Just over a quarter way through the 2012-13 OHL campaign, we’re starting to finally get a good read at who the contenders and pretenders are. In this week’s hot-stove the panel examines who the best team in the OHL is right now.
Joining me in this week’s hot-stove is Anthony Nicholson, Dominic Tiano, Brandon Sudeyko and Thayne Hallyburton.
I have to say the Barrie Colts are the best team in the Ontario Hockey League right now. After a 1-2-0 start to the season, it appeared that the Colts were an over-hyped team and that they wouldn’t have the season many expected. They were struggling to score, their team defense was poor and it looked like they were en route for an average season. Since that point, though, they’ve won 12 of their last 15 games and now sit tied for 1st in the OHL with the Owen Sound Attack with 27 points apiece.
The Colts offense, led by Mark Scheifele, Anthony Camara and Zach Hall, has been incredible, Aaron Ekblad has shown he’s able to take a big step forward and they’ve had good enough goaltending to win hockey games. While I still think the Colts could add to their blue line, they have shown they’re a legitimate contender and in my opinion the best team in the league right now.
Early in the 2012-13 season, a few teams have stood out above the rest, and perhaps none as much as the Owen Sound Attack. The 2011 OHL Champions appear to be back in the hunt for another Championship this season, and may have the most complete roster from top to bottom. Snipers such as Dan Catenacci and Gemel Smith lead the offence, and the defence corps may be the best 1-6 lineup in the league, even without a bonafide star on the back-end. With veteran keeper Jordan Binnington keeping pucks out of the net, the Attack are never an easy team to defeat. While still early, there's no other team in the O who could defeat Owen Sound in a seven-game series, if playoffs started today.
Tough question. I'll have to go with the Owen Sound Attack. Only 4 teams have scored more goals and they are second in goals against with the best goals for goals against differential. They have the best point percentage in the entire league. But it's not just their place in the standings.
Jordan Binnington is having a career year in goal and is third in goals against average and save percentage. Their defense has a good combination of size and mobility. Up front they have the finesse players and they have the size as well that can play any type of game.
All in all, it is the best group of assembled talent in my opinion. If they lost Binnington for any extended period of time, it could mean trouble. Short term they would be okay, but long term I don't think they could survive through that.
This answer is easy and won't change all year. The best team now and for the rest of the year in the O is the London Knights. Their only sort of shaky point is in net and even that has been good of late. They will get over the memorial cup hangover and go on a run soon, but if you look up and down the line-up no team in the O can come close to matching it.
They have 3 draft-eligibles in the line-up that will all go on the first round of the NHL entry draft in Bo Horvat, Max Domi and Nik Zadorov. Package that with Seth Griffith, Olli Maatta, the Ruperts, Josh Anderson and Scott Harrington on the back end and it is easy to see why I have them at #1.
I wish I could say someone other than the current top team in the OHL, that being the Owen Sound Attack. But is there another team that has this solid starting goaltending and as fast, skilled, and punishing forward core on top of a talented defense core like the attack? If there is I can’t wait to see them listed in the article.
For years I touted that Binnington is a 'diamond in the rough' or an 'after thought' and I am still waiting for all the praise for noticing this way back when. But seriously he has developed head over heels since the teams Memorial Cup run. The mental challenge of that year I think gave him everything he needed in an OHL career in a span of 10 weeks. This left him with just being a better goaltender since the mental side of the game was already solidified. The confidence the players have with him in net, allows them to be themselves, loosen their sticks and be such a force right now.
Daniel Catenacci, Cameron Brace, Gemel Smith, Blandisi, Nastasiuk and rookie Jaden Lindo are huge threats on the ice mixing all the tools that you want to see in a group…and you have to think that if Jarrod Maidens comes back at any point this year, it is like pulling off a huge mid season trade that will only improve them.
Their D core resembles what Brampton had last year, just a solid group of 5-6 guys that you never worry about. Chiarlitti has grown every single game he plays, many still think it is a shame he was never drafted or signed, Bigras is a highly touted defenseman for the NHL draft, Tampa Bay and LA liked Dotchin and MacDermid respectively and then you round it out with Cutting and Rose who can fill in for the top 4 at any moment.
Does it sound like I am touting the horn a bit loudly? You bet, but this is the best team in the OHL right now. Let’s see what the rest of the league will do to react to their early success.