OHL prospects earn high marks in coaches poll

By Al Alven

The Ontario Hockey League yesterday released the results of its annual coaches poll, a ranking of the circuit’s top performers by conference in a variety of categories. Not surprisingly, the Philadelphia Flyers were well represented.

Forwards Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Ben Eager –- currently ranked as the first, second and eighth-best Flyers prospects by Hockey’s Future respectively –- all made multiple appearances on the list.

Carter, 19, of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, was voted the Western Conference’s “smartest player” and finished second to Corey Perry of the London Knights in the “most dangerous in goal area” and “best stickhandler” categories.

The London, Ontario native was the Flyers’ first selection (11th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He currently leads the Greyhounds and ranks 28th in the OHL in scoring with 66 points (36 goals, 30 assists) in 56 games.

Richards, 19, of the Kitchener Rangers, was recognized as the West’s “top penalty killer.” He also finished second in voting to Martin St. Pierre of the Guelph Storm for “best playmaker,” third to Perry and Carter for “best stickhandler” and third to St. Pierre and Andre Deveaux of the Owen Sound Attack for “best on face-offs.”

The Kenora, Ontario native was the Flyers’ second selection (24th overall) of the 2004 draft. He presently leads the Rangers and ranks seventh in the OHL with 87 points (35 goals, 52 assists) in 57 games.

Eager, 20, of the Oshawa Generals, was chosen as the Eastern Conference’s “best body checker” and was listed third under “best skater” behind Kamil Kreps of the Brampton Battalion and Eric Himelfarb of the Kingston Frontenacs.

The Flyers acquired the rights to the Ottawa, Ontario native from the Phoenix Coyotes as part of the Mike Comrie/Sean Burke trade on February 10th. Eager was originally drafted by Phoenix with the 23rd overall pick of the 2002 draft. He ranks fourth on the Generals with 50 points (24 goals, 26 assists) in 60 games, and leads the team with 200 PIMs.

2003-04 OHL Coaches Poll

Below is a complete listing of this year’s coaches poll, broken down by conference.

Coaches voted for each category within their conference and were not permitted to vote for players on their team. Players received five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote and one point for a third place vote. Players could receive a maximum of 45 voting points.

Voting points are listed in parenthesis.

Western Conference

Most Underrated Player
1. Matt Ryan, Guelph Storm (32)
2. Danny Syvret, London Knights (23)
3. John Vigilante, Plymouth Whalers (11)

Most Improved Player
1. David Bolland, London Knights (40)
2. John Mitchell, Plymouth Whalers (16)
3. Tyler Kennedy, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (13)

Smartest Player
1. Jeff Carter, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (26)
2. Corey Perry, London Knights (21)
3. James Wisniewski, Plymouth Whalers (15)

Hardest Worker
1. Dan Paille, Guelph Storm (33)
2. Brandon Prust, London Knights (31)
3. Adam Keefe, Kitchener Rangers (9)

Best Playmaker
1. Martin St. Pierre, Guelph Storm (34)
2. Mike Richards, Kitchener Rangers (20)
3. Rob Hisey, Erie Otters (17)

Most Dangerous in Goal Area
1. Corey Perry, London Knights (36)
2. Jeff Carter, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (16)
3. Martin St. Pierre, Guelph Storm (13)

Best Skater
1. Dan Fritsche, Sarnia Sting (28)
2. Rob Hisey, Erie Otters (16)
3. Matt Ryan, Guelph Storm (13) / Scott Dobben, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (13)

Best Shot
1. James Wisniewski, Plymouth Whalers (33)
2. Robbie Schremp, London Knights (18)
3. John Hecimovic, Sarnia Sting (12)

Hardest Shot
1. John Hecimovic, Sarnia Sting (39)
2. Robbie Schremp, London Knights (14)
3. Kevin Klein, Guelph Storm (13)

Best Stickhandler
1. Corey Perry, London Knights (29)
2. Jeff Carter, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (20)
3. Mike Richards, Kitchener Rangers (16)

Best on Face-offs
1. Martin St. Pierre, Guelph Storm (24)
2. Andre Deveaux, Owen Sound Attack (21)
3. Mike Richards, Kitchener Rangers (18)

Best Bodychecker
1. Dan Paille, Guelph Storm (37)
2. Brandon Prust, London Knights (22)
3. Adam Keefe, Kitchener Rangers (10)

Best Defensive Forward
1. Dan Paille, Guelph Storm (27)
2. Craig Kennedy, Windsor Spitfires (13)
3. Jeff MacDermid, Owen Sound Attack (12)

Best Penalty Killer
1. Mike Richards, Kitchener Rangers (26)
2. Dan Paille, Guelph Storm (22)
3. Craig Kennedy, Windsor Spitfires (20)

Best Offensive Defenceman
1. James Wisniewski, Plymouth Whalers (29)
2. Dennis Wideman, London Knights (26)
3. Andre Benoit, Kitchener Rangers (24)

Best Defensive Defenceman
1. Kevin Klein, Guelph Storm (23)
2. Chris Campoli, Erie Otters (21)
3. David Liffiton, Plymouth Whalers (19)

Eastern Conference

Most Under-Rated Player
1. Cory Vitarelli, Toronto St. Michael’s Majors (14)
2. Pierre Mitsou, Ottawa 67’s (13)
2. Rafal Martynowski, Sudbury Wolves (13)

Most Improved Player
1. Tyler Harrison, Brampton Battalion (22)
2. Zach Stortini, Sudbury Wolves (14)
3. Dan Turple, Oshawa Generals (13)

Smartest Player
1. Corey Locke, Ottawa 67’s (39)
2. Tim Brent, Toronto St. Michael’s Majors (33)
3. Bryan Little, Barrie Colts (8)

Hardest Worker
1. B.J. Crombeen, Barrie Colts (25)
2. Patrick Kaleta, Peterborough Petes (14)
2. Zach Stortini, Sudbury Wolves (14)

Best Playmaker
1. Corey Locke, Ottawa 67’s (37)
2. Tim Brent, Toronto St. Michael’s Majors (23)
3. Kamil Kreps, Brampton Battalion (9)

Most Dangerous in the Goal Area
1. Patrick O’Sullivan, Mississauga IceDogs (37)
2. Corey Locke, Ottawa 67’s (33)
3. Eric Himelfarb, Kingston Frontenacs (9)

Best Skater
1. Kamil Kreps, Brampton Battalion (30)
2. Eric Himelfarb, Kingston Frontenacs (28)
3. Ben Eager, Oshawa Generals (13)

Best Shot
1. Patrick O’Sullivan, Mississauga IceDogs (34)
2. Corey Locke, Ottawa 67’s (27)
3. Anthony Stewart, Kingston Frontenacs (13)

Hardest Shot
1. Anthony Stewart, Kingston Frontenacs (26)
2. Adam Henrich, Brampton Battalion (24)
3. Paul Ranger, Oshawa Generals (16)

Best Stickhandler
1. Patrick O’Sullivan, Mississauga IceDogs (39)
2. Corey Locke, Ottawa 67’s (21)
3. Wojtek Wolski, Brampton Battalion (12)

Best on Face-offs
1. Tim Brent, Toronto St. Michael’s Majors (31)
2. Tobias Whelan, Oshawa Generals (26)
3. Eric Himelfarb, Kingston Frontenacs (12)

Best Body Checker
1. Ben Eager, Oshawa Generals (22)
2. Patrick Kaleta, Peterborough Petes (16)
3. Andrew Brown, Belleville Bulls (14) / Zach Stortini, Sudbury Wolves (14)

Best Defensive Forward
1. Tobias Whelan, Oshawa Generals (27)
2. Nark Langton, Barrie Colts (19)
3. Ryan Rorabeck, Toronto St. Michael’s Majors (15)

Best Penalty Killer
1. Tim Brent, Toronto St. Michael’s Majors (33)
2. Jeremy Swanson, Barrie Colts (32)
3. Tobias Whelan, Oshawa Generals (11)

Best Offensive Defenceman
1. Bryan Rodney, Kingston Frontenacs (33)
2. Mark Flood, Peterborough Petes (20)
3. Paul Ranger, Oshawa Generals (18)

Best Defensive Defenceman
1. Jeremy Swanson, Barrie Colts (40)
2. Ryan Stokes, Mississauga IceDogs (13)
3. Will Colbert, Ottawa 67’s (11)