Thursday, April 3rd
Happy belated (April 2nd) birthday to the boss man, Dobber, himself!
The following are a just a few prospects who have inked their entry level contracts:
Justin Kea, BUF
Carter Verhaeghe, TOR
Jake McCabe, BUF
Madison Bowey, WAS
TJ Tynan, CBJ
Connor Brickley, FLA
Adam Erne, TBL
Chris Driedger, OTT
Ryan Culkin, CGY
Mac Bennett, MTL
Alex Guptill, DAL
Phil DiGuiseppe, CAR
Gustav Olofsson, MIN
Tommy Vannelli, STL)
In no way is the above list an exhaustive one and several notable prospects have agreed to amateur tryouts with AHL clubs in hopes of convincing management that they are deserving of ELC’s. One player to keep an eye on is Brady Vail (Montreal Canadiens). The Florida native set new career highs in goals (32), assists (51) and points (83) for the Windsor Spitfires and was named one of the most underrated players in the OHL’s Western Conference but Montreal has yet to sign that coveted entry level deal. In my viewings of Vail I would conclude that the Habs are taking the right approach. He has shown flashes of good play but in too many games, he’s look average at the OHL level. Too many forced turnovers and he often loses focus in the game showing bouts of wavering effort level. When playing at the top of his game, Vail is using his speed to bust wide on defenders and unleash a deceptive shot but I would like to see him challenge players in the physical areas of the rink. Vail will have a chance to earn his contract in eight games with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. He was held pointless in his AHL debut Thursday night.
The Ontario Hockey League has released its candidates for the Red Tilson Award (Most Outstanding Player) and I had the privilege of filling out my ballot. That was not an easy task. In the end, it was very difficult for Connor Brown (Maple Leafs/Erie Otters) not to top the list but Sam Bennett (2014 NHL Draft/Kingston Frontenacs) and Matt Murray (Pittsburgh Penguins/Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) received votes from me as well.
Other names on the ballot were:
Barrie – Aaron Ekblad (2014 NHL Draft)
Belleville – Remi Elie (Stars)
Guelph – Brock McGinn (Hurricanes)
Kitchener – Justin Bailey (Sabres)
London – Max Domi (Coyotes)
Mississauga – Bryson Cianfrone (2014 NHL Draft re-entry)
Niagara – Brendan Perlini (2014 NHL Draft)
North Bay – Barclay Goodrow (Sharks)
Oshawa – Scott Laughton (Flyers)
Ottawa – Philippe Trudeau (FA)
Owen Sound – Chris Bigras (Avalanche)
Peterborough – Nick Ritchie (2014 NHL Draft)
Plymouth – Alex Nedeljkovic (2014 NHL Draft)
Saginaw – Dylan Sadowy (2014 NHL Draft)
Sarnia – Nikolay Goldobin (2014 NHL Draft)
Sudbury – Nick Baptiste (Sabres)
Windsor – Slater Koekkoek (Lightning)
Uplifted by Nick Ritchie’s OT series winning goal, the Peterborough Petes’ erased a 3-0 series lead by the Kingston Frontenacs to become the 4th team in OHL History to complete such a comeback. Ritchie is a top prospect for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and one of my personal favourites.
Heading into the Western Conference Semi-Final series versus the Western Conference Regular Season Champions, Guelph Storm, the London Knights (also CHL Memorial Cup hosts) will be in tough without three of its most important players. Goaltender Anthony Stolarz (Philadelphia Flyers) will serve the remaining seven games in an eight game suspension after high sticking Windsor’s Josh Ho-Sang over the head in the first round.
Furthermore, London learned that defenceman Brady Austin (Buffalo Sabres) is out with mononucleosis, joining Zach Bell (leg) on the sidelines. London, a team already vulnerable on defence, will be challenged versus the OHL’s most dominating team in regular season.
OHL Monthly Awards….
Erie Otters’ Andre Burakovsky (Washington Capitals) picked up OHL Player of the Month honours…
Andre Burakovsky is the OHL’s Player of the Month for March becoming the fourth different Erie Otters’ forward to earn the award this season following teammates Connor Brown, Dane Fox, and Connor McDavid. The Washington Capitals prospect averaged two points per game last