Now that the 2012-13 Ontario Hockey League campaign is underway and a couple weeks into the season, we have a good grasp of which players are going to be putting up a lot of points regularly and which players don’t have the supporting cast to do so.
In this week’s hot-stove, the panel attempts to predict who will win the scoring title this year.
I am going to go a little off the board with this one and say that Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds forwards, and Philadelphia Flyers prospect, Nick Cousins will win the scoring title this year. I know there are some legal issues hovering around him right now but I anticipate them being cleared up. If and when that happens he’ll be able to just focus on playing hockey - which should help him play better. Even with this ‘scandal’ over his head he’s producing at an extremely high rate as he has tallied eight points in his first four games of the season. With the likes of Andrew Fritsch and Sergey Tolchinsky up front to support him and one of the best puck-moving defenseman in the league in Ryan Sproul behind him, he will be given every opportunity to put up points. I think he’ll take advantage of those opportunities and because of that he will be a legitimate threat to win the scoring title.
This is a tough question as it could be impacted by the NHL resuming play and the World Juniors, but I’m going to take a chance and pick Ryan Strome even though he will most likely be impacted by both.
He’s a proven player in this league and eclipsed the 100-point plateau as a 17-year-old two years back and I think he has a real chance of winning the scoring title, even though he will be away with team Canada for December.
I think the experience of last year’s playoff run and his time playing for Canada at the World Juniors have made him one of the most complete players in all of Major Junior combine that with another strong supporting cast in Niagara and he’s got a legit chance at having more points than any other player in the league this coming season.
Two weeks into the season and our friend Todd is already bringing the difficult questions. That said, I'll stick with my preseason prediction: It'll be a battle between Sean Monahan and Seth Griffith.
This early it looks like Boone Jenner is going to run away with it, but the key word is early. Neither Monahan's 67's nor Griffith's Knights have had the start expected but the two are doing all they can. Watching the two to date, you see them both setting up teammates with scoring chances but there's been a lack of finish by them.
As both the 67's and Knights get into a groove, points will come by the two at a faster pace then they are already producing. It's a tossup for me which comes out on top, but I predict both will battle for top spot.
What I love about predicting who will win the OHL scoring title this year is the number of variables at play this season with the NHL lockout. Will there be NHL hockey this year? Who stays and who goes? What kind of affect with the World Juniors have on the scoring race? In the last 5 years there have been 7 who have won or tied for the scoring lead. 1 was an overage 3 were draft eligible and 2 played in the World Juniors. That being said I am going to throw out 2 names under the assumption there will be NHL hockey this year. Ryan Kujawinski and Nick Cousins.
Since his Trade to Kingston I have been drawn to watching the Fronts play whether in person or on the action pack. Ryan averaged a point a game with the Fronts after the trade deadline last year and has 5 points in 3 games to start this season and a player of the week award on top of that. Assuming the scoring leader will accumulate something north of 100 points Ryan would have average somewhere north of 1.5 points per game. The only thing stopping him from achieving that is a lack of depth and teams game planning around him.
Nick Cousins has a whole different set of variables surrounding him this season with his off-season legal problems. He is the highest scoring returning player in the O this year and with a healthy Andrew Fritsch and Sergey Tolchinsky in the fold for the season he will have plenty of opportunities to improve upon last season. The only question is will he be able to deal with the distraction of his legal proceedings especially now that the Court date has been pushed back to November 5th. So far he hasn't missed a beat with 8 points in 4 games so I am sticking with him.
Predicting the winner of the OHL scoring title can always be tricky and this year is certainly no different with the NHL lockout returning some superstar OHL talent. While draft pedigree would suggest players like Ice Dog Ryan Strome (5th overall in 2011), Barrie Colt Mark Scheifele (7th overall in 2011) or Alex Galchenyuk (3rd overall in 2012) would be good bets (and they would be), I tend to lean towards a more seasoned veteran that comes with less lofty expectations. London Knights’ Seth Griffith (131st overall in 2012, Boston Bruins) is the player I would expect to end up on top at the end of the season. Griffith is a savvy elusive forward capable of reading the ice better than most at the major junior level. Tune into a live game featuring Seth Griffith and you will be amazed at his ability to control the pace of the game as he opens up space for his teammates using his silky hands and incredible patience. The Wallaceburg native’s deadly combination of offensive talents makes him a continual scoring threat alongside a slew of dangerous teammates. Griffith is looking to build upon his 45 goal and 85-point season and I would expect him to bust the twine 50+ times and clear the 100-point plateau for the first time in his career.
My prediction for OHL scoring champion plays for the Oshawa Generals. He tallied 53 goals and had 60 assists in Minor Midget for the Toronto Marlboros in 2008-09. He had 30 goals and 42 assists in 41 games for the St Michael's Buzzers of the OJHL the following season, and has accumulated 120 points in 137 games with the Generals, including 5 goals and 2 assists in his first 5 games this season. Assuming the NHL lockout continues and the Phoenix Coyotes don't pluck him off the Gens' team, Lucas Lessio is my choice for this year's OHL scoring champion. He is anxious to prove that he belongs on Team Canada's World Junior squad, in a season, which, because of the NHL lockout, will be, potentially, a difficult team to make. Lessio is big and strong on his skates and shoots the puck exceptionally well. He sees the ice well and has been a proven goal scorer and passer at every level of hockey that he has played. With a strong offensive team, I expect Lucas Lessio to have a breakout season and easily top the 100-point plateau.