OHL Report: Erie Otters and Mississauga Steelheads Heating Up

Peter Harling



Boasting nine NHL prospects including the likes of Dylan Strome, Alex DeBrincat and Taylor Raddysh, it's no surprise that the Erie Otters are among the class of the OHL. The Erie Otters have been dominant all season and this past month has been no different. The play of forward Alex DeBrincat and goaltender Joseph Murdaca were rewarded with OHL Player of the Week honours in weeks one and thre, respectively, in February.


Alex DeBrincat – Chicago Blackhawks


After a disappointing ruling that left Alex DeBrincat off USA's U20 WJC roster, the Chicago Blackhawks prospect set out to show why team officials made a mistake. In his 26 games following his return, he's scored 25 goals and 53 points – only being held scoreless twice during that time frame. While Team USA won gold, one would wonder if DeBrincat's speed, skill and pure scoring ability would have made that trip that much easier.


This was the third time DeBrincat made OHL Player of the Week. This week, he became the Otters' all-time leader for career goals and topped off his third consecutive season scoring 50 or more goals (and 100 or more points). He's proven he can score without McDavid and he's proven he can score without Strome. Standing at 5'7 and 170lbs, size has always been a concern with scouts. But the NHL has become more and more of a younger and smaller player's league than ever before. In order to hit him, you have to catch him first and with his hockey sense and being aware of his surroundings – that's not an easy thing to do. DeBrincat has all the other tools to make him an elite prospect for the Blackhawks.


Joseph Murdaca – Undrafted '98


The second Erie Otters player selected as OHL Player of the Week is the undrafted goaltender, Joseph Murdaca. Murdaca has less than 30 career OHL games but came up to the task when starting goaltender Troy Timpano came down with an illness. Murdaca won 10 of 11 consecutive starts while filling in for Timpano. In week three, he posted a 3-0-0-0 record that included a shutout. In those three games he turned aside 54 of 56 shots he faced earning him a SV% of .964 and GAA of 0.670. Murdaca does not have many games under his belt and this is a small sample size. I haven't seen Murdaca play much, but he has that size (6'3, 186lbs) that NHL teams love. He has a good skill set that he can build on as he gets relied on more. At best, keep an eye on Murdaca to become a late bloomer.


While the East is a much weaker conference as a whole, the Mississauga Steelheads have become one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference. They really turned things around since before the holiday break when they were flirting with the chances of missing the playoffs. Mississauga currently sits 2nd in the East winning 16 of their last 25 games. With NHL prospects like Michael McLeod, Spencer Watson, Nathan Bastian and Vili Saarijarvi – the Steelheads were expected to be the top two of the Eastern Conference. Some of the turnaround success could be the acquisition of LA Kings prospect, Spencer Watson. Two Steelheads players joined the two Otters players for OHL Player of the We