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

 

Day 11 of a 12-day coast-to-coast series previewing the 2019-20 Canadian Hockey League season features the Ontario Hockey League’s West Division:

Flint Firebirds

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 23-38-5-2, 53 Points (4th in West Division)
2015-16: 20-42-4-2, 46 Points (5th in West Division) ▼
2016-17: 32-28-3-5, 72 Points (3rd in West Division) ▲
2017-18: 20-43-3-2, 45 Points (5th in West Division) ▼
2018-19: 16-46-6-0, 38 Points (5th in West Division) ▼

Best Playoff Result: 2017 – Lost 4-1 vs. Sault Ste. Marie in Round 1

Need to Know

Head Coach: Eric Wellwood, 2nd Season
2019 Priority Selection (Top Pick): 1/2 (LW) Brennan Othmann (Don Mills Flyers MMAAA)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/5 (RW) Yevgeni Oksentyuk (Soligorsk Shakhner)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (D) Hakon Nilsen, (G) Emanuel Vella
NHL Prospects: (D) Dennis Busby (Arizona, 5/145, 2018), (C) Ty Dellandrea (Dallas, 1/13, 2018), (LW) Ethan Keppen (Vancouver, 4/122, 2019), (D) Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida, 2/52, 2019)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (C) Ty Dellandrea
On the Horizon: (C) Evan Vierling

Firebirds captain Ty Dellandrea will return for his fourth season in 2019-20 where he will once again look to lead the team offensively after topping the charts with 63 points in 60 appearances last year. While Dellandrea is seen as the club’s primary scoring driver, he will receive solid secondary support from soon-to-be sophomore Evan Vierling, the team’s top selection in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection who posted 27 points as a rookie.

Saginaw Spirit

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 29-36-2-1, 61 Points (3rd in West Division)
2015-16: 24-37-4-3, 55 Points (4th in West Division) ▼
2016-17: 27-32-7-2, 63 Points (5th in West Division) ▲
2017-18: 29-30-9-0, 67 Points (4th in West Division) ▲
2018-19: 45-17-3-3, 96 Points (1st in West Division) ▲

Best Playoff Result: 2019 – Lost 4-3 vs. Guelph in Round 3

Need to Know

Head Coach: Chris Lazary, 2nd Season
2019 Priority Selection (Top Pick): 1/19 (D) Connor Punnett (North Central Predators MMAAA)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/53 (D) Ilya Solovyov (Team Belarus U20)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (C) Ryan McLeod (Edmonton), (LW) Albert Michnac, (D) Justin Murray, (D) Reagan O’Grady, (G) Ivan Prosvetov (Arizona), (RW) Owen Tippett (Florida)
NHL Prospects: (RW) Cole Coskey (N.Y. Islanders, 7/209, 2019), (LW) Damien Giroux (Minnesota, 5/155, 2018), (C) Blade Jenkins (N.Y. Islanders, 5/134, 2018), (D) Mason Millman (Philadelphia, 4/103, 2019), (LW) Nicholas Porco (Dallas, 5/142, 2019), (D) Bode Wilde (N.Y. Islanders, 2/41, 2018)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (D) Bode Wilde
On the Horizon: (C) Cole Perfetti

Cole Perfetti has a keen ability to fill the back of the net as evidenced last season when he led all OHL freshmen with 37 tallies. He then put on a show with Team Canada at this summer’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup where he notched eight goals in five games, including five markers in a single game with three coming in the shootout. With the Spirit, Perfetti will benefit from defenceman Bode Wilde, a high-end puck distributor who finished second in team scoring last season with 19 goals and 51 assists in 62 games.

Sarnia Sting

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 29-32-4-3, 65 Points (3rd in West Division)
2015-16: 42-19-5-2, 91 Points (1st in West Division) ▲
2016-17: 31-30-6-1, 69 Points (4th in West Division) ▼
2017-18: 46-17-4-1, 97 Points (2nd in West Division) ▲
2018-19: 28-33-5-2, 63 Points (3rd in West Division) ▼

Best Playoff Result: 2018 – Lost 4-2 vs. Kitchener in Round 2

Need to Know

Head Coach: Derian Hatcher, 5th Season
2019 Priority Selection (Top Pick): 1/7 (G) Benjamin Gaudreau (North Bay Trappers MAAA)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/17 (D) Eric Hjorth (Linkoping HC J18E)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (D) Mitch Eliot (Vancouver), (D) Franco Sproviero
NHL Prospects: (D) Eric Hjorth (Columbus, 4/104, 2019), (C) Jamieson Rees (Carolina, 2/44, 2019)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (C) Jamieson Rees
On the Horizon: (RW) Jacob Perreault

An injury-riddled campaign limited Jamieson Rees to only 37 games last season, however in those appearances he flashed the offensive potential that helped him secure 32 points and led to his second-round selection by the Carolina Hurricanes in this summer’s NHL draft. Up front, Rees will be joined by 17-year-old forward Jacob Perreault (the son of Trois-Rivieres Draveurs graduate Yanic Perreault), who made a strong first impression with the Sting as he notched 55 points in 63 games as a rookie.

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 54-12-0-2, 110 Points (1st in West Division)
2015-16: 33-27-7-1, 74 Points (3rd in West Division) ▼
2016-17: 48-16-3-1, 100 Points (1st in West Division) ▲
2017-18: 55-7-3-3, 116 Points (1st in West Division) ▲
2018-19: 44-16-7-1, 96 Points (2nd in West Division) ▼

Best Playoff Result: 2018 – Lost 4-2 vs. Hamilton in J. Ross Robertson Cup Final

Need to Know

Head Coach: John Dean, 2nd Season
2019 Priority Selection (Top Pick): 1/18 (D) Jacob Holmes (York-Simcoe Express MMAAA)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/50 (G) Nick Malik (Frydek-Mistek HC)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (C) Morgan Frost (Philadelphia), (LW) Keeghan Howdeshell, (D) Mac Hollowell (Toronto), (D) Jordan Sambrook, (G) Matthew Villalta (Los Angeles)
NHL Prospects: (C) Barrett Hayton (Arizona, 1/5, 2018), (D) Jacob LeGuerrier (Montreal, 5/126, 2019)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (C) Barrett Hayton
On the Horizon: (D) Ryan O’Rourke

Barrett Hayton will shoot for a spot with the Arizona Coyotes this fall, but there is a chance the 19-year-old could return for a fourth season with the Greyhounds, while he would also be a strong candidate to suit up for Team Canada at the 2020 world juniors. The budding centre impressed last season in finishing with 1.69 points per game, the third most in the OHL. Meanwhile, Sault Ste. Marie has another promising up-and-comer in blue-liner Ryan O’Rourke, a 2020 NHL Draft hopeful who notched 22 points in 62 games as a freshman.

Windsor Spitfires

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 24-40-2-2, 52 Points (5th in West Division)
2015-16: 40-21-6-1, 87 Points (2nd in West Division) ▲
2016-17: 41-19-5-3, 90 Points (2nd in West Division) ▲
2017-18: 32-30-4-2, 70 Points (3rd in West Division) ▼
2018-19: 25-33-5-5, 60 Points (4th in West Division) ▼

Best Playoff Result: 2017 – Lost 4-3 vs. London in Round 1; Defeated Erie to win 2017 Memorial Cup

Need to Know

Head Coach: Trevor Letowski, 3rd Season
2019 Priority Selection (Top Pick): 1/6 (C) Wyatt Johnston (Toronto Marlboros MMAAA)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/14 (D) Ruben Rafkin (Lincoln Stars)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (D) Sean Allen, (RW) Chase Campbell
NHL Prospects: (C) Tyler Angle (Columbus, 7/212, 2019), (LW) Egor Afanasyev (Nashville, 2/45, 2019), (D) Connor Corcoran (Vegas, 5/154, 2018), (C) Curtis Douglas (Dallas, 4/106, 2018)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (C) Curtis Douglas
On the Horizon: (C) Jean-Luc Foudy

There was no tiptoeing into the lineup last season for Jean-Luc Foudy, whose freshman campaign saw him notch 49 points, including 41 assists to lead all OHL rookies. As he shifts into his sophomore season with the Spitfires, the 2020 NHL Draft eligible will be looked toward as a key offensive contributor for the club, as will returning forward and Dallas Stars prospect Curtis Douglas, who came second in team scoring last season with 53 points while also providing a hulking presence down the middle of the ice.

Last 5 Years: OHL’s West Division

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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
Day 5 – OHL’s Midwest Division
Day 6 – QMJHL’s Maritimes Division
Day 7 – WHL’s U.S. Division
Day 8 – OHL’s East Division
Day 9 – QMJHL’s Central Division
Day 10 – WHL’s East Division

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