Future is “Finn”tasic in Frontland
For thefirst time in recent memory, the Kingston Frontenacs used both of their Importpicks, in June’s Import Draft, to select promising players to add to their2012-13 Roster. Kingston chose MikkoVainonen, a 6’3”, 222 lb, left defenseman from Helsinki U20 team with theirfirst pick (6th overall). Hewas their 2nd leading scorer among defensemen. Vainonen was selectedby the Nashville Predators in the 4th round of the 2012 NHLdraft. He brings size and leadershipabilities to the Fronts, as he wore an “A” with Helsinki, and the “C” with lastyear’s U18 team which competed in the Ivan Hlinka tournament in the CzechRepublic. With their second pick,Kingston chose one of Vainonen’s teammates, from Finland’s U18 team, leftwinger Henri Ikonen. He is listed at 6’and 190 lbs. Henri was the secondleading scorer on his KalPa U20 team last season, with 17 goals and 28 assistsin 37 games. Both players are expectedto be in Kingston a week prior to training camp, which begins on August 30th.
The 2012 OHLPriority Selection could go down as the most successful draft ever for theFrontenacs’ franchise. Only time willtell, of course.
With the 2ndoverall pick, Kingston selected Roland McKeown, a defenseman from the TorontoMarlboros. Roland is described as "without a doubt the top d-manavailable." He is described as an elite skater with excellent mobility andagility, who loves to rush the puck. He quarterbacked the powerplay for theMarlboros, something which Kingston will really appreciate down the road, astheir powerplay was close to last in the OHL most of the season. Roland hasgood size, at 6'1 and 180 lbs, although he wasn't overly physical in MinorMidget. He draws comparisons to Drew Doughty. Gilmour described McKeown as a"right handed Scott Niedermayer." Roland actually visited Kingstonprior to Ryan Spooner's departure, as they share the same agent - Murray Kuntz.McKeown set a goal to be drafted 2nd overall, and "couldn't be happier tobe here."
With the 9thoverall pick, Kingston selected Samuel Bennett, left winger, who was McKeown’steammate with the Marlboros. This pick was awarded to Kingston in compensation,when Max Domi (who was chosen 8th overall in 2011) refused to report to theFrontenacs for training camp last season. Sam was a linemate of first overallpick, Connor McDavid. He was described as having elite puck skills, with aquick release. He is a strong skater, with explosive speed, and can generateoffense off the rush. Even though he is listed at 5'10 and 160 lbs, he workshard, and isn't afraid to go into the corners or stand in front of the net. Hewas described as having a "great hockey IQ" and he reads the playwell. McKeown explained that Kingston will be impressed with Sam's "snipingabilities." Sam is excited about joining his buddy in Kingston. Word is,when Sam's usual #9 wasn't available when he joined the Marlboros, he chose#93, in honour of Doug Gilmour. Expect him to continue to wear it in Kingston,too.
With the 23rdoverall pick, the Fronts selected Dylan DiPerna. This pick was originallyErie's, and was traded to Kingston in the Max Domi trade. Listed at 6'1 and 170lbs, Dylan is described as a big, physical defenseman, with good offensivepotential. He is a strong skater, who likes to lead the rush, and makes gooddecisions, when distributing the puck. Many feel Dylan has one of the hardestshots in the draft, and he quarterbacked the powerplay on his team, as well. Heis strong positionally, and uses his body well to leverage opponents off thepuck.
Kingston hadthe 24th pick, and chose Spencer Watson, who is one of the purestgoal scorers in the draft, with excellent hands. He scored 74 goals (most inthe province), and had 40 assists in 59 league games. He is 5'10 and 155 lbs,and is a smooth skater. He is very elusive with the puck, has strong puckhandling skills, and is very difficult to defend one-on-one, as he possessesvery quick outside speed. Watson makes good decisions in all three zones of theice, but needs to improve his strength to win one on one battles in the OHL.
Expect allfour of these picks to make this year’s team and contribute.
To make roomfor the two imports, Kingston released Petr Beranek, who played in 64 regularseason games for the Frontenacs last season, accumulating 12 goals and 23assists. Kingston’s other import last season was goaltender, Igor Bobkov, whowill likely play in the American Hockey League this season.
To fill thebig void in the crease, the Frontenacs signed recently released Pete, MikeMorrison. Mike will play his overageseason in Kingston, and is projected to play the majority of the games. With ayoung, inexperienced team, once again, especially on defense, he should see“lots of rubber.” Mike is looking to“bounce back” after a difficult season in Peterborough. General Manager Doug Gilmour describesMorrison as a “quality starter and a quality person” who has played in theleague for 4 years. Mike believes he has something to prove, which shouldmotivate him to do well. Mike started his OHL career in Kitchener.
To make roomfor recently drafted defensemen, Alex Gudbranson was traded to the Greyhoundsfor three draft picks. 18 year old Adam Lloyd was recently dealt to the OshawaGenerals for a 5th round pick in the 2015 OHL Priorityselection. 19 year old Jack Nevins wasdealt to the London Knights for a 9th rounder in 2014. It’s a numbers game for Kingston, as thebeginning of Training Camp approaches. SpencerGreen and David Mazurek are not expected to be back.
Expect CodyAlcock to return for his overage season, as Kingston’s captain. He was awarded the “C” after the Frontstraded away Tyler Brown last season.
Kingston’ssecond round pick in 2011, Mitchell Fitzmorris, is looking to crack the lineupthis year, after a wrist injury sidelined him for the majority of last season.
Once again,Kingston Frontenacs fans will need a program this year. The difference is that they are on the rightpath, building around highly rated forward, Ryan Kujawinski, acquired lastseason for Ryan Spooner. ExpectKujawinki’s name to be announced early in the 2013 NHL Entry draft, if hecontinues to develop this year. Otherforwards expected to return are Billy Jenkins, who developed good “chemistry”with Kujawinski last year, after being acquired from Niagara in January. Darcy Greenaway was Kingston’s leading scorerlast year and will be counted on to produce this year, as well.
Kingston haverecently signed two other draft picks, as well. The Fronts selected 1994 born Slater Doggett in the 12thround of the 2012 Priority Selection. He played for the Burlington Cougars ofthe OPJHL last season. Marc Beckstead was chosen in the 14th roundof the 2011 Priority Selection. He impressed the Fronts at last year’s camp,and played in Cumberland (JrA), where he amassed 39 points in 57 games, as a 16year old.
The realquestion marks will be on the blue line. Kyler Nixon, Mike Moffat, Braydon Blight, Ryan Hutcheson and WarrenSteele will challenge for roster spots, although it is unlikely that all willmake the team. Andrew Tessier hasdecided to try the QMJHL.
While thereare many question marks surrounding the 2012-13 Kingston Frontenacs, the futureis bright.