Check out this story on former Mercyhurst goaltender Max Strang…
Erie native and former Mercyhurst University goaltender Ryan Zapolski and former Erie Otters forward Nick Palmieri will represent the United States at the Deutchland Cup tournament Nov. 8-11 in Munich, Germany. Team USA faces Slovakia on Nov. 8 at 10:30 a.m., followed by games against Switzerland on Nov. 9 at 1:45 p.m. and Germany on Nov. 10 at 10:45 a.m. Zapolski, 26, who played for Mercyhurst from 2007-11, plays for Lukko Rauma of the SM-liiga in Finland this season. Palmieri, 24, who played for the Otters from 2005-08, plays for Munich EHC of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga in Germany. He played 87 games in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild from 2009-12.
Erie native Justin Mercier, 26, has signed with the Idaho Steelheads, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. He joins the Steelheads, which began training camp Monday, after spending the 2012-13 season playing in Germany with the Wolfsburg Grizzly Adams (2 goals, 5 points and 49 PIM) in 35 games. The Miami (Ohio) University alumnus began his professional career in the 2009-10 season, where he played 64 games for the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters (13 goals, 10 assists, 23 points) and 9 more with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche (1 goal, 2 points). He had 26 goals and 53 points in 156 games with the Monsters from 2010-12.
Players with Erie ties in the NHL:
Pos. Name (age), club NHL experience Local ties
RW Brad Boyes (31), Florida 9th season Erie Otters
LW David Broll (20), Toronto Rookie Erie Otters
C Chris Brown (22), Phoenix 1st season Millcreek Township*#
LW Luke Gazdic (24), Edmonton Rookie Erie Otters^
C Jordan Nolan (24), Los Angeles 3rd season Erie Otters
F Ryan O’Reilly (22), Colorado 5th season Erie Otters
RW Anthony Peluso (24), Winnipeg Rookie Erie Otters#
LW Mike Rupp (33), Minnesota 11th season Erie Otters
* Parents are McDowell graduates, still has family in Erie; # Played five games with their current clubs a season ago; ^ Claimed off waivers from Dallas on Sunday
Victor Fernandes makes his predictions for the 2013-14 NHL season:
6. Tampa Bay
2. x-N.Y. Rangers
3. x-N.Y. Islanders
8. New Jersey
2. x-St. Louis
1. x-San Jose
2. x-Los Angeles
x-automatic qualifier; y-wild card teams, z-conference champion, a-overall regular-season champion
No. 1M Pittsburgh def. WC No. 2 Columbus, 4-1
No. 1A Boston def. WC No. 1 Detroit, 4-2
No. 2M N.Y. Rangers def. No. 3M N.Y. Islanders, 4-2
No. 2A Ottawa def. No. 3A Toronto, 4-2
No. 1M Pittsburgh def. No. 2M N.Y. Rangers, 4-2
No. 1A Boston def. No. 2A Ottawa, 4-3
No. 1A Boston def. No. 1M Pittsburgh, 4-2
No. 1C Chicago def. WC No. 2 Winnipeg, 4-0
WC No. 1 Edmonton def. No. 1P San Jose, 4-2
No. 2C St. Louis def. No. 3C Minnesota, 4-2
No. 2P Los Angeles def. No. 3P Vancouver, 4-1
No. 1C Chicago def. No. 2C St. Louis, 4-2
No. 2P Los Angeles def. WC No. 1 Edmonton, 4-2
No. 1C Chicago def. No. 2P Los Angeles, 4-2
Stanley Cup Final
No. 1C Chicago def. No. 1A Boston, 4-2
- Victor Fernandes
This week, I’m breaking down all 20 OHL clubs and unveiling my predictions for the 2013-14 season. Today it’s the Western Conference (listed in alphabetical order):
Coach/GM: Kris Knoblauch/Sherry Bassin
2012-13 finish: 19-40-4-5, 5th division, 10th conference
Playoff finish: Did not qualify
Key players: C Connor McDavid (25 goals, 41 assists, 66 points; OHL rookie of the year in 2012-13), RW Connor Brown (28-41-69; Toronto prospect), G Oscar Dansk (11-23-3-3 record, 4.11 goals-against average, .888 save percentage; Columbus prospect), D Adam Pelech (8-32-40; N.Y. Islanders prospect), C Dane Fox (19-17-36)
Key losses: C J.P. Labardo (24-38-62; committed to University of New Brunswick), C Connor Crisp (22-14-36; traded to Sudbury), D Jimmy McDowell (14-19-33; traded to Sudbury)
Outlook: The Otters have pieces in place to make a run at the playoffs this season, including a No. 1 line of McDavid, Brown and CHL first-round pick Andre Burakovsky, that should be one of the best in the league. But defense will determine if the Otters reach the postseason for the first time in three years.
Coach/GM: Scott Walker/Mike Kelly
2012-13 finish: 39-23-2-4, 4th division, 5th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Kitchener 4-1 in conference quarterfinals
Key players: RW Scott Kosmachuk (35-30-65; Winnipeg prospect), RW Zack Mitchell (22-34-56; Carolina prospect), D Zac Leslie (12-28-40, plus-16; Los Angeles prospect), LW Jason Dickinson (18-29-47; Dallas Stars prospect), LW Brock McGinn (28-26-54; signed with Carolina)
Key losses: G Garret Sparks (36-17-0-4, 2.65, .917, 7 SO; signed with Toronto), C Tanner Richard (11-51-62; signed with Tampa Bay)
Outlook: The Storm are ready to make a deep playoff run with a solid defense and skilled frontline. That’s as long as their goaltending tandem of Matthew Mancina and Jason DaSilva, who have a combined seven games of OHL experience, play to their potential.
Coach/GM: Troy Smith/Murray Hiebert
2012-13 finish: 39-20-1-8, 3rd division, 4th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to London 4-1 in conference semifinals
Key players: RW Justin Bailey (17-19-36; Buffalo prospect), D Evan McEneny (6-28-34, +7), C Radek Faksa (9-22-31 in 39 games; signed with Dallas), LW Brent Pedersen (14-16-30; Carolina prospect), LW Matia Marcantuoni (7-18-25; Pittsburgh prospect)
Key losses: D Ryan Murphy (10-38-48; signed with Carolina), G Josh Gibson (17-9-0-1, 2.41, .928, 1 SO; signed with Anaheim), LW Joshua Leivo (29-44-73; signed with Toronto), RW Tobias Rieder (27-29-56; signed with Phoenix), LW Matt Puempel (35-12-47; signed with Ottawa), D Frank Corrado (7-38-45; signed with Vancouver)
Outlook: Smith and Hiebert replace former coach/GM Steve Spott, who left the Rangers after more than a decade to become head coach of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. The Rangers have enough talent to win, led by a solid lineup featuring Bailey (Buffalo Sabres), Faksa (Dallas Stars) and McEneny.
Coach/GM: Dale Hunter/Mark Hunter
2012-13 finish: 50-13-2-3; 1st division, 1st conference
Playoff finish: Won league championship, lost to Portland (WHL) in Memorial Cup semifinals
Key players: C Max Domi (39-48-87; signed with Phoenix), LW Bo Horvat (33-28-61; signed with Vancouver), G Anthony Stolarz (13-3-1-1, 2.29, .920, 1 SO; Philadelphia prospect), D Olli Maatta (8-30-38, +9; Pittsburgh prospect), D Nikita Zadorov (6-19-25, +33; Buffalo prospect)
Key losses: RW Seth Griffith (33-48-81; signed with Boston), C Alex Broadhurst (23-40-63; signed with Chicago), D Scott Harrington (3-16-19, +21; signed with Pittsburgh), D Justin Sefton (3-18-21; traded to Saginaw)
Outlook: The Knights still have more than enough talent from last year’s league championship team. They also have added motivation from hosting the Memorial Cup tournament this coming May. But they should face a stern challenge in an always difficult division and Western Conference.
Owen Sound Attack
Coach/GM: Greg Ireland/Dale DeGray
2012-13 finish: 44-18-1-5, 2nd division, 3rd conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Plymouth 4-2 in conference semifinals
Key players: RW Cameron Brace (35-39-74; Pittsburgh prospect), C Gemel Smith (23-29-52; Dallas prospect), D Chris Bigras (8-30-38, +35; signed with Colorado), G Brandon Hope (12-6-0-0, 2.61, .915), RW Zach Nastasiuk (20-20-40; Detroit prospect)
Key losses: G Jordan Binnington (32-12-1-5, 2.17, .932, 7 SO), C Daniel Catenacci (38-41-79; signed with Buffalo), D Nathan Chiarlitti (1-30-31, +41),
Outlook: Hope takes over in net full time for the departed Binnington, and he has skill and experience in front of him on defense led by Bigras. The Attack also will be able to attack opposing defenses with an offense keyed by Brace and Smith. That means the Attack are ready to contend in the West.
Coach/GM: Michael Vellucci
2012-13 finish: 42-17-5-4, 1st division, 2nd conference
Playoff finish: Lost to London 4-1 in conference semifinals
Key players: G Alex Nedeljkovic (19-2-1-1 record, 2.28 goals-against average, .923 save percentage, 2 shutouts), RW Tom Wilson (23 goals, 35 assists, 58 points; signed with Washington), D Connor Carrick (12-32-44, +27), LW Matt Mistele (34-28-60), C Ryan Hartman (23-37-60)
Key losses: C Vincent Trocheck (50-59-109; signed with Florida), G Matt Mahalak (22-11-4-3, 2.88, .906, 3 SO; traded to Kingston), RW Garrett Meurs (32-33-65; signed with Colorado), LW Stefan Noesen (25-28-53 in 51 games; signed with Ottawa)
Outlook: The Whalers have a chance to win consecutive division championships behind the play of Nedeljkovic in net, Carrick on defense and a bevy of scorers up front. But after losing in the second round of the playoffs, the Whalers looks to take that next step in their pursuit of a league title.
Coach/GM: Greg Gilbert/Jim Paliafito
2012-13 finish: 32-29-4-3, 4th division, 8th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to London 4-0 in conference quarterfinals
Key players: G Jake Paterson (25-18-3-2, 3.53, .901, 1 SO; Detroit prospect), C Eric Locke (44-53-97; Buffalo prospect), C Jimmy Lodge (28-39-67; Winnipeg prospect), C Justin Kea (22-26-48; Buffalo prospect), D Justin Sefton (3-18-21, +8; acquired from Kitchener)
Key losses: LW Garret Ross (44-46-90; signed with Chicago)
Outlook: The Spirit made a quick exit from the playoffs a season ago. With Paterson in net, the the Spirit could develop into a legitimate playoff team. But they still have to fill the voids left by highly skilled players like Ross and Young to make that happen.
Coach/GM: Trevor Letowski/Bill Abercrombie
2012-13 finish: 25-36-5-2, 3rd division, 7th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Plymouth 4-0 in conference quarterfinals
Key players: RW Nikolay Goldobin (30-38-68; top rookie scorer), D Anthony DeAngelo (9-49-58), D Alex Basso (11-33-44), C Nickolas Latta (17-14-31), RW Bryan Moore (11-19-30)
Key losses: C Charles Sarault (22-86-108; signed with Anaheim), LW Reid Boucher (62-33-95; signed with New Jersey), G J.P. Anderson (26-21-1-4, 3.31, .905, 1 SO; signed with San Jose)
Outlook: How does one a team replace two scorers that combined to produce 84 goals and 203 points? The Sting has to answer that question heading into this season following the loss of Sarault – the league leader in assists and runner-up in scoring – and Boucher (No. 5 in scoring last season).
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Coach/GM: Sheldon Keefe/Kyle Dubas
2012-13 finish: 36-26-3-3, 2nd division, 6th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Owen Sound 4-2 in conference quarterfinals
Key players: D Darnell Nurse (12-29-41, +15; signed with Edmonton), G Matt Murray (26-19-2-2, 3.67, .894, 1 SO; Pittsburgh prospect), RW Andrew Fritsch (27-25-52), RW Sergey Tolchinsky (26-25-51), C Jared McCann (21-23-44)
Key losses: C Nick Cousins (27-76-103; signed with Philadelphia), D Ryan Sproul (20-46-66, +11; signed with Detroit), RW Brandon Alderson (28-46-64; signed with Philadelphia), D Colin Miller (20-35-55; signed with Los Angeles), LW David Broll (17-37-54; former Erie Otter, signed with Toronto)
Outlook: Nurse has developed into one of the league’s top players. Murray has grown into a solid goaltender. But will the Greyhounds score enough following the departure of Cousins (No. 3 in the league in scoring), Alderson and Sproul? That will determine how far the Greyhounds go this season.
Coach/GM: Bob Boughner/Warren Rychel
2012-13 finish: 26-33-3-6, 5th division, 9th conference
Playoff finish: Did not qualify
Key players: LW Kerby Rychel (40-47-67; Columbus prospect), D Slater Koekkoek (6-23-29 in 42 games; signed with Tampa Bay), RW Josh Ho-Sang (14-30-44), C Brady Vail (20-35-55), D Nick Ebert (11-27-38; Los Angeles prospect)
Key losses: RW Alex Aleardi (27-44-71; signed with Springfield-AHL), C Alexander Khokhlachev (22-26-48; signed with Boston)
Outlook: The Spitfires look to rebound from missing the playoffs a season ago. But leaders like Rychel and Koekkoek carry this team back into the postseason. The rest of the Spitfires will determine how deep they travel into the playoffs.
- Victor Fernandes
This week, I’ll break down all 20 OHL clubs and unveil my predictions for the 2013-14 season. Today it’s the Eastern Conference (teams listed in alphabetical order):
Coach/GM: George Burnett
2012-13 finish: 44-16-5-3, 1st division, 1st conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Barrie 4-3 in conference finals
Key players: C Alan Quine (23 goals, 44 assists, 67 points), C Brendan Gaunce (33-27-60; signed with Vancouver), D Jordan Subban (15-36-51, plus-22; Vancouver prospect), D Brady Austin (8-15-23, +16; former Erie Otter, Buffalo prospect), C Luke Cairns (12-29-41 with Erie)
Key losses: G Malcolm Subban (29-11-4-0 record, 2.14 goals-against average, .934 save percentage, 5 shutouts; signed with Boston), C Tyler Graovac (38-35-73; signed with Minnesota), C Joseph Cramarossa (19-44-63; signed with Anaheim), D Stephen Silas (7-23-30, plus-17), LW Danill Zharkov (25-18-43; signed with Torpedo-KHL), D Jake Cardwell (10-23-33, -11)
Outlook: Jordan Subban still leads the nucleus of this team. But the key to success begins with filling the gaping hole left by the depature of Malcolm Subban in goal. Charlie Graham, once Subban’s backup, and Braydon Banitsiotis, hope to anchor a defense and lead the Bulls deep into the playoffs again.
Coach/GM: Todd Gill/Doug Gilmour
2012-13 finish: 27-35-3-3, 3rd division, 7th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Barrie 4-0 in conference quarterfinals
Key players: LW Henri Ikonen (22-29-51; Tampa Bay prospect), C Ryan Kujawinski (17-31-48; New Jersey prospect), C Darcy Greenaway (24-20-44), C Sam Bennett (18-22-40), D Roland McKeown (7-22-29, -24)
Key losses: G Mike Morrison (24-25-2-1, 3.62, .896, 1 SO), LW Cody Alcock (20-23-43)
Outlook: The Frontenacs are ranked ninth in the CHL’s preseason top 10. That seems high, but they have enough talent led by McKeown on defense and that talented trio of up front to turn promise and potential into success. The addition of G Matt Mahalak (22-11-4-3, 2.86, .906, 3 SO from Plymouth should help.
Coach/GM: D.J. Smith/Jeff Twohey
2012-13 finish: 44-22-1-3, 2nd division, 3rd conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Barrie 4-0 in conference semifinals
Key players: C Scott Laughton (23-33-56; signed with Philadelphia), G Daniel Altshuller (36-18-1-1, 2.62, .909, 3 SO; Carolina prospect), LW Michael Dal Colle (15-33-48), C Cole Cassels (15-28-43; Vancouver prospect), D Cullen Suellentrop (5-20-25, +3)
Key losses: C Boone Jenner (45-37-82; signed with Columbus), LW Lucas Lessio (19-15-34 in 35 games; signed with Phoenix), RW Tyler Biggs (26-27-53; signed with Toronto), RW Scott Sabourin (30-20-50; signed with Manchester-AHL), D Matt Petgrave (10-40-50), D Geoffrey Schemitsch (6-33-39, +29)
Outlook: The Generals followed a strong run through the regular season by being swept by Barrie in the second round of the playoffs. They have some pieces back, and Laughton could join them if he doesn’t earn a spot with the Flyers. Yet they have big holes to fill, led by Jenner and Lessio.
Coach/GM: Chris Byrne
2012-13 finish: 16-46-0-6, 5th division, 10th conference
Playoff finish: Did not qualify
Key players: C Sean Monahan (31-47-78; signed with Calgary), C Travis Konecny (No. 1 pick in 2013 OHL Priority Selection), RW Joseph Blandisi (15-36-51; Colorado prospect), C Dante Salituro (14-26-40), LW Ryan Van Stralen (16-23-39)
Key losses: D Michal Cajkovsky (10-24-34)
Outlook: Konecny, who had 78 goals and 152 points in 63 minor-midget games a season ago, headlines the second season of 67′s rebuilding effort. Having a highly skilled leader like Monahan will help Konecny make the transition to the OHL, and help the team continue to make its way up the conference standings.
Coach/GM: Jody Hull/Mike Oke
2012-13 finish: 26-35-3-4, 5th division, 9th conference
Playoff finish: Did not qualify
Key players: C Stephen Pierog (19-16-35), LW Nick Ritchie (18-17-35), G Michael Giugovaz (9-17-2-1, 3.81, .896), C Jonatan Tanus (15-18-33), C Michael Clarke (15-17-32)
Key losses: C Brett Findlay (19-27-46; signed with San Francisco-ECHL), G Andrew D’Agostini (17-18-1-3, 3.81, .911, 1 SO)
Outlook: The Hull-Oke era begins its first full season with the rebuilding Petes. They need young players, starting with the promsing Giugovaz in net, to lead this team back to the playoffs.
Coach/GM: Dale Hawerchuck/Jason Ford
2012-13 finish: 44-20-2-2, 1st division, 2nd conference
Playoff finish: Lost to London 4-3 in league finals
Key players: C Zach Hall (24 goals, 57 assists, 81 points), D Aaron Ekblad (7-27-34, plus-29), LW Andreas Athanasiou (29-38-67; Detroit prospect), C Mitchell Theoret (25-35-60), G Alex Fotinos (9-8-0-1 record, 3.26 goals-against average, .897 save percentage)
Key losses: C Mark Scheifele (39-40-79; signed with Winnipeg), G Mathias Niederberger (35-12-2-1, 2.34, .933, 4 SO; signed with Manchester-AHL), RW Steven Beyers (16-53-69), LW Anthony Camara (36-24-60; signed with Boston), D Ryan O’Connor (18-35-53; signed with HC Davos-Switzerland)
Outlook: The Colts lost the OHL championship on London LW Bo Horvat’s series-winning goal with one-tenth of a second left in Game 7. Now they have to replace several key members of that team, headlined by Scheifele up front, O’Connor on defense and Niederberger in goal. That will be a challenge.
Coach/GM: James Boyd
2012-13 finish: 26-34-0-8, 5th division, 8th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Belleville 4-2 in conference quarterfinals
Key players: G Spencer Martin (17-21-0-4, 3.02, .908; Colorado prospect), C Dylan Smoskowitz (33-22-55), D Trevor Carrick (10-21-31, -1; Carolina prospect), LW Josh Burnside (12-16-28), C Brett Foy (11-13-24)
Key losses: LW Riley Brace (21-52-73; signed with Worcester-AHL), D Dylan DeMelo (15-35-50; signed with San Jose), D Stuart Percy (13-32-45; signed with Toronto)
Outlook: Martin heads into his first season as a NHL draft pick having to lead a defense that will be critical for the Steelheads’ success this season.
Coach/GM: Marty Williamson
2012-13 finish: 30-34-2-2, 4th division, 6th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Oshawa 4-1 in conference quarterfinals
Key players: D Jesse Graham (4-35-39, -17; N.Y. Islanders prospect), D Luke Mercer (2-27-29, +8), C Carter Verhaeghe (18-26-44; Toronto prospect), LW Anthony DiFruscia (14-16-30), G Chris Festarini (22-24-2-2, 3.27, .898; former Erie Otter)
Key losses: C Ryan Strome (34-60-94; signed with N.Y. Islanders), RW Brett Ritchie (41-35-76; signed with Dallas), LW Steven Shipley (32-35-67), Shayne Rover (8-19-27)
Outlook: The midseason departure of D Dougie Hamilton to the NHL’s Boston Bruins sparked a free-fall that ended with a first-round loss to Oshawa. Now Strome, Ritchie and others are gone, leaving the D pairing of Graham and Mercer leading the way for a team searching for a bounce-back season.
North Bay Battalion
Coach/GM: Stan Butler
2012-13 finish: 34-25-3-6, 2nd division, 4th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Sudbury 4-1 in conference quarterfinals
Key players: RW Barclay Goodrow (38-14-52), LW Blake Clarke (19-32-51), D Dylan Blujus (2-27-29; Tampa Bay prospect), G Jake Smith (9-6-0-2, 2.57, .891), RW Matt MacLeod (19-20-39), LW Brandon Robinson (17-17-34)
Key losses: G Matej Machovsky (25-19-3-4, 2.52, .910, 3 SO; signed with HC Plzen-Czech Republic)
Outlook: The Butler-led Battalion have always been known for stingy defense. That recipe for success should stay the same in the club’s first season in North Bay. Smith and Blujus lead a defense that ranked among the league leaders the past two seasons.
Coach/GM: Paul Fixter/Blaine Smith
2012-13 finish: 29-27-5-7, 3rd division, 5th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Belleville 4-0 in conference semifinals
Key players: C Matthew Campagna (24-44-68), LW Nathan Pancel (26-30-56), RW Nicholas Baptiste (21-27-48; Buffalo prospect), C Connor Crisp (22-14-36; acquired from Erie, Montreal prospect); LW Dominik Kahun (13-27-40)
Key losses: RW Michael Kantor (20-13-33; signed with N.Y. Rangers), D Charlie Dodero (7-20-27; signed with N.Y. Rangers)
Outlook: Fixter has moved from associate coach to head coach to replace Trent Cull, who joined the coaching staff of the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. He inherits a team with a solid nucleus led by Campagna and Pancel. The club also added Crisp and D Jimmy McDowell (14-19-33) in an offseason trade.
- Victor Fernandes
Check out this video interview with former Erie Otters F Greg McKegg. Among other topics, he discusses being united on a line with former Otters teammates Connor Brown and David Broll for the Toronto Maple Leafs Rookie Tournament, which began tonight…
Erie Otters rookie LW Andre Burakovsky has signed a 3-year, entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals, the NHL announced today. He still would have to earn a roster spot with the Capitals in training camp to keep from playing with the Otters this season. The Capitals could assign him to their AHL affiliate in Hershey, but at this point I would think it’s either the Caps or Otters for him this season…
Listen to Burakovsky’s thoughts on signing a contract by clicking here…
Watch Monday’s rookie between Burakovsky’s Capitals and Otters LW Stephen Harper’s Philadelphia Flyers by clicking here…