On Tuesday, the Ontario Hockey League announced the rosters for the two games against the Russian National Junior Team on the Ontario leg of the CIBC Canada Russia Super Series. The games will take place November 10th in North Bay and November 14th in Hamilton.
Traditionally, the Super Series offers Hockey Canada an extra look at players who are battling for a spot at Team Canada’s selection camp for the World Junior Championships. The rosters do go a little more in depth however, as not only are elite-level OHL players invited to take part, but typically a handful of second-year players are added to the roster in an effort to gauge them against higher competition (Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian both played in the 2015 Super Series as draft eligibles).
Players Selected to both teams (*Summer Showcase Attendee, ~1st Time Draft eligible):
*Evan Cormier, Goaltender, Saginaw Spirit
The Skinny: A fourth round pick by New Jersey in this past year’s NHL Entry Draft, Cormier was invited to Team Canada’s summer showcase so it’s no surprise Hockey Canada wants an in-game look, despite Saginaw’s slow start.
~Nicolas Hague, Defence, Mississauga Steelheads
The Skinny: The 6’5″ defenceman emerged last year as a key piece of the Steelheads’ blue line, and plenty of people took notice. With seven goals and 12 points in 11 games, the draft eligible (and highly thought of) blueliner is already halfway to last year’s total of 14.
Will Bitten, Forward, Hamilton Bulldogs
The Skinny: After an ugly holdout to start the year, Bitten has seven points in nine games including two multi-point efforts. A player who slid in the draft because of where he played last year and his size, Bitten will be highly motivated.
Jordan Kyrou, Forward, Sarnia Sting
The Skinny: Kyrou has helped stake Sarnia to a four-way tie for first in the Western Conference, and his 12 assists have him just four shy of the league lead. The Blues’ prospect missed out on an invite to Canada’s summer camp.
Adam Mascherin, Forward, Kitchener Rangers
The Skinny: Mascherin leads the league in assists and is second in points as he continues to prove he may be one of the biggest winners of the 2016 NHL Draft. A player who seemingly got overlooked throughout the draft process last year has a chance to make some big waves.
Brett McKenzie, Forward, North Bay Battalion
The Skinny: A bit of a late-bloomer, McKenzie was a seventh round pick of the Vancouver Canucks this summer. He’s off to the best start of his OHL career, and has been scoring in bunches with three 3-point games already.
*Michael McLeod, Forward, Mississauga Steelheads
The Skinny: Hockey Canada likes him a lot, and for very good reason. The supremely talented and speedy forward has at least one assist in all but one of his nine games this year, and while last year’s Super Series invite was more of a pat on the back, this year will be to hopefully finalize his spot at Team Canada’s training camp.
*Zachary Senyshyn, Forward, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
The Skinny: The Bruins’ prospect has four goals in seven games to start his year in the OHL, and it’s no secret he likes to shoot. Pairing him up with McLeod for these games could give Hockey Canada a good look at a strong potential combo.
Givani Smith, Forward, Guelph Storm
The Skinny: Tough but talented, the Detroit Red Wings prospect would bring some edge to camp if this audition were to pan out. Don’t be fooled though as Smith can score too, working at a point-per-game pace in the early stages of the OHL season.
Blake Speers, Forward, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
The Skinny: Speers is fresh off of three games in the NHL with the Devils, which has put a bounce in his step. While he didn’t score in the NHL, he’s a consistent 25-goal, 60+ point threat in the OHL, meaning Speers has a lot to offer Hockey Canada.
*Mitchell Stephens, Forward, Saginaw Spirit
The Skinny: Barring NHL returns or loans, Stephens is the lone OHL’er who played for Canada at the World JRs last year. With two points in five games during the 2016 tournament, he’ll have an opportunity to be a leader on the team this year.
Players Selected only for November 10th (in North Bay):
Forwards: *Anthony Cirelli (Oshawa), ~Gabe Vilardi (Windsor)
Defence: Kyle Capobianco (Sudbury), *Matt Spencer (Peterborough), Logan Stanley (Windsor), *Mitch Vande Sompel
Goaltender: Dylan Wells (Peterborough)
Players Selected only for November 14th (in Hamilton):
Forwards: *Graham Knott (Niagara), Taylor Raddysh (Erie)
Defence: Jacob Friend (Owen Sound), Garrett McFadden (Guelph), Victor Mete (London), ~Markus Phillips (Owen Sound)
Goaltender: Michael McNiven (Owen Sound)
Bryan Thiel is a freelance broadcaster who has covered the OHL from rink-side and the broadcast booth. He has also helped produce OHL features for the past four seasons. You can follow him on Twitter @BryanThiel_88.