Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Sunday Top 10 - Performers of the 2019 Preseason

The 2019 preseason is over and the regular season is just around the corner. It's time to take a look at some of the top performances of this year's exhibition action.

As always, this list is populated by players without NHL affiliations (first or second year players, and undrafted veterans), because they get into more games.

Here were the preseason standings (ignoring divisions):

Eastern Conference
1. Mississauga Steelheads (3-1) - .750%
2. Barrie Colts (4-2) - .667%
3. Peterborough Petes - .600%
4. Ottawa 67's (2-2) - .500%
5. Sudbury Wolves (2-2) - .500%
6. Oshawa Generals (2-2) - .500%
7. Hamilton Bulldogs (2-2) - .500%
8. Kingston Frontenacs (1-2) - .333%
9. Niagara IceDogs (1-4) - .200%
10. North Bay Battalion (0-5) - .000%

Western Conference
1. Windsor Spitfires (3-1) - .750%
2. Flint Firebirds (3-1) - .750%
3. Owen Sound Attack (3-1) - .750%
4. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (2-1) - .667%
5. Saginaw Spirit (3-2) - .600%
6. Kitchener Rangers (3-2) - .600%
7. Erie Otters (2-2) - .500%
8. London Knights (2-2) - .500%
9. Guelph Storm (2-3) - .400%
10. Sarnia Sting - (1-4) - .200%

Here are your top 10 OHL preseason performers, with several HM's and a team by team breakdown of some other standouts. 

1. Brandt Clarke - Barrie Colts
The 4th overall pick in this year's priority selection, Clarke tied for the preseason lead in scoring despite being a first year defender. This is no short feat. He was also tied for second in shots (although the recording of said stat is a little sketchy in the preseason). Needless to say, Clarke's play met expectations. Last year, Jamie Drysdale was a standout for the Otters as a rookie, playing a ton of minutes. If Clarke's early play is any indication, he will be filling the same type of role for the Colts and could be a candidate to join the elusive 40 point mark as a 16 year older defender.

2. Jonah De Simone - Niagara IceDogs
There always seems to be a performance like this every preseason; a younger, relatively un-hyped player who explodes offensively. A 4th rounder in 2018, De Simone did play all of last year with Niagara. But he had 2 less shots in 5 games in the preseason than he did in 47 games last year. He led the preseason in goals and points, scoring in all five games for the IceDogs. This is a team that is rebuilding this year, so if they have found a scoring star in De Simone, that would be tremendous for the franchise. 

3. Cole Perfetti - Saginaw Spirit
Probably no surprise to see Perfetti on this list. In fact, I would have been disappointed if he was not among the leaders in preseason scoring. At almost three points per game, Perfetti dominated on the ice and after a strong summer at the Hlinka/Gretzky, he looks poised for a massive draft year. As part of a strong Saginaw team, I actually think that Perfetti could be the first draft eligible player to lead the OHL in scoring since Dylan Strome. 

4. Cameron Butler - Peterborough Petes
6'4, 200lbs and probably still growing, Butler had a massive preseason for the Petes (pun intended). In his NHL draft year, Butler looks poised for a big season. He scored in 4 of the 5 games and led the preseason in shots. The Petes have some skilled players who are on the undersized spectrum, so if Butler can really emerge as a top flight offensive player, that would be great for their success with his ability to open space. 

5. Mack Guzda - Owen Sound Attack
Perhaps no goaltender in the OHL last year had as disappointing of a season as Guzda did. He went from a potential top 3 round selection to undrafted and even lost his starting job for a time with the Attack. This preseason, no goaltender was better than Guzda as he helped the Attack to 3 wins. I'm sure the Attack organization and Attack fans are tired of goaltending issues in the organization, so if Guzda can find his game and emerge as the goaltender everyone thought he'd be, then Owen Sound has a chance to be better this year than many are expecting.

6. Mitchell Smith - Saginaw Spirit
A rookie defender who also happens to be a hometown kid, Smith was fantastic for Saginaw this preseason. He had a point in every game and finished +6. Saginaw needed a young defender to really step up this year to help with the loss of Bode Wilde and Smith looks like he could be that guy for the organization. 

7. Jet Greaves - Barrie Colts
With a fantastic preseason, Greaves is trying to show the Colts that he deserves to be the starter in Barrie and not Canucks' draft pick and Import selection Arturs Silovs. The Colts, as a whole, looked great during the exhibition schedule and even with new bench boss Warren Rychel coming in late, the team seems poised to have a much better year than a year ago. Greaves will be at the forefront of that it would appear.

8. Ville Ottavainen - Kitchener Rangers
The only Import selection to crack this list, Ottavainen finished second to Clarke, and tied with Smith in defensive scoring this preseason. From talking to people, there were some suspect moments in the defensive end. But he also apparently improved each game and the offensive production is impressive for a 2002. Imports usually take time to adjust to the league, so let's see if Ottavainen can keep this up when the season starts. 

9. Brendan Sellan - Erie Otters
Another one of those, "whoa, I wasn't expecting that" kind of performances this preseason. An undersized second year forward, Sellan was a guy that I thought came into Erie camp as a bubble player to return after an indifferent rookie season. But he led the Otters in preseason scoring and looks like a breakout candidate on a team that I feel is being vastly underrated in preseason rankings.

10. Graeme Clarke - Ottawa 67's
A guy on pretty much everyone's breakout candidate list, Clarke did not disappoint this preseason. He had 4 goals and 15 shots in just 3 games and looks like he is going to have an absolutely monster D+1 year on one of the best teams in the OHL's Eastern Conference.

Honorable Mentions

Tyson Foerster - Barrie Colts
With 7 points in 5 games, Foerster had an excellent preseason and looks poised for a breakout in his sophomore season after showing well as a rookie last year. 

Mason Millman - Saginaw Spirit
Speaking of breakout candidates, Millman is another routine response to that question as he looks to steal most of Bode Wilde's offensive responsibility in one of the OHL's top offenses. Millman was great this preseason and should be a big time point producer.

Antonio Stranges - London Knights
Alright, he didn't have a goal this preseason. But he did have 5 assists and finished third in shots on goal. And from talking to those that saw him, the buzz is electric for his start to the season. Expectations are very high for his sophomore effort, so let's see if he can match them.

Jonathan Yantsis - Kitchener Rangers
5 goals in 3 games for this OA of the Year (Leo Lalande) candidate. There is a very real possibility that Yantsis leads the OHL in goal scoring this year, should he not get a contract from the LA Kings following their training camp.

Donovan Sebrango - Kitchener Rangers
Coming off a solid, yet unspectacular Hlinka/Gretzky performance this Summer, Sebrango had a very good offensive preseason for the Rangers with over a point per game. As a team, the Rangers really struggled to move the puck last year, but their rebuilt defense has shown well early, around their Imports and the improvement from Sebrango.  

Nathan Allensen - Barrie Colts
Allensen played all 6 of Barrie's preseason games and finished +10, which was first in the OHL. He also posted 4 assists, including 3 powerplay assists, which was also tops in the OHL. Barrie needed a big step forward from him as a top 4 defender and it appears they may have gotten it.

Christian Purboo - Sudbury Wolves
Sudbury has to be encouraged by the two games that their new starter played this preseason. His .943 save percentage was third during the exhibition schedule and he looks like he can provide the stability that they wanted from him.

Daniel Murphy - Erie Otters
Murphy was another goaltender to play exceptionally well this preseason. Two games and two wins, including a shutout of Hamilton. He could be a breakout candidate manning the crease in Erie.

Marco Rossi - Ottawa 67's
Second year Import who was just named to Bob McKenzie's preliminary top 20 for the 2020 NHL Draft. He was terrific this preseason, among the top scorers. He will be the number one center on one of the top teams in the league. Expect a monster season.

Team by Team Breakdowns

Barrie Colts
Victor Hadfield - 2 goals, 3 assists
Jacob Tortora - 3 goals, 1 assist

Erie Otters
Emmett Sproule - 3 goals, 2 assists
Austen Swankler - 1 goal, 3 assists

Flint Firebirds
Brennan Othmann - 4 goals, 2 assists
Jake Durham - 4 goals
Riley McCourt - 2 goals, 2 assists
Ty Dellandrea - 4 assists (in one game)
Evgeny Oksentyuk - 5 assists

Guelph Storm
Pavel Gogolev - 2 goals, 2 assists
Cedric Ralph - 2 goals, 2 assists
Keegan Stevenson - 2 goals, 2 assists
Andrei Bakanov - 2 goals, 2 assists
Jacob Roach - 2 goals, 2 assists
Daniil Chayka - 1 goal, 3 assists

Hamilton Bulldogs 
Navrin Mutter - 2 goals, 1 assist
Logan Morrison - 1 goal, 2 assists
Marco Costantini - 2 wins, .925 Sv%

Kingston Frontenacs
Lucas Rowe - 3 goals, 1 assist
Jakob Brahaney - 4 assists

Kitchener Rangers
Riley Damiani - 2 goals, 3 assists
Reid Valade - 2 goals, 3 assists

London Knights
Paul Cotter - 3 goals, 1 assist
Gerard Keane - 1 goal, 2 assists

Mississauga Steelheads
William Portokalis - 3 goals, 1 assist
Cole Schwindt - 1 goal, 3 assists
Aidan Prueter - 3 goals
Nick Isaacson - 3 goals

Niagara IceDogs
Lucas Theriault - 5 assists
Tynan Tucker - 1 win, .919 Sv%

North Bay Battalion
Brad Chenier - 4 goals
Simon Rose - 1 goal, 2 assists

Oshawa Generals 
Oliver Suni - 2 goals, 4 assists
Allan McShane - 5 goals
Ty Tullio - 1 goal, 4 assists

Ottawa 67's
Jack Beck - 2 goals, 3 assists
Noel Hoefenmayer - 4 assists

Owen Sound Attack
Kaleb Pearson - 3 goals, 2 assists
Kirill Nizhnikov - 2 goals, 2 assists

Peterborough Petes
Dustin Hutton - 1 goal, 5 assists
Mason McTavish - 2 goals, 3 assists
Liam Kirk - 3 goals, 1 assist
Nick Robertson - 3 goals (in one game)

Saginaw Spirit
Camaryn Baber - 1 goal, 5 assists
Jake Goldowski - 4 goals, 1 assist
Nicholas Porco - 3 goals, 1 assist

Sarnia Sting 
Jacob Perreault - 3 goals, 3 assists
Owen Saye - 2 goals, 1 assist

Soo Greyhounds
Tye Kartye - 2 goals, 3 assists
Tanner Dickinson - 1 goal, 2 assists

Sudbury Wolves
Shane Bulitka - 2 goals, 4 assists
Quinton Byfield - 2 goals, 2 assists
Phil Caron - 2 goals, 1 assist

Windsor Spitfires
Cole Purboo - 4 goals, 1 assist
Luke Boka - 2 goals, 3 assists
Matt Maggio - 2 goals, 3 assists
Ruben Rafkin - 1 goal, 2 assists

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