Season kicks off today! My awards predictions conclude my 2014/2015 season preview. Oddly enough most of my picks are from the West.
Red Tilson Trophy (MVP) - Connor McDavid
I predicted McDavid to win this last year too, but it was Connor Brown who led the way for the Otters instead (although McDavid did finish 4th in OHL scoring). I'm going back to him this year too. Here's the way I see it. If the Otters are going to be a respectable team this year, McDavid is going to have to be a scoring machine, and the type of player who can elevate his unproven or inexperienced linemates to above and beyond what they would otherwise be capable of. He's going to miss some time at the WJC's, we all know that. But he nearly cracked the 100 point plateau last year despite that. A 120-130 point season (in around 55 games) is completely possible IMO. So who else could be in the running. I've got five other names I'm going to toss out (although I do truly believe there are tons of candidates this year). If Oshawa is (again) better than people believe they will be, Michael Dal Colle is an obvious choice. If Plymouth is as good as everyone thinks they will be, Alex Nedeljkovic could be a contender. Then Sam Bennett, Robby Fabbri, and Sergei Tolchinsky are all likely to lead their teams to top 3 finishes in the Conference.
OHL Goaltender of the Year - Alex Nedeljkovic
Only one goalie has ever won this award in back to back years and that's Mike Murphy (2008, 2009). Nedeljkovic is my choice to be the second. There's no doubt in my mind that Plymouth will be one of the top teams in the league this year. He won the award last year after posting great numbers, and that was with a vastly inferior team in front of him compared to this year's edition of the Whalers. In all honesty, my back up pick would be Barrie's Mackenzie Blackwood, making it two straight years that a draft eligible goaltender would have won the award. 3rd choice is probably Justin Nichols in Guelph, although you never know what to expect from Brent Moran and Brandon Halverson, considering how good I think their teams will be. A darkhorse candidate could be Brandon Hope in Owen Sound as an overager.
Max Kaminski Trophy (Top Defenseman) - Anthony DeAngelo
Tough choice for this award really. I'm certainly not a fan of DeAngelo's defensive game, but there's no denying his offensive talent. I think he has an honest chance of cracking 100 points this year and if he does that, he'll be a shoe in for the award, even if his defensive game doesn't round into form. I wanted to say Darnell Nurse, but I just don't think he's going to get enough games in between getting a brief look see with the Oilers and the WJC's. Next in line would be either Zac Leslie (assuming he returns) or Roland McKeown.
Emms Family Award (ROY) - Pavel Zacha
I'm definitely a believer in Zacha based on what I've seen from him already internationally, and what he accomplished this preseason. He's going to have some talented offensive players to work with in Sarnia and he should be able to put up a 70 point season. Truth is though, this should be an absolutely fantastic rookie crop this year. So many guys with the opportunity to play a large role for their club. Here are some other guys I think are serious contenders. Jakob Chychrun is an obvious choice in Sarnia, although I'm not sure he'll be able to put up the type of offensive numbers necessary to win. I think Jeremy Helvig probably ends up Kingston's starter and has a great year. Import Artur Tyanulin is an explosive offensive player despite his lack of size. Ditto for Erie's Alex Debrincat (who could be playing with McDavid). And '98's Victor Mete, Mike McLeod, and Brandon Saigeon will also be a big part of their team (amongst many others).
Leo Lalande Trophy (Overager of the Year) - Mathew Campagna
In Plymouth, Campagna is going to put up some huge numbers playing with some very talented (and bigger) wingers. I think he's a pretty safe bet to be the highest scoring overager and could even be a candidate to lead the league in scoring. I think Zac Leslie is probably the 2nd runner up, as I expect him to contend for defenseman of the year. I also think Brandon Hope is a possibility as I expect him to contend for goaltender of the year. Owen Sound's Holden Cook is one of the league's highest scoring returning overagers. Brady Vail could also be a contender if he returns to the OHL. I'm a big fan of Bryan Moore in the Soo too and I think he could hit the 75-80 point mark this year.
Matt Leyden Trophy (Coach of the Year) - Marty Williamson
As I mentioned in my Eastern Conference preview, I think the Dogs will take the Conference and as a result, Williamson will be named coach of the year. There's no question that he has one of the most well rounded squads in the league. If the Greyhounds can overthrow the Whalers, then Sheldon Keefe is going to get his share of the votes this year. I think two new coaches have a chance too. Don Elland, taking over for Vellucci in Plymouth. And Jeff Brown in Ottawa, if the 67's can surprise people and climb the East.
Eddie Powers Trophy (Scoring Leader) - Connor McDavid
As I said, I think this is McDavid's to lose this year. And even though he's going to miss time at the WJC's, I still see him sitting around the 120-130 point mark. I actually think Sergei Tolchinsky and McDavid will have a good battle for this though. I see him as the top combatant. After that, I already mentioned Mathew Campagna as an overager. Guelph's Robby Fabbri, Kingston's Sam Bennett, and Oshawa's Michael Dal Colle will all be up there too.
Goal Scoring Leader - Michael Dal Colle
Truly had a hard time deciding between Dal Colle and Fabbri for this one. Went with Dal Colle because I felt like he would be more of a focal point in the offense. I expect both to be 50 goal scorers this year though. Thought about Nick Baptiste here too, but I feel like the dire situation in Sudbury will hurt his stat line (at least until he's dealt). Nick Ritchie and Brendan Perlini could also very easily capture this too.
All Star Teams
1st Team All Stars
C - Connor McDavid
LW - Michael Dal Colle
RW - Sergei Tolchinsky
D - Anthony DeAngelo
D - Roland McKeown
G - Alex Nedeljkovic
Coach - Marty Williamson
2nd Team All Stars
C - Mathew Campagna
LW - Nick Ritchie
RW - Nick Baptise
D - Zac Leslie
D - Darnell Nurse
G - Mackenzie Blackwood
Coach - Sheldon Keefe
3rd Team All Stars
C - Robby Fabbri
LW - Brendan Perlini
RW - Spencer Watson
D - Blake Siebenaler
D - Travis Dermott
G - Justin Nichols
Coach - Don Elland
All Rookie Team
C - Pavel Zacha
LW - Luke Kirwan
RW - Alex Debrincat
D - Jakob Chychrun
D - Victor Mete
G - Jeremy Helvig
Would love to hear your predictions in the comments!