With the release of the OHL coaches poll around the corner, I thought it'd be a great idea to preview one of the categories of the poll. Today I'm going to look at ranking the top defensive players in the Ontario Hockey League.
Instead of doing two top 10 lists, I will have a top 5 forwards and top 5 defense (totaling 10).
5. Sean Monahan - Ottawa 67's
Maybe a bit premature to have him on this list, but I'm such a big fan of his. One of the most complete younger players I've seen in this league. His size makes him such a terrific defensive player, as he wins battles in the corners and is great at tying up his man on the backcheck.
4. Radek Faksa - Kitchener Rangers
Again, maybe a bit premature, but Faksa's defensive game has impressed me so much this year. He's a really smart player and is so dedicated to playing in his own end. Again, his size makes him very tough to match up against.
3. Sam Carrick - Brampton Battalion
I think Carrick is one of the most improved players in the league and has been the main reason why the Battalion have had a very solid season. The key to excelling in Stan Butler's system is to play both ends and Carrick does that so well. He's physical and in your face all the time and always seems to get his stick into scoring lanes.
2. Boone Jenner - Oshawa Generals
There's no question that Jenner is one of the top defensive players in the league. He's so smart at both ends of the ice and his size makes him very difficult to beat in loose puck battles. He's also very committed to playing in his own end and is incredibly physical. He leaves it all out there on the ice.
1. Alex Friesen - Niagara IceDogs
The only player left in the league who received votes in last year's coaches poll for top defensive forward, Friesen is about as good as you can get in your own end. His speed, physicality, and intelligence makes him such an integral part of Niagara's defense, and their penalty kill (which is the league's best).
Vincent Trocheck, Mike Halmo, Riley Brace, Austin Watson, Jared Knight, Mitchell Heard, Michael Catenacci, Freddie Hamilton, Luke Judson
5. Austin Levi - Plymouth Whalers
Levi has developed into one of the league's top shutdown defenseman. He's so hard to get around because he's so big and such a good skater. He stays with you off the rush and can finish you off with a hard check, or by using his long stick.
4. Dougie Hamilton - Niagara IceDogs
His place on this list might be questioned by some because of the amount of risks he takes offensively, but he's such a good skater that he's able to negate any chances his pinches and rushes give up the other way. He's also physical and won't let you get space on him in front of the net.
3. Jamie Oleksiak - Niagara IceDogs
Hamilton's teammate in Niagara, Oleksiak is simply a beast. He's absolutely massive out there and because of that he's really hard to get around and his long stick does such a good job of interfering with passes into the slot. And while he's not as physical as you'd assume a guy his size would be, that doesn't make him any less effective as a shutdown defenseman.
2. Cody Sol - Kitchener Rangers
Sol has had an absolutely fantastic overage season and has been the rock to Ryan Murphy's roll all season long. He's consistently been among the league leaders in plus minus and doesn't take crap from anyone. Definitely one of the most aggressive defenders in the league and a guy that really enjoys punishing you in the corners and in front of the net.
1. Jarred Tinordi - London Knights
Easily one of the most improved players in the league this year. I was quite disappointed in his play last year, but he's made up for it this year. There's a reason why he's the league leader in plus minus right now. He's just flat out been a beast this year.
Stuart Percy, Scott Harrington, Jay Gilbert, Cody Ceci
Because this list is so subjective, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.