2019-20 CHL Season Preview Series: OHL’s Midwest Division


Day 5 of a 12-day coast-to-coast series previewing the 2019-20 Canadian Hockey League season features the Ontario Hockey League’s Midwest Division:

Erie Otters

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 50-14-2-2, 104 Points (1st in Midwest Division)
2015-16: 52-15-1-0, 105 Points (1st in Midwest Division) ▲
2016-17: 50-15-2-1, 103 Points (1st in Midwest Division) ▼
2017-18: 23-35-7-3, 56 Points (5th in Midwest Division) ▼
2018-19: 26-38-3-1, 56 Points (5th in Midwest Division) ◀▶

Best Playoff Result: 2017 – Won 4-1 vs. Mississauga in J. Ross Robertson Cup Final

Need to Know

Head Coach: Chris Hartsburg, 3rd Season
2019 Priority Selection (Top Pick): 1/3 (C) Connor Lockhart (Kanata Lasers MAAA)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/8 (C) Marat Khusnutdinov (Podolsk Vityaz U18)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (G) Cole Ceci, (C) Gera Poddubnyi
NHL Prospects: N/A

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (RW) Chad Yetman
On the Horizon: (D) Jamie Drysdale

After captaining Team Canada at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, 17-year-old blue-liner Jamie Drysdale will be back under the spotlight this season as early projections earmark him for a first-round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft. The young rearguard impressed as a freshman last year, leading all Otters defencemen with 40 points. Drysdale promises to be a key offensive contributor for Erie this season, as does returning forward Chad Yetman, whose 57 points ranked second in team scoring in 2018-19.

Guelph Storm

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 38-26-2-2, 80 Points (3rd in Midwest Division)
2015-16: 13-49-4-2, 32 Points (5th in Midwest Division) ▼
2016-17: 21-40-5-2, 49 Points (5th in Midwest Division) ▲
2017-18: 30-29-5-4, 69 Points (4th in Midwest Division) ▲
2018-19: 40-18-6-4, 90 Points (2nd in Midwest Division) ▲

Best Playoff Result: 2019 – Won 4-2 vs. Ottawa in J. Ross Robertson Cup Final

Need to Know

Head Coach: George Burnett, 3rd Season
2019 Priority Selection (Top Pick): 1/14 (C) Danny Zhilkin (Toronto Marlboros MMAAA)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/38 (RW) Andrei Bakanov (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (C) Domenico Commisso, (D) Sean Durzi (Los Angeles), (C) MacKenzie Entwistle (Chicago), (D) Fedor Gordeev (Minnesota), (D) Jack Hanley, (D) Markus Phillips (Los Angeles), (LW) Isaac Ratcliffe (Philadelphia), (D) Dmitri Samorukov (Edmonton), (RW) Nate Schnarr (Arizona), (C) Nick Suzuki (Montreal), (RW) Alexey Toropchenko (St. Louis)
NHL Prospects: (C) Cam Hillis (Montreal, 3/66, 2018)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (C) Liam Hawel
On the Horizon: (RW) Andrei Bakanov

The Storm ended last season on a high note in capturing the J. Ross Robertson Cup, but the victory came with a price as the club will see a handful of key departures from the winning group. The losses however mean greater opportunity for Guelph’s younger talents, including Russian-born winger Andrei Bakanov, the team’s top pick in the 2019 CHL Import Draft who is expected to be a key contributor. Also chipping in offensively will be returning forward and Dallas Stars prospect Liam Hawel, who finished third in team scoring last season with 78 points.

Kitchener Rangers

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 32-26-3-7, 74 Points (5th in Midwest Division)
2015-16: 44-17-5-2, 95 Points (3rd in Midwest Division) ▲
2016-17: 36-27-3-2, 77 Points (4th in Midwest Division) ▼
2017-18: 43-21-3-1, 90 Points (1st in Midwest Division) ▲
2018-19: 34-30-3-1, 72 Points (3rd in Midwest Division) ▼

Best Playoff Result: 2018 – Lost 4-3 vs. Sault Ste. Marie in Round 3

Need to Know

Head Coach: Jay McKee, 4th Season
2019 Priority Selection (Top Pick): 1/13 (C) Francesco Pinelli (Toronto Red Wings MMAAA)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/35 (D) Ville Ottavainen (Karpat Oulu B)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (D) Cole Cameron, (D) Kyle Gentles, (LW) Rickard Hugg, (C) Alexey Lipanov
NHL Prospects: (D) Axel Bergkvist (Arizona, 7/200, 2019), (C) Riley Damiani (Dallas, 5/137, 2018), (G) Jacob Ingham (Los Angeles, 6/175, 2018), (C) Greg Meireles (Florida, 6/168, 2019), (D) Michael Vukojevic (New Jersey, 3/82, 2019)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (C) Greg Meireles
On the Horizon: (D) Donovan Sebrango

Greg Meireles parlayed a successful 2018-19 season in which he led the Rangers with 97 points into his ticket to the pro ranks as this summer saw him selected by the Florida Panthers in the sixth-round of the NHL draft. He now returns to Kitchener for his overage season where he will once again be looked toward to lead the team’s scoring attack. On the back end, talent evaluators will have eyes on 2020 NHL Draft eligible defenceman Donovan Sebrango, who stepped into the Kitchener lineup last season and tallied 26 points across 62 appearances.

London Knights

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 40-24-1-3, 84 Points (2nd in Midwest Division)
2015-16: 51-14-2-1, 105 Points (2nd in Midwest Division) ▲
2016-17: 46-15-3-4, 99 Points (3rd in Midwest Division) ▼
2017-18: 39-25-2-2, 82 Points (3rd in Midwest Division) ▼
2018-19: 46-15-6-1, 99 Points (1st in Midwest Division) ▲

Best Playoff Result: 2016 – Won 4-0 vs. Niagara in J. Ross Robertson Cup Final; Defeated Rouyn-Noranda to win 2016 Memorial Cup

Need to Know

Head Coach: Dale Hunter*, 19th Season
2019 Priority Selection (Top Pick): 1/20 (LW) Stuart Rolofs (Kanata Lasers MAAA)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/56 (D) Kirill Steklov (Podolsk Vityaz U17)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (D) Adam Boqvist (Chicago), (D) Evan Bouchard (Edmonton), (C) Paul Cotter (Vegas), (LW) Alex Formenton (Ottawa), (C) Kevin Hancock, (D) Joey Keane (N.Y. Rangers), (D) William Lochead, (G) Joseph Raaymakers
NHL Prospects: (LW) Liam Foudy (Columbus, 1/18, 2018), (C) Jonathan Gruden (Ottawa, 4/95, 2018), (LW) Matvey Guskov (Minnesota, 5/149, 2019), (G) Jordan Kooy (Vegas, 7/208, 2018), (C) Connor McMichael (Washington, 1/25, 2019), (D) Alec Regula (Detroit, 3/67, 2018), (D) Hunter Skinner (N.Y. Rangers, 4/112, 2019)

*Hunter left the Knights midway through 2011-12 to coach the Washington Capitals but returned full time the following season.

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (C) Connor McMichael
On the Horizon: (LW) Antonio Stranges

For the fifth year running, the Knights saw one of their own chosen in the opening round of the NHL draft when the Washington Capitals called the name of the 2018-19 leading scoring Connor McMichael. As McMichael now readies for the next level, he returns to London to further build his game and once again carry the team’s offensive torch after topping the charts with 72 points a year ago. Meanwhile, London’s success in the first round looks to continue with 2020 NHL Draft hopeful Antonio Stranges, whose freshman campaign saw him record a modest 13 goals and 21 assists.

Owen Sound Attack

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 35-24-2-7, 79 Points (4th in Midwest Division)
2015-16: 32-25-8-3, 75 Points (4th in Midwest Division) ▼
2016-17: 49-15-2-2, 102 Points (2nd in Midwest Division) ▲
2017-18: 38-22-3-5, 84 Points (2nd in Midwest Division) ▼
2018-19: 31-31-4-2, 68 Points (4th in Midwest Division) ▼

Best Playoff Result: 2017 – Lost 4-2 vs. Erie in Round 3

Need to Know

Head Coach: Alan Letang, 2nd Season
2019 Priority Selection (Top Pick): 1/10 (C) Deni Goure (Chatham-Kent Cyclones MMAAA)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/26 (C) Stepan Machacek (Trinec HC Zelenzarny Jr.)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (D) Trenton Bourque, (RW) Zach Poirier, (LW) Maksim Sushko
NHL Prospects: (C) Aidan Dudas (Los Angeles, 4/113, 2018)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (C) Aidan Dudas
On the Horizon: (C) Stepan Machacek

Veteran forward and Los Angeles Kings prospect Aidan Dudas is back with the Attack for 2019-20 after putting up a team-leading 62 points last season. While other top scorers have since departed, Dudas will be joined by budding 16-year-old centre Stepan Machacek, the team’s top selection from the 2019 CHL Import Draft who tallied 27 points in 44 games last year with Trinec’s Under-19 squad.

Last 5 Years: OHL’s Midwest Division


2019-20 CHL Season Preview Series

Day 1 – WHL’s B.C. Division
Day 2 – OHL’s Central Division
Day 3 – QMJHL’s West Division
Day 4 – WHL’s Central Division

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