The power in the OHL may be in the West, but the hottest team entering the Christmas break is in the East.
With eight straight wins, the Peterborough Petes have soared up the Eastern Conference standings and must be in a buying mentality come the trade deadline in January as they look to contend in the East.
While a lot of the attention around the OHL is focused on Western Conference powerhouses London, Windsor, Erie and Sault Ste. Marie and all of their star power, the Petes have flown under the radar with a collection of players who have chipped in consistently during their run.
Edmonton Oilers prospect Dylan Wells has been the best player as of late with a spectacular weekend in which he recorded a .945 save percentage over three games to earn CHL Goaltender of the Week honours.
He has been a steady presence in goal, as shown by his 903 saves and .920 save percentage this season, both of which rank second in the OHL.
The Petes are a defence-first team, but Florida Panthers prospect Jonathan Ang is involved in a three-way tie for the team lead in points with 31 over 32 games and is setting himself up for a strong fourth and likely final season in the OHL next year.
As well, Carolina Hurricanes draftee Steven Lorentz had 15 points over a nine-game point streak that was recently snapped while Logan DeNoble has quietly scored 20 goals, including two as part of a four-point game as Peterborough entered the break with a 5-2 win over the North Bay Battalion on Dec. 18.
Going forward, this run must have convinced general manager Mike Oke that the team is capable of contending for the conference title in the playoffs with a few more veteran pieces available before the trade deadline.
The Mississauga Steelheads are the only team in the East that are obvious buyers come Jan. 10.
While the Oshawa Generals lead the conference, they’re trying to hold off on any major trades as they’re building more towards their 2018 Memorial Cup bid. The same can be said for the Hamilton Bulldogs.
It’s been a long time since the Petes had a strong season. Since winning the 2006 OHL Championship, they have only advanced past the first round of the playoffs once.
Could it be time for them to package together some of their future draft picks and young talent for a star or two that can help them right away? We’ll see.
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