Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Top 10 - Performers of the 2014 Preseason

The 2014 preseason is over and the regular season is just around the corner. It's time to take a look at some of the top performances of this year's exhibition action.

As always, this list is populated by players without NHL affiliations (first or second year players, and undrafted veterans), because they get into more games.

Here were the preseason standings:

1. Ottawa 67's - 3-0 - 1.00%
2. Peterborough Petes - 4-1-1 - .750%
3. Barrie Colts - 4-2-1 - .643%
4. Niagara IceDogs - 2-1-1 - .625%
5. Oshawa Generals - 3-3 - .500%
6. Kingston Frontenacs - 1-1-1 - .500%
7. Sudbury Wolves - 3-4 - .429%
8. Mississauga Steelheads - 2-3-1 - .417%
9. North Bay Battalion - 2-3-1 - .417%
10. Belleville Bulls - 1-2-1 - .375%

1. Guelph Storm - 4-0-1 - .900%
2. Saginaw Spirit - 3-0-2 - .800%
3. Sarnia Sting - 4-1 - .800%
4. Erie Otters - 3-1-2 - .667%
5. Kitchener Rangers - 2-1-1 - .625%
6. Windsor Spitfires - 2-2-1 - .500%
7. London Knights - 2-2 - .500%
8. Owen Sound Attack - 2-2 - .500%
9. Plymouth Whalers - 2-3 - .400%
10. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - 1-3 - .250%

Here's the list (with several honorable mentions). As I always warn, these preseason statistics are very unofficial. They were accumulated by spending a significant amount of time combing game reports and twitter accounts.

10. Nick Betz - Erie Otters
This whole offseason, one of the many questions surrounding the Erie Otters has been "who is going to play wing alongside Connor McDavid?" Well, Nick Betz proved that he's capable of keeping up with the talented center, potting 6 goals (and adding a couple of assists) this preseason. Betz is an absolutely behemoth winger whose forechecking prowess and physical abilities should help to create more room for either McDavid or Strome on one of the scoring lines this year.

9. Pius Suter - Guelph Storm
Pius is going to have to fill a much larger role this year after being primarily a 4th line center and penalty kill expert on last year's deep Guelph team. His play this exhibition season certainly eased the minds of the Guelph coaching staff as he was consistently one of Guelph's top players, potting 3 goals and adding at least 2 assists. His speed and tenacity fit right in with Scott Walker's uptempo system.

8. Adam Timleck - Peterborough Petes
An undersized 4th rounder from the OHL Cup finalist Toronto Jr. Canadiens, Timleck would have likely been a long shot to make the Petes if not for a tremendous preseason. He had already signed on to play for the Oakville Blades (OJHL), but seems to have cemented his place on Peterborough's 4th line for now. Adding 3 goals and 3 assists, Timleck was consistently dangerous as an offensive sparkplug, channeling the likes of fellow teammate Hunter Garlent.

7. Kris Bennett - Saginaw Spirit
Like Timleck, Saginaw's Kris Bennett is another rookie who has been absolutely dynamite this preseason. However, the difference is that Bennett is playing in his 3rd camp for Saginaw. The former 3rd rounder finally appears ready to take on a significant role for the Spirit, coming off a very good season with Oakville (OJHL). Bennett brought speed, energy, and physicality to whatever line he was on, and contributed 2 goals and 4 assists, helping Saginaw remain perfect during the exhibition season.

6. Alex Debrincat - Erie Otters
We mentioned Nick Betz's strong preseason, but he wasn't the only potential "McDavid wing candidate" to play with conviction this exhibition season. Let me introduce you to the little engine that could, Alex Debrincat. The diminutive rookie was an offensive dynamo, putting up 7 goals and adding at least 2 assists. His speed and confidence with the puck, makes him an obvious candidate to play with McDavid, which also means he's a candidate to put up some serious offensive numbers this year (which is what some Erie fans wrote to me about after I didn't include Debrincat in an offseason article looking at the top U.S. transfers).

5. Pavel Zacha - Sarnia Sting
The top pick in this year's Import Draft came 100% completely as advertised this preseason, sparking Sarnia to 4 preseason victories. While he did not tickle the twine, he did make every player he played with better and was consistently the best player on the ice, earning 5 assists. The potential top 10 pick in 2015 looks to be well on his way to cementing his status as an NHL lottery selection.

4. Gabe Guertler - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
One of this season's prized offseason acquisitions, Guertler was phenomenal in the preseason with 4 goals and 2 assists. The transfer from the University of Minnesota closely resembles some of the Soo's former top scorers in Nick Cousins and Dan Catenacci, in that he plays bigger than his size and pushes the pace of play. He's going to be a huge part of their offense this season, especially at the beginning of the year while Jared McCann recovers from mono.

3. Garrett Hooey - Barrie Colts
Garrett Hooey is exactly the type of overage player you want in your line-up. Over the course of the last three seasons, he's played 67, 68, and 68 games. Talk about a workhorse. He's developed into a very complete player, and this year he seems poised to have an offensive breakout. With 5 goals this preseason, Hooey paced the Colts to 4 victories and they will need him to continue to be an offensive leader. I'd be very surprised if he doesn't surpass his previous career high of 25 goals this season.

2. Mitchell Stephens - Saginaw Spirit
Fresh off his breakout performance at the Ivan Hlinka, Stephens carried over his strong play to the OHL preseason where he netted 5 goals. Saginaw is going to need their former first rounder to be their offensive leader this year, and the speedy center seems poised for a very big year in his draft season. At this point, he seems like candidate to move very quickly up draft lists.

1. Connor McDavid - Erie Otters
Second year in a row that McDavid finishes first on this list (here's last year's). Last year he led the OHL in preseason scoring with 2 goals and 9 assists. This year it was 5 goals and 7 assists (in only a few games). Even without a ton of offensive support, McDavid is going to put up some serious offensive numbers this year...his last in the OHL.

Honorable Mentions 

Anthony DeAngelo - Sarnia Sting
Played in only two games (I believe) and ended up with 2 goals and 5 assists, before heading off to Tampa Bay's rookie camp. I'd say that's pretty indicative of the type of season DeAngelo could have this year (think Ryan Ellis in 2011).

Kyle Capobianco - Sudbury Wolves
The draft eligible defender and former 7th overall pick went all of last year without scoring a goal from the blueline. Doubt that happens this year as he looks way more confident distributing the puck and running the powerplay. His 1 goal and 5 assists were probably worthy of putting him in the top 10.

Matt Luff - Belleville Bulls
A former 7th rounder and '97 rookie, Luff was probably Belleville's best player this preseason, notching 4 goals. The Oakville native looks to be a legit OHL player and a diamond in the rough for the Bulls.

Mike Amadio - North Bay Battalion
Amadio, the LA Kings 3rd rounder, had a great preseason, notching 4 goals and adding at least one assist. North Bay needs him to be way more consistent this year, providing depth behind Nick Paul as the team's 2nd line center.

Matt Mistele - Plymouth Whalers
Got off to a blazing start this preseason, then eventually took off for Kings camp. Mistele ended up with 4 goals and 2 assists and should be poised to rectify last year's disappointing season as he likely suits up alongside playmaking machine Mathew Campagna.

Tobias Lindberg - Oshawa Generals
The Ottawa Senators draft pick and import selection came as advertised this preseason, notching 4 goals. The big winger is going to be counted on to continue that production in support of Michael Dal Colle.

Lucas Venuto - Mississauga Steelheads
Not too often you find an overager with under a season's worth of experience in the OHL, but that's what you'll get in Venuto who has bounced around between the QMJHL, the OJHL, and Mississauga the last couple of seasons. He was probably a long shot to make the Mississauga roster this year, but with an inspired 3 goal, 3 assist performance in the preseason, he's locked up his place in the lineup and should be a key contributor for the Steelheads.

Blake Siebenaler - Niagara IceDogs
Have very high expectations for Siebenaler this year and he was fantastic in the couple of games he played in before heading off to NHL camp. He notched 3 goals in those couple of games. This is obviously very impressive considering his shot and aggressiveness offensively was one of the things holding him back from contributing more last year.

Jacob Harris - Sudbury Wolves
The former high pick of the Wolves, Harris finally appears ready to establish himself as a scoring line player in the OHL. With 4 goals and 3 assists, he lead the Wolves in preseason scoring.

Other Top Performers (organized by team)

Matthew Kreis - 3G, 1A
Joseph Blandisi - 3G
Roy Radke - 2G

Brett Gustavsen - 1G, 3A
Brandon Saigeon - 2G

Dylan Strome - 4G
Joel Wigle - 3G, 1A

Justin Auger - 3G
Stephen Pierog - 2G, 3A
Phil Baltisberger - 3A

Ryan Kujawinski - 2G, 2A
Lawson Crouse - 1G, 3A

Nick Magyar - 3A
Dmitri Sergeev - 2G

Owen McDonald - 4G
Brett Welychka - 2G

Josh Burnside - 2G, 2A
Bryson Cianfrone - 2G, 4A

Johnny Corneil - 3G
Graham Knott - 4A

North Bay
Brett McKenzie - 2G, 3A
Zach Poirier - 1G, 2A

Cliff Pu - 1G, 3A
Chris Carlisle - 1G, 4A
Bradley Latour - 2G, 2A

Travis Konecny - 2G, 2A
Sam Studnicka - 2G, 1A
Artur Tyanulin - 2G (plus a few goals in the shootout)

Owen Sound
Thomas Schemitsch - 1G, 2A
Keenan Reynolds - 2G

Hunter Garlent - 3G, 3A
Michael Clarke - 2G, 3A
Anthony Stefano - 3G
Brandon Devlin - 1G, 3A

Alex Peters - 4A
Bryce Yetman - 3G

Artem Artemov - 3G
Marcus Crawford - 1G, 2A

Davis Brown - 4G, 1A
Jakob Chychrun - 4A
Alex Renaud - 3G, 1A
Nikita Korostelev - 2G, 3A
Ryan Vendramin - 3G

Sault Ste. Marie
David Miller - 1G, 3A
Blake Speers - 2G, 2A

Ivan Kashtanov - 3G
Nathan Pancel - 2G, 3A

Logan Brown - 2G, 2A
Cristiano DiGiacinto - 1G, 3A
Trevor Murphy - 2G, 1A

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