The OHL season is in full swing and while it is still early in the season, here are some players you should be watching as the OHL season progresses.
Jeremy Bracco (Toronto Maple Leafs prospect)
After joining the Kitchener Rangers later in the season last year, Jeremy Bracco has only missed 3 games at the beginning of the season. It’s early in the season, but he’s already on pace to destroy his 2015-16 stats with 24 points in 11 games for 2.18pts/game. Bracco is on an 11-game point streak and so far has not been kept of the scoresheet this season. He is second in OHL scoring and was named the OHL (and CHL) Player of the Week for Oct 10th. Despite only being his second season, Bracco is a part of the Rangers vets and will be a big key to their success going forward. He plays a good all around game, but at his highest output is in a role of a top 6 forward – he may not get that soon with Toronto. Bracco is a very good prospect behind some other very good prospects in the Toronto Maple Leafs system. Yet to be signed, he will be playing for an Entry Level Contract. As someone who plays bigger than his size, similar to Mitch Marner or Travis Konecny, he may need to work on improving his strength to ensure he can stay healthy against larger sized NHL players in a grueling 82-game season.
Adam Mascherin (Florida Panthers prospect)
Sticking with the Kitchener Rangers, Adam Mascherin was sent back late September only missing 1 game of the OHL regular season. After almost tripling his offensive performance from his rookie season, Mascherin had a very respectable sophomore season with tallying 35 goals and 81 points in 65 games. Thirteen games in and he sits 4th in OHL scoring with 2.08pts/g. Like Bracco, Mascherin is now part of the leadership squad and will be given that extra TOI with guys like Ryan MacInnis (ARI) and Gustaf Frazen graduating. Mascherin is a victim of the “small player effect”, but he is anything but that. He’s not tall, but his skating, shot and strength puts him above other players in this category. Some will look at Mascherin critically to see if he can duplicate his past season – so far, he’s on pace to beat it. If he keeps this up, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is still in Florida at this point next season.
Logan Brown (Ottawa Senators prospect)
The Ottawa Senators returned draft pick Logan Brown to the Windsor Spitfires shortly after the OHL season started. Brown immediately got off to a great start tallying 17 points (6-11–17) in his first 7 games earning him OHL Player of the Week honours for the week of Oct 3rd. He went 3 consecutive games without registering a point but has since been back on track and sitting 9th in OHL with 1.67pts/game. Consistency had been an issue last season, but other than those three game, it seems Brown is adjusting to his increased role very well. He will need to prove he can be consistent and could also do some work on his faceoffs ( 46.6% so far on the season). Brown will continue to be a go-to-guy with the Spitfires as they gear up to host the Memorial Cup this June.
Mikhail Sergachev (Montreal Canadiens prospect)
Sticking with the Windsor Spitfires, Mikhail Sergachev was the most recent player to join the OHL from NHL camp. Due to his size, skating and pure skill, it was no surprise he lasted so long with the Montreal Canadiens. Sergachev returns to Windsor at the best possible time. He will be given the most TOI for a team that is guaranteed a spot in the Memorial Cup. He could quite possibly battle Juolevi for top defenseman in the league … again. He will look to double his point production of 57 points in 67 games last season and given every opportunity to do so. I expect to see Sergachev in a Canadiens jersey to start the season next year and would not be surprised to see him become a regular within the next couple seasons.
Max Jones (Anaheim Ducks prospect)
As expected, Max Jones was sent back to the London Knights in early October. He suffered a shoulder injury at Ducks camp, but returned and it doesn’t look like it’s holding him back at all. With 8 games under his belt, he has scored at least a point in each game for a total of 5 goals, 6 assists and 16 points giving him an even 2.00pts/g. Jones even earned OHL Player of the Week honours for the week starting on Oct 17th. Despite losing their top line of Christian Dvorak/Mitch Marner/Matthew Tkachuk, the London Knights are expected to finish high in a competitive Western Conference. One of Jones’ criticisms is his undisciplined play. Because of their dominate top line lat season, Jones missing games wasn’t an issue – but now that he will be relied upon offensively, he needs to make sure he stay out of the box and more importantly out of the dog house with the OHL. He’ll need to work on his composure without losing his competitive edge. It is unknown if Jones’ scoring can translate to the NHL level, but his ability to play a complete game and his work ethic will definitely help his case as a third line grinder.
Alex DeBrincat (Chicago Blackhawks prospect)
Erie Otters could have another good team this season and a lot of that is with Alex DeBrincat leading the way. He proved that his 104 point season with Connor McDavid was no fluke finishing with 101 points in 60 games. He is already on pace to beat both seasons averaging 2.18pts/g with 12 goals and 12 assists in 11 games. DeBrincat has been placed on a line with long time teammate Taylor Raddysh and it is clear their chemistry hasn’t missed a beat. DeBrincat has been inconsistent in the past but continues to prove he is one to watch. He has very elite skills and can score just as well as he can set up play. His instincts are already at the pro level but may take him a longer time to hone in on those skills and faster decision making in the NHL.
Taylor Raddysh (Tampa Bay prospect)
Sticking with the Erie Otters, Raddysh leads the OHL in scoring with 11 goals and 28 points in 12 games. That’s good for 2.33pts/g. This is a bit of a surprise but will be interesting to see if he can keep it up. He averaged just over a point a game in his draft year last season and while he losses teammate Dylan Strome he is still playing on a line with Alex DeBrincat so he should finish the same, if not better this time around. Raddysh size and strength benefits his power forward style of play. While he may not continue to score in the NHL, he has other valuable attributes to his game in to be an effective third line player. Tampa Bay would hope to see him stay consistent and work on his defensive game and play without the puck.
Jeremy Helvig (Carolina Hurricanes)
The Kingston Frontenacs have lost a lot of players and Jeremy Helvig has been a rock in the backend for them at many times this season. Helvig will play the bulk of games this season which will be valuable to his development. His ice time was mismanaged in the playoffs last season but it is now his starting role to lose. Helvig’s size and athleticism makes him an attractive prospect but as it is for most goaltenders, he will spend some time in the minors before cracking an NHL lineup.
Bobby MacIntyre (Free Agent)
Overage forward Bobby MacIntyre currently sits tied in 2nd in OHL scoring with 27 points which is a surprise to me, almost as surprising as his Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds sitting in a three way tie for first in the Western Conference. The Greyhounds see a lot of players return but the team is clicking well with multiple players already reaching double digits in points. Could MacIntyre be the Mike Amadio of the 2016-17 season? Perhaps it is too early to tell but right now he is averaging 1.69pts/g. At any rate, MacIntyre will be a project prospect if a team signs him by the off-season.
Troy Timpano (Free Agent)
I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about Troy Timpano but I will be interested in following/scouting him this season and I will continue my updates as they stay relevant. He did not get selected in the NHL draft, but played behind one of worse teams in the league the last two seasons. Timpano is now with the Erie Otter and is currently leading OHL goalies in GAA (1.88) and is second in SAV% (0.931).
Michael DiPietro (2017 eligible)
Michael DiPietro showed great strides with the Windsor Spitfires last season posting a 2.45 GAA and 0.912 SAV%. He only got 29 games but will get the bulk of games in this important season for both himself (draft year) and his club (Memorial Cup hosts). DiPietro could quite possibly be the top goaltending prospect in his 2017 NHL Draft class and be one of the highest picked goaltenders in a while. DiPietro’s combination of athleticism, good rebound control, quick instinct and commitment to learn makes him hard to beat and a very attractive prospect for NHL scouts. He has the potential to become a starting goaltender, but none of this work will be done overnight. He’ll have plenty of competitive opportunities (Windsor, Top Prospects game, WJC-potential, & Memorial Cup) to prove his place.