Shootout
By Victor Fernandes Erie Times-News staff blogger
Staff writer Victor Fernandes has ice in his veins. Hockey – he plays it, coaches it and provides the region's best coverage of it.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-870-1716
Archive for the ‘Erie Otters’ category
Posted: August 20th, 2014

The Erie Otters need to replace several key scorers from the 2013-14 team. (Erie Times-News)

The Erie Otters need to replace several key scorers from the 2013-14 team. (Erie Times-News)

The Erie Otters won’t score 312 goals in the 2014-15 OHL season.
That’s an easy statement to make, even with Connor McDavid, who’s coming off a 99-point season, leading the way. The Otters are losing as much offense as any team in the league – Connor Brown (45 goals, 83 assists, 128 points), Dane Fox (64-43-107), Brendan Gaunce (31-41-72), Michael Curtis (28-28-56) and Adam Pelech (10-45-55).
They also could lose Andre Burakovsky (41-46-87), if he earns a roster spot with the NHL’s Washington Capitals or is assigned to the AHL’s Hershey Bears. The Otters have some promising young players – second-year C Dylan Strome as well as skilled incoming rookies like Shaun Bily and Alex DeBrincat. But aside from Strome, these young players likely aren’t ready to become frontline scorers.
So the Otters will need to manufacture goals more so than last season. They need offense from players that weren’t needed to produce as much in 2013-14.
Jake Evans

Jake Evans

* Jake Evans has that potential. He’s had it since being picked in the 2nd round of the 2011 OHL draft. Yet he hasn’t put it all together in his first three seasons, to the tune of 28 goals and 57 points in 180 games.
He set career highs with 12 goals and 23 points in 67 games a season ago. He needs much more production than that to help these Otters win.
* Kyle Pettit has become a key figure on defense, the penalty kill
Kyle Pettit

Kyle Pettit

and faceoffs. He will be a key figure in those aspects of the game this season.
But offense was non-existent the first two seasons (8 goals, 16 points in 120 games), even after he focused more on his offensive game last offseason. He needs to at least double those numbers this year.
Nick Betz has been a grinder on the third and fourth lines in his three-year career. But every once in awhile, he shows glimpses of offensive skill. If he becomes more of a prototypical power forward. He doesn’t have to be Michael Blunden, who improved from 10 goals and 17 points as a rookie in 2002-03 to 46 goals and 84 points in his fourth and final season in 2005-06.

- Victor Fernandes

Top returning scorers

Nick Betz

Nick Betz


C Connor McDavid – 28 goals, 71 assists, 99 points, 7 PPG, 2 SHG (56 games)
C Dylan Strome – 10 goals, 29 assists, 39 points, 2 PPG (60 games)
D Travis Dermott – 3 goals, 25 assists, 28 points, 1 PPG (67 games)
C Jake Evans – 11 goals, 7 assists, 18 points (57 games)
RW Nick Betz – 5 goals, 13 assists, 18 points (66 games)
RW Joel Wigle – 6 goals, 7 assists, 13 points (41 games)
D Darren Raddysh – 3 goals, 10 assists, 13 point, 1 PPG (60 games)
C Kyle Pettit – 5 goals, 5 assists, 10 points, 1 SHG (53 games)
Note: Lists players expected to return

Up next: Pelech has moved on to the pros. So who will be the Otters’ No. 1 D? Find out Wednesday on the Shootout blog and Twitter at www.Twitter.com/GoErieHockey.

* Let’s talk Otters: Join Victor Fernandes for the training camp edition of Otters Talk on Monday from 7-8 p.m. by heading to the Shootout blog. Can’t join in at that time? Post your questions on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GoErieHockey or send an e-mail to victor.fernandes@timesnews.com, and then check out a recap of the chat on Shootout and Twitter.

Posted: August 19th, 2014

Darren Raddysh

Darren Raddysh

Erie Otters D Darren Raddysh began the 2013-14 season with the promise that was on display during a 24-game stint with the club a season earlier.
He built on that promise in the opening half of the season, as he earned a regular shift on a veteran-laden defense. Then it went downhill, in a hurry, for Raddysh.
By the end of the regular season, he had a difficult time cracking the lineup. He dressed for only two of 14 playoff games. Then he slipped out of NHL Central Scouting’s list of draft prospects before being passed over in the June draft.
Raddysh admitted he didn’t work as hard as possible as the season progressed. That can’t happen this season, not a defense that will lose most, if not all, of that veteran unit. Raddysh has the ability to be a consistent performer. He isn’t the most dynamic player on the blue line. But Raddysh is at his best when he makes simple plays at both ends of the ice. He did that early in the season. Yet he seemed overmatched later in the season, which led to glaring mistakes.
Raddysh has plenty of motivation to raise his game this season – the opportunity to get a regular shift as a top-four D, and a chance to prove he deserves to be drafted next summer. Now he simply has to make that happen.

- Victor Fernandes

Up next: The Otters lose plenty of scorers from the 2013-14 club. So role players like Nick Betz, Jake Evans and Kyle Pettit need to step up to the forefront. Find out more Tuesday on the Shootout blog and on Twitter at wwww.Twitter.com/GoErieHockey.

* Let’s talk Otters: Join Victor Fernandes for the training camp edition of Otters Talk on Monday from 7-8 p.m. by heading to the Shootout blog. Can’t join in at that time? Post your questions on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GoErieHockey or send an e-mail to victor.fernandes@timesnews.com, and then check out a recap of the chat on Shootout and Twitter.

Posted: August 18th, 2014

Erie Otters C Dylan Strome (#19) faces a big second OHL season ahead of him (Erie Times-News)

Erie Otters C Dylan Strome (#19) faces a big second OHL season ahead of him (Erie Times-News)

Look beyond Dylan Strome‘s offensive numbers to find just how good of a debut season he had with the Erie Otters.
He finished sixth among all rookies with 39 points (10 goals, 39 points in 60 games), well behind the one player picked ahead of him in the 2013 OHL draft – Ottawa C Travis Konecny (league-best 26 goals and 70 points in 63 games). But Strome (No. 2 overall pick) arguably developed the most well-rounded game among that group a season ago.
Strome didn’t have to be a front-end scorer for the Otters a season ago. The league’s third-highest scoring team (312 goals) had plenty of dangerous offensive performers, led by Connor Brown (45-83-128), Dane Fox (64-43-107), Connor McDavid (28-71-99) and Andre Burakovsky (41-46-87).
Only McDavid is assured of returning this season. So it’s time for Strome to take his games, especially on offense, to the next level. He has the size, speed, skill and work ethic to have a huge year.
He’s already projected as a top-10 pick in the 2015 NHL draft. He has the demeanor and maturity to block that out and focus on the task at hand – keeping the Otters among the top teams in the league for a second straight season.

Travis Konecny

Travis Konecny

2013-14 OHL rookie scoring leaders
C Travis Konecny, Ottawa – 26 goals, 44 assists, 70 points (63 games)
C Mitchell Marner, London – 13 goals, 46 assists, 59 points (64 games)
LW Andrew Mangiapane, Barrie – 24 goals, 27 assists, 51 points (68 games)
RW Nick Magyar, Kitchener – 20 goals, 26 assists, 46 points (66 games)
RW Blake Speers, Sault Ste. Marie – 19 goals, 21 assists, 40 points (62 games)
C Dylan Strome, Erie – 10 goals, 29 assists, 39 points (60 games)

Up next: Will the real Darren Raddysh please step forward? Find out the answer to question Monday on the Shootout blog and Twitter at www.Twitter.com/GoErieHockey.

* Let’s talk Otters: Join Victor Fernandes for the training camp edition of Otters Talk on Aug. 25 from 7-8 p.m. by heading to the Shootout blog. Can’t join in at that time? Post your questions on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GoErieHockey or send an e-mail to victor.fernandes@timesnews.com, and then check out a recap of the chat on Shootout and Twitter.

Posted: August 17th, 2014

Erie Otters C Dylan Strome won gold with Canada at the 2014 U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup on Saturday in Breclav, Czech Republic. Here’s the team’s path to its 7th straight tournament title:

Monday - Canada 5, Switzerland 1
Tuesday - Canada 5, Sweden 1
Wednesday - Canada 5, Slovakia 1
Friday - Semifinal: Canada 11, United States 5
Saturday - Gold-medal game: Canada 6, Czech Republic 2

Posted: August 17th, 2014

Alex DeBrincat (forefront) could be a key addition to the Erie Otters this season. (Contributed/Total Package Hockey)

Alex DeBrincat (forefront) could be a key addition to the Erie Otters this season. (Contributed/Total Package Hockey)

Erie Otters GM Sherry Bassin did a masterful job of keeping prospect Alex DeBrincat well hidden from 19 other GMs for a few months before signing the diminutive yet high-scoring forward (54 goals, 111 points in 50 games with Lake Forest Academy out of Illinois a season) after the OHL draft in April.
Bassin’s work was especially impressive, given DeBrincat already was committed to a high-profile NCAA Division I program (UMass-Amherst) and is represented by the Orr Hockey Group – the Boston-based agency owned by Hockey Hall of Fame Bobby Orr whose client list includes Otters C Connor McDavid.
Now Bassin hopes to unleash DeBrincat on opposing defenses. He displayed impressive speed and a knack for not being knocked off the puck, despite his small frame (5-7, 160), during the Otters’ rookie development camp in May.
Yet teams soon will adjust to DeBrincat’s speed, and likely play a more physical game against him. If he can handle that, suddenly the Otters have a much-needed weapon for an offense that will need to manufacture goals more than the Otters did a season ago. DeBrincat will be especially valuable if RW and Washington Capitals prospect Andre Burakovsky doesn’t return this season.
Not bad for a relative unknown…

- Victor Fernandes

Up next: Dylan Strome had a promising rookie season on a veteran club. Now the expectations grow, as a potential top-10 pick in the 2015 NHL draft assumes a larger role. Find out more on the Shootout blog and on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/GoErieHockey.

* Let’s talk Otters: Join Victor Fernandes for the training camp edition of Otters Talk on Aug. 25 from 7-8 p.m. by heading to the Shootout blog. Can’t join in at that time? Post your questions on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GoErieHockey or send an e-mail to victor.fernandes@timesnews.com, and then check out a recap of the chat on Shootout and Twitter.

Posted in: Erie Otters, NHL
Posted: August 16th, 2014

Joel Wigle

Joel Wigle

Spencer Abraham, Michael Curtis and Dane Fox brought different skills to the ice every night as the Erie Otters’ overagers in the 2013-14 season.
Abraham, who I thought would be the odd OA out when training camp opened last August, saved his best OHL season for last with a more solid two-way game (8-27-35, +29, 7 PPG, 1 SHG in 68 games). Curtis added an offensive side (28-28-56, 3 SHG in 68 games) to a overall skill set best known for leadership and defensive reliability. And Fox…he only led the CHL with 64 goals and finished second to linemate Connor Brown (CHL-best 128 points) in the OHL scoring race (107 points).
They’re all gone – Brown included (because I can’t imagine any scenario where the
Connor Brown (right) isn't expected to rejoin the Erie Otters for  his overage season (Erie Times-News)

Connor Brown (right) isn’t expected to rejoin the Erie Otters for his overage season (Erie Times-News)

Toronto Maple Leafs would send him back to the OHL instead of playing his first AHL season). Most, if not all, of the team’s 1994s – G Oscar Dansk, Ds Troy Donnay, Kurtis MacDermid and Adam Pelech, and C Brendan Gaunce aren’t expected back.
At this point, I suspect either Donnay (N.Y. Rangers) or MacDermid (L.A. Kings) would be the only signed prospect that could be sent back by their NHL club.
Cory Genovese

Cory Genovese

That leaves D/W Cory Genovese (0-3-3, +14, 91 PIM in 58 games) and RW Joel Wigle (6-7-13, 69 PIM in 41 games) as the OA headliners.
Here’s the long-standing rule about OAs: They have to be among the best players on the team. Wigle showed some potential as a power forward early in his OHL career with Niagara, but he’s been hampered by injuries since joining the Otters. Genovese had trouble cracking the D lineup some night this past season, and even was moved to the wing before Darren Raddysh‘s struggles prompted a move back to the blue line late in the season. That’s simply not good enough for a team that again considers itself a contender.
GM Sherry Bassin made a shrewd move to acquire Curtis from Belleville last August. Bassin needs to do that again, either before the season (where he could get a better deal) or in a higher-profile trade closer to the January trade deadline. These Otters will be a younger bunch with new faces in key roles (Ds Jesse Saban and Cole Mayo, Fs Shaun Bily and Alex DeBrincat).
They will need frontline 20-year-olds to lead the way.

- Victor Fernandes

Up next: The 2014-15 Otters are Connor McDavid’s team. But will he replace Brown as captain? Head to the Shootout blog or Twitter at www.Twitter.com/GoErieHockey on Sunday to read more.

* Let’s talk Otters: Join Victor Fernandes for the training camp edition of Otters Talk on Aug. 25 from 7-8 p.m. by heading to the Shootout blog. Can’t join in at that time? Post your questions on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GoErieHockey or send an e-mail to victor.fernandes@timesnews.com, and then check out a recap of the chat on Shootout and Twitter.

Posted: August 15th, 2014

Erie Otters C Dylan Strome had 3 goals in Canada’s 11-5 win over the United States today in the semifinals of the 2014 U-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in Piestany, Slovakia. Canada faces Czech Republic in Saturday’s 11 a.m. final in Breclav, Czech Republic.

Monday - Canada 5, Switzerland 1
Tuesday - Canada 5, Sweden 1
Wednesday - Canada 5, Slovakia 1
Friday - Semifinal: Canada 11, United States 5
Saturday - Gold-medal game: Canada vs. Czech Republic, 11 a.m.

Posted: August 15th, 2014

Erie Otters GM Sherry Bassin‘s sense of humor came through loud and clear when addressing the thought of potentially trading C Connor McDavid in what likely will be his final OHL season…

Bassin said, “There’s a better chance of Chicken Little pulling the string and the sky falling than trading Connor McDavid.”

Posted: August 15th, 2014

The Erie Otters will have a new scoreboard at Erie Insurance Arena for the 2014-15 OHL season. (Erie Times-News)

The Erie Otters will have a new scoreboard at Erie Insurance Arena for the 2014-15 OHL season. (Erie Times-News)

The Erie Otters again were nomads for training camp last August, since the finishing touches were being made on the vastly improved Erie Insurance Arena.
They were much closer to their downtown home – Mercyhurst Ice Center instead of
Sherry Bassin (Contributed/Erie Otters)

Sherry Bassin (Contributed/Erie Otters)

three hours away at Morgan Firestone Arena in Ancaster, Ontario (their camp home before the 2012-13 season). But even in hockey, there is no place like home.
They finally have their own ice (where they won an OHL-best 30-of-34 home games in the regular season and finished 35-4-1 overall in 2013-14), their own dressing room (which has many comforts of home, including a comfortable couch and nice-sized flat-screen TV in the lounge, as well as the amenities needed to prepare to play before and during the season), their own trainer’s and equipment rooms, and anything else they need, within walking distance. So the players should feel comfortable while battling for a chance to stay here for the 2014-15 season.
Having EIA at their disposal makes scheduling camp workouts easier, especially when you’re dealing with a group of players that’s expected to be between 50 and 60 for at least the first day or two. Along with the on-ice workouts, they could use Jerry Uht Park next door for off-ice workouts as they have in the past, even though the Erie SeaWolves have the final three games of a four-game series against Bowie from Aug. 26-28 (the first three days of Otters camp).
I suspect having camp at EIA also will save Otters management, namely managing partner and general manager Sherry Bassin, money that was spent on reserving ice time at Morgan Firestone and MIC the past two years.
By the way, the positive impact of preparing for the upcoming season will linger on after camp ends with a midday practice Aug. 31. After camp ended the past two years, the Otters spent at least a portion of those preseasons practicing at Ice Center of Erie and JMC Ice Arena. That was a logistical challenge for the team.
But now the Otters finally are back home for camp. Now that the arena renovations are behind them, there will be plenty of work to do around there.

- Victor Fernandes

Up next: Overagers need to be the Otters’ best players. Are RW Joel Wigle and D/W Cory Genovese up to the task, or should Bassin look elsewhere to fill those spots? Read all about it on the Shootout blog and Twitter at Twitter.com/GoErieHockey on Saturday.

* Let’s talk Otters: Join Victor Fernandes for the training camp edition of Otters Talk on Aug. 25 from 7-8 p.m. by heading to the Shootout blog. Can’t join in at that time? Post your questions on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GoErieHockey or send an e-mail to victor.fernandes@timesnews.com, and then check out a recap of the chat on Shootout and Twitter.

Posted: August 13th, 2014

The Erie Otters have signed seven prospects from the 2013 and 2014 OHL draft classes…

2014 draft class
G Jake Lawr (2nd round)
F Shaun Bily (3rd round)
F Kyle Maksimovich (3rd round)

2013 draft class
F Trent Fox (5th round)
F Patrick Fellows (7th round)
D T.J. Fergus (8th round)
F Frank Pucci (12th round)