Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Top 10 - Performers of the 2010 Preseason

With only one game left to be completed (Peterborough and Oshawa) on the 2010 preseason schedule, it's now time to take a look at the standout individual and team performances.

Here are the standings of the preseason (minus the one remaining game)

Eastern Conference
1. Belleville Bulls - 4-2 - .667 Win %
2. Niagara IceDogs - 3-1-2 - .667 Win %
3. Kingston Frontenacs - 2-1-1 - .625 Win %
4. Oshawa Generals - 2-2-1 - .500 Win %
5. Peterborough Petes - 2-2-1 - .500 Win %
6. Mississauga Majors - 2-3 - .400 Win %
7. Ottawa 67's - 1-2-1 - .375 Win %
8. Sudbury Wolves - 0-1-3 - .375 Win %
9. Brampton Battalion - 1-3-1 - .300 Win %
10. Barrie Colts - 0-4-2 - .167 Win %

Western Conference
1. Guelph Storm - 4-0-1 - .900 Win %
2. Windsor Spitfires - 4-1-1 - .750 Win %
3. Owen Sound Attack - 3-1 - .750 Win %
4. Sarnia Sting - 3-1-2 - .667 Win %
5. Kitchener Rangers - 2-1-2 - .600 Win %
6. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - 3-3-1 - .500% (includes WHL games)
7. Plymouth Whalers - 1-1-2 - .500 Win %
8. London Knights - 1-2-2 - .400 Win %
9. Saginaw Spirit - 1-2-1 - .375 Win %
10. Erie Otters - 0-4 - .000 Win %

I don't want to alarm Spirit, Otters, Battalion, and Colts fans, but last year's bottom 4 teams in the preseason (here) occupied three of the bottom four spots in the OHL at the end of the regular season too. So for those that say the preseason means nothing, I implore you to reconsider. Also of note, during last year's preseason, none of the four eventual division winners (Ottawa, Barrie, London, Windsor), finished below .500. What does that mean for team's like Mississauga, Ottawa, and London this year, all of whom have aspirations to capture their divisions.

But on to the highlight of this article; standout individual performances of the preseason. While it was incredibly difficult to pare the list down to 10 (or close to it), I managed to do my best. Those who failed to make the list, join the Honorable Mention category which is organized according to team.

I'd also like to mention how absolutely insanely difficult it was to track down preseason statistics. This was especially true since a lot of game reports are missing during the time of the launching of the new OHL team websites. So any of the stats I bring before you are by no means confirmed to be completely accurate. This is especially true for assists, where I'm probably greatly under appreciating the impact of certain players on the score sheet. But you can't say I didn't try (and in fact spent a lot of time on this).

10. Nick Ebert - Windsor Spitfires
It's going to be hard for Ebert to live up to expectations this year after being billed the top defenseman available for the 2010 Priority Draft...despite his lower draft position. It's also going to be tough playing in Windsor where he's going to be expected to be a large part of a youth movement that's also expected to win. But Ebert has done well to showcase his talents during preseason play and it seems like he'll make a seamless transition from the USHL to the OHL as a 16 year old. Ebert had 3 goals and 1 assist through the Spitfires six preseason games.

9. Gianluca Curcuruto - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Curcuruto might have had the best preseason of any 2010 priority draft selection. The offensively skilled defenseman (and first round pick of the Hounds) had at least 7 assists during preseason play. With the Hound's powerplay QB's of last year graduating (Muzzin, Quesnele), it would appear that Curcuruto might have what it takes to take some of the pressure off of Brandon Archibald and Brock Beukeboom to take large steps forward offensively.

8. Ryan Strome - Niagara IceDogs
The IceDogs had a terrific preseason under new head coach Marty Williamson, and much of that was in thanks to the increased offensive contributions of last year's secondary scoring options. Ryan Strome, the centerpiece of the Alex Pietrangelo deal, was the best of this bunch with 4 goals and 3 assists during the preseason. If Strome, (and the likes of Fritsch, Hamilton, Theoret) can really progress this season, it'll go a long way in spreading out the team's offense from Andrew Agozzino and Alex Friesen.

7. Nick Cousins - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Everyone is expecting that Daniel Catenacci is going to have a breakout offensive season this year, but that means teammate Nick Cousins might be getting forgotten about. The 2nd year forward kept pace with the former first overall pick last year and had a preseason to suggest he might step out into the limelight this season. The diminutive and tenacious Cousins had 5 goals and 3 assists in the Hounds 7 games.

6. Zack Kassian - Windsor Spitfires
This is the season for Zack Kassian to step up. No more suspensions, no more off ice distractions. The Buffalo Sabres first round pick still doesn't have an NHL contract because the Sabres are still waiting for his offensive game to explode. If this preseason was any indication, this should be the year. Kassian played in only three games, but had 3 goals and 5 assists and appears to have developed some chemistry with Alexander Khokhlachev. As a budding power forward, this could be Kassian's season to just physically dominate against younger and inexperienced foes.

5. Alex Basso and Steve Strong - Belleville Bulls
The Bulls had a fantastic preseason and these two 1993 born defenseman were a large reason for it. On the big ice in Belleville, it's crucial to have defenseman who can skate and move the puck. Guys like P.K. Subban, and Shawn Lalonde have held this position with successful Bulls teams. Basso and Strong (along with Stephen Silas) appear to be ready to help this team get back to the playoffs. Basso had 2 goals and 7 assists, while Strong had 1 goal and 6 assists during the preseason. Both really helped to ignite Belleville's offensive advances and could be poised for big years in their draft seasons.

4. Nail Yakupov - Sarnia Sting
Sometimes Import players come in with a lot of hype and ultimately fall flat on their face. And sometimes they come in and are immediately among the best and most dynamic players in the league. Yakupov appears to be headed for the latter. The Sting had a strong preseason performance and Yakupov paced the team with 5 goals and 3 assists, electrifying Sting fans with his speed and offensive ability. Hard to believe he's only eligible for the NHL draft in 2012, thanks to a late birthday.

3. Brett Thompson and Vern Cooper - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
There's no secret to the fact that if the Hounds are going to be as successful this season, they're going to need to become more of an offensive team (as opposed to the solid defensive team they were last year). Arguably, the two most important players in that offense are veterans Brett Thompson and Vern Cooper. Thompson in particular could be a dark horse to lead the league in scoring this year. Both completely lived up to expectations this preseason when Thompson had 5 goals and 5 assists, and Cooper had 5 goals and 3 assists.

2. Alex Aleardi - Belleville Bulls
Speedy player and big ice usually equals dynamite. Aleardi must have been ecstatic when he was traded to Belleville last year and given the opportunity to take on a larger role offensively. But he still needed to learn how to utilize his speed more effectively (similar to the way Niagara's Alex Friesen learned last year). This preseason Aleardi has been fantastic and helped the Bulls to the best preseason record in the East. His 7 goals were the most of any player in the preseason. Something tells me that things in Belleville could be pretty exciting this year.

1. Alexander Khokhlachev - Windsor Spitfires
See Nail Yakupov. Some imports have it, and some don't. It certainly looks like Khokhlachev has it as he paced all OHL players in preseason scoring with 4 goals and 9 assists. Many believed the Spits to be in a rebuilding season with no chance of taking their division. But yet, the Spitfires kept winning this preseason and Khokhlachev was a big part of that. If he can keep this up, we might be talking about him as the best talent available from the OHL for the 2011 NHL Draft.

Honorable Mentions

Barrie Colts
While the Colts didn't have the best preseason, they did get solid contributions from a few fresh faces. The newly acquired and signed Mark Scheifele had 2 goals and an assist, while 2008 draft pick Tanner Pearson had 5 assists.

Belleville Bulls
On top of those who cracked the top 10, Bulls first round pick Brendan Gaunce had an excellent preseason where he notched three goals. He could play a top six role for Belleville this season.

Brampton Battalion
Overager Sean Jones should have an excellent season this year and he was solid in the preseason with 3 goals and 2 assists. Meanwhile 2010 first round pick Marcus McIvor had 1 goal and 2 assists from the back end and might be able to help improve the Battalion powerplay.

Erie Otters
The Otters had a terrible preseason but one bright spot was 2010 2nd rounder Connor Crisp (nephew of Terry Crisp). He had 3 goals and an assist.

Guelph Storm
Kind of weird for the team with the best preseason record to not have anyone on the list, but it was more a case of different players getting the job done every time out. In the one game they played, Peter Holland, Taylor Beck, and Michael Latta combined for five goals and 6 assists. All three could win the OHL scoring title this year. Second year player Carter Sandlak had a solid preseason with 3 goals. While Garrett Sparks looks to have what it takes to be a successful rookie netminder, as he had 2 wins and allowed 2 goals against in his action.

Kingston Frontenacs
Erik Gudbranson had 2 goals in the two games he played before leaving for Florida. If he returns, he should have a big offensive season from the blueline. Also, import defenseman Michal Cajkovsky seemed to make a solid impression with 2 goals and an assist.

Kitchener Rangers
Hard to imagine how good of a preseason the Rangers would have had if everyone was around. But Gabriel Landeskog did well to show he can create offense on his own and is living up to the 4th overall ranking by Bob Mackenzie of TSN. He had 3 goals. Also, Rangers rookie and offensive spark plug Zach Lorentz secured himself a job with a 4 goal preseason.

London Knights
The Knights didn't have the type of preseason worth bragging about. Offensive production was hard to come by on some nights, but second year player Seth Griffith had 3 goals and looks like he could make an impact this year.

Mississauga Majors
The Majors, extremely short staffed from NHL rookie and training camps, didn't have a great preseason. But two players who lived up to their high expectations were import Mika Partanen and rookie Kerby Rychel. Partanen had 3 goals, while Rychel had 1 goal and 3 assists.

Niagara IceDogs
As mentioned, the Dogs got contributions from second year forwards this preseason. On top of Strome, gritty winger Mitchell Theoret had an excellent preseason with 2 goals and 4 assists.

Oshawa Generals
The Generals offense was firing on all cylinders this preseason (their defense not so much). Free agent signing Josh Graves earned himself a contract with a 5 goal and 1 assist preseason. Meanwhile Lucas Lessio, Boone Jenner, and Nicklas Jensen all lived up to expectations with 3 goals each.

Ottawa 67's
The 67's had a disappointing preseason with their top talent away at NHL camps, but if there is a bright spot, it's that two secondary scoring options really stepped up. Joe Carnevale had 3 goals, while second year forward Tyler Graovac had 2 goals and 2 assists.

Owen Sound Attack
A hard nosed walk on by the name of Nick Weiss had a fantastic preseason with 4 goals.

Peterborough Petes
Overager Justin Larson is going to be counted on for more offensive production this season and if his 5 preseason goals were any indication, he's up to the challenge. Also, 2009 draft pick Kurt Gowdy seems to have earned himself a spot on the team with a 2 goal, 1 assist performance.

Plymouth Whalers
The Whalers had a respectable preseason. One forward who really stepped up was second year forward Stefan Noesen who had 2 goals and 4 assists and led the charge offensively. Import Rickard Rakell was also solid with 1 goal and 2 assists.

Saginaw Spirit
Second year forward Vincent Trocheck is looking to build off his solid rookie season and had 4 goals in the preseason.

Sarnia Sting
I could have probably put two other Sting in the top 10, but they fell just outside the mark. Overager Tyler Peters has been fantastic this preseason with 5 goals and 5 assists and could have a big year playing with more talent. First overall pick Alex Galchenyuk lived up to the billing and had 3 goals and 4 assists. While likely new Sting captain Nathan Chiarlitti had 2 goals and and 4 assists from the blueline.

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
On top of the four Hounds who made the top 10, OHL rookie and free agent signing Brett Findlay has been fantastic for the Soo during the preseason with 2 goals and 3 assists. Too bad he's going to miss the first month of the season with a broken wrist.

Sudbury Wolves
5th overall pick Matthew Campagna looks like he's ready to make an impact right away and led the Wolves in scoring in the preseason with 2 goals and 2 assists. Meanwhile, second year forward Kris Kontos had 1 goal and 3 assists.

Windsor Spitfires
Ryan Ellis played in one game and had 2 goals and 2 assists. That should tell you the type of impact he'll have if he's returned. Second year defenseman Steven Trojanovic had an excellent preseason offensively, helping to fill in for Ellis. He picked up a goal and 5 assists. Lastly, new acquisition Zack MacQueen fit right into the Spits line up and had 1 goal and 6 assists. Looks like he could start the year with Kassian and Khokhlachev on the first line.

Well that's it folks. The season starts on Thursday!


Anonymous said...

According to stats distributed by the Sting organization..

Tyler Peters had 5G, 5A, 10PTS in 6GP

Galchenyuk had 3G, 4A, 6PTS in 6GP

Yakupov 5G, 3A, 6PTS in 6GP

Chiarlitti 2G, 4A, 6PTS in 6GP

Anonymous said...

sorry Galchenyuk should be 7 PTS, Yakupov should be 8PTS

Anonymous said...

Niagara - Strome 4 goals 3 assist
Theoret 2 goals 4 assists

Anonymous said...

Aleardi from Belleville to Plymouth. Very interesting. Good for Aleardi & the Whalers.

Anonymous said...

For the attack Weiss actually had 4G in 4 exibition games, looks like they could've found the walk on dream again

Brock Otten said...

Thanks to those for the statistical corrections. I've updated the post to reflect them.

Also, I was also incredibly surprised about Aleardi heading to Plymouth. Definitely caught me off guard.

Anonymous said...

who cares what you think brock... your a bum... figure it out and write something smart for once

Anonymous said...

hey leave him alone... hes a nice guy!

Anonymous said...

Fight, Fight!

Seriously Brock, ignore him.

Probably just some player you've written unflattering reports about.

Anonymous said...

yeah thats the point... stop chirping kids...
brock cant handle a chirp? so why does he chirp kids on the internet...
get your facts straight, your probably brocks boyfriend

Anonymous said...

wow this is interesting!!!

Brock Otten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brock Otten said...

Love the "chirps," keep 'em coming. At least if you work under the credo that any attention is good attention.

Let's be honest here, you can choose to read what I have to write...or you can choose not to. Welcome to the world of blogging.

What I offer (or write about) is no different than places like McKeen's, ISS, HockeyProspect, etc, etc. Heck, NHL's Central Scouting Bureau judges these "kids" just the same too.

And quite frankly, I'm not sure I "chirp" players anyway. I'd like to think that I try to make my reports as civil as possible and try to frame it in the context that it's only one game. At least that's generally been the feedback that I've gotten (outside of this one particular person who clearly won't be voting for me in the latest Pulitzer Prize ballot).

To each their own, and for those of you who've had nice comments towards me in this section, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey Brock,

First, nice work. You HM'ed most players I had in mind too. Great call on Rychel. This kid is going to haunt Barrie in the years to come for sure.

Second, there's more pyrotechnics here than last week's Floyd concerts!! As the other anon posted, just ignore it. Pardon mon Francais, mais il est plein de merde! I often think you're being "too nice" in some of your player assessments. Probably some HF loser you stung. Anyway, he's received more attention than he worth.


Anonymous said...

actually, brock has been very nice to my boyfriend! he is constantly complementing him!

hey brock! can you put your puck in my net? ;)

shoot it in my five hole brock!!!

Anonymous said...

Your talked about Nick Weiss in Owen sound - yet they dropped him 2 days before season started - too late to go anywhere else? They kept last years guy with low points.

Brock Otten said...

Definitely surprising to see Weiss cut, considering he outperformed (statistically) many of his competitors.

He was a walk on so he's currently a free agent. There's definitely a chance someone in the OHL was impressed with him and signs him, but my guess is we would have heard about it by now. He could also end up signing with a team in the QMJHL or the WHL. Or he could end up back playing Junior A. Lots of options for him, although he has to be disappointed considering he has to be wondering what more he could have done to win a spot.

Brock Otten said...

Weiss is now playing for Junior A Cobourg.