The 2016/17 season kicks off tonight. This award segment concludes my season preview. Let the games begin!
Red Tilson Trophy (MVP) - Logan Brown
At this point, I like Brown as the front runner for this one. He was absolutely dominant in the 2nd half last year and he'll look to continue that trend into this year. The Spitfires should be right up near the top of the Conference as they get ready to host the Memorial Cup. I look for Brown to physically dominate the competition and to be the offensive leader of the Spitfires. Two other guys who I think have an excellent shot also come from the West; Adam Mascherin and Blake Speers. I expect both to be among the top 10 of league scorers and they'll be on teams that will compete for the Western Conference crown. From the East, I look at Michael McLeod as a serious contender. He's going to see all the ice time he can handle in Mississauga and if they succeed this year, it will be because of his ability to control both ends of the ice. Of course, if Mitch Marner, Dylan Strome, and Travis Konecny return to the league, all three will also be in the conversation.
OHL Goaltender of the Year - Michael McNiven
A bit of a bold prediction. But I really like the way this year's Owen Sound team is constructed and McNiven is going to play a TON for Owen Sound. He was a lot better last year than his stats would indicate and I look for him to put it all together (in terms of consistency) this year. Another obvious candidate is Tyler Parsons in London. Such a phenomenal goaltender and the Knights will be up near the top of the Conference yet again. Jeremy Helvig in Kingston is another name I'll throw out there. I expect Kingston to be better than people are suggesting they will and Helvig will be a big reason for that. His breakout last year was no fluke. Matt Mancina and Michael Dipietro are the two other names I'll throw out there as serious preseason contenders.
Max Kaminski Trophy (Top defender) - Jakob Chychrun
Chychrun looked quite good this preseason and I think that he's going to play this season with a serious chip on his shoulder after falling a bit at the NHL draft. He can impact the game at both ends of the ice and I see a huge jump coming for his offensive production this year. Mitchell Vande Sompel is another guy that I expect to have a huge year. He'll be a leader in Oshawa and is fully healthy after last year's quiet year. Of course, the reigning winner will be returning to the league in Mikhail Sergachev, so you can't count him out. He'll be right up there. Ditto for Olli Juolevi in London, assuming he returns. A couple bold mentions would be overagers Thomas Schemitsch and Stephen Desrocher who could have monster offensive seasons this year. Lastly, Cam Dineen in North Bay will have a chance to replicate his offensive success of last year, but with a little less fire power up front, I'm not sure he'll be quite as successful offensively.
Emms Family Award (ROY) - Cedric Schiemenz
Definitely a bold prediction, but I was so incredibly impressed with him this preseason. Kitchener will have a very solid lineup and he should be a point per game player so long as he plays as well as he did in the preseason. Fellow preseason top performer Linus Nyman should also be up there in rookie scoring and needs to be considered as a serious candidate as well. Guelph has two players I expect to receive consideration, forward Nate Schnarr and defender (and first overall pick) Ryan Merkley. Another 16 year old defender to keep an eye on is Owen Lalonde in Sudbury, who had a very good preseason. Barrie defender Tom Hedberg and Sarnia forward Adam Ruzicka could be two other names to keep an eye on. And a dark horse? What about Jacob McGrath in Sudbury? He's going to get a chance to be the starter on a team hoping to get back to the playoffs.
Leo Lalande Trophy (OA of the Year) - Matt Mancina
Despite a lack of scoring depth, I think you have to consider the Steelheads the front runners for the Eastern Conference and Matt Mancina will be the workhorse in net for them. He'll have a solid defense in front of him and should have a very good year. I look at three defenders being serious contenders as well; Thomas Schemitsch, Stephen Desrocher, and Dylan Di Perna. I expect all three guys to have big offensive seasons on good teams. London's JJ Piccinich should be in for a big offensive season. A real wild card that I'll throw out there is Bobby MacIntyre in Sault Ste. Marie. He has fit in extremely well in that lineup and they'll be able to score a ton of goals this year. He could be an 80+ point player quite easily.
Matt Leyden Trophy (Coach of the Year) - Rocky Thompson
As mentioned in my standings prediction, I expect Windsor to be the cream of the crop this year. And that makes Thompson the front runner for the Matt Leyden IMO. How about first year coach Jay McKee in Kitchener? The Rangers should be a great team this year and he could be a serious candidate. Ditto for Drew Bannister in SSM. An under the radar candidate could be John Gruden in Hamilton. I expect the Bulldogs to be quite good this year and if he can vault them to a division title, he'd deserve a very long look for this honor.
Eddie Powers Trophy (Scoring Champ) - Logan Brown
A tough one to predict this year, especially given the uncertainty surrounding Strome and Marner. So I'm sticking with Brown, given that he's also my Red Tilson prediction. The Spits will be a juggernaut offensively and I really look for Brown to continue his dominance and be a 110+ point player. London's Matthew Tkachuk will still have a very strong supporting cast and should be up near the top of scoring yet again. Kitchener's Adam Mascherin is also an obvious candidate. Alex Debrincat, Blake Speers, Jeremy Bracco are all serious candidates too.
Goal Scoring Leader - Adam Mascherin
Anyone who has seen Mascherin play knows that he has one of the league's best shots and releases. Using that innate ability, I think he's a 50 goal scorer this year. You just know that Alex Debrincat and Matt Tkachuk will also be up near the leader board here too. Ditto for Sault Ste. Marie's Zach Senyshyn, although I am worried about him starting slow due to contracting mono this summer. Another name I'll throw out there is London's JJ Piccinich. He's going to see a ton of ice time in key offensive situations and he could be a 50 goal man.
1st All Star Team:
C: Logan Brown
LW: Adam Mascherin
RW: Alex Debrincat
D: Jakob Chychrun
D: Mikhail Sergachev
G: Michael McNiven
Coach: Rocky Thompson
2nd All Star Team:
C: Blake Speers
LW: Matthew Tkachuk
RW: JJ Piccinich
D: Mitchel Vande Sompel
D: Olli Juolevi
G: Tyler Parsons
Coach: John Gruden
3rd All Star Team:
C: Mike McLeod
LW: Bobby MacIntyre
RW: Jeremy Bracco
D: Thomas Schemitsch
D: Stephen Desrocher
G: Matthew Mancina
Coach: Jay McKee
All Rookie Team:
C: Cedric Schiemenz
LW: Alex Formenton
RW: Linus Nyman
D: Ryan Merkley
D: Tom Hedberg
G: Jacob McGrath