NHL talent leaves mark on OHL Cup

Friday March 20, 2015

The OHL Cup Showcase has provided a platform for some of the game’s top young players to perform at the highest level of Minor Midget hockey over the years.

From minor hockey to major junior stardom, several bright young stars have since made the jump to the National Hockey League. A total of 48 former OHL Cup competitors turned OHL graduates are playing in the NHL today, with several of those players contributing to OHL Cup Championships since 2003.

Prior to 2003 the OHL Cup was awarded to the Bantam champion, switching to a Minor Midget format in a year that saw current-day NHL regulars James Neal, Marc Staal and Steve Downie suit up and leave a favourable impression to become high draft picks in the 2003 OHL Priority Selection.

The list has only grown since then, with NHL stars John Tavares and Sam Gagner leading the Toronto Marlboros to an OHL Cup title in 2005, and Steven Stamkos and Michael Del Zotto steering the Markham Waxers to the top a year later in 2006.

The 1991-born crop of players in the 2007 OHL Cup has yielded the most returns to this point, with 14 current NHL players competing in the tournament that saw Casey Cizikas and the Mississauga IceDogs skate to a Championship victory. Cizikas joins a strong cast of names that competed in the tournament including underage forwards Tyler Seguin and Jeff Skinner, 2007 OHL Priority Selection first overall pick Ryan O’Reilly, 2011 CHL Defenceman of the Year Ryan Ellis, and current-day Colorado Avalanche centreman Matt Duchene among others.

The 2008 OHL Cup featured the Champion Toronto Jr. Canadiens led by 2014 Stanley Cup Champion Tyler Toffoli and Montreal Canadiens power forward Devante Smith-Pelly. Emerging young NHL defencemen Erik Gudbranson and Jamie Oleksiak patrolled the blueline, remaining as two of the most imposing physical rearguards to compete in the tournament to this day.

2009 saw Ryan Strome, Brett Ritchie and the Toronto Marlboros march to an OHL Cup title over Boone Jenner and the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs. Boston Bruins defenceman Dougie Hamilton competed for the St. Catharines Falcons in the tournament while NHL rookies Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Murphy teamed up with the York-Simcoe Express.

The 2010 OHL Cup is the most recent showcase to produce NHL talent, with 1994-born forwards Sean Monahan, Tom Wilson and Chris Tierney performing well and all becoming top-30 picks in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection. Monahan’s Mississauga Rebels went down in OHL Cup lore, becoming the first Wild Card entry to win an OHL Cup title, with Monahan earning MVP honours as he led the tournament in scoring with 13 points (7-6-13) in seven games.

These are just a few of the stories documenting the journey through the OHL Cup Showcase that some of today’s NHL stars took to reach the next level.

The OHL Cup continues to create new hockey memories each and every year. 



* – OHL Cup Champion

Brampton Battalion
Peter Holland (2007) – Guelph – Toronto Maple Leafs 

Brantford 99’ers
Adam Henrique (2006) – Windsor – New Jersey Devils
Jake Muzzin (2005) – Sault Ste. Marie – Los Angeles Kings

Cambridge Hawks
Kyle Clifford (2007) – Barrie – Los Angeles Kings
Ryan Ellis (2007) – Windsor – Nashville Predators

Central Ontario Wolves
Matt Duchene (2007) – Brampton – Colorado Avalanche

Clarington Toros
Josh Bailey (2005) – Owen Sound/Windsor – New York Islanders

Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs
Boone Jenner (2009) – Oshawa – Columbus Blue Jackets

Gloucester Rangers
Erik Gudbranson (2007) – Kingston – Florida Panthers

Greater Kingston Jr. Frontenacs
Taylor Hall (2007) – Windsor – Edmonton Oilers

London Jr. Knights
Drew Doughty (2005) – Guelph – Los Angeles Kings
Nazem Kadri (2006) – Kitchener/London – Toronto Maple Leafs

Markham Islanders
P.K. Subban (2005) – Belleville – Montreal Canadiens
Chris Terry (2005) – Plymouth – Carolina Hurricanes

Markham Waxers
Michael Del Zotto (2006) – Oshawa/London – Philadelphia Flyers*
Steven Stamkos (2006) – Sarnia – Tampa Bay Lightning*

Mississauga IceDogs
Ben Chiarot (2007) – Guelph/Sudbury/Saginaw – Winnipeg Jets*
Casey Cizikas (2007) – Mississauga – New York Islanders* 

Mississauga Rebels
Sean Monahan (2010) – Ottawa – Calgary Flames*

Niagara Falls Thunder
Taylor Beck (2007) – Guelph – Nashville Predators

Oakville Rangers
Steve Mason (2004) – London/Kitchener – Philadelphia Flyers

Ottawa Jr. 67’s
Erik Gudbranson (2008) – Kingston – Florida Panthers

Ottawa Senators
Ryan Spooner (2008) – Peterborough/Kingston/Sarnia – Boston Bruins

St. Catharines Falcons
Dougie Hamilton (2009) – Niagara – Boston Bruins

Thunder Bay Kings
Robert Bortuzzo (2005) – Kitchener – St. Louis Blues
Marc Staal (2003) – Sudbury – New York Rangers

Toronto Jr. Canadiens
Matt Halischuk (2004) – Toronto St. Michael’s/Kitchener – Winnipeg Jets
Jamie McGinn (2004) – Ottawa – Colorado Avalanche
Ryan O’Reilly (2007) – Erie – Colorado Avalanche
Alex Pietrangelo (2006) – Niagara/Barrie – St. Louis Blues
Devante Smith-Pelly (2008) – Mississauga – Montreal Canadiens*
Tyler Toffoli (2008) – Ottawa – Los Angeles Kings*
Tom Wilson (2010) – Plymouth – Washington Capitals 

Toronto Marlboros
Sam Gagner (2005) – London – Arizona Coyotes*
Brett Ritchie (2009) – Sarnia/Niagara – Dallas Stars*
Ryan Strome (2009) – Barrie/Niagara – New York Islanders*
John Tavares (2005) – Oshawa/London – New York Islanders*
Christian Thomas (2008) – Oshawa/London – Montreal Canadiens 

Toronto Nationals
Jamie Oleksiak (2008) – Saginaw/Niagara – Dallas Stars
Tyler Seguin (2007, 2008) – Plymouth – Dallas Stars
Jeff Skinner (2007, 2008) – Kitchener – Carolina Hurricanes 

Waterloo Wolves
Michael Latta (2007) – Ottawa/Guelph – Washington Capitals

Whitby Wildcats
James Neal (2003) – Plymouth – Nashville Predators

Windsor Spitfires
Zack Kassian (2007) – Peterborough/Windsor – Vancouver Canucks

York-Simcoe Express
Steve Downie (2003) – Windsor/Peterborough/Kitchener – Pittsburgh Penguins
Barclay Goodrow (2009) – North Bay – San Jose Sharks
Ryan Murphy (2009) – Kitchener – Carolina Hurricanes
Chris Tierney (2010) – London – San Jose Sharks

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