There’s no better time to file predictions than Pre-Season.
With the launch of #OHLOpeningWeek, a poll of various media who cover the league in broadcast booths and press boxes provides opinions and analysis on some of the players and teams to watch in 2018-19.
Below is a compilation of the most popular answers with select media comments to support their decisions.
Which team will win the Midwest Division?
London Knights (90%)
“The Knights should have a strong goalie and good group on the backend with a flashy bunch of young scorers up front.”
Honourable mention: Owen Sound Attack (10%)
“A tough division once again with a lot of quality teams. It will depend who gets players back from NHL camps.”
Which team will win the West Division?
Saginaw Spirit (80%)
“A team that might be a year away from peaking, but arguably the best overall defence in the Western Conference.”
Honourable mention: Soo Greyhounds (15%)
“I don’t think the Greyhounds are ready to hand over the reins. Hayton and Frost will keep this team rolling, even if they do take a step back from their record-breaking season last year.”
Which team will win the East Division?
Oshawa Generals (55%)
“Gens and 67’s will battle it out atop East all season long, but Oshawa has edge in goal a deep roster that is itching to make a long playoff run.”
Honourable mention: Ottawa 67’s (35%)
“Ottawa was young last season but developed quickly under Andre Tourigny. They have plenty of responsible forwards who can score, and their defence is one of the most exciting to watch in the OHL. If they can get the goaltending the 67’s will lead the East Division.”
Which team will win the Central Division?
Niagara IceDogs (85%)
“The IceDogs edge out the Barrie Colts for the Central Division and Akil Thomas proves he should have went in the first round of the NHL Draft.”
Honourable mention: Barrie Colts (15%)
“The Colts always find ways to be competitive and quietly added some star power once again in the Import Draft.”
Which team will be the most surprising?
Sudbury Wolves (50%)
“With the growth of returning players along with their 2002 OHL Draft and CHL Import Draft class they will be a playoff team.”
Which player will lead the league in scoring?
Morgan Frost, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (50%)
“His game has grown tremendously over the last two seasons and that will continue this season.”
Honourable mention: Nick Suzuki, Owen Sound Attack (30%)
“If he’s returned to Owen Sound, Nick Suzuki will tear up the OHL this season with his sweet hands and off the chart smarts.”
Who will be the league’s best goaltender?
Michael DiPietro, Windsor Spitfires (80%)
“There’s DiPietro then there’s everyone else. He’s in a league of his own. A true difference maker who wins games on his own.”
Who will be the league’s best defenceman?
Evan Bouchard, London Knights (40%)
“A two-way tour de force. Was the leading scorer among blue liners last season and is just as strong in his own end.”
Honourable mention: Ryan Merkley, Guelph Storm (25%)
“A truly dynamic defender. Hopefully a taste of the game at the next level will instill the importance of a more rounded defensive presence required to play pro hockey.”
Who will be the league’s top rookie?
Quinton Byfield, Sudbury Wolves (55%)
“The OHL’s first pick overall is a true towering force on the ice and already turned heads with his play in Pre-Season recording nine points in five games. He’s ready to play a leading role in Sudbury and all at the tender age of 16.”
Honourable mention: Will Cuylle, Windsor Spitfires (30%)
“He’s the real deal. In his Pre-Season debut he didn’t even know any of his teammates but looked very comfortable and knew where to be on the ice to take advantage of his tools. At 16 already has a pro shot.”
Who will win Coach of the Year honours?
Troy Smith, Saginaw Spirit (30%)
“Spirit appear ready to take a big step and Smith has experience and patience to get the best out of a talented young team.”
Honourable mention: Dale Hunter, London Knights (25%)
“Hunter’s influence can never be underestimated when given a talented team.”
Who will be the league’s top prospect for the 2019 NHL Draft?
Arthur Kaliyev, Hamilton Bulldogs (55%)
“Can’t wait to see how he follows an outstanding rookie season given every opportunity to play big minutes in Hamilton.”
Honourable mention: Ryan Suzuki, Barrie Colts (40%)
“Former first overall pick has an uncanny ability to find his teammates on the ice and is as talented a playmaker as there is in the OHL.”
Who will be the league’s most outstanding player of the year?
Morgan Frost, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (40%)
“Philadelphia Flyers prospect was in contention for the major hardware last season. If Hounds contend, he’ll be the main reason.”
Honourable mentions: Michael DiPietro, Windsor Spitfires and Nick Suzuki, Owen Sound Attack (15% each)
Who will win the Wayne Gretzky Trophy as Western Conference champion?
London Knights (80%)
“The west is fairly open this year, but the Knights will be tough to beat if they get all their NHL prospects back.”
Who will win the Bobby Orr Trophy as Eastern Conference champion?
Niagara IceDogs (55%)
“The Dogs have built toward this season and it appears they’re set to go all in. Having Stephen Dhillon behind a strong team makes them the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.”
Honourable mentions: Ottawa 67’s (20%) and Oshawa Generals (15%)
Who will win the Robertson Cup as OHL champion?
London Knights (70%)
“Bouchard and Boqvist will be a force on back end and Knights always seem to find a way to add pieces that put them over the top.”
Honourable mention: Niagara IceDogs (15%)
“Jones, Thomas, Maksimov and Lodnia lead talented forward group, while tandem of Dhillon and Incze in goal may be best in OHL. Dogs have some serious bite to them.”