The Stanley Cup Champions. Only two OHL'ers for them and both were drafted in 2015.
1. Graham Knott - Niagara IceDogs
Big winger who got better as the season went on (like many of the Dogs). Knott is currently a very solid complimentary piece. He does a great job of using his size without the puck and is already very good at maintaining possession through the cycle. Knott also has better hands than people give him credit for, and as he upgrades his skating further, he could be a big factor at creating off the rush. Knott is also a very good penalty killer who is great at using his reach to disrupt passing lanes. However, it's 5 on 5 that he can lack focus defensively. Again, as the skating/conditioning improves, I'd expect him to become a very solid two-way player. I think that as Knott gets stronger, we'll also see him be more of a consistent factor physically. He's already a good forechecker, but he could be a dominate one. Next year Niagara is set to be one of the best teams in the Conference and Knott will be counted on as a go to contributor. With a bit more power play time, and some maturity, a 30 goal season is a very realistic expectation.
2. Roy Radke - Barrie Colts
Radke was perhaps a bit of a surprise draft pick, considering his production this year. The first year player transfer from Shattuck had his struggles at times, but he also didn't receive a ton of ice time. Radke has great size and is actually quite good below the hash marks. He shows good hands in close and is very good at creating space for himself near the crease. The rest of his game is a work in progress. I'd love to see Radke be more of a factor off the rush, as he's not a terrible skater for his size. I'd also like to see him play more physical. In some of my viewings he was quite aggressive away from the puck, but in others he was not a visible presence. Finding that consistency is key moving forward. Next year Barrie, like Niagara, should be one of the better teams in the Conference. They are returning many key players, but Radke could see a bit more playing time, especially on the power play. But his production does need to increase if Barrie wants to be a serious contender. If he's getting power play time, a 25 goal season would be a possibility.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
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