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 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.
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 email@example.com, and then check out a recap of the chat on Shootout and Twitter.