This week, I’ll break down all 20 OHL clubs division by division and unveil my predictions for the 2011-12 season. Today, let’s look at the Eastern Conference’s East Division (listed in alphabetical order):
Coach/GM: George Burnett
2010-11 finish: 21-43-0-4, 4th division, 8th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Mississauga 4-0 in conference quarterfinals
Key players: RW Luke Judson (28 goals, 28 assists, 56 points), C Brendan Gaunce (11-25-36), G Malcolm Subban (10-17-0-2 record, 3.16 goals-against average, .900 save percentage), D Stephen Silas (2-34-36; Colorado prospect), RW Austen Brassard (19-15-34; Winnipeg prospect)
Key losses: C Andy Bathgate (25-35-60; traded to Plymouth)
Outlook: Burnett continues to rebuild the inexperienced Bulls, which have 16 players that are 18 years old or younger. Those young players need to fill the void left by Bathgate, last year’s leading scorer.
Coach/GM: Todd Gill/Doug Gilmour
2010-11 finish: 29-30-4-5, 3rd division, 5th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Oshawa 4-1 in conference quarterfinals
Key players: C Ryan Spooner (35-46-81; signed with Boston), D Erik Gudbranson (12-22-34; signed with Florida), LW Tyler J. Brown (10-23-33), LW Conor Stokes (7-22-29; Boston prospect), G Igor Bobkov (4-10-0-0, 4.12, .874 with London; signed with Anaheim)
Key losses: C Nathan Moon (32-42-74), RW Michael Fine (20-34-54), D Taylor Doherty (14-39-53; signed with San Jose), C Ethan Werek (24-28-52; signed with N.Y. Rangers), LW Sean Jones (22-26-48; former Erie Otter)
Outlook: Gilmour replaces longtime GM Larry Mavety, while Gill replaces Gilmour as coach. Hopefully they don’t have to replace Spooner and Gudbranson, who already have signed NHL contracts.
Coach/GM: Chris DiPiero
2010-11 finish: 39-19-4-6, 2nd division, 4th conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Niagara 4-1 in conference semifinals
Key players: RW Christian Thomas (54-45-99; signed with N.Y. Rangers), LW Andy Andreoff (33-42-75; Los Angeles prospect), C Boone Jenner (25-41-66; Columbus prospect), RW Nicklas Jensen (29-29-58), LW Lucas Lessio (27-27-54; Phoenix prospect)
Key losses: D Calvin de Haan (6-42-48, plus-17; signed with N.Y. Islanders), D Tony DeHart (4-26-30)
Outlook: Thomas, who has 95 goals and 165 points the past two seasons, leads one of the league’s most potent offenses. But can the Generals stop anyone? They lost de Haan and DeHart off a mediocre defense.
Coach/GM: Chris Byrne
2010-11 finish: 44-19-3-2, 1st division, 2nd conference
Playoff finish: Lost to Sudbury 4-0 in conference quarterfinals
Key players: RW Tyler Toffoli (57-51-108; signed with Los Angeles), LW Shane Prince (25-63-88; Ottawa prospect), G Petr Mrazek (33-15-1-2, 2.84, .920, 4 shutouts; Detroit prospect), C Ryan Martindale (34-49-83; Edmonton prospect), D Marc Zanetti (7-30-27, +25)
Key losses: RW Thomas Nesbitt (32-33-65), C Cody Lindsay (27-27-54), D Travis Gibbons (6-31-37, +34)
Outlook: Byrne takes over as GM for the legendary Brian Kilrea, who capped a 37-year career with the 67’s last month. Byrne has a team skilled and experienced enough to challenge Niagara in the East.
Coach/GM: Mike Pelino/David Reid
2010-11 finish: 20-45-1-2, 5th division, 9th conference
Playoff finish: Did not qualify
Key players: LW Matt Puempel (34-35-69; Ottawa prospect), C Austin Watson (34-34-68; signed with Nashville), RW Lino Martschini (20-38-58), C Alan Quine (26-27-53; Detroit prospect), C Andrew Yogan (3-1-4 in 10 games with the Otters following shoulder surgery; N.Y. Rangers prospect)
Key losses: D Kalle Ekelund (8-35-43)
Outlook: Puempel returns at full strength after offseason hip surgery. The Petes have offense around him, especially if Yogan returns as an overager. But the league’s third-worst defense should struggle again.
- Victor Fernandes