Following Saturday’s game in Barrie, I was able to head over to the Hershey Centre in Mississauga on Sunday afternoon for an afternoon tilt between the hometown Majors and the visiting London Knights. Despite a very sparse crowd in attendance, the game was a tightly contested defensive battle where the Knights were able to edge out a 3-2 win. The box-score from the game can be found at this link, http://www.ontariohockeyleague.com/stats/game-summary.php?game_id=16063
LC Phil Varone | 1990L | 5’10” | 187lbs | 9GP 1G 5A 6P +2 6PIM
NHL: 2009 SJS (5/147)
Varone was drafted last year after turning around a disappointing season by really elevating his game in the playoffs. Slightly undersized, he is a quick skater with some good junior offensive ability, but nothing that really indicates success at the NHL level. He’s been off to a tough start this season, and if he continues at this pace, San Jose might even elect to return him to junior next season as an over-ager.
LW Zac Rinaldo | 1990 | 5’11” | 180lbs | 9GP 3G 1A 4P -1 45PIM
NHL: 2008 PHI (6/178)
Rinaldo didn’t have his best performance in this game, but he’s definitely a player with some NHL upside. His forte as a player is his ability to influence a game with his physical play, and his ability to back it up with his fists. He skates pretty well given the type of game he plays, and it should translate into an NHL role down the line. He does need to work on controlling his emotions and avoid taking undisciplined penalties, which is something he will need to work on when he reaches the AHL next season.
LC Philip McRae | 1990 | 6’3” | 191lbs | 9GP 1G 6A 7P -1 9PIM
NHL: 2008 STL (2/33)
One of the most naturally talented players in the OHL right now, McRae continues to be an enigma for the Knights. He’s a big player that skates well and has all of the major offensive traits you would find in a big point producer, but he’s still having a lot of problems packaging it all up. Often times he doesn’t compete hard enough and isn’t willing to pay the price necessary to make plays. While he does have the potential to be a top six forward at the NHL level, he’s going to need some time in the AHL to mature as a player before the Blues even consider bringing him up.
LC Nazem Kadri | 1990L | 6’0” | 177lbs | 9GP 3G 2A 5P +3 16PIM
NHL: 2009 TOR (1/7)
Kadri’s start to the 2009 OHL season has been less than spectacular statistically, as many expected big numbers from the 19 year old. After just barely being cut by the Toronto Maple Leafs, it looks like Kadri might have a bit of NHL syndrome and is having a tough time getting motivated back in the OHL. However, it’s clear that despite his marginal numbers, he’s an electrifying player with high end NHL potential, so it’s really anything to worry about at this point.
RC Jared Knight | 1992 | 5’11” | 190lbs | 10GP 2G 2A 4P +5 8PIM
NHL: 2010 Eligible
It’s been a bit of a slow start thus far for Knight, as points have been hard to come by for almost all of London’s forwards this season. He’s a stocky player with good speed and a willingness to compete hard and finish checks. A lack of natural offensive talent will likely prevent him from being selected in the Top 60, but he should be a solid pick in the mid rounds this year. He did manage to score a nice goal in the game as he picked the top corner, short side on a nice rush.
G Michael Hutchinson | 1990 | 6’3” | 185lbs | 4-3-0 3.11GAA .906SV%
NHL: 2008 BOS (3/77)
Hutchinson was very solid in this game, stopping 31/33 shots from the Majors. He’s a big goalie that uses his size well to challenge shooters, and takes up a lot of room in his butterfly. He did a good job of controlling his rebounds and showed a lot of good positional skills in this game as well. He’ll definitely be in the AHl next year with Providence, and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to better shooters.
MISSISSAUGA ST. MICHAEL’S MAJORS
RD Stuart Percy | 1993 | 6’1” | 175lbs | 10GP 0G 4A 4P +2 7PIM
NHL: 2011 Eligible
Percy is a fairly mobile 16 year old defenseman who is reliable in his own end. His overall game still needs some refinement, but he makes good decisions on the ice and manages to keep things simple for being a rookie defenseman in the league. At this point, he will be on the NHL radar next year, and barring a breakout season offensively, he’s likely a mid round pick at this point.
RD Tim Billingsley | 1990 | 6’1” | 185lbs | 10GP 0G 1A 1P +2 6PIM
NHL: 2008 PHX (7/189)
A late pick in 2008, Billingsley has struggled significantly the last couple of years in the OHL, and hasn’t actually scored since his 17 year old season. He’s had a lot of trouble handling opposing forwards, and really has become a bit of a liability for the Majors as he has slid down their depth chart. It’s unlikely that he will be signed this off-season, and will likely be back in the OHL for an overage season in 2010.
RD Brett Flemming | 1991 | 5’11” | 175lbs | 10GP 0G 1A 1P -1 22PIM
NHL: 2009 WAS (5/145)
After a decent season a year ago, Flemming is another Major who has really struggled so far this season. Against London he was used frequently on forward with little effect, and created limited offense from the point on the powerplay. Even without his poor season, Flemming doesn’t have much NHL potential and probably will need to rebound over the next year and a half if he wants to have a chance at a contract offer from Washington.
LC Casey Cizikas | 1991 | 5’11” | 184lbs | 10GP 4G 4A 8P E 18PIM
NHL: 2009 NYI (4/92)
After a disappointing sophomore season that was plagued by some unfortunate off-ice issues, Cizikas looks a lot more mature this season with increased confidence and poise. While his statistics thus far aren’t exactly eye popping, he’s a good two way player who competes hard and has some grit in his game. He’s still a few years away from getting into some NHL action, but he could develop into an effective third line NHL center at some point in the future for the Islanders.
RC Jordan Mayer | 1991 | 5’10” | 177lbs | 10GP 7G 2A 9P +4 11PIM
NHL: 2010 Eligible
The former 13th overall pick in the 2007 OHL Priority Selection, Mayer went undrafted in last year’s NHL Entry Draft. Despite that, he’s taken some steps forward this year which is a positive sign. He’s got a good nose for the net and isn’t afraid to take some punishment in tight. He’s got a quick release and an accurate snap shot which is why he is very dangerous in the offensive zone. While he will likely be a big time scorer in the OHL, he’s not a great skater for his size which will drastically limit the amount of pro interest he receives.
LW Devante Smith-Pelly | 1992 | 5’11” | 180lbs | 10GP 3G 4A 7P +3 2PIM
NHL: 2010 Eligible
Smith-Pelly has really been a player that has raised his stock considerably from his minor midget season with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. While his offense is not going to be something that gets him noticed, he’s a hard worker that competes extremely hard. He’s good at protecting the puck and can create chances off the forecheck as a result of his tenacity. He could be a definite riser this year, just like his OHL draft year, and is likely a 3rd round pick at this point.
LD Cameron Gaunce | 1990 | 6’1” | 201lbs | 10GP 1G 7A 8P +1 20PIM
NHL: 2008 COL (2/50)
Gaunce’s season thus far has been a bit of a disappointment as more was expected out of the third year captain of the Majors. He’s a big weapon on the powerplay and utilizes his shot effectively at the top of the umbrella. His skating is a bit of a concern, and will need to be addressed in the AHL next season before he is ready to make the leap to the NHL. Gaunce has good offensive instincts, but his defensive play still needs some refinement with his positioning. Either way, he looks to be rebounding now, and he’ll be closely watched by the Avalanche.
G Chris Carrozzi | 1990 | 6’2” | 185lbs | 4-2-0 1.57GAA .942SV%
NHL: 2008 ATL (6/154)
Carrozzi has really been solid early in the 2009 OHL season, leading the league in several goaltending categories thus far. He’s got good size and is a true butterfly goalie, but sometimes is guilty of sitting too far back in his crease. He’s got quick reflexes and moves well in the net, but his glove hand is a bit of a liability and cost him a couple of goals in this game that might be classified as weak ones. Next year he’ll challenge with Edward Pasquale for a spot with the Chicago Wolves, with the loser likely going down to the ECHL.
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Tags: Brett Flemming, Cameron Gaunce, Casey Cizikas, Chris Carrozzi, Devante Smith-Pelly, Jared Knight, Jordan Mayer, Michael Hutchinson, Nazem Kadri, Phil Varone, Philip McRae, Stuart Percy, Tim Billingsley, Zac Rinaldo