OHL Power Rankings: Preseason Edition
Introducing the OHL Power Rankings!
A panel of accredited OHL media have had their say, voting the Canadian Hockey League’s second-ranked London Knights into the top spot on the inaugural edition released the Monday of OHL Opening Week. The 2024 Memorial Cup host Saginaw Spirit come in at second, followed by the reigning OHL regular season champion Ottawa 67’s.
Throughout the season, the OHL Power Rankings will usher in a new week of action each Monday, with the top 16 teams in the Ontario Hockey League jostling for position headed into the 2024 OHL Playoffs.
1. London Knights
Winners of four consecutive Midwest Division titles, the Knights came within two wins of OHL championship glory last spring. “Twins” Easton Cowan (Toronto) and Denver Barkey (Philadelphia) lead the green and gold back into 2023-24, with top 2024 NHL Draft prospect Sam Dickinson taking a more prominent role on the back end. Keep an eye out for big shooter Kasper Halttunen (San Jose), who joins the Knights from Finland.
2. Saginaw Spirit
Gearing up to host the Memorial Cup next spring, the Saginaw Spirit have tremendous depth at centre with second-round NHL Draft picks Hunter Haight (Minnesota) and Matyas Sapovaliv (Vegas) driving play through the middle and returning super sophomores Michael Misa and Zayne Parekh back to grace the highlight reel.
3. Ottawa 67’s
The Barber Poles lose some veterans, but solid drafting and development has another wave of players ready to assume more prominent roles in the nation’s capital. Second-year defenders Henry Mews and Frankie Marrelli will both eat bigger minutes in 2023-24.
4. Owen Sound Attack
The Bears boast the league’s most dangerous shooter in Winnipeg Jets prospect Colby Barlow. He’s surrounded by a strong cast of forwards including veterans Cedrick Guindon (Montreal), Servac Petrovsky (Minnesota), Deni Goure and Ethan Burroughs. If the Bears can find stability on the back end and in the crease with young netminder Carter George rising through the ranks, look out.
5. Sudbury Wolves
The Wolves play a rough and tumble group that play the game with an edge. They’re a little banged-up on the blue line to start the season with Nolan Collins (Pittsburgh) and Matthew Mania (Los Angeles) sidelined, but a forward corps consisting of former first overall pick Quentin Musty (San Jose) and David Goyette (Seattle) will provide plenty of offence. The presence of newcomer Jakub Vondras (Carolina) is the X-factor in goal.
6. North Bay Battalion
The Troops are losing some pretty good offensive players, but the return of OHL Goaltender of the Year Dom DiVincentiis (Winnipeg) and dynamic defenceman Ty Nelson (Seattle) gives them two of the best players at their position in the entire league. The Battalion have a very capable quartet of overage candidates in heart and soul captain Liam Arnsby (Florida), Justin Ertel (Dallas), Pasquale Zito and Paul Christopoulos.
7. Guelph Storm
Losing smooth-skating defender Cam Allen (Washington) for the first half of the season is a blow to the Storm, but Guelph boasts arguably the league’s best playmaker in centreman Matthew Poitras (Boston) along with a reliable defender in Michael Buchinger (St. Louis). Overage returnee Braeden Bowman and 39-goal scorer Max Namestnikov will both drive the offence. The impact of CHL Import Draft selections Vilmer Alriksson (Vancouver) and goaltender Damian Slavik will be something to keep tabs on early in the season.
8. Mississauga Steelheads
They’re young, but they’re hungry. The Mississauga Steelheads re-tooled their roster midway through 2022-23 and added some of the league’s top young prospects in Porter Martone and Jack Van Volsen, also acquiring gritty forward Angus MacDonell (Dallas). We’ll see how the blueline takes shape in front of young goaltenders Ryerson Leenders and Jack Ivankovic.
9. Barrie Colts
The Colts have had a lot of success in the CHL Import Draft over the years, and landed another big name in Seattle Kraken first round pick Eduard Sale. The Brandt Clarke era is over, but the Colts have some steady veterans in Beau Jelsma, Connor Punnett and Jacob Frasca along with emerging power forward Cole Beaudoin and big offseason addition Riley Patterson.
10. Brantford Bulldogs
Exciting times in Brantford! The OHL returns to the Telephone City for the first time since 1984 and the Bulldogs have a capable squad for year one. Nick Lardis (Chicago) provides head coach Jay McKee with a constant scoring threat while Patrick Thomas (Washington) has quietly developed into one of the league’s most well-rounded forwards. Look for Jorian Donovan (Ottawa) to pile up the minutes on the Brantford blueline.
11. Kingston Frontenacs
The Fronts were edged out of the playoff picture in the final week of the season last year, but come back with a group that is a year older and more experienced, led by one of the league’s hardest workers in captain Paul Ludwinski (Chicago). Matthew Soto earned himself an invitation to Pittsburgh Penguins main camp and big 6-foot-4, 201Ib. flank Ethan Miedema (Buffalo) looks poised for a big season.
12. Flint Firebirds
The Birds have the tall task of replacing Amadeus Lombardi (Detroit) down the middle, but hope to do so by committee with a pair of fierce competitors in Ethan Hay (Tampa Bay) and Zacharie Giroux bringing their experience to the table. Flint is strong on the wing, with 41-goal man Gavin Hayes (Chicago) back as a 19-year-old along with other veterans in Coulson Pitre (Anaheim) and Nolan Dann.
13. Oshawa Generals
Another team with strength at centre, head coach Derek Laxdal’s Generals are bolstered by 6-foot-2 pivot Calum Ritchie (Colorado) and will lean more on sophomores Beckett Sennecke and blueliner Ben Danford in 2023-24. It’ll be interesting to see what second-round NHL Draft pick Rasmus Kumpulainen (Minnesota) can bring along with 6-foot-7 New York Rangers pick Dylan Roobroeck.
14. Soo Greyhounds
The Hounds are eyeing a return to the playoffs, driven down the middle by 30-goal scorer Bryce McConnell-Barker (NY Rangers) along with newly-acquired overage winger Jack Beck. Third-overall 2023 OHL Priority Selection choice Brady Martin showed very well in preseason play. Big 6-foot-4 defender Andrew Gibson returned from Detroit Red Wings training camp on Sunday.
15. Erie Otters
The Otters haven’t seen the OHL Playoffs since their last championship in 2017, but that drought could very-well end this year. Head coach Stan Butler oversees a solid roster led by speedy forward Carey Terrance (Anaheim), former second-overall OHL picks Malcolm Spence and Pano Fimis, along with returning 19-year-old blueliner Spencer Sova. The Otters are looking for stability in the crease, but could surprise some people if things come together.
16. Windsor Spitfires
Coming off back-to-back West Division titles, the Spits have a new lead voice behind the bench in long-time assistant-turned head coach Jerrod Smith. Windsor will try and fill the big void left by graduated OHL Player of the Year Matthew Maggio and will miss overage forward Alex Christopoulos who continues to recover from offseason wrist surgery. Circle the names Liam Greentree, Anthony Cristoforo and AJ Spellacy as names to watch in Windsor.