Welcome to our OHL Season Preview, the Ontario Hockey League or OHL, will be opening its 37th season as a league on September 21st, 2017. With all of the European leagues now underway (KHL, SHL, DEL, LIIGA, ELH, and NLA) as well as the NHL pre-season. Hockey has definitely started up for those desperately needing some puck action. But if you love the OHL the most, well they begin tomorrow!
Teams to Watch For:
Windsor will be the heavy favorites again this season, they loaded their team with offense and some solid defenseman and won themselves a Memorial Cup as the hosts of the tournament. The first time a team has done that since Shawinigan of the QMJHL in 2012. Another team that will be gunning for the top is the London Knights with the help of Cliff Pu and Victor Mete. A team that will definitely see a fall is the Erie Otters now that both Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat will be in the NHL this season. A team on the rise is definitely the Kingston Frontenacs as they have some key pieces, especially one entering his second season in Linus Nyman.
Here are some players poised to lead the league and their respective teams this year. If Nick Suzuki doesn’t stay with Vegas this season in the NHL, he could very well lead the entire league or come close with Sarnia’s Jordan Kyrou beside him in the statistics department. Cliff Pu of the London Knights will definitely be looking to increase his impressive play from last season that saw him post 86 points. Owen Sound’s Jonah Gadjovich will be entering his fourth season in the league and will most likely jump up from his 74 point campaign from a year before. Two players that will help Kingston climb back to the top 10 in the league are Linus Nyman who had a solid first year with 50 points and Jason Robertson who led the team with 81.
If Mikhail Sergachev doesn’t stick with the Tampa Bay Lightning this year, he could very well lead the league for a defenseman in scoring with Connor Timmins of Sault Ste. Marie and Victor Mete from London close behind. Another Kingston rookie from last year who could have a better season than last is Eemeli Rasanen. Olli Juolevi will need to step up his play this year if he wants to stay with the Vancouver Canucks and be an NHL defenseman as he was scouted. Winnipeg is hoping Logan Stanley has himself a solid year after posting 17 points with Windsor last year. Nicolas Hague, Jordan Sambrook, and Keaton Middleton are other notable players that you should keep your eyes on.
Now goaltending is where things get sorta scarce this year in the OHL. Guys like Tyler Parson, Jeremy Brodeur, and Michael McNiven went on to pro. Goalies are more spread out now. Troy Timpano will still have a good year in Erie despite losing Strome and DeBrincat. Jeremy Helvig will continue to carry the number one job in Kingston. However, two elite goalies still remain in the league but could be gone next year. And I’m speaking of Dylan Wells and Michael DiPietro who will be looked at big time by their respective pro teams.
It’s definitely going to be a different looking season with Strome and DeBrincat gone, but this also gives room for new players to take over the league as top scorers. Jordan Kyrou and Cliff Pu have the best odds of doing so with Kingston’s Jason Robertson not too far behind after an 81 point season a year ago. If Sergachev stays with Windsor somehow, they basically have the same core that won them the Memorial Cup last year. And if that’s the case, they could very well do it again this year.
What’s going to be interesting as well is how the teams who finished last and close to last will fair out this year with new players in the system. Teams like Barrie, Guelph, and North Bay. Either way it’s looking like an exciting 2017-18 season in the OHL and it all starts tomorrow.