The 2016-17 regular season is just about wrapped up, and it’s become clear who should walk away from it with an armful of hardware. Two players might end up with two trophies apiece, and both are Otters. Here are my predictions.
Red Tilson Trophy, Most Outstanding Player - Alex DeBrincat, RW, Erie Otters
DeBrincat may have been snubbed by Team USA this year when he was left off the World Junior Championships roster, but he’ll get plenty of love from the OHL after becoming the first player in 40 years to score 50 goals for three consecutive seasons. He’s done this without Dylan Strome for much of the season, and his offence has propelled the Otters back to the top of the league standings.
Honourable Mention: Taylor Raddysh, RW, Erie Otters
Goaltender of the Year - Michael DiPietro, G, Windsor Spitfires
The gap between Windsor’s Michael DiPietro and Owen Sound’s Michael McNiven was thinner than a strand of hockey tape—both have six shutouts and are among the top three in both save percentage and goals-against. However, DiPietro is two years younger—so I tipped the scale in his favour. He’ll be examined closely by scouts during the playoffs.
Honourable Mention: Michael McNiven, G, Owen Sound Attack
Max Kaminski Trophy (Top Defender) - Darren Raddysh, D, Erie Otters
Darren Raddysh doesn’t just lead the league in points by a defenceman (68), but also in plus/minus (+59). It’s possible the OHL might give the award to someone younger with a higher NHL profile, but I expect Raddysh to finish his overage season with the award, as well as an OHL championship.
Honourable Mention: Conor Timmins, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Emms Family Award (Rookie of the Year) - Ryan Merkley, D, Guelph Storm
While most of the CHL’s best rookies were in the QMJHL and WHL this year, Ryan Merkley is no slouch as the OHL’s standout freshman. Merkley is a fast, creative defenceman with dangerous one-on-one moves. His 45 points (10 goals, 35 assists) are tops on a Guelph Storm team that struggled to produce consistent offence. If he gains some weight over the next year, he could become a top-tier prospect for the 2018 NHL draft.
Honourable Mention: Adam Ruzicka, C/RW, Sarnia Sting
Leo Lalonde Trophy (Top Overage Player of the Year) - Darren Raddysh
As a 21-year-old defender, Darren Raddysh is also the league’s best overage player. Perhaps the most surprising thing about Darren Raddysh is that he hasn’t been drafted by an NHL team. A deep playoff run and a Memorial Cup stage could change his fortunes, though.
Honourable Mention: Mathieu Henderson, D, Flint Firebirds
Matt Leyden Trophy (Coach of the Year) - Kris Knoblauch, Erie Otters
There are several tremendous coaches in this league, but Kris Knoblauch will likely repeat after keeping his Otters at the top of the league. His performance was recognized when he was named an assistant coach for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. The NHL could be in his future.
Honourable Mention: Rocky Thompson, Windsor Spitfires
Eddie Powers Trophy (Top Scorer) - Alex DeBrincat
The most telling thing about Alex DeBrincat’s league-leading 113 points is that the nearest comer has 17 fewer. Not a huge margin, but the OHL scoring race is usually more of a dogfight. This award will be one of many for DeBrincat, who should also get some hardware from the CHL when the season is through.
1) Top 5 Most Improved Draft-Eligible CHLers
2) John Dahlstrom Pulls Out All The Stops in Medicine Hat’s Final Days of the Season
3) Cobourg Cougars Prepare for RBC Cup after OJHL Elimination
4) Well-Traveled Junior Player Hoping To Conclude Career With Championship
5) The Modern Age of Minor Hockey