Today marks the conclusion of my 2009-10 season preview. Below are my predictions for all major performance awards.
Red Tilson Trophy (Most Outstanding Player) – Taylor Hall
It seems like Taylor Hall has already been in the league forever, despite him entering his third season in the league. Due to his November birth date, he's not eligible for the NHL Entry Draft until this year (2010). At this point, I really have a hard time seeing another player in the league win this award. Hall is the reigning Memorial Cup MVP and few would argue against the claim that he's the most talented player in the OHL. With Windsor likely to repeat as OHL Champions, it's hard to imagine anyone else winning this award. That being said, I think another pair of talented draft eligible forwards could gain some consideration. Those being Joey Hishon of Owen Sound, and Jeff Skinner of Kitchener. If both teams can be as good as I expect them to be, I'd also assume both of these fine young players will be their key offensive producer. Another name to throw in for consideration is Ryan Ellis. The defending OHL defenseman of the year kept a scoring pace with Hall all of last season, and the argument could be made he's just as important to Windsor's offense.
Goaltender of the Year – J.P. Anderson
This should be a really wide open award. I'm going with the young Anderson though. The draft eligible Majors netminder showed how truly talented he was in last year's playoffs. With the Majors likely near the top of the Eastern Conference and likely having a solid defense, Anderson should be right up near the top in every major statistical category. That being said, if Chris Carrozzi sticks around and plays well, he could limit Anderson's games played number, making him less likely for the award. A few other names I expect to be right in contention are Scott Stajcer, Michael Hutchinson, and Robin Lehner. Stajcer is the main man in Owen Sound this year and the Rangers draft pick is likely to have a solid year on a solid Owen Sound squad. Hutchinson is the new goaltender for the London Knights, and if they have any chance at the division, he's going to have to be at the top of his game. Finally Robin Lehner is a Swedish import who's uber talented and is likely to earn the majority of starts for the improving Greyhounds.
Max Kaminsky Trophy (Defenseman of the Year) – Ryan Ellis
He's the defending defenseman of the year, a year older and stronger, and playing on an equally talented Windsor team. I think that should speak for itself. It's hard to imagine Ellis having a bad season, especially since he's likely to have an equally talented defense partner in Cam Fowler. Speaking of Fowler, I think he's one of several guys with an outside shot. The likely top 3 draft pick for 2010 is an exceptional two way defenseman and has a chance to eclipse Ellis as Windsor's most import blueliner. Majors defenseman Cameron Gaunce also has a shot. He was a runner up last year. Lastly, another rookie, Rangers defenseman John Moore could have a shot. The Blue Jackets first rounder was the USHL defenseman of the year last season and shouldn't have any trouble duplicating that success in the OHL.
Emms Family Award (Rookie of the Year) – Cam Fowler
A crazy wide open award at this point. It could go to any number of the talented rookies expected to join the league this year, be it imports, U.S. transfers, or natural priority selections. At this point, I have to consider Fowler the front runner. If anyone saw him play at last years Under 18's, they'd know how exceptional of a player he is. I just can't imagine what opposing penalty kills are going to do in Windsor this year. Ellis and Fowler on the point, who do you cover? Outside of Fowler, the aforementioned Moore could be a likely selection. Again, he excelled in the USHL last year and is older than your typical rookie. For Imports, I think Hounds netminder Robin Lehner and Colts forward Alex Burmistrov have the best chances. While for recently drafted 16 year olds, I like the Wolves Justin Sefton to have the biggest impact. However, it's also likely that any number of guys I didn't mention could win this award too.
Leo Lalonde Trophy (Overager of the Year) – Luke Pither
Another extremely wide open award, this year's crop of overagers should be epic. I went with Luke Pither because I expect him to carry over his success in Belleville last year, to his new team in Barrie. He'll be playing with just just as much talent as was in Belleville last year and if you pro-rate his stats with the Bulls to a full year, he would have had a 120 point season. Obviously his former teammate Bryan Cameron (and possibly future teammate, wink wink), would be a strong candidate should he return to the league. A guy I feel strongly has a legit chance is Guelph's captain and recent Hurricanes draft pick Matt Kennedy. Kennedy does just about everything for Guelph and could be capable of putting up an 80 point season. Lastly, how can you overlook last year's second leading goal scorer, Brett Parnham, should he return.
Matt Leyden Trophy (Coach of the Year) - Dave Cameron
For coach of the year, I'm going with the Majors Dave Cameron. For my money, he might be the best coach in the league, and with Missy a possibility for first in the East, I think he would deserve it. Obviously you can't overlook Windsor's "Boogie Man," Bob Boughner. He's the reigning Matt Leyden trophy winner and Windsor should be just as good this year under him. Two others with a chance are Kitchener's Steve Spott, and Barrie's Marty Williamson.
Eddie Powers Trophy (Scoring Leader) - Taylor Hall
Another no brainer for me. With all the talent surrounding him and it being his draft year, I'd expect Hall to put up some monster numbers this year. Three others who should be up near the top are Joey Hishon, Jeff Skinner, and Luke Pither.
Goal Scoring Leader – Taylor Hall
If you don't recall, Hall finished 4th in the league in goals scorer during his rookie season in 2007-08. And while those numbers fell a bit last season, I expect him to regain his goal scoring form this year. Obviously, last year's runner up, Brett Parnham could be another likely selection. The aforementioned Joey Hishon could be up there too, as his goal scoring instincts are way above average. Overager Bryan Cameron and Rangers rookie Jeremy Morin could be near the top of the goal scoring race too.
Also, the following are my predictions for the three OHL all star teams...
All Star Teams
C – Joey Hishon
LW – Taylor Hall
RW – Greg Nemisz
D – Ryan Ellis
D – Cameron Gaunce
G – J.P. Anderson
Coach – Dave Cameron
C – Jeff Skinner
LW – Chris MacKinnon
RW – Matt Kennedy
D – Cam Fowler
D – John Moore
G – Scott Stajcer
Coach – Steve Spott
C – Luke Pither
LW – Josh Brittain
RW – John McFarland
D – Michael Del Zotto
D – Brian Lashoff
G – Michael Hutchinson
Coach – Bob Boughner
Eastern Conference Champions - Mississauga St. Michael's Majors
While I had Barrie winning the Conference and the Division, I expect the Majors to achieve more success in the playoffs. They've got a well balanced team and they've got a lot of young players who'll likely hit their stride just as the playoffs are coming. Not to mention, they put in a really good effort in last year's playoffs and know what it takes to get to that next level.
Western Conference Champions - Windsor Spitfires
With as much talent Windsor has, and is returning from last year. I just can't see them getting overthrown. That is unless, their goaltending really does struggle.
OHL Champions - Windsor Spitfires
A deserved repeat, no doubt about it.
Well that's it for my season preview folks. I hope you enjoyed reading and I'd love to hear what you have to say, in particular some of your own predictions on the year end awards.