Category: News and Notes

Summer Camp: OHL’ers at NHL Development Camps

By: Bryan Thiel


Each year NHL teams hold Development Camps for recently drafted/signed prospects, and to get a good look at some of the players that didn’t get draft but might be worth an entry-level contract.

Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of just who’s going where during the summer, so we’ve broken it down below, going team-by-team through the NHL. As some teams have not released a full roster, this list will be updated as information becomes available. Continue reading

13 From OHL Named to Canada’s National Junior Team Summer Development Camp

By: Bryan Thiel


Hockey Canada made a series of announcements on Monday, naming the players who will attend the National Teams’ Summer Showcase.

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Lawson Crouse & Mitch Marner could suit up for Canada again…or they could be in the NHL.

Overall, 45 Ontario Hockey League prospects were named to the National Under-17 Development Camp, 21 were announced as part of the Men’s Summer U-18 Selection Camp, and 13 will have the opportunity to state their case for a spot on the World Junior team at the National Junior Team Summer Development Camp. Ultimately, 79 OHL’ers made the cut.

 

While there are some names to pay attention to when it comes to the U-18 camp (Michael DiPietro of Windsor should make a strong case to start while Nick Suzuki’s 38 points would lead this team) and the U-17 Camp (The first five Ontario-born players selected in the most recent OHL Priority Selection all made the cut among many others), the roster for the NJT Summer Development Camp is typically where most of the attention will fall.

Here are the 13 OHL’ers that will attend camp in late July in Toronto. Continue reading

ICYMI: Wesley Signs with Canes, 15 Go Unsigned, Could Gruden be Back?

By: Bryan Thiel


With the NHL Draft now under a month away, another key date has come and gone when it comes to the prospect calendar.

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Wesley announced his agreement with this photo via his Twitter (@JoshyWeso).

On June 1st, NHL teams had to determine the future of any players selected out of the CHL from the 2014 Draft class that they had yet to sign. They could either come to an agreement on an entry-level contract, or they could forfeit the rights of the player, meaning the player could re-enter the draft or (in some cases) become a free agent.

 

Niagara IceDogs defenceman Josh Wesley was the only player of the 16 approaching that deadline to come to an agreement with his NHL team. After an up-and-down year split between Flint and Niagara, the Carolina Hurricanes inked Josh to an ELC. He’ll now stay with the club where his father, Glen, won a Stanley Cup and is now Director of Defensemen Development. Continue reading

OHL Well-Represented at CHL Awards

By: Bryan Thiel


The CHL handed out their awards for the 2015/16 season the night before the Mastercard Memorial Cup final, and the Ontario Hockey League was well-represented. Of the ten handed out, three went to OHL’ers.

Sportsnet Player of the Year Award

Mitch Marner, London Knights

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Mitch Marner was named CHL Player of the Year (CHL).

Only four players scored more points during their respective regular seasons than Marner’s 116, and one was teammate Christian Dvorak. Add in to that a playoff-leading 44 points, and Marner’s 160 points were the highest combined total in the CHL this season. The fact he went scoreless just once in 18 playoff games (and finished the playoffs on a 16-game point-streak) and mixed in 21 and 13-game point streaks during the regular season just adds to his amazing year. Continue reading

OHL Hands Out Discipline to Flint Firebirds and Rolf Nilsen

By: Bryan Thiel


The OHL handed out the discipline in the curious case of the Flint Firebirds’ this afternoon, and Commissioner David Branch was not happy with what a private investigation discovered.

Based upon an investigation at my request by Terrence O’Sullivan of the law firm of Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP, I am satisfied that Rolf Nilsen of the Flint Firebirds has on several occasions violated an agreement he signed on the 11th day of November, 2015, between himself and the OHL.  Those violations are contrary to the best interests of the players, the Team, and the OHL.

There are three layers to the discipline handed down by Branch in the release:

  • Rolf Nilsen be suspended by the OHL from being involved directly or indirectly with hockey operations of the Flint Firebirds for five (5) years effective immediately;
  • The Flint Firebirds forfeit a first round draft pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection (third pick overall);
  • A fine be paid by Rolf Nilsen to the League in the amount of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000.00)

Obviously the biggest sanctions fall against Nilsen, who has been embroiled in controversy since acquiring the team, including the player walkout this all stems from after Head Coach John Gruden was fired in early November, reportedly centering around son Hakon Nilsen’s ice time.

If he were to violate the terms handed down by branch, Rolf Nilsen would be forced to sell 100% of his stake in the team. In addition, if Nilsen wants to apply for some form of reinstatement, he has to wait three years before doing so.

For the Firebirds, the loss of the third overall selection doesn’t take them out of the first round. Before this they had two first round selections at third and fifth (Ryan McLeod refused to report last year and was traded to Mississauga). The Hamilton Bulldogs now select third.

Joe Birch will continue working with the franchise as Director of Hockey Operations, as they’ll look to fill vacancies at Head Coach, General Manager, and throughout the Hockey Ops staff.

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.

Playoff Recap: Sarnia Stunned, Gens Blanked, Otters Roll

A typically busy Friday night in the OHL as five series got underway in the playoffs.


 

8. Oshawa Generals @ 1. Kingston Frontenacs

The top team in the Eastern Conference didn’t have a problem with the defending champions on Friday night. The Frontenacs hit double-digits in shots every period on Friday night, out-shooting the Generals 16-8 in the first, 14-4 in the second, and 11-6 in the third for a three period total of 41-18, en route to a 6-0 win. Jeremy Helvig got the start for the Frontenacs and didn’t have much to do for his first career playoff shutout (third this season), as five different players scored for Kingston. After a scoreless first period, Warren Foegele’s first OHL playoff goal got things started for the Fronts who wouldn’t look back. Foegele would add an assist for a two-point night, while Roland McKeown (2G/1A), Spencer Watson (1G/1A), Lawson Crouse (1G/2A), and Jared Steege would all chip in with goals. In his first playoff matchup against his former team, Michael Dal Colle was held off the scoresheet with a +1 rating.

Frontenacs lead series 1-0

 

6. Peterborough Petes @ 3. North Bay Battalion

In North Bay, the Battalion did things the Stan Butler way. After surrendering a power play goal to Logan DeNoble 11:39 in to the opening period, Michael Amadio came back with a shorthanded goal three minutes later. The teams skated through a scoreless duel for the next period-and-a-half before Brett Hargrave scored the game-winning goal at 7:09 of the third. For the North Bay native, it was his first career post-season goal in his sixth game for the 2-1 win. The North Bay made it an easy night for Jake Smith, who made just 20 saves, while Peterborough’s Matthew Mancina turned aside 30 of 32.

Battalion lead series 1-0

 

8. Saginaw Spirit @ 1. Erie Otters

Erie’s offence showed up in Game 1 against Saginaw, but it was keyed by their secondary scorers. Kyle Maksimovich started things off for the Otters six minutes in, when the 27-goal man notched his fourth-career playoff goal. Nick Betz (19 regular season goals) and Kyle Pettit (10 regular season goals) followed that up, giving Erie a 3-0 lead through one. Travis Dermott added a power play goal and Pettit’s second chased Evan Cormier from the Saginaw net after just 29:19. Cameron Zanussi came in and stopped all 10 shots he faced, but Erie was well on their way, holding on for a 5-1 win. Jesse Barwell’s first-ever playoff goal was Saginaw’s lone of the evening (shorthanded), as Devin Williams made just 15 saves. Betz and Dermott both added a pair of assists for three-point nights, while Jake Marchment added a pair of helpers. Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat combined for 1 assist and a -2 rating.

Otters lead series 1-0

 

7. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds @ 2. Sarnia Sting

The Sting came into this series as heavy favourites, but the Greyhounds were able to prove that the standings don’t matter much when it’s time to play. Things started out pretty predictably for Sarnia: Travis Konecny and Kevin Spinozzi had power play goals twenty-eight seconds apart before the game was five minutes old. Then the ‘Hounds flipped a switch. Hayden Verbeek scored to send things to the second at 2-1 Sting, before Gabe Guertler (on the power play) and Bobby MacIntyre gave the Soo the lead. Playoff veteran Matt Mistele tied things up on the power play, Guertler’s second a minute later gave the ‘Hounds a lead they’d never relinquish. Blake Speers and Boris Katchouk would chip in for a 6-3 win as Sault Ste. Marie takes game one. Brandon Halverson stopped 33 shots for the win, as six Greyhounds chipped in with multiple points.

Greyhounds lead series 1-0

 

6. Owen Sound Attack @ 3. London Knights

Many thought that in order for Owen Sound to steal a game (or two), London would have to get themselves into penalty trouble. Last night the Knights gave the Attack six chances with the man advantage, but Owen Sound could only manage one goal. After a scoreless first, Max Jones and Cliff Pu scored three minutes apart in the second, before Aaron Berisha made it a three-goal lead in the third. Petrus Palmu finally got the Attack on the board during their fifth power play of the night, but they’d never get closer. Mitch Marner chipped in an empty-netter for a 4-1 Knights win. Pu’s goal was the first of his playoff career,  while Jones added an assist for a two-point night, and Tyler Parsons made 27 saves for the win.

Knights lead series 1-0

 

OHL Discipline

The league handed down a two-game suspension to Windsor’s Brendan Lemieux for his slew-foot on Frank Hora in game one between the Spitfires and Rangers. There was some optimism that Lemieux wouldn’t miss Games 2 and 3, but the Jets prospect will have to sit.

Notable Quotable

“Our character has been tested all year,” Spitfires head coach Rocky Thompson said Friday. “We’ve been dealing with situations from the start of the year. This is just par for the course.” – Windsor Star

“Before the game, I was pretty nervous and excited but after a couple of shifts it just felt like a normal game,” – The Kingston Whig-Standard

 

Three Stars

First Star: Gabe Guertler, SSM: 2 Goals, 1 PPG, 1 GWG, +1

Second Star: Roland McKoewn, KGN: 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 1 Power play point, +1

Third Star: Kyle Pettit, ERIE: 2 Goals, +3


 

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.

 

Recapping the OHL Trade Deadline: Player Rights, Massive Deals, and Who Needs Draft Picks?

By Bryan Thiel (@BryanThiel_88)


 

The OHL Trade Deadline is where teams decide if this is their year, or it’s ‘wait until next year’; are they contenders or pretenders?

This year, the league seems wide open with teams on both sides loading up at the deadline. 59 draft picks (10 of those conditional) changed hands between January 1st and 11th, with five trades involving one team surrendering four or more picks.

At the end of the day, it’ll only be worth it for one team: the one who claims the J. Ross Robinson Cup and moves on to the Mastercard Memorial Cup. Last year the Oshawa Generals made good on some savvy moves around the deadline, winning the league and claiming the title of the best team in the CHL.

Fittingly, we start with the defending champs when looking at some of the league’s biggest deadline dealings.

Recouping Assets

Last year Oshawa acquired Matt Mistele, Dakota Mermis, Michael McCarron, and Brent Pedersen among others. The price tag included Ryan Moore, Cliff Pu and a handful of picks. The moves obviously worked out, but for many championship teams the season after is one of regaining assets. Before the deadline they were able to get three picks for Mistele and four picks (plus some conditionals) for Stephen Desrocher from Kingston. The big deal was still yet to come however:

Oshawa sends Michael Dal Colle to Kingston for Robbie Burt, Flint’s 2nd round pick in 2017, Kingston’s 2nd round pick in 2019, and 3rd round picks in 2018 and 2022.

The Generals would mix in deals with London (Getting Eric Henderson for Jacob Graves and a pick) and Guelph (Justin Nichols for picks), but trading the Isles’ prospect who pulled in 31 points in 21 games during last year’s playoffs (while adding in the other moves) is a good way to set yourself up for the future.

Boom or Bust

One of the biggest names floating around at the deadline was former OHL first overall pick Travis Konecny. Rumours had him going all over the Western Conference but one team stepped up in an eye-popping way.

Ottawa sends Travis Konecny, Sam Studnicka and a 3rd round pick in 2016 to Sarnia for Chase Campbell, Sasha Chmelevski, Owen Sound’s 2nd round pick in 2016, Sault Ste. Marie’s 2nd round pick in 2017, Sarnia’s 2nd round pick in 2019 and 3rd round picks in 2019 and 2020,Windsor’s 3rd round pick in 2017, Saginaw’s 5th round pick in 2017, Oshawa’s 5th round pick in 2019, and two conditional picks (Sarnia’s 2nd round picks in 2021 and 2022).

There’s pressure in Sarnia to have some form of playoff success, which brought about the Sting’s activity at the deadline (which included picking up Charlie Graham). The last two series they won in the playoffs? 1996/97 and 2007/08, both vs Windsor. That’s nearly 20 years with just two visits to the second round. What makes this boom or bust is how difficult the Western Conference is this year. The Windsor Spitfires got better too and have a seven point lead in the division (although Sarnia has played three fewer games) and Sarnia is 12 points behind the Erie/London/Kitchener trio. Basically, the Sting have to go on a run and win the division, because there’s a very good chance they could have made some serious moves to simply finish fifth in the West.

On the flip side, if both Konecny and Pavel Zacha are with the Sting next year and the team struggles, they have the opportunity to flip both in an attempt to get some of those picks back like they did with Hayden Hodgson.

Mad Dash for the Central

The Central Division is crazy right now. Barrie leads the division with 49 points, but Niagara (47), Mississauga (46) and North Bay (44) are all within striking distance. The Steelheads added Mason Marchment at the deadline, while Niagara made moves for Stephen Harper and Tyler Boston, along with an early December swap for Alex Nedeljkovic and Josh Wesley. So what was left for the Barrie Colts?

Saginaw sends Dylan Sadowy and Gregory Di Tomaso to Barrie for Rocky Kaura, Barrie’s 2nd round picks in 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2021, 3rd round picks in 2017 and 2018, a 4th round pick in 2018, a 5th round pick in 2020, Kingston’s 4th round pick in 2016, and two conditional picks (Barrie’s 2nd round pick in 2022 and 3rd round pick in 2023).

The Colts were also able to add Keigan Goetz from Sault Ste. Marie, Cameron Lizotte from Peterborough, and Anthony Stefano from Windsor in December in an effort to keep the rest of the division at arm’s length. The bright side for Barrie is that they’re essentially in the reverse of Sarnia’s situation. With Ottawa the second-best team in the East Division at 42 points, there’s a good chance the Colts could pull off a third-place (or a worst-case scenario fourth) finish in the East if they can’t hold the Central.

The ‘Rights’ Fit

It’s not often that you see a player’s rights traded in the middle of the season. It’s even rarer that you see it happen twice. That’s exactly what happened though, when two Midwest Division rivals went after a pair of pro players.

Guelph trades Robby Fabbri to Kitchener for Kitchener’s 3rd round pick in 2020 and two conditional picks (Saginaw’s 2nd round pick in 2018 and Kitchener’s 2nd round pick in 2019).

Flint trades Sonny Milano to London for a conditional 15th round pick in 2016 (Pick becomes Sudbury’s 2nd round pick in 2019 and North Bay’s 4th round pick in 2016 if Milano plays in the OHL).

First let’s deal with what the players would bring. If Milano were to play for London this year, he would likely give them the best group of forwards in the OHL. With half a year of AHL hockey under his belt, a bronze medal from the World Juniors, and a 68 points last year in Plymouth, the Knights would add another dynamic talent (on top of getting 2015 Import Daniel Bernhardt to come overseas at the deadline) to their group of forwards. For Kitchener, they get a highly-skilled OHL champion with NHL experience, and a penchant for playing beyond his size.

Now when both of these trades went down, the immediate question asked was “what do these teams know that we don’t?” For Fabbri, St. Louis is extremely happy with him. There was a lot of talk about him going the other way in a trade for Ryan Johansen, but the Blues wouldn’t budge. And just before he played his 10th game in the NHL this year, a source said that it would be ‘shocking’ were Fabbri to be sent down at all this year.

So it seems that the Rangers simply took a chance that an elite OHL’er could be headed back to junior, and on the off-chance he is demoted, they add a huge weapon for a price they don’t need to worry about until 2020.

For the Knights, the connections between Jarmo Kekalainen and Basil McRae were brought up and people cited Milano’s AHL numbers as a reason he could be OHL bound. On top of that the belief that ‘if the Knights want him, they’ll get him’ had people predicting Milano would land in London last Friday at the earliest. But if you want an idea of just how sure the Knights are that Milano would come back to the OHL, maybe the price is an indication.

A 15th round pick doesn’t give off the impression that Milano is leaving Lake Erie. While Flint has had its controversies this year, one would think that if they had heard anything on the Milano front, the initial price would be much higher. Plus, Milano wasn’t drafted out of the OHL, so he can stay in the AHL as long as Columbus wants him there. Someone along the line could have said there ‘might be a chance’ of it happening and, like the Fabbri situation, it makes sense for a team with playoff aspirations to take the gamble ‘just in case’.

Overall it was another crazy OHL Trade Deadline. People want to know the winners and losers right away, but we won’t know who won until we see who the last team standing is. For one team, that will make this hectic start to January all worth it.


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.

 

 

 

OHL Well Represented at Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp

By Bryan Thiel (@BryanThiel_88)


When Hockey Canada announced the roster for the National Junior Team’s Selection Camp on Tuesday, it was the culmination of months of work going all the way back to the summer. With Scott Salmond, the Vice-President of Hockey Operations and National Teams, and Director of Player Personnel Ryan Jankowski on hand, the young men that would compete for the final roster and a trip to Finland were announced.

Overall 30 players received invites (including defencemen Brandon Hickey and Jake Walman from the NCAA), with 13 of those players coming from the Ontario Hockey League.

The decision in net seems to be a fairly straightforward one for Hockey Canada, as Barrie Colts goalie Mackenzie Blackwood is one of only two goalies (Mason McDonald of the QMJHL being the other) to be invited. Blackwood is neck-and-neck with Erie’s Devin Williams for the best goals-against average in the OHL, while also sitting second in wins (16) and first in save percentage (0.930).

Blackwood also got an extended look in Team OHL’s first game against Russia in the Super Series in Owen Sound, when he made 25 saves in a 3-0 OHL win. “We’ve liked him (Blackwood) since the summer which is why we took him to (summer development) camp,” explained Jankowski. He had a great game in Owen Sound during the Super Series, and did exactly what he needed to do to earn a spot here.”

In front of Blackwood on the blueline could be a few names OHL fans are familiar with. Travis Dermott (Erie), Vince Dunn (Niagara), and Roland McKeown (Kingston) all received invitations to camp along with the lone draft eligible OHL’er of the bunch in Jakob Chychrun. Dunn, Dermott and McKeown are 1, 2, 3 in scoring among OHL defencemen, and could provide Canada with the type of responsible two-way game they’re hoping to get out of their blueline this year. Chychrun meanwhile, had a slower start to the year thanks to last season’s shoulder surgery, but Hockey Canada has been pleased with the progress he’s made over the first third of the season.

In terms of forwards, there’s plenty of firepower and a little experience coming from Ontario. Lawson Crouse (Kingston) is one of just three returnees for Canada this year, and is hoping for back-to-back gold medals. His best friend Travis Konecny (Ottawa) has an opportunity to join Crouse on the journey, something the two are excited about.

“To be able to do this with your best friend is something really special,” Crouse said through a smile. “We were texting yesterday when we found out. We couldn’t really tell anyone else though because you have to keep it quiet.”

Jankowski says that, if he makes it, Konecny brings a lot of energy and excitement with him every time he steps on the ice. The same could be said of many of the forwards picked out of the OHL, as London’s Mitch Marner (fourth in league scoring) and Erie’s Dylan Strome (tied with Marner) were invited to camp along with Michael Dal Colle (Oshawa), Brendan Perlini (Niagara), Mitchell Stephens (Saginaw), and Spencer Watson (Kingston).

While Marner and Strome have been linked the past couple of years through the NHL Draft and division battles between the Otters and Knights, the two may be teammates in a few weeks time and doing battle with a couple of current teammates.

“D (Christian Dvorak) I’m not worried about, I can handle him. Tkachuk worries me though, he can be kind of a loose cannon sometimes,” Marner said with a laugh when asked about the prospect of potentially facing some current teammates. Those two, along with Erie Otter and American Alex Debrincat lead the OHL in scoring and could be part of a very dangerous Team USA.

Other News and Notes:

-Team Canada will two games against the CIS on December 12 and 13. Former OHLers Kevin Bailie (Oshawa/London), Spencer Abraham (Brampton/Erie), Tim Campbell (Guelph), Colin Behenna (Barrie), Liam Heelis (Peterborough/Owen Sound), and Eric Locke (Windsor/Barrie/Saginaw) are former OHLers taking part.

-The process is a little different this year for Lawson Crouse. Not only is he looked upon more as a leader for Canada this time, but he got to go through the whole process this year. He missed summer camp last year while at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

-Crouse also mentioned that teammates Spencer Watson and Roland McKeown are very excited about the opportunity in front of them and the three of them have talked a lot about it.

-Marner mentioned that when he got the call he was exhausted, having just come off a three-in-three with the Knights this past weekend. He wasn’t sure he was going to answer the call until he looked down and saw the area code. At that point he just hoped Ryan Jankowski couldn’t tell how groggy he was.


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.

 

Petes Ship Webb Twins to Saginaw

The Saginaw Spirit have been busy since the trade freeze was lifted in the OHL. A week after they sent Jeremiah Addison to the Ottawa 67’s in exchange for Connor Brown and picks, they made another trade, this time with the Peterborough Petes.

In exchange for two picks (Barrie’s 2015 3rd rounder and Saginaw’s 6th rounder in 2017), the Spirit got twins Mitchell and Jack Webb from the Peterborough Petes.

Both were picked in the OHL Priority Selection last year, but only one played for the Petes. Mitchell, a second rounder taken at 39th overall, played in 34 games for the Petes last season earning one assist. He would later add seven playoff games to his resume, while being named the Petes’ representative on the OHL’s 2013/14 Scholastic Team.

Brother Jack meanwhile, was a fifth rounder who was taken 82nd overall. He spent last year in the GOJHL with the Fort Erie Meteors, scoring nine goals and adding six assists in 35 games. He would also play in four playoff games with Fort Erie and seven regular season games with the Cobourg Cougars.

Bryan Thiel is a freelance broadcaster who’s covered the OHL from rink side and the broadcast booth. He’s also filed feature reports on the OHL for the past three seasons for Rogers TV. You can follow him on Twitter at BryanThiel_88.

Rasmus Andersson Commits to Barrie Colts

The Barrie Colts added to their defence on Monday, reaching an agreement with Rasmus Andersson.

Andersson, a 6′, 214lbs defenceman, was the 37th overall selection in this past CHL Import Draft. Andersson gained valuable experience last season, playing at two levels with Malmo in Sweden. At the J20 level he earned five points (1G/4A) in eight games, and also played in 43 games with the parent club, scoring three goals and adding 10 assists in 43 games. He was also the youngest player on the team.

As Colts GM Jason Ford said, “Andersson will enter the OHL as a rookie but already brings a wealth of experience; having played against men the past two seasons in Sweden.” He had 11 points in 38 games with Malmo in 2012/13.

Andersson was one of 16 players from Sweden listed on NHL CSS’s 2014/15 Futures International List.

Bryan Thiel is a freelance broadcaster who’s covered the OHL from rink side and the broadcast booth. He’s also filed feature reports on the OHL for the past three seasons. You can follow him on Twitter at BryanThiel_88.