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 2021-22 as the League returns to action.
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 (71%)
“I think they’ll be challenged by Kitchener and both Erie and Owen Sound will be a tough two points, but it’s hard to bet against Dale Hunter and the talent that Mark Hunter and his staff discover and put out on the ice every year.”
Honourable mention: Kitchener Rangers (29%)
Which team will win the West Division?
Windsor Spitfires (71%)
“This is a wide open race, but I like the Spits as a pre-season favourite. They have a deep lineup and were already trending in the right direction pre-pandemic. Goaltending will be a key for them.”
Honourable mention: Soo Greyhounds (21%)
Which team will win the East Division?
Kingston Frontenacs (71%)
“A team built for this year. Will be adding more as the season progresses to take advantage of what is sure to be Shane Wright’s last year.”
Honourable mention: Oshawa Generals (14%)
Which team will win the Central Division?
Barrie Colts (100%)
“Adding an accomplished coach in Marty Williamson to a promising Barrie group will lead to good things for the Colts. There’s a lot of depth here and with Clarke quarterbacking their power play, I think they could be a lot of fun to watch.”
Which team will be the most surprising?
Erie Otters (21%)
“There’s a lot to like with the Otters. Campbell is a more than capable goaltender, Lockhart is going to surprise some people with his offensive output and they could have something special with Sova.”
Niagara IceDogs (21%)
“This is a very young team, but a team with a ton of talent. They have veteran leadership on the back-end, a quality starting goaltender and the addition of Danil Gushchin should help stabilize their scoring. I expect they’ll improve as the season progresses.”
North Bay Battalion (21%)
“This is a different team than the one they had pre-pandemic. Some real workers up front to compliment the added skill of Petrov. Vrbetic could be one of the league’s best this year, and I think Nelson’s enthusiasm could really transform the group.”
Which player will lead the League in scoring?
Shane Wright, Kingston Frontenacs (86%)
“He’s the OHL’s most dynamic player and if they play him alongside a guy like Chromiak that could mean big numbers.”
Honourable mentions: Ethan Cardwell, Barrie Colts (7%), Mason McTavish, Peterborough Petes (7%)
Who will be the League’s best goaltender?
Brett Brochu, London Knights (64%)
“An easy guy to cheer for. His rookie performance has me believing in him.”
Honourable mention: Leevi Merilainen, Kingston Frontenacs (14%)
Who will be the League’s best defenceman?
Brandt Clarke, Barrie Colts (71%)
“When you pair his skills and offensive ability with the guys he’s going to be sharing the ice with, there’s no reason to think Clarke won’t flirt with 100 points this season.”
Honourable mention: Ryan O’Rourke, Soo Greyhounds (14%)
Who will be the League’s top rookie?
Calum Ritchie, Oshawa Generals (21%)
“Seems like the total package. Had a terrific pre-season and can see it carrying over.”
Honourable mentions: Quentin Musty, Sudbury Wolves (14%), Ty Nelson, North Bay Battalion (14%), Carson Rehkopf, Kitchener Rangers (14%)
Who will win Coach of the Year honours?
Marty Williamson, Barrie Colts (43%)
“He has proven he can win at the OHL level, and he has all the support in the world to do that this year in Barrie. His style of coaching fits the league really well.”
Honourable mention: Mike McKenzie, Kitchener Rangers (21%)
Who will be the League’s top prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft?
Shane Wright, Kingston Frontenacs (100%)
“I really don’t think there’s much of a debate here.”
Who will be the League’s most outstanding player of the year?
Shane Wright, Kingston Frontenacs (93%)
“No reason to think Shane won’t be a serious contender for the Red Tilson this year.”
Honourable mention: Mason McTavish, Peterborough Petes (7%)
Who will win the Wayne Gretzky Trophy as Western Conference champion?
London Knights (43%)
“Who knows what could’ve been in 2019-20, but I think the Knights are ready for another run.”
Windsor Spitfires (43%)
“It’s been awhile since the Spitfires made it this far, but I think they have the core to be in the conversation this year.”
Honourable mention: Kitchener Rangers (14%)
Who will win the Bobby Orr Trophy as Eastern Conference champion?
Barrie Colts (57%)
“If they can get the goaltending, I think the Colts have a real shot at winning the East.”
Honourable mention: Kingston Frontenacs (21%)
Who will win the Robertson Cup as OHL champion?
Barrie Colts (50%)
“They’ve got a proven coach and elite talent at both forward and defence. A few mid-season moves could put them over the top and turn them into a championship contender.”
Honourable mention: London Knights (21%)