Thursday, September 21, 2017

2017/18 OHL Season Preview: Award Predictions

The conclusion to my three part season preview sees me look at potential award candidates for 2017/18.

Red Tilson Trophy - Nick Suzuki (Owen Sound Attack)
A tough choice for this award. As always, lots of strong contenders to choose from. IMO, the three leading candidates all come from the West; Nick Suzuki, Adam Mascherin, and Jordan Kyrou. I expect all three to be up near the top of league scoring this year, which is obviously a prerequisite of earning this award (unless you play a position other than forward). My money is on Suzuki. The Attack will have one heck of an offense this year and he's returning with his entire line from last year (Gadjovich and Hancock). Even with a potential appearance at the WJC's for Canada, Suzuki should be up around the 110+ point mark. Mascherin would be my second choice. Healthy and part of a strong Kitchener offense, he could be a 50/60 player this year; his last in the OHL. And Kyrou will put up points, especially if he ends up being dealt from Sarnia if they struggle. Goaltender Dylan Wells is a darkhorse candidate. If the Petes are going to win their division this year it will be on his back due to an inexperienced blueline. Other candidates could include Taylor Raddysh, Jason Robertson, Robert Thomas, Cliff Pu, Owen Tippett, and Michael McLeod (if he's returned).

OHL Goaltender of the Year - Jacob Ingham (Mississauga Steelheads)
Kind of a tough one to predict this year. Michael Dipietro is the best goalie in the league IMO, but the Spitfires aren't likely to be very good and that eliminates Dipietro from the running. Dylan Wells seems like an obvious choice because of his talent level and the strength of the team he's playing on. But the inexperience of that Peterborough defense scares me. I think they'll win games, but it might hurt Wells' statline. That brings me to Jacob Ingham. It's not uncommon for draft eligible players to win this award. Alex Nedeljkovic won it recently in his draft year. And I think the Steelheads will be a defensive force to be reckoned with this year, putting Ingham in great position to post an impressive statline. Plus...he's quite good. Matthew Villalta is a darkhorse candidate in the Soo, and overager Jeremy Helvig is an option if he can get the Fronts to where they were last year despite some veteran losses on the blueline.

Max Kaminski Trophy - Victor Mete (London Knights)
This is an interesting one. I expect Ryan Merkley to lead defenseman in scoring this year, but given his tendency to playing inconsistent at both ends, I'm believing voters will go more for a two-way defender who will also be up near the top of the blueline scoring race. My prediction is Victor Mete. He's come a long way during his OHL career and has become one of the league's elite defenders. He should put up some serious points this year (I'm going with 65+) and will be a key cog on another strong London Knights team. Conor Timmins and Nic Hague, two recent NHL draft picks, are also serious candidates. Both will play on strong teams and put up points, and both can impact the game at both ends of the ice. Markus Phillips, Cam Dineen, Riley Stillman, and Olli Juolevi (if he returns) are all possibilities too.

Emms Family Award - Andrei Svechnikov (Barrie Colts)
I think most people would be shocked (barring injury) if Svechnikov isn't the league's rookie of the year this year. Super high expectations for the Russian import and potential top 3 pick in this year's NHL draft. He could easily be a 40 goal scorer this year and put up over 80 points. Cam Hillis is another 2000 born player who has a great chance to put up some points in a high flying Guelph offense. Wouldn't surprise me at all if he was a point per game player or close to it this year. Among 2001's, I actually like Arthur Kaliyev to make among the largest impacts and I see him battling it out with Ryan Suzuki, Nick Porco, Philip Tomasino, Aiden Prueter, and Graeme Clark for top scoring 2001 this year. Also don't be surprised if a goaltender is in the running. Lots of teams relying on young/rookie goaltenders this year. Luke Cavallin in Flint and Jordan Kooy in London are the first two that come to mind.

Leo Lalande Trophy - Logan DeNoble (Peterborough Petes)
Lots of good options to choose from for the OA of the Year this year. Ryan Moore is the highest scoring returning player and that makes him a front runner. Jeremy Helvig and Evan Cormier are going to need to stand on their head to give their teams a chance a top 6 spot in their Conference. Brett McKenzie, Garrett McFadden, Kenny Heuther, and Nikita Korostelev (if he returns) are all players that I expect to have terrific offensive seasons. But the guy I'm going with is Logan DeNoble. The Petes are going to score their share of goals this year and DeNoble will be a guy counted upon to reproduce his 34 goals of last year and then some. I actually think he has a chance to be a 45+ goal scorer this year, as his shot is one of the best in the league. As such, that's who I'm going with.

Matt Leyden Trophy - Drew Bannister (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Lots of coaching turnover this year in the league, and voters can often be swayed to vote for coaches who have been around for a few years. I expect the Greyhounds to be a top 3 team in the entire OHL this year and the top candidate for the West title. As such, Bannister gets my vote here. James Richmond in Mississauga is another candidate cut from the same cloth (as a returnee). I expect the Guelph Storm to be the league's most improved team this year and that automatically qualifies George Burnett. If the 67's surprise people and end up as a top 5 East team (as I have predicted) Andre Tourigny could be a candidate too. Todd Gill in Owen Sound could be another new face (to his team, not the league) who garners consideration.

Eddie Powers Trophy - Nick Suzuki (Owen Sound Attack)
Tough call this year. As always, a lot of the league's top players will miss some time due to late starts returning from the NHL, and from the WJC's. Quite often the guy who takes the Eddie Powers is the one who can squeeze in close to a full season (ie, gets cut from the NHL early, gets cut from his WJC team). Like Alex Debrincat last year. Or Dylan Strome a few years ago. Occasionally we see an OA lead in scoring too for the same reasons. Was close to going with Ryan Moore for that reason as I see him putting up points. But ultimately I went with Nick Suzuki as I seem him carving up the league as part of that dominant first line in Owen Sound. As mentioned earlier, I think he's up over 110 points on the year. Adam Mascherin and Jordan Kyrou will be right there too IMO. Additionally, Robert Thomas and Cliff Pu could be close as Knights.

Goal Scoring Leader - Owen Tippett (Mississauga Steelheads)
Last year, Alex Debrincat ran away with this one. I expect this year's race to be much closer. I'm going with Owen Tippett who probably scores 50+ this year in Mississauga. Or at least they'll need him to, to capture the East like I've predicted. Adam Mascherin would be my second choice. Dude is going to have a monster season now that he's healthy (something I think I've mentioned several times already). Jonah Gadjovich, Boris Katchouk, and Logan DeNoble are three other names that I think will be right up there. All possess great shots, will be playing with great playmakers, and all play fearlessly and score a lot from in close. Lastly, even though I don't think Sudbury has a great year, you have to mention Dmitry Sokolov here. Highest scoring returning player to the league and he's another year stronger (and hopefully quicker).

1st Team All Stars:
LW: Adam Mascherin
C: Nick Suzuki
RW: Owen Tippett
D: Victor Mete
D: Ryan Merkley
G: Jacob Ingham
Coach: Drew Bannister

2nd Team All Stars:
LW: Jonah Gadjovich
C: Robert Thomas
RW: Jordan Kyrou
D: Conor Timmins
D: Nic Hague
G: Dylan Wells
Coach: George Burnett

3rd Team All Stars: 
LW: Boris Katchouk
C: Ryan Moore
RW: Taylor Raddysh
D: Markus Phillips
D: Cam Dineen
G: Matthew Villalta
Coach: Todd Gill

1st All Rookie Team:
LW: Nicholas Porco
C: Ryan Suzuki
RW: Andrei Svechnikov
D: Merrick Rippon
D: Nikita Okhotyuk
G: Jordan Kooy

2nd All Rookie Team:
LW: Ethan Keppen
C: Cody Morgan
RW: Arthur Kaliyev
D: Thomas Harley
D: Nico Gross
G: Luke Cavallin

No comments: