As some of you may recall, Sean Keogh used to contribute to this blog and still occasionally does from time to time. I met Sean while working for HockeysFuture several years ago, and he's a stand up dude. He's always been a huge OHL fan and continues to follow the league, however unfortunately he's stuck in Graduate School in Europe (perhaps I'm exaggerating about the "stuck" part). This leaves him on the outside looking in. But when he returns for the Holiday break, it's always great of him to contribute. It serves as an interesting read because of nature behind the report. Obviously Sean follows the league closely, but for the last few years, he only gets to see games live around Christmas. That means, his reports can serve as a very good account of how far players have progressed in that one year. Essentially, changes may be more obvious to him because he's not seeing them play throughout several points of the season.
Anyway, without further ado, here's his report.
This was my first time being in the stands for an OHL game this year, and for better or worse it was not a particularly competitive match-up. On paper and on the ice it was a mismatch, as the division-leading offensive juggernaut from Ottawa was up against a last placed Peterborough who has struggled all year, although less so of late. On the other hand, the two clubs met up Thursday in Peterborough for the first half of a home and home, and the game was surprisingly tight.
In the end the game was not particularly close, as the 67s took it 6-0 in what easily could have been a far worse result for the Petes. Although the play was incredibly one-sided, the 67s just could not cash in the first period. The final shots were 43-23 and if there was a scoring change counter, it would have been far more lopsided. It is always hard to watch the players on the losing team in these games, particularly unfortunate considering Peterborough might have the better 2011 NHL Draft prospects.
As long as the 67s play as they did tonight, they are an extremely dangerous team. When the first line of Prince, Toffoli and Martindale was on the ice, the puck rarely left the Peterborough zone. With the blueline back to full health, and Mrazek more than capable of bailing his team out as well, the 67s are a fairly complete team behind their dominant top line. Peterborough on the other hand looked overwhelmed and out of sync, and really nobody on their club stood out positively in this game.
Tyler Toffoli – Drafted by Los Angeles
The triggerman on the top line, Toffoli was constantly dangerous all night, scoring one goal and assisting on another. He easily could have had a couple more goals too, hitting at least one post and constantly buzzing around the net. His goal was a classic goal scorer’s play, digging a puck out of a scramble in front, dragging it to safety and ripping it high. He also had a couple of nice breaks on the penalty kill, drawing a penalty on one. There is a lot to like in his game, and he is a well-rounded and competitive junior player, but as an NHL prospect it is really all about his goal scoring ability, particularly thanks to his shot. Many times tonight he got himself open off the cycle work of his linemates and wound up for a shot. Other times he was more involved in creating the play, and I think it is important for him to stay aggressive.
Ryan Martindale – Drafted by Edmonton
The pivot on the top line, Martindale was like his linemates constantly dangerous, picking up the sixth goal for the 67s late in the game. Of all the chances he created for or received from his linemates, the goal was actually one of the less impressive, a weak backhander in front of the net off a slick pass from Prince. He looks a step quicker and more assertive than last year. Had a number of nice plays making quick cuts into the middle, but seemed to rip the shot high or wide every time. Cycled well with his linemates, uses his reach better now, and finds guys effectively, but there is always something just a tad missing. It will be interesting to see if Edmonton signs him this year or if he gets another year in the OHL in 2011-12.
Shane Prince – 2011 Draft Eligible
The draft eligible member of the 67s top line, Prince had an excellent game, picking up three assists, creating a ton of chances and being named first star. He set up Nesbitt beautifully for the first goal, was involved in Toffoli’s snipe, and made a slick pass to Martindale for his. The top line was running through him tonight most of all, and the puck was on his stick a ton. Quick dish passes, give and gos, it was a fairly impressive display. I saw Prince a handful of times live last year and was not overly impressed. His skating has clearly improved significantly. But even in this game he was not really burning people with speed but rather quick darting moves and agile cuts. His physical tools are not exceptional in general, not an amazing shot or great size or superb hands, but his anticipation is off the charts. One of the reasons the line was so effective is because Prince in particular, but Toffoli and Martindale as well, simply won so many races and cut off so many passes from the Petes that they regained control all game. Prince is clearly an intense player who demands a lot of himself. The line was a bit snakebitten in the first, and a couple of times he banged his stick against the boards out of frustration. There has been a lot of debate about Prince’s NHL potential, and I will reserve judgment on that until I get a few more live views this month.
Dalton Smith – Drafted by Columbus
Smith had a solid game, chipping in a short-handed goal and skating on the second line with overagers Thomas Nesbitt and Cody Lindsay. The goal was a nice drive to the net, although Smith only had to overpower Lino Martschini, a 5’5”, 126lbs import from Switzerland, to pick up a rebound on a shot from Marc Zanetti. He had a handful of other scoring chances down low. The hands and skating did not look any better than last year, but he played a solid game overall. Sometimes Smith seems to get lost looking for hits, and finding the right balance between offence, defence and physical play remains elusive, though he can contribute an all-round game when he is on, and for the most part he was in this game.
Cody Ceci – 2012 Draft Eligible
A late 1993 birthday, Ceci looks ready to be drafted. He was skating on the second pairing with Marc Zanetti all game, playing in all situations and performing confidently and competently. I like Ceci as a prospect because he is so well-rounded, and already has a pretty solid build. His skating has improved and it will be interesting to see how much further his game can improve before the draft next year.
Sean Monahan – 2013 Draft Eligible
This was my first proper look at Monahan, who is having a solid rookie season playing on the third line for the 67s. He was quite good in this game, setting up two goals, one for Ben Dubois, and another for Tyler Graovac. The latter in particular was the result of a nice play along the boards, give and go at the point, and dish to Groavac down low. Another young player with a solid build, he is a remarkably well-rounded prospect for somebody who only turned 16 a few months ago.
Petr Mrazek – Drafted by Detroit
It was not a busy night for Mrazek. He made a handful of nice saves, bailing out the 67s on one or two occasions for the shutout, but in general having a relatively easy night stopping all 23 shots he faced. Maybe his most memorable moment was when he took a hack from a Petes player and reacted by going after him, an interesting move for a goalie with two career penalty minutes.
Austin Watson – Drafted by Nashville
Although nobody on Peterborough had a particularly good game, Watson was probably the best. He had a few good chances, a couple as a result of turnovers by the 67s, and a couple others he created himself, but could not break the shutout. As always Watson was solid in all three zones, demonstrating good defensive track and solid penalty killing work. I have seen him have better games in the past.
Matt Puempel – 2011 Draft Eligible
Not a great game for Puempel. He was relatively noticeable, but was fairly ineffective overall. When he was controlling the puck, he was knocked off the puck frequently, and lacked the skating ability to really create space for himself. I know he is a player who thrives on finding space and being in the right place, but tonight he was not particularly dangerous and had few such opportunities. He has been scoring at a great clip lately though, so it was possibly just an off night for him, like the rest of the team.
Alan Quine – 2011 Draft Eligible
I was really looking forward to seeing Quine and was disappointed I barely saw him. He was quite invisible all night. Playing on the first powerplay unit he was noticeable only because the puck was then on his stick, but at even strength he created little offence other than one impressive rush late in the game. Like with Watson and Puempel, it was not a great game to evaluate him.
Clark Seymour – 2011 Draft Eligible
Other than engaging in some rough stuff at different moments in time, Seymour was more or less invisible. The size is there, but the Petes blueline as a whole seemed to struggle with the skill and speed of the 67s, and Seymour was neither better or worse than the other defencemen in that regard.
Slater Koekkoek – 2012 Draft Eligible
A promising prospect who had a couple of nice offensive plays from the blueline. Showed off some nice vision and mobility moving in off the point showing confidence with the puck. Like with Seymour, it was a hard game to really evaluate his defensive play.
Thanks a lot to Sean for this report. Hopefully he can give us another one before he heads back to school.