2009-2010 record: 33-28-5-2 (Eighth in West)
Playoffs: Lost in four games to Windsor in the quarter finals
Key Additions: F Chris Marchese(draft), F Timofei Tankeev(import draft)
Key Losses: F Zach Torquato, D Paul Cianfrini, G Adam Courchaine
Synopsis: Coming off of a disappointing season in which the Otters finished eighth in the West and were swept in the first round by Windsor, despite scoring the fifth most goals in the league, Erie will look for significant improvement this year. It won’t be an easy task in what is likely to be the deepest and toughest division in the OHL. Despite losing leading scorer Zach Torquato, the Otters return plenty of scoring led by Mike Cazzola and Greg McKegg, who had 86 and 85 points respectively. They will get plenty of support from Andrew Yogan, David Broll, and overagers Anthony Luciani and Shawn Szydlowski.
The Otters also get plenty of offence from the defence led by veterans Mitch Gaulton, Derek Holden, and Tyler Hostetter. Erie also mixes in some size on the blueline with Brady Austin, David Shields, and Brett Cook. In net, the Otters will need significant improvement from big Russian Ramis Sadikov and youngster Christopher Festarini if they are to make a significant move up the standings. There is no doubt the Otters will be an offensive machine, but if they don’t get much improved goaltending and defensive play, it will be hard for them to move up in a tough division and advance past the first round of the playoffs.
2009-2010 record: 35-29-3-1 (Seventh in West)
Playoffs: Lost in five games to London in the quarter finals
Key Additions: D Daniel Maggio(SBY), D Mathew Finn(draft), D Andrey Pedan(import draft)
Key Losses: D Adam Comrie, F Conor O’Donnell, D Corey Syvret, F Matt Sisca, G Cody St. Jacques
Synopsis: It was somewhat a tale of two seasons last year for the Storm. They were not a very good team for the first half of the year and it looked as though Guelph would miss the playoffs for the first time since the 1991-1992 season, their first in the OHL. The Storm needed a late season charge, including nine wins in the last ten games, as well as a collapse by Owen Sound, to sneak into seventh place. Guelph will have high hopes once again this season as they return the high scoring trio of Peter Holland, Taylor Beck, and Michael Latta. The problem for Guelph could be a lack of secondary scoring. They will need contributions from veterans Tyler Carroll and Cody McNaughton, as well as youngsters Carter Sandlak, Zack Mitchell, and Francis Menard.
Defenceman Sam Lofquist will return for an overage season to help provide offense from the blueline. Offseason acquisition Daniel Maggio will look to provide a big shot for the powerplay along with rugged defensive play. Newcomers Matt Finn and Andrey Pedan will need to contribute to a relatively young blueline. Like so many other teams, Guelph’s fortune will be decided by goaltending. They will look for a healthy season from starter Brandon Foote, who is their only goalie who has appeared in an OHL game. The Storm should be carried into the playoffs from a top heavy team, but it is unlikely that they have the depth to make much of a run this season.
2009-2010 record: 42-19-4-3 (Third in West)
Playoffs: Lost to Windsor in seven games in the Western Conference Finals
Key Additions: D Julian Melchiori(OSH), D Cody Sol(SAG), D Matt Braun(SAG), F Matia Marcantuoni(draft), F Tobias Rieder(import draft)
Key Losses: D Dan Kelly, D Patrik Andersson, F Chris MacKinnon, D John Moore
Synopsis: The Rangers look to be gearing up once again for another run at the Memorial Cup. Fortunately, there are two OHL births this year as Mississauga will be hosting the event, which means they may only have to win the West to get a shot. Kitchener could return the best 1-2 goal scoring punch in Carolina Hurricanes first round pick Jeff Skinner and American Jeremy Morin, who combined for 97 goals last season. They will get plenty of support from overagers Matthew Tipoff and Jason Akeson, European Imports Gabriel Landeskog and Tobias Reider, and skilled rookie Matia Marcantuoni.
The defence will have a new look this year with the loss of Captain Dan Kelly and leading scorer from the point John Moore. Second year man and top NHL prospect Ryan Murphy will pick up the slack offensively and potentially challenge the point-per-game barrier. He will be supported by big newcomers Cody Sol, checking in at 6’5 242, and Julian Melchiori, an Atlanta Thrashers third rounder. In net, Brandon Maxwell will shoulder the load and will be backed up by Mike Morrison, who had three shutouts in only 11 appearances last year. Kitchener was so close to knocking off Windsor last season after being up 3-0 in the Western Conference Finals before collapsing. With plenty of offence back and a track record for making big moves when they smell the Memorial Cup, expect this team to contend for the OHL Championship.
2009-2010 record: 49-16-1-2 (Second in West)
Playoffs: Lost to Kitchener in seven games in the semi finals
Key Additions: F Chris Tierney(draft), D Jarred Tinordi, F Vladislav Namestnikov(import draft)
Key Losses: F Nazem Kadri, D Matt Ashman, F Leigh Salters, D Steven Tarasuk
Synopsis: The Knights look to remain competitive this year, while probably taking a small step back after a disappointing playoff loss to Kitchener, and the loss of leading scorer Nazem Kadri. The Knights do return aptly named goal scorer Jared Knight and pint-sized playmaker Daniel Erlich. The offence will be supplemented by veterans Chris DeSousa, Phil Varone, and Michael MacDonald. The x-factor up front could be Russian Import Vladislav Namestnikov.
The defence will be led by sophomore Scott Harrington who was an impressive plus-25 in his rookie season. The rest of the defence resembles a skyline with 6’4 veterans Kalle Ekelund and Reid McNeill, along with rookies Jarred Tinordi, a Montreal Canadiens first rounder, and Troy Donnay, both listed at 6’7. Tinordi, the son of former NHLer Mark, will be counted on for big minutes right away. Goaltending will be a bit of a mystery for the Knights to start the season as last year’s backup Michael Houser is the only one currently listed on their roster. The Knights should be a safe bet to make the playoffs for an eleventh straight season. The question is can they do anything more than just qualify for the post season, or will they commit themselves to a rebuild of sort and possibly deal off some veterans.
Owen Sound Attack
2009-2010 record: 27-33-4-4 (Ninth in West)
Key Additions: D Matt Stanisz(BAR), F Jarrod Maidens(draft), D Ricard Berzins(import draft), F Liam Heelis(PBO)
Key Losses: F Marcus Carroll, D Milan Doczy, D Michael McGurk
Synopsis: The Owen Sound Attack will look to rebound from a disappointing 2009-2010 season. It was a poor season for a team who thought they were on the upswing, but instead they crashed and burned down the stretch and extended their streak to four straight years without a single playoff victory. The Attack will need a healthy season from top scorer and Colorado Avalanche first round pick Joey Hishon. Hishon has 168 career OHL points and will team with Bobby Mignardi, Garrett Wilson, and Steven Shipley to give Owen Sound a formidable offence. A breakout season from Russian forward Roman Berdnikov or fourth overall pick Jarrod Maidens, would give the Attack enviable scoring depth.
Offence from the blueline should not be a problem with the return of Geoffrey Schemitsch and Jesse Blacker, who combined for 73 points last year. Blacker, however, will need to vastly improve his plus/minus rating of -23 from a year ago. Overager Matt Stanisz, acquired from Barrie in the offseason, will look to provide some physical play while chipping in on the score sheet occasionally. Owen Sound gave up the second most goals in the Western Conference a year ago and will need better goaltending to help cut down on that number. Veteran Scott Stajcer was not very good after being handed the reins following the trade of Tyler Beskorowany last offseason. Backup Jordan Binnington will also need to be much better after surrendering 4.38 goals per game. The attack should have the offence to get them over the playoff hump this season, provided everyone stays healthy, but their backend may prove not strong enough come playoff time if they attempt to play a run and gun style.
Next Up: East Division