Friday, September 20, 2019

2019/20 OHL Season Preview: Award Predictions

The conclusion to my three part season preview sees me look at potential award candidates for 2019/20.

Red Tilson Trophy - Cole Perfetti (Saginaw Spirit)
The last draft eligible player to win the Red Tilson was Connor McDavid in 2015 and I think Perfetti enters the year as the favourite for the award. I think the Saginaw Spirit might just be the best team in the OHL heading into the season and they are going to score a lot. Perfetti will be front and center in the offense. And there's a chance that he doesn't make the Canadian WJC team too, which means he won't miss a month of action. Fellow draft eligible forward Quinton Byfield is a very real contender too if the Wolves are as good as we are all expecting them to be. I look at 2000's Riley Damiani and Akil Thomas as contenders, in addition to OA's Greg Meireles and Austen Keating, and 2001's Nick Robertson and Arthur Kaliyev. I think Ty Dellandrea is going to be one of the best players in the OHL this year, but I also think that we won't see him play more than 50 games due to being in the NHL and at the WJC's. Likely puts him out of the Tilson race with so many great contenders.

Jim Rutherford Goaltender of the Year - Cedrick Andree (Ottawa 67's)
Now named the Jim Rutherford award, this was a tough one to predict this year. I think Ottawa's Cedrick Andree is the front runner based on last year's performance, predicted team success, and the strength of the defense in front of him. And, I think Andree is a great goaltender. Peterborough's Hunter Jones is a natural fit too. I think the Petes will be solid and with another year of experience under his belt, he should be able to overcome the fatigue he suffered in the second half last year. Tristan Lennox is a serious candidate too, so long as he can stay healthy. It's actually not as rare to see a U18 player win this award, although he would become the first U18 goalie to win the award since Alex Nedeljkovic. I also see Jacob Ingham being primed for a breakout season with Kitchener and he certainly has a nice team in front of him. 

Max Kaminski Trophy - Jamie Drysdale (Erie Otters)
I'm really making a bold prediction here. But the fact that I have Perfetti winning the Tilson and Drysdale winning the Kaminski tells you what I think of the 2020 draft crop from the OHL. Look, I already told you that I think the Erie Otters will be better than people are predicting. And Drysdale should be close to a point per game player this year. If the production rates of defenders are similar and Drysdale is a leader for the Otters and gets them back to the upper half of the Conference, he's going to be a popular pick here. After Drysdale, I see Noel Hoefenmayer being a top candidate. The OA is going to put up a ton of points for the 67's and is probably the favourite to lead in blueline scoring. After that, I see Tyler Tucker, Declan Chisholm, Thomas Harley, Giovanni Vallati, Kevin Bahl, and Vladislav Kolyachonok as serious contenders. Ryan Merkley probably deserves mention here, but there is just so much uncertainty surrounding him right now.

Emms Family Award - Brandt Clarke (Barrie Colts)
This was a really strong draft year in the Priority Selection, so we could see some terrific performances from first year U17 players. Based on strength of supporting cast, role within that cast, and preseason performance, I'm going with Brandt Clarke here. He has a great shot of being a 40+ point defender for a solid team and that could give him the nod. Fellow U17's Shane Wright, Brennan Othmann, Connor Lockhart, Mason McTavish, and Francesco Pinelli are all potential candidates too. Imports Oliver Suni and Ruben Rafkin are likely to receive a lot of playing time and responsibility and could be potential winners. I also look at goaltender Joe Vrbetic here, since he will be carrying the load in North Bay. If he can get them into the playoffs, he is a strong candidate.

Leo Lalande Trophy - Greg Meireles (Kitchener Rangers)
As mentioned, I see Meireles as a strong candidate for the Red Tilson so that means he is a natural fit for this award as OA of the year. He probably finishes the year top 5 in scoring, given he shouldn't miss much time (although he is currently in AHL camp). Austen Keating and Noel Hoefenmayer in Ottawa are two other guys that I think will put up a ton of points. Meireles' teammate in Kitchener, Jonathan Yantsis, has a chance to lead the league in goals and that puts him in the hunt for the Lalande. Oshawa's Brett Neumann, Barrie's Jacob Tortora, and North Bay's Matt Struthers are also strong candidates.

Matt Leyden Trophy - Chris Lazary (Saginaw Spirit)
I thought Lazary deserved more recognition from voters of this award last year for the way that he turned the Spirit's season around. And voters won't forget that, if he can get the Spirit to the top of the Western Conference. Andre Tourigny is someone who could become the first repeating winner since Bob Boughner in 2008 and 2009. Jay McKee, Dale Hunter, Cory Stillman, Eric Wellwood, Chris Hartsburg, Greg Walters, and Rob Wilson also have to be considered in the mix. What about Warren Rychel as a wild card if the Colts really surprise and become a top 4 team in the Conference?

Eddie Powers Trophy - Cole Perfetti (Saginaw Spirit)
Already alluded to this with my prediction of him winning the Red Tilson, but I see Perfetti being the first U18 player to lead the league in scoring since Dylan Strome. I look at Greg Meireles and Austen Keating as serious contenders too, considering that they won't be missing much time like others will for the WJC's. That goes for guys like Akil Thomas, Nick Robertson, Ty Dellandrea, and Riley Damiani. Quinton Byfield is also a contender here.

Goal Scoring Leader - Jonathan Yantsis (Kitchener Rangers)
This accolade has gone to an OA player the last two years (Brazeau and Luchuk), and I think Yantsis makes it a three peat. He is one of two returning 50 goal scorers (Kaliyev is a the other), so he seems like an obvious choice here. Speaking of Kaliyev, he is likely to have a better year with an improved supporting cast in Hamilton and that could mean the 60 goal mark. Here are some other guys that I think have a shot at the 50 goal mark: Nick Robertson, Graeme Clarke, Cole Perfetti, Jacob Tortora, Brett Neumann, Connor McMichael, Serron Noel, and Liam Kirk. 

1st Team All Stars
LW: Nick Robertson 
C: Cole Perfetti
RW: Jonathan Yantsis
D: Jamie Drysdale
D: Noel Hoefenmayer
G: Cedrick Andree
Coach: Chris Lazary

2nd Team All Stars
LW: Arthur Kaliyev
C: Greg Meireles
RW: Serron Noel
D: Tyler Tucker
D: Thomas Harley
G: Tristan Lennox
Coach: Eric Wellwood

3rd Team All Stars
LW: Austen Keating
C: Akil Thomas
RW: Jan Jenik
D: Declan Chisholm
D: Mason Millman
G: Hunter Jones
Coach: Andre Tourigny

All Rookie Team
LW: Brennan Othmann
C: Shane Wright
RW: Oliver Suni
D: Brandt Clarke
D: Ruben Rafkin
G: Joe Vrbetic

1 comment:

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