This has become a bit of a tradition here at the blog. Where we examine the possibility of certain players (mostly American) leaving their current teams or commitments to play in the Ontario Hockey League.
I do not include any 1995's on the list, as these guys were just drafted and as such, there has to be some assumption that they'll play in the OHL if they're a higher draft selection (even though a guy like Anthony DeAngelo probably would make a lot of sense for this list).
For reference sake, here is last year's list & here is 2009's list.
The timing of this list is perfect, as this past week it came out that J.T. Miller and Jamie Oleksiak will likely be playing in the OHL next season. They'll appear on this list.
Just a very quick disclaimer. While some research has been done for this article, the players listed here are not DEFINITELY coming to the OHL. And in some cases, some of them haven't even been mentioned in rumours as to be considering the OHL. The purpose of this article is to inform OHL fans of possible players that could be joining their line up in the future. It's all here say, and is in no way (for the most part) substantiated.
Here's the list.
10. Zachary Aston Reese - Kitchener Rangers
Reese is currently slated to head to Brown in 2012, and played last season with Lincoln of the USHL. He was a draft selection of the Soo Greyhounds in 2010, but had his rights traded to Kitchener this offseason. The Rangers are trying to work out a deal to bring the talented offensive forward into the fray, but there is apparently some distance between the two sides on a contract. If he heads to Kitchener, Reese has the potential to find an offensive role with the team and be an important player moving forward.
9. Matthew Peca - Kingston Frontenacs
It's not too often that we say a top prospect's rights have been traded away from Windsor, but that's the case for undersized, offensive forward Matthew Peca. Slated to head to Quinnipiac next year, Peca was drafted by the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning this year and it has appeared to have changed his perspective on things. Not to mention that Peca's rights were traded from Windsor to the Kingston Frontenacs, a significantly closer to home option for the forward. Peca is currently mulling over his options, so we'll see what happens. But if he does join Kingston, Peca could be an impact offensive player in the league. He won a Junior National Championship (RBC Cup) with Pembrooke of the CCHL last year, where he was named the tournament's MVP.
8. Jacob Trouba - Kitchener Rangers
At this point, Trouba is an extreme long shot to play in the OHL next season. He was recently named to the U.S. Under 18 team for next year, a commitment few back out on. The more likely scenario would have Trouba play out his draft year in the USHL and then join Kitchener next year (as he has yet to make an NCAA commitment). Trouba is considered to be a potential top 15 draft selection in 2012 and is a legitimate two way defenseman who could be an impact player in this league.
7. Riley Barber - Windsor Spitfires
Like Trouba, Barber is a long shot to play in the OHL next season because he's slated to play on the U.S. Under 18 team. Also like Trouba, Barber has no NCAA commitments and seems almost destined to play in the OHL in 2012-2013, after his draft season. Barber is a potential first round talent for the 2012 draft and is a scrappy offensive forward who would fit in very well alongside the likes of Kerby Rychel and Brady Vail.
6. Jordan Schmaltz - Windsor Spitfires
If the Spitfires were smart, they'd continue to work on getting this talented offensive defenseman in a Windsor jersey. With the loss of Ryan Ellis, Schmaltz would be a fantastic addition on the blueline. He was one of the best defenseman in the USHL last year, and as an October 1993 birthday, he's eligible for the 2012 draft, where he's expected to be a potential top 15 pick. When Schmaltz de-committed from Wisconsin, everyone figured it was to join Windsor. But recently, Schmaltz committed to North Dakota and now seems like a long shot to ever play in the OHL. Should he change his mind, he could probably jump into the league as a top 10 defenseman.
5. Scott Mayfield - Kitchener Rangers
Long rumoured to be courted by Kitchener, Mayfield has rejected the advances thus far. Playing the past two years in the USHL with Youngstown, Mayfield is set to attend the University of Denver in the fall. A big, hulking, physical defenseman, Mayfield would no question help out Kitchener's defense and give them a tower to pair with Ryan Murphy. Just something to think about. Mayfield was a draft pick of the New York Islanders this year (34th). The Islanders just got burned by a loophole that allowed two of their better NCAA prospects, Jason Gregoire and Blake Kessel, to become free agents. Any chance they're feeling a little bitter towards the NCAA currently and ask Mayfield to play in the OHL?
4. John Gibson - Kitchener Rangers
During the two years he played with the U.S. Development program, Gibson was a winner. He won Under 17 gold, where he was the best goaltender in the tournament. Last year, he won Under 18 gold, where he was again, the top goaltender in the tournament. That winning pedigree has to interest Kitchener, who traded away their starting goalie (Brandon Maxwell) this offseason. While Mike Morrison definitely seems capable of being a solid starter, there is no question that adding Gibson would be preferential. A second rounder of Anaheim this year, Gibson is set to be a Michigan Wolverine come September, which doesn't bode well for him in the OHL, but you truly never know.
3. Tyler Biggs - Oshawa Generals
Just what Oshawa would need, another top flight forward in their line up. Set to be one of the elite's offensive juggernauts next season, Oshawa would love to add the power forward Tyler Biggs to their top 9. The question is, where do the Toronto Maple Leafs want Biggs to play? After spending a first rounder on Biggs this year, the Leafs will likely have a lot of say as to whether they want him in Oshawa or at Miami-Ohio. The real kicker is that Biggs' father (Don) is in the top 10 of career scoring for the Generals and is one of the better players to ever don an Oshawa jersey. It'll be interesting to see where Biggs is next year. I think it could go either way.
2. Jamie Oleksiak - Saginaw Spirit
After a solid freshman season with Northeastern University, the 6'7 physical blueliner seems set to play in the OHL next year, after being drafted 14th overall by Dallas. After his head coach, Greg Cronin, left for a job with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Oleksiak apparently started to really give the OHL route some thought (probably with a nice push from Dallas). While it's not confirmed yet, it does appear Oleksiak will be a Spirit next year. The question is, what type of player will we be getting in the OHL? A bigger, physical defenseman who'll struggle to adapt like Jarred Tinordi did last year. Or a beast who'll jump into the league as one of the league's best rearguards. The Spirit could definitely use the later next year. I know Ryan O'Connor would certainly look great next to Oleksiak and give him a bit more freedom offensively.
1. J.T. Miller - Plymouth Whalers
The first player this offseason to de-commit from an NCAA program (North Dakota) and join the OHL, Miller is poised to make a large offensive impact in Plymouth. The 15th overall pick by the New York Rangers, Miller is a solid two way player who'll fit right into the Whalers line up alongside the likes of Stefan Noesen and Rickard Rakell. For those who watched the Under 18's last year, I felt like Miller was the U.S.' best forward at the tournament and I look forward to the energy he's going to bring next year.