spits will be a juggernaut offensively and I really look for Brown to continue his dominance and be a 110+ point player. London's Matthew Tkachuk will still have a very strong supporting cast and should be up near the top of scoring yet again. Kitchener's Adam Mascherin is also an obvious candidate. Alex Debrincat, Blake Speers, Jeremy Bracco are all serious candidates too.

Goal Scoring Leader - Adam Mascherin
Anyone who has seen Mascherin play knows that he has one of the league's best shots and releases. Using that innate ability, I think he's a 50 goal scorer this year. You just know that Alex Debrincat and Matt Tkachuk will also be up near the leader board here too. Ditto for Sault Ste. Marie's Zach Senyshyn, although I am worried about him starting slow due to contracting mono this summer. Another name I'll throw out there is London's JJ Piccinich. He's going to see a ton of ice time in key offensive situations and he could be a 50 goal man.

1st All Star Team: 
C: Logan Brown
LW: Adam Mascherin
RW: Alex Debrincat
D: Jakob Chychrun
D: Mikhail Sergachev
G: Michael McNiven
Coach: Rocky Thompson

2nd All Star Team: 
C: Blake Speers
LW: Matthew Tkachuk
RW: JJ Piccinich
D: Mitchel Vande Sompel
D: Olli Juolevi
G: Tyler Parsons
Coach: John Gruden

3rd All Star Team:
C: Mike McLeod
LW: Bobby MacIntyre
RW: Jeremy Bracco
D: Thomas Schemitsch
D: Stephen Desrocher
G: Matthew Mancina
Coach: Jay McKee

All Rookie Team:
C: Cedric Schiemenz
LW: Alex Formenton
RW: Linus Nyman
D: Ryan Merkley
D: Tom Hedberg
G: Jacob McGrath

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2016/17 Season Preview: Eastern Conference

Part two of my season preview for the 2016/17 season examines the Eastern Conference. As mentioned in the West preview, I'm just not enamored with what the East has to offer at this current time. Even the top teams have some serious holes and just don't have the same quality of depth (especially offensively) that the teams in the West do this year. Someone has to win it though. And that someone will no doubt improve their roster through trade at some point this year. One of these teams will have players step up that we don't expect. In other words, I'm not sure I'm going to want to look back at this prediction at the end of the year. I really don't know what to expect. But here's my best guess.

1. Mississauga Steelheads (Central Division Champions)
While I'm most certainly not crazy about their forward depth (which I think was shown in the preseason), I still think that they need to be considered the front runners right now because of their defense, powerplay, and veteran goaltending presence. With Matt Mancina in net and one of the deepest bluelines in the entire OHL, Mississauga shouldn't have much trouble preventing goals. Once Vili Saarijarvi returns from injury, Mississauga should look to trade from that surplus in order to acquire another forward. Quite frankly, you've got 4 players that I would consider legitimate top 6 OHL players (Mike McLeod, Ryan McLeod, Nathan Bastian, and Owen Tippett). And of those four, two are sophomores who are still improving. Being the go to offensive players for a team with Championship aspirations is a lot to ask of them. To start the season, this team will need Mike McLeod to put them on his back until re-reinforcements arrive.

2. Hamilton Bulldogs (East Division Champions)
I don't get the lack of love this team is receiving right now as a legitimate Eastern Conference contender. Sure, they lack star power. But this team played exceptionally well to close out last season and they're returning all their core pieces. They've got a veteran laden forward group which is also deep. The likes of Matt Luff, Niki Petti, Michael Cramarossa, and Trent Fox are legit talents who should be ready to truly breakout as offensive stars. Perhaps the most underrated part of this team is their defense. All the injuries they incurred last year likely actually helped them heading into this season because their young players got a ton of experience. And between Kaden Fulcher or Connor Hicks, this team should get some decent goaltending too. I definitely believe in the Bulldogs this year.

3. Peterborough Petes
The Petes look to be a solid, but unspectacular team this season. But in the East, that should be good enough to put them in the hunt for a top spot in the Conference. Their defense is anchored by two overagers, Brandon Prophet and Kyle Jenkins, along with defensive stalwart Matt Spencer. They've got a veteran laden forward group that has very strong depth down the middle (Lorentz, Ang, Tammela). I guess the real question is, how well will Dylan Wells play? I was a bit shocked when they dealt Matt Mancina in the offseason. I expected Wells and Mancina to share the load until the Petes were sure Wells could handle being the starter on a contending team. I definitely have faith in Wells as a player and prospect, but it's a risky move considering how lost he looked at times last year. If the Petes do get off to a quick start, I'd definitely look for them to add more veterans through trade.

4. Kingston Frontenacs
I've been seeing the Fronts down near the bottom of the conference in a lot of preseason predictions...and I don't get it. Remember, this is a league driven by stars and front line players. If you've got a handful of top notch players, you can always fill out the rest of your lineup with character players. I expect Lawson Crouse to back. Throw in Warren Foegele, Stephen Desrocher, and Jeremy Helvig, and you have a strong veteran core who make a consistent impact. Then you've also got Import Linus Nyman who looked unstoppable in the preseason. In addition to that, I really like their group of 99's led by Jacob Paquette, Jason Robertson, and Jakob Brahaney. Bottom line, I expect their stars to do their thing, and their young supporting cast to be up for the challenge. And Paul McFarland is one of the best coaches in the league IMO, so that also helps.

5. Oshawa Generals
Kind of similar to the Frontenacs IMO. Not completely enamored with their depth, especially at forward. But they'll be carried by some veteran forwards (Anthony Cirelli, Joe Manchurek, Kenny Huether, Domenic Commisso), and a very strong defense led by Mitchell Vande Sompel, (who I expect to be a contender for the Max Kaminski this year). The big question for me is in net. I'm not at all convinced that Jeremy Brodeur is a front line starter in the OHL. That's why the acquisition of Kyle Keyser was smart, because I do have faith in his ability to one day transform himself into an OHL starter. At the very least, with those two and Logan Gauthier, (and I suppose Nathan Torchia too), they've got depth. Another key for the Generals will be the improvements made by their 99's, like Jack Studnicka, Robbie Burt, Kyle MacLean, and Sullivan Sparkes.

6. North Bay Battalion
The Battalion franchise hasn't missed the playoffs since 2002. That's a pretty damn impressive streak. And I don't expect it to come to an end this year either. North Bay isn't the most flashy team, but they've got some pretty good depth that should allow them compete on a nightly basis. Their overall team defense should be a strong suit yet again. Cam Dineen, Adam Thilander, Brady Lyle, Riley Bruce, and Mark Shoemaker form a very solid blueline, while the team's top forwards like Brett McKenzie, and Zach Poirier are also dedicated two-way players. And the acquisition of Brent Moran should really solidify their goaltending. Scoring could be an issue, but if they can win their share of 2-1 hockey games, they should be right in the mix for a 5-8 spot in the Eastern Conference.

7. Ottawa 67's
Torn about where to place the 67's this year. On one hand, I think that they're going to score a lot of goals this year. I really like the look of their lineup at forward. Sasha Chmelevski and Austen Keating could both be in for massive draft years. I also am not worried about their goaltending as Leo Lazerev is a solid goalie (even if he's a bit unorthodox). But what I am worried about is their defense and their ability to keep the puck out of the net. I look at the 67's like the Saginaw Spirit last year. Lots of young talent at the forward position, but just couldn't keep the puck out of their net. Because their top forwards are also young, team defense and backchecking can be inconsistent, putting even more pressure on an inexperienced blueline. Jacob Middleton (the team's anchor) has twice as much experience as the rest of the defense...combined!

8. Sudbury Wolves
They should be better. Key word is...should. This is the first year (IMO) that will test how well they've drafted in the recent down years. Large group of solid 99's, but they need to really blossom this year in order for Sudbury to have the depth necessary to compete for a playoff spot. David Levin will need to be better and he should be. Ditto for Dmitri Sokolov, who apparently checked into Minnesota prospect camp at just over 200lbs. He could be in for a big offensive season. Kyle Capobianco will finally need to take that next step, especially as a defensive player. Lastly, they seem content to give the reigns to Jacob McGrath as their goaltender of present and the future. From what I saw of him at the Hlinka camp, that seems like a sound decision. Sudbury, IMO, has more depth and better top end talent than Barrie or Niagara, which should give them the edge when it comes to the final playoff spot in the conference.

9. Barrie Colts
Barrie has a decent defense...that might be the only good thing I can say at this point. Tom Hedberg looked legit in the preseason and Cam Lizotte and Justin Murray are at least tough to play against. But every other spot on the roster is a question mark. Cordell James is a solid OHL forward who competes hard at both ends of the ice, but a first line center he is not. And while Barrie does have three OHL goaltenders, I'm just not sure any of them are good enough right now to elevate Barrie to playoff contender. This team will be forced to play a lot in their own zone. Christian Propp certainly had a great preseason, so who knows. That's the challenge of the predicting the OHL. But on paper, this looks like a down year for the Colts.

10. Niagara IceDogs 
Toss up between Barrie and Niagara here. Could go either way. Aaron Haydon and Ryan Mantha anchor a decent defense (just like Barrie). And Stephen Dhillon has flashed an ability to be a starter in this league. But the forward group is super young (outside of Graham Knott) and that's going to really make it hard for Niagara to score goals consistently. The preseason was most definitely pretty ugly for the IceDogs and I think that will be a precursor to how the rest of the season goes. Especially when you consider that a new coaching staff has been put in place. It's going to take some time for them to learn and for players to learn the system they attempt to employ.

Monday, September 19, 2016

2016/17 Season Preview: Western Conference

The 2016/17 OHL season starts up this week and that means it's prediction time. As always, predicting the OHL can be a bit of a crapshoot. NHL teams may choose to keep certain players on their roster and that can negatively impact an OHL team. Erie is a perfect example of that with Dylan Strome. But I'm operating under assumptions with these rankings. Assumptions that certain players will return. Assumptions that certain players will take massive steps forward in their development. And even, assumptions that certain players could be, and will be traded.

Not only do I see the West as completely stacked this year, but I also see it as completely open. I said it on twitter recently, but I truly do believe that "on paper" the top 5/6 teams in the Western Conference are currently better than any team in the Eastern Conference. The Conference should be a dogfight. The divisions should be a dogfight. Heck, teams like Saginaw and Guelph should be much better and I've still got them at the bottom of the conference. Nothing will surprise me when it comes to looking back at this at the end of the year.

1. Windsor Spitfires (West Division Champions)
Like I said, this was a tough call. But this team has a ton of talent already, and with them hosting the Memorial Cup this year, I don't think there's any question as to whether they'll make acquisitions throughout the year to stock up. They're loaded up front, led by the monster Logan Brown and the tenacious Christian Fischer. But they've got lots of depth too and shouldn't have any trouble scoring goals or intimidating opponents. On defense, they return every member from last year's squad, which means a lot when talking about team chemistry. Pairings can be the same and they should get off to a quick start. And in net, Michael Dipietro will be this year's breakout star. This kid is an unbelievable talent in the crease and as London proved last year, you can definitely win with an 18 year old in net if they're good enough.

2. London Knights (Midwest Division Champions)
Tough call, but even with Mitch Marner likely gone (at least I sure as hell think so), this team is so ultra talented. Matthew Tkachuk, Olli Juolevi (I think so anyway), Pu, Jones, Mete. The list goes on. Well actually, IMO the list should start at Tyler Parsons. He was unbelievable for the U.S. in the U20 Summer series and I think he comes in and has an even better year than last. With some fantastic goaltending, this team could really contend again. And there's no doubt that their powerplay will be top notch, which is of course incredibly important in this league. The real wild card here is Jack Roslovic. Hasn't been much noise about him lately, but with NHL training camps not far off, I still wouldn't write him off coming at some point.

3. Kitchener Rangers
I think people are underrating this team right now. They don't have the star power of some of the other teams in the West (only 4 NHL draft picks, which isn't a ton when we're talking about competing teams), but they're a very solid squad up and down. Lots of depth at every position to cover for injuries. The real question mark for them is in net. But I believe in the tandem of Luke Opilka and Dawson Carty. Opilka was excellent last year until he came down with that mysterious illness and was a mess upon returning. But you have to think that he'll return healthy. At forward, the Rangers have some extremely talented newcomers. Cedric Schiemenz might have been the player that impressed me the most this preseason. And Greg Meireles and Eric Guest also looked terrific this preseason. Another guy who I think could have an absolutely monster year is Dylan Di Perna. Is he on the path to a Jake Muzzin style breakout overage season?

4. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
While I do have some questions about their defense and goaltending, I think their offense is absolutely legit. I certainly don't put a ton of stock in preseason performances, but they were downright dominant in the exhibition season. 23 goals in 4 games? That's pretty damn impressive. Easy to see why they did it though. They have at least 10 guys that I would consider top 2 line talents in this league. They'll be able to roll three scoring lines and a fourth line that will be better than many 3rd lines in this league. Get ready to be holed up in your own end for extended periods of time against these guys. Getting the forwards to really buy into a team defense approach will be key to their success, to help cover up for a blueline that lacks star power and inexperienced goaltending (even if Joseph Raaymakers is a talented player).

5. Owen Sound Attack
Don't sleep on this team. They don't have the raw offensive fire power that other teams in the Conference possess, but they've got a great defense, a great goaltender, and a hard working group of forwards that grind you into submission. The Attack won't win a ton of very pretty games this year, but I do expect them to win their fair share. As mentioned, I think Michael McNiven is one of the league's elite goaltenders. I expect him to have a monster year. On defense, they have size, play physical, but can also push the pace of play. One of the keys to their season is the progression of Nick Suzuki IMO. Quite often, a team in the OHL is only as good as their first line center (drives the powerplay too), and Suzuki is that guy. I think he's in for a big year.

6. Sarnia Sting
A little bit worried to have the Sting down this low because of the star power they possess. If there's one thing I've learned about covering this league, it's that if you've got a small collection of star players, they can really help the rest of your lineup to overachieve. Lots of question marks here though. Safe to assume Pavel Zacha is as good as gone. But Travis Konecny? I think it's 50/50. Good news is that both Imports Sarnia brought in this offseason (Ruzicka and Helt) looked very good in the preseason and they should have big offensive seasons. I'm also really looking forward to seeing how Jakub Chychrun deals with the adversity of his draft +1 season. I wonder if he plays with a serious chip on his shoulder this year. I do have concerns about the crease though. Not sure if Justin Fazio is a legitimate number one in this league, and also not sure if Aidan Hughes is ready. But as Kingston proved last year, your star players can take you pretty far.

7. Erie Otters
See Sarnia. Lots of star power still left over from some pretty successful seasons. The question is...will Dylan Strome be in the OHL next year? I don't think so, but stranger things have happened. I tell you what though, Ivan Lodnia is a legit talent and he should be able to give Alex Debrincat a quality running mate. I'm just not sure they've got the depth offensively of some of the other big teams in the West this year. Quite frankly, they might be smart to do what Oshawa did last year and sell off some big assets to accelerate their rebuild (like Debrincat). Defensively, I actually really like this unit. Star power? No. But Raddysh, Fergus, Sambrook, Byrne and a few quality rookies could form a very solid unit. But to go with the scoring depth issues I see, I also wonder about their situation in net. Troy Timpano was brought in, and at one point I really believed in his talent level. But is he ready to be as good as he'll need to be to get this team home ice in the first round? I really don't know.

8. Saginaw Spirit
The preseason certainly didn't go as they would have liked. But, I still believe in this team. They have a very solid young nucleus. In particular, I really like the way that they upgraded their defense this offseason. Bringing in CJ Garcia was a great move (he's a very underrated defender). Also adding Filip Hronek in the Import draft should help too. This is a team that gave up way too many goals last year, so improving from the defense out was smart. But they need to get the young forward group to buy into this concept. They also need Evan Cormier to be consistently better. But, I see a lot of potential in this team. They could start out rough, but really improve as the season goes on. 

9. Guelph Storm
Here's a rebuilding team that should already be significantly better next year thanks to some good drafting. Young players from last year should be better (Givani Smith, Issac Ratcliffe, etc). But they're also injecting some serious talent with the likes of Ryan Merkley, Dmitri Samorukov, Nate Schnarr, and others. I also really liked the acquisition of Liam Herbst in net to help stabilize things. Guelph is certainly on the up and up again. Are they good enough to sneak into the playoffs? I think they very well could be. But I think it's more likely that they're just not quite at that level yet. They did have a very good preseason though, so you never know.

10. Flint Firebirds
Let me say this first. I REALLY liked what this team did in the offseason. Bringing in quality hockey people with lots of OHL experience was the right thing to do. They also drafted extremely well. But it ultimately wasn't enough, as Flint has since lost their best forward (Will Bitten) and their starting goalie (Kyle Keyser) to trades or trade demands. And even if they have a half decent defense led by some solid veterans (Peters, Smereck, Henderson), there just isn't enough offensive talent to compete with the juggernauts of the Western Conference. Flint should compete with Niagara for the 1st overall pick.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday Top 10 - Preseason Performers of 2016

The 2016 preseason is over and the regular season is just around the corner. It's time to take a look at some of the top performances of this year's exhibition action.

As always, this list is populated by players without NHL affiliations (first or second year players, and undrafted veterans), because they get into more games.

Here were the preseason standings (ignoring divisions):

Eastern Conference
1. Kingston Frontenacs (3-1, .750%)
2. Barrie Colts (3-3, .500%)
3. Hamilton Bulldogs (2-2, .500%)
4. North Bay Battalion (2-2, .500%)
5. Peterborough Petes (2-2, .500%)
6. Oshawa Generals (2-3, .400%)
7. Ottawa 67's (1-2, .333%)
8. Sudbury Wolves (1-4, .200%)
9. Mississauga Steelheads (1-4, .200%)
10. Niagara IceDogs (0-3-1, .125%)

Western Conference
1. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (4-0, 1.00%)
2. Kitchener Rangers (3-0-1, .875%)
3. Owen Sound Attack (4-1, .800%)
4. Flint Firebirds (3-1, .750%)
5. Guelph Storm (3-2, .600%)
6. Erie Otters (2-2, .500%)
7. Windsor Spitfires (2-2, .500%)
8. London Knights (2-2, .500%)
9. Sarnia Sting (2-2, .500%)
10. Saginaw Spirit (0-4, 0.00%)

Here are your top 10 OHL preseason performers, with several HM's and a team by team breakdown of some other standouts. 

10. Michael McNiven - Owen Sound Attack
The Montreal Canadiens signee was nearly unbeatable this preseason, allowing only 2 goals spread over 3 games (although he split ice time). I think that this is only a sign of things to come. Owen Sound should contend for home ice in the first round and McNiven is most definitely a candidate for the OHL goaltender of the year. A very underrated player and prospect.

9. Ivan Lodnia - Erie Otters
Fresh off a standout performance for the U.S. at the Ivan Hlinka, Lodnia led Erie in scoring this preseason with 4 goals in 4 games. The talented center should form quite the partnership with Alex Debrincat this season, in what is sure to be a breakout year for him in his NHL draft year.

8. Jack Kopacka - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
While Boris Katchouk led the perfect Hounds in preseason scoring, Kopacka's 4 goals and 2 assists serve as evidence of his ability to carry the play this preseason. The Anaheim Ducks 4th rounder appears to be in for a big year playing for a very deep and talented Sault Ste. Marie team.

7. Dylan Di Perna - Kitchener Rangers
While he most certainly did take steps forward last year, Di Perna looks like a totally different player yet again this preseason, showcasing even more improvements made to his game. Appears to be oozing with offensive confidence right now (scored a goal for the NY Rangers Traverse City team recently too).  With 2 goals and 2 assists, could Di Perna be an early favourite for Overager of the Year?

6. Nathan Dunkley - Kingston Frontenacs
There's almost always one 16 year old on this list. The Fronts 17th overall pick in 2016, Dunkley actually led the preseason with 6 goals. While the regular season will, no doubt, prove to be more challenging for him, it's always encouraging to see early returns on your high draft picks (even if it is only the preseason).

5. Christian Propp - Barrie Colts
The front runner for the Barrie starting netminder job? Propp, not even a sure bet to make Barrie's roster this year, came into camp and dazzled. The '99 allowed only 4 goals on 65 shots and helped the rebuilding Colts to a winning record in the preseason. Definitely deserves props (see what I did there) for that.

4. Liam Herbst - Guelph Storm
Loved the acquisition when it happened, and I think Storm fans are also loving the early returns thus far. Guelph needed to go out and get themselves a veteran goaltender to help improve their team and Herbst was that man. While I'm not convinced Guelph can replicate their preseason success in the regular season, Herbst was most definitely sensational during the exhibition schedule, making 104 saves and earning a couple wins. 

3. Mitchell Vande Sompel - Oshawa Generals
Man among boys this preseason. Vande Sompel finished tied for 2nd in preseason scoring with 7 points. The OHL veteran will look to improve upon an injury plagued season that saw him recovering from shoulder surgery. If Oshawa wants to get a top 4 spot in the East, Vande Sompel will need to be a Max Kaminsky candidate.

2. Cedric Schiemenz - Kitchener Rangers
Couldn't have been more impressed with the first year player from Germany (although played in Austria last year). He was an absolute force for the Rangers this preseason (with 7 points). Was the best player on the ice in the game I saw. He's going to be a really good one I think.

1. Linus Nyman - Kingston Frontenacs
The top two players on this list are imports. Certainly interesting. Nyman's 10 preseason points in 4 games was definitely a bit surprising, even if he looked good at the Ivan Hlinka for Finland. The diminutive forward could potentially work very well with Lawson Crouse this year (assuming he returns for his 19 year old season).

Honorable Mentions

Adam Mascherin - Kitchener Rangers
Probably should have been on this list somewhere after putting up 3 goals and 4 assists in the preseason. Mascherin is most definitely a dark horse to lead the league in scoring this year on what should be a very good Kitchener team.

Brent Moran - North Bay Battalion
While his OHL career hasn't exactly gone according to plan thus far, the overager looks refreshed by a new start in North Bay under Stan Butler. He had an excellent preseason (stopping 72 of 75 shots) and will need to be an absolute workhorse this year for the Battalion. He's another guy that probably should have made the top 10 of this list.

Austen Keating - Ottawa 67's
5 goals in 3 games. That's some impressive production for the sophomore forward. I'm most certainly not worried about Ottawa's ability to score goals this year (I am worried about preventing them).

Givani Smith - Guelph Storm
The human wrecking ball was a force in the preseason with 4 goals in 4 games. This young Guelph team will be exciting to watch this year, even if they don't win a ton of games. 

Travis Konecny - Sarnia Sting
I still don't think he's back in the OHL this year (unless Philadelphia is worried about his injury woes), but he most certainly was impressive in the preseason scoring 4 goals and adding 2 assists in only 2 games. 

Boris Katchouk - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Katchouk's 6 assists this preseason helped the Greyhounds to a perfect record. He does so many things well and is the perfect complimentary offensive player. He should be in for a big year on a great team.

Ben Fanjoy - Ottawa 67's
Interesting to see how well Fanjoy performed this preseason after (rumour has it) he had asked for a trade this offseason. But 7 points in 3 games is most certainly good production. Maybe he's turned the corner offensively heading into his 3rd OHL season?

Alex Formenton - London Knights
Great start to his OHL career with 4 goals in 4 games. Saw London play once this preseason and Formenton was excellent. Seems like a great fit for this lineup as an opportunistic scorer who can play a variety of different roles.

Team by Team Breakdowns (other standouts not already listed) 

Barrie Colts
Lucas Chiodo - 1 goal, 4 assists
Kyle Heitzner - 4 goals
Tom Hedberg - 1 goal, 3 assists 

Erie Otters
Shaun Bily - 1 goal, 4 assists
Gera Poddubnyi - 3 goals, 1 assist

Flint Firebirds
Ty Dellandrea - 5 assists
Luke Kirwan - 2 goals, 1 assist

Guelph Storm
James McEwan - 1 goal, 5 assists
Issac Ratcliffe - 1 goal, 5 assists
Nate Schnarr - 3 goals, 2 assists

Hamilton Bulldogs
Cole Candella - 1 goal, 3 assists
Michael Cramarossa - 3 goals 
Connor Hicks (.917 SV%)

Kingston Frontenacs
Jason Robertson - 2 goals, 3 assists
Ryan Cranford - 3 goals, 1 assist 
Jeremy Helvig (.923 SV%)

Kitchener Rangers
Riley Damiani - 2 goals, 3 assists
Eric Guest - 2 goals, 3 assists
Elijah Roberts - 4 assists

London Knights
Kole Sherwood - 3 goals, 2 assists
Janne Kuokkanen - 3 goals, 2 assists
Evan Bouchard - 5 assists

Mississauga Steelheads
Ryan McLeod - 3 goals, 2 assists
Nathan Bastian - 1 goal, 3 assists

Niagara IceDogs
Oliver Castleman - 2 goals, 1 assist 
Pavel Demin - 1 goal, 2 assists

North Bay Battatlion
Adam McMaster - 3 goals, 2 assists
Brady Lyle - 1 goal, 1 assist

Oshawa Generals
Anthony Cirelli - 1 goal, 4 assists
Eric Henderson - 3 goals, 1 assist
Jack Studnicka - 2 goals, 2 assists

Ottawa 67's
Hudson Wilson - 1 goal, 3 assists

Owen Sound Attack
Matt Schmalz - 1 goal, 4 assists
Petrus Palmu - 4 goals

Peterborough Petes
Steve Lorentz - 1 goal, 4 assists
Matthew Timms - 2 goals, 2 assists 
Scott Smith (.963 SV%)

Saginaw Spirit
Mitchell Stephens - 3 goals, 2 assists

Sarnia Sting
Jordan Kyrou - 1 goal, 3 assists
Jakob Chychrun - 1 goal, 3 assists

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Tim Gettinger - 3 goals, 3 assists
Bobby MacIntyre - 3 goals, 2 assists

Sudbury Wolves
Owen Lalonde - 1 goal, 3 assists
Liam Dunda - 1 goal, 3 assists

Windsor Spitfires
Luka Boka - 2 goals, 3 assists
Logan Brown - 1 goal, 4 assists