The OHL season is in full swing, and already some interesting trends are emerging.
Entering Thursday, two draft eligibles could be found among the top five in scoring. While there’s still a long way to go, it’s also no coincidence that both earned an ‘A’ rating from NHL Central Scouting.
Then there are the performances in net.
While the London Knights Jordan Kooy has taken the ball and run with it, there are a handful of other standout performances. Kitchener Rangers Luke Richardson and Peterborough Petes Hunter Jones are two of the biggest stories.
But the biggest may be the guy up north who wouldn’t have been OHL eligible 365 days ago.
Sudbury lucking out with Luukkonen
While it’s still early, the impact of once again allowing goalies to be selected in the CHL Import Draft is already being felt.
Buffalo Sabres prospect Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen has the Sudbury Wolves out to a scorching start. The Wolves are tied atop the Eastern Conference, with a game in hand against the Ottawa 67’s. Think it’s too early for standings talk? Think again. The Wolves have finished last in the East three of the last four years.
Buffalo #Sabres goaltending prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is your OHL Player of the Week.
— Prospect Pipeline (@NHLProspectLine) October 9, 2018
Luukkonen has the second-best GAA in the league at 1.78. He’s also got the best save percentage of any goalie with at least 300 minutes played (0.944).
He’s also started each game of the Wolves’ current five-game winning streak.
Saginaw Spirit scoring prowess on display
For the Saginaw Spirit, this has been a long time coming.
The last time the Spirit finished top four in the Western Conference was 2010-11. Right now they sit second, and it’s because they’ve got the second-best offence in the OHL.
With 31-goals for, they’re tied with the Barrie Colts for second place. Ottawa leads the league with 33. Cole Coskey and Albert Michnac have identical starts, each notching four goals and six assists. Nicholas Porco has jumped out of the gates with seven goals in seven games. Fifth-overall pick Cole Perfetti has looked right at home too, with four goals in seven games.
"Nicholas Porco, LW, Saginaw Spirit (OHL): When Porco gets a step on you, it’s over. The 2019 draft prospect has breakaway speed and great hands to finish off plays." –@TheHockeyNews https://t.co/85gC9FHkQ0
— Saginaw Spirit (@SpiritHockey) October 11, 2018
For now, the hope is that the Spirit can find their own success story in net with import Ivan Prosvetov.
But with the way things have gone in Michigan lately, Troy Smith will definitely take this start.
Suzuki surging to start the season
If you had guessed that a Suzuki was going to be at the top of the OHL scoring race, you’d be right.
But did you think it would be Ryan?
While it’s early, the super sophomore leads the OHL in points (15) and assists (11). He also leads in powerplay assists.
NHL Draft Prospect 2018-19 Early Season Highlights: Ryan Suzuki, Barrie Colts. The Colts megastar pivot leads the OHL with 15 points (4G & 11A) through 7 games played. @OHLBarrieColts @RSuzuki61 #zuuuke #NHLDraft #OHL #NHLTopProspect pic.twitter.com/gcO3gBSIoe
— Ryan McArthur (@ryanpmcarthur) October 7, 2018
Suzuki has started the year on a seven-game point streak. It included three in the season-opener against Owen Sound, and a five-point game against Sudubry.
Suzuki was also one of just two OHLers to receiver an ‘A’ rating from NHL Central Scouting on their ‘Players to Watch’ list. Hamilton’s Arthur Kaliyev was the other.
Robertson continues to rack up goals
If there’s one thing Jason Robertson has become known for in his OHL career, it’s scoring.
And that hasn’t changed this year.
Hat trick for DAL prospect Jason Robertson in opening OHL game.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) September 22, 2018
DAL prospect Jason Robertson with 8 goals (and no assists) in 7 OHL games to start the season.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) October 7, 2018
Despite the fact he has yet to record an assist and that the Frontenacs are stuck in the East’s basement, Robertson has produced. The Stars’ prospect has nine goals in eight games. He’s also added two powerplay goals and two shorthanded goals.
After back-to-back 40 goal years, Robertson seems primed for a third. That’s a feat that falls just shy of Alex DeBrincat and Tyler Toffoli’s historic proficiency.
Even if he slows down, Robertson is likely a lock for 40+, because playoff-bound teams will come calling at the deadline.
Battalion hoping to keep Firebirds win-less
Tied with the Frontenacs in the bottom of the East are the North Bay Battalion. And on Friday? They have a matchup with the winless Flint Firebirds.
The Firebirds are the only team in the OHL still searching for a win.
For the Battalion, their concerns have primarily been off the ice. Head Coach and Director of Hockey Ops Stan Butler has been on indefinite medical leave since October 2nd.
Sending positive thoughts to Stan Butler and the North Bay Battalion
— Jake Jeffrey (@AOHLjake) October 3, 2018
Assistants Scott Wray and Adam Dennis have stepped in during Butler’s absence.
Meanwhile, Flint continues to struggle to gain traction in the OHL.
When the team was in Plymouth, they couldn’t miss the playoffs. They fell short in their last season there however and since then? One playoff appearance in three seasons.
Now they’re just concerned with their first win. If it doesn’t come Friday? The Firebirds will sit at 0-8.
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