Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Post Deadline Examination Part 1: The Beasts of the East

Now that the super crazy OHL trade deadline has passed (so much for that quiet deadline some General Managers were suggesting would happen), it's time to examine how teams compare in the race to represent the OHL in the Memorial Cup (outside of Mississauga of course).

I figured I'd do this in a two part series. The first examining the beasts of the Eastern Conference. The second examining the best of the West. This is a purely subjective look at the standings race, but I'll be breaking down and ranking each competitive team by specific categories. Those categories will be, forwards, defense, goaltending, special teams, and character/experience.

Without further ado, here's a look at how the Eastern Conference adds up now.

For me, there are five teams in the East with a legitimate shot of winning the OHL Championship. Those would be Mississauga, Ottawa, Niagara, Oshawa, and Kingston. Sorry fans of the rest.

So let's break things down.


Mississauga Majors
Maxim Kitsyn - Casey Cizikas - Devante Smith-Pelly
Chris DeSousa - Jordan Mayer - Justin Shugg
Joseph Cramarossa - Rob Flick - Gregg Sutch

Niagara IceDogs
Andrew Agozzino - Alex Friesen - David Pacan
Darren Archibald - Ryan Strome - Freddie Hamilton
Jason Wilson - Steven Shipley - Myles Doan

Ottawa 67's
Shane Prince - Ryan Martindale - Tyler Toffoli
Dalton Smith - Cody Lindsay - Thomas Nesbitt
Ben Dubois - Sean Monahan - Tyler Graovac

Oshawa Generals
Alain Berger - Boone Jenner - Christian Thomas
Lucas Lessio - Andy Andreoff - Nicklas Jensen
Josh Graves - J.P. Labardo/Scott Laughton - Emerson Clark

Kingston Frontenacs
Sean Jones - Ryan Spooner - Nathan Moon
Corey Durocher - Ethan Werek - Michael Fine
Tyler J. Brown/Conor Stokes - Charles Sarault - Mitch Lebar

1. Niagara IceDogs
- A really close race, but I think I prefer the tenacity and scoring ability of the Dogs. Once they begin to develop more chemistry, they'll be really dangerous.
2. Mississauga Majors
- Maxim Kitsyn has fit in incredibly well so far as that long needed winger for Cizikas and Smith-Pelly. DeSousa should fit in well too.
3. Ottawa 67's
- They obviously have maybe the best line in the OHL, but their second line will have to be more consistent and they'll need to rely on an inexperienced third line
4. Oshawa Generals
- Just a young team with a lot of talent. They are very dangerous, but can also be prone to spells of inconsistency
5. Kingston Frontenacs
- They need Ethan Werek back badly, but even with him, this forward unit is the weakest of the top 5.


Mississauga Majors
Marc Cantin - Dylan DeMelo
Stuart Percy - Brett Flemming
Michael D'Orazio - David Corrente

Niagara IceDogs
Dougie Hamilton - Jesse Graham
Mike Schwindt - Shayne Rover
Luke Mercer/Nik Knezic - Simon Gronvaldt/Tim Billingsley

Ottawa 67's
Travis Gibbons - Jake Cardwell
Marc Zanetti - Cody Ceci
Adam Sedlak - Julian Luciani

Oshawa Generals
Calvin de Haan - Colin Suellentrop
Tony DeHart - Daniel Maggio
Scott Valentine - Jimmy McDowell/Nick Quinn

Kingston Frontenacs
Erik Gudbranson - Alex Gudbranson
Taylor Doherty - Jeff Braithwaite
Mitch Gaulton - Michal Cajkovsky

1. Mississauga Majors
- You can't argue with success. It remains to be seen how Michael D'Orazio fits into things, but he'll provide more veteran leadership to a unit that was somewhat lacking it.
2. Kingston Frontenacs
- They may be struggling lately, but this unit CAN be a very tough one to play against. Gudbranson and Doherty need to be on top of their game, but the supporting cast is underrated too.
3. Oshawa Generals
- On paper, this is a really good defense. But for some reason, they just haven't gelled incredibly well together. A lot of veteran talent though, which bodes well come playoff time.
4. Ottawa 67's
- Just a solid unit. No real star or difference maker, but six guys who work hard and can keep pucks out.
5. Niagara IceDogs
- The most inexperienced of the bunch. They're big and built for the small ice in Niagara, but when a playoff forecheck hits you, you might have some trouble.


Mississauga Majors
J.P. Anderson
Mickael Audette

Niagara IceDogs
Mark Visentin
Dalton McGrath

Ottawa 67's
Petr Mrazek
Shayne Campbell

Kingston Frontenacs
Philip Grubauer
Frank Palazzese

Oshawa Generals
Peter Di Salvo
Kevin Baillie

1. Niagara IceDogs
- People can whine all they want about Visentin's performance at the WJC, but he's been probably the best goaltender in the OHL this season. He works hard and is highly competitive, which means he's highly motivated to prove doubters wrong.
2. Ottawa 67's
- Petr Mrazek stood on his head for the 67's in last year's playoffs and has been fantastic so far this season. He can steal a series for his team.
3. Kingston Frontenacs
- Can't argue with the experience that Grubauer has with the playoffs and winning the Memorial Cup last year. He's been lukewarm this year, but can and should be better.
4. Mississauga Majors
- J.P. Anderson has improved his game greatly this year and has proven to be a strong playoff performer the past two years, but I think he's more beatable than the three ahead of him.
5. Oshawa Generals
- Peter Di Salvo is a veteran in this league and has done well to stabilize the Gennies situation in net, but he was unable to get the job done in last year's playoffs.

Special Teams

Current Powerplay Ranks
1. Ottawa 67's @ 24.2%
2. Niagara IceDogs @ 21.1%
3. Mississauga Majors @ 20.0%
4. Kingston Frontenacs @ 19.8%
5. Oshawa Generals @19.4%

Current Penalty Kill Ranks
1. Ottawa 67's @ 82.8%
2. Oshawa Generals @81.5%
3. Niagara IceDogs @81.2%
4. Kingston Frontenacs @79.0%
5. Mississauga Majors @78.2%

1. Ottawa 67's
- If you're from the Scotty Bowman school of thinking, the 67's have a great chance of being OHL champs. Teams have a hard enough time stopping that first line with 5 on the ice, never mind a man down.
2. Niagara IceDogs
- Just a solid, hard working special teams unit, whose forwards drive the powerplay.
3. Kingston Frontenacs
- Their PK is hurting, but their powerplay should be better in the playoffs when they run Doherty and Gudbranson together.
4. Oshawa Generals
- Their powerplay is inconsistent, but their penalty killers do a great job.
5. Mississauga Majors
- Bottom line, their special teams play needs to improve. You'd think their PK would be better, but it's struggled this year.


1. Mississauga Majors
- They're experienced at every position and just added an overager who's never been eliminated in the first round and has never missed the playoffs in his career (DeSousa). They work hard and they battle tooth and nail for space on the ice.
2. Ottawa 67's
I wish their depth players at forward were a little more experienced, but they have a very cohesive unit that clearly has good chemistry. Two experienced forward lines will really help this club go far in the playoffs.
3. Niagara IceDogs
- Their forward unit might be the toughest and the hardest to play against, but their inexperienced defense could potentially hurt them in the playoffs.
4. Kingston Frontenacs
- The team's inconsistency this season is somewhat troubling. They are a veteran club and shouldn't be prone to these ups and downs. This team hasn't won a playoff round in a while, so it's key veteran players are largely playoff inexperienced
5. Oshawa Generals
- This team has been a lot better this year than expected, but they've got a really young forward unit which is probably built to be better next season. The defense has a lot of experience, and plays hard, but can be prone to stupid mistakes.

Overall Rankings

In order to determine the overall rankings, a point system was used.

First Place in a Category = 5 points
Second Place in a Category = 4 points
Third Place in a Category = 3 points
Fourth Place = 2 points
Fifth Place = 1 point

With that in mind, here's how it totals up (point total is out of 25).

1. Ottawa 67's = 18 points
2 (TIE). Niagara IceDogs = 17 points & Mississauga Majors = 17 points
4. Kingston Frontenacs = 13 points
5. Oshawa Generals = 9 points

So there you have it folks, IMO the Ottawa 67's have the best chance to represent the Eastern Conference in the OHL Finals. They've got the best balance of any team from the East. They have two strong scoring lines, a deadly powerplay and a goaltender who is capable of standing on his head to win a series.

Anywhere you strongly disagree (since this was such a subjective article)?


Slim said...

Only minor dispute might be on the defense ranks. Oshawa and Kingston have big names but both teams give up tons more goals than anyone else on your list. It might be coaching issues but Kingston gives up 3.8 goals a game and Niagara gives up 2.7 goals a game. Both teams have good goalies. I'd guess that Niagara and Ottawa both get more offense from the back-end from either of those teams as well.

Anonymous said...

as a majors fan, i totally agree. but i still think the majors can beat ottawa. i guess we will see sunday!!

Anonymous said...

Sunday won't be an accurate indication just like the early season meeting with these 2 teams. In all 4 games they play this year the road team will be playing their 3rd game in 2.5 days and the home team has the Saturday off. I fell that the regular season games won't be a 100% indication of who is best. This debate will only be settled in the east finals

Anonymous said...

You failed to factor in quality of coaching. That is a significant factor.

Anonymous said...

I think Byrne has shown that he is one of the best in the league in the 2 seasons he has take over the team

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brock Otten said...


I think Niagara's lack of experience on the back end may hurt them. They're playing incredibly well as a unit right now, but with tighter forechecking and more time spent against the top lines of other teams, could definitely change things. But then again, they've got a lot of things going for them too, like playing on the small ice in Niagara, where open ice is hard to come by (unless you're willing to bleed for it).

RE: The Majors vs. 67's

Sunday certainly was embarrassing for the 67's as they was manhandled by the Majors.

The 67's are really struggling right now, and I don't think it was a true indication of their ability to be competitive in the postseason. But, the Majors performance certainly did make a statement.