OSHAWA – Speed kills. You figure they’d know that in a city that exists because of the car industry. But instead of being an assembly line of sleek speedsters, the Oshawa Generals are driving the Erie Otters and their superstar nuts by commandeering the slow lane.
There are many, many reasons why Connor McDavid is special. One of the main ones is that he can do so many things at top speed. His ability to gain the zone with the puck and with speed is legendary. But he’s done next to nothing in the OHL final because the Generals have taken that aspect of the game almost completely away from him. Sure, the kid had some pretty good looks in Game 2 of the OHL championship series, a 5-1 drubbing of the Erie Otters by the Generals, but the Generals had an incredible amount of gap control. Almost non-existent were McDavid’s blinding zone entries and only a few times was he able to jump on loose pucks in the offensive zone. Read more
Based on his record-breaking year with the U.S. National Team Development Program, Auston Matthews is looking like a game-changer for the 2016 draft. But where he plays next season may be just as revolutionary.
The Oshawa Generals knew they had a tall task on their hands. Facing Erie in the OHL final, the Gens had to figure out a way to stop Otters superstar Connor McDavid, who came into Game 1 with a dizzying 42 points in 15 playoff games. At the end of the night, McDavid had been on the ice for more goals-against than goals-for and the Gens thrilled their fans with a 4-1 win.
If Game 1 was any indication, this series will be fought in both the trenches and the war rooms. Oshawa’s strategy for battening down McDavid was to have Vancouver Canucks prospect Cole Cassels on against the consensus No. 1 pick overall in the NHL draft this summer as much as possible.
It’s never too early to dream about the 2016 draft. Not even before the 2015 draft arrives.
We know this year belongs to Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. The 2016 draft class belongs to Auston Matthews, a phenom who missed 2015 eligibility by two days and rewrote the U.S. National Team Development Program record book this year.
Matthews’ NTDP wingers are highly regarded prospects as well. The right winger, Jack Roslovic, projects to go in the first few rounds this June, ranked 37th in our freshly published Draft Preview. The left winger’s name should ring a bell: Matthew Tkachuk. He is indeed the son of longtime NHL power forward Keith Tkachuk. Matthew might not be as mean as his dad, but Matthew has a similar hulking frame and scoring touch. My colleague Ryan Kennedy, our resident prospect guru, is constantly in touch with scouts and rates Tkachuk as a potential top-10 pick in 2016.
It’s big news, then, that Tkachuk officially committed to the OHL’s London Knights Friday. Not only can he shift the OHL’s power balance, but the decision was a bit of a shock considering how many ties Tkachuk had to the U.S. college system.
As I’ve noted before, the Western League does things a little differently than the other CHL circuits in Ontario and Quebec. Players are drafted out of bantam instead of midget, then spend a year developing, as opposed to jumping into major junior right away as 16-year-olds.
So it’s going to be a while before the name Ty Smith becomes relevant to NHL fans, but folks in Spokane can start to get excited.
No matter how much hype may be surrounding Connor McDavid as the June draft grows closer, one thing remains the same and that’s McDavid’s focus on taking his Erie Otters to the Memorial Cup and getting there as OHL champions. To do so, the “underdog” Otters will have to get by the Oshawa Generals.
McDavid, the Otters captain and OHL’s leading post-season scorer, acknowledged in a conference call Wednesday that this could very well be the first and only chance he and his teammates have at winning the Robertson Cup as OHL champions.
“Last year was a good experience for a lot of our guys,” McDavid said. “A couple years earlier we weren’t very good at all, not even making the playoffs…But you usually don’t get two chances at this. We’re fortunate to get through the last round and we’re excited to play the Generals and compete for the trophy.” Read more
The final matchups in major junior have been set: Quebec takes on Rimouski in the Quebec League; Brandon will duke it out with Kelowna in the West and Erie gets Oshawa in the OHL. Whatever the results, it’s going to be a power-packed Memorial Cup. Meanwhile, the USHL draft is taking place, with Minnesota high school standout Ryan Poehling going first to Lincoln in Phase One (for 1999 birthdays) and some interesting pickups elsewhere in Phase Two (older players). Let’s take a whirl around the prospect planet to see what’s up.
One of the most vexing problems regarding the Memorial Cup is that the host teams haven’t been earning their spots lately. London, Shawinigan and Saskatoon all “backed in” to the CHL classic after bombing out early in their respective league playoffs.
So here’s a shout-out to the Quebec League, which already has its two bids sewn up this year thanks to a couple of elite teams who did what they were supposed to do.