Thanks so much to everyone that replied to the request for ideas for this week's list. So many great ideas, but I had to pick one (although I've saved a few for later too, so that they may be future top 10 lists). With the season winding down (heck there's just over a month left of the regular season), I felt that the most compelling idea was that of the top contenders for the OHL MVP, otherwise known as the Red Tilson Trophy.
Just some general stats about the award...
In the last 20 years:
1 goaltender has won the award (Andrew Raycroft, 1999-2000)
1 defenseman has won the award (Brian Campbell, 1998-1999)
3 first year draft eligible players have won the award (Tyler Seguin, 2009-2010, David Legwand, 1997-1998, Eric Lindros, 1990-1991)
0 overagers have won the award
6 players have come from the top team in a conference
13 players have come from the top team in the division
3 players have come from a team outside home ice advantage in the first round (but none in the past 10 years)
8 players led the league in scoring
16 players were inside the top 5 in scoring
2 forwards were outside the top 10 in scoring (Brad Boyes was 21st in scoring for the Western Conference leading Plymouth Whalers & Alyn McCauley was 15th in scoring for the East Division leading Ottawa 67's)
With that in mind, here's the list.
10. Mavric Parks - Saginaw Spirit
Parks certainly has the odds against him. Only one goaltender has ever won the award and no overager has ever won it. Parks is both. But the Spirit have been sensational this year (minus the past month) and Parks has been the biggest reason for that IMO. The Spirit relied upon the great goaltending of Edward Pasquale last year and since being acquired in the offseason, Parks has given them the same type of performance. Standards were meant to be broken, so who's to say Parks can't be the first overager to win the award?
9. Jason Akeson - Kitchener Rangers
As mentioned, no overager has ever won this award. But Akeson has been sensational all season long for Kitchener. The team needed offensive players to step up when it was learned that Skinner and Morin wouldn't be coming back. Akeson was that guy. The team needed someone to keep the offense going when Gabriel Landeskog was out with an ankle injury (and at the WJC's). Akeson was that guy. He's been a consistent offensive performer this season and along with Parks, has to be the top contender for the Leo Lalonde Trophy, at the very least.
8. Christian Thomas - Oshawa Generals
Thomas has a lot of things going for him. He's playing for a team that has to be a near lock for home ice in the first round (at this point). He's second in the league in goals and has a good shot of finishing in the top 5 of scoring by season's end (with the pace he's been on lately). The Generals are such a young team and Thomas has been the steady, veteran presence for that group. On the other hand, history tells us the voters do favor those who play for division leading teams, and those who finish inside the top 5 of league scoring (which Thomas currently is outside of).
7. Mark Visentin - Niagara IceDogs
The Dogs have had a sensational season and winning this award would be absolutely fantastic for Visentin. For all the flak he's taken for his WJC performance, it would be great to shut up his naysayers. After all, Visentin does have the best stats among OHL goaltenders, currently leading in GAA and SV%. All this in front of a relatively young and inexperienced defense in Niagara. But the question is, who's the better candidate amongst IceDog players? Visentin or Ryan Strome? History tells us the voters favor players like Strome.
6. Scott Wedgewood - Plymouth Whalers
There might not be a goaltender in the OHL who deserves this award more than Wedgewood. The Whalers have been excellent this season to the surprise of many (cough, me, cough) and the Devils draft pick has been a huge part of that. The Whalers look like a strong possibility for home ice advantage in the first round (especially with the way they're playing lately) and he's got the 5th best GAA in the league. But again, how many goaltenders have won this award?
5. Tyler Toffoli - Ottawa 67's
2nd in league scoring, 1st in goal scoring, on a team who leads their division. Sounds like a recipe for the Red Tilson. No doubt about it, Tyler Toffoli has been one of the best players in the league this season. The Toffoli, Prince, Martindale line might be one of the best in the entire CHL. But maybe that's the problem. Is Toffoli the league MVP, or is that line the MVP? On any different night, Prince or Martindale might be the best player on that team. With his triggerman feeding him the puck, is he really the league's most valuable?
4. J.P. Anderson - Mississauga Majors
This one is a tough one for me. On one hand, is Anderson really the best goaltender in the league, on a strong and well structured defensive team? I'd probably say no. But the Majors are the best team in the league and Anderson is probably their most important player. Look no further than the performance of Mikael Audette this season. If the Majors hold off the Dogs for top spot in the league, Anderson has a really good shot. If not, then he's probably not nearly as strong a contender.
3. Ryan Ellis - Windsor Spitfires
Really, Ellis has been a man among boys this season. The Spitfires may not be leading the conference as they have in the past, but they could still walk away with their division, and at the very least, home ice advantage in round 1. With such a young defense and shaky goaltending, Ellis has been the pillar of consistency as the war hardened (or at least Memorial Cup hardened) veteran. Ellis is on pace for a similar offensive season as Brian Campbell had in his MVP year, and is currently 6th in the league in points per game. Wouldn't it be great for Ellis to win this award in his OHL swan song?
2. Ryan Strome - Niagara IceDogs
Could we really see back to back draft eligible players take home this award? It certainly seems likely. Strome has been a consistent offensive performer all season long and has recently taken over the scoring lead from Tyler Toffoli. The Dogs are now only 4 points back of Mississauga for the top spot in the East (and the entire league). Could voters really ignore the type of season and the type of impact Strome has had for Niagara, if they end up on top of the league?
1. Joey Hishon - Owen Sound Attack
The Owen Sound Attack have been so good this year, and so good lately, that Hishon has to be considered the front runner for this award, at this moment (IMO). While he's not top 5 in league scoring right now (he's 6th), he's actually tops in points per game, which suggests that he should make the top 5 by season's end. He's also a more veteran player who's had his ups and his downs in this league, making his victory of this award all the more sweet. Owen Sound has the Western Conference lead right now, and by season's end, there's a good chance they could lead the entire league. Both history, and talent put this award in Hishon's favor.
What do you think?