After losing a number of quality players, the Plymouth Whalers were expected to struggle this Ontario
Hockey League season.
And struggle they have. The Whalers sit in fourth place in the OHL’s Western Division at about the
one-third mark of the campaign.
However, there are some encouraging signs.
In goal, 18-year old Rob Zepp has been steady behind a largely inexperienced defense. The Atlanta
Thrashers draftee has a goals against average of 2.42 in 17 appearances.
First round draft pick Stephen Weiss leads the team in scoring with 25 points, and fellow rookie Tomas
Kurka has 18.
Weiss has speed and good puck sense. The puck seems to follow him around, and all things considered,
those 25 points are no fluke.He’s been named to Ontario’s Under-17 team at the World Hockey Challenge.
Kurka, from the Czech Republic, brings with him the reputation of a sniper. His 15 points are fifth on the
In between are second year wingers Justin Williams and Damien Surma, along with overage defenceman
A pleasant surprise has been the play of another Czech import. Defender Libor Urstrnul stands 6’5″ and
weighs 230 lbs., but has a fair amount of mobility, which is surprising for a big man. The soon-to-be
19-year-old also likes to mix it up, and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves.
Indeed, a Urstrnul fight is quite a sight. It starts with the fact that he DOES fight, a trait not often seen in
European players. Read more»
With CSB’s rankings out a few days early, instead of a forward-looking piece on this year’s OHL draft-prospects, I’m left instead to take a mostly backwards look at the early-season rankings of Central Scouting.
There are six players who look like a cut-above the rest of the pack. The Big Six consist of three forwards and three defencemen. The best of each are d-man Kurtis Foster of Peterborough and forward Raffi Torres of Brampton. Nobody seems to mention Torres when talking about the 2000 draft.
The only knock that could possibly be put on him is his size. He’s a notch below the
benchmark 6’0″, but at 5’11″ he’s a sturdy 193 pounds. Other than that the kid has
above-average skills in every facet, especially skating, and especially especially in
hockey sense. This kid is a player, the real deal. A lead-pipe cinch for the Prospects Game, and really should get
a look at Team Canada’s final evaluation camp prior to the WJC, he’s that good.
You can’t miss Foster, he’s a 6’4″ giant with good skating ability, puck-skills, and he’s
putting up good offensive numbers already. Everything the scouts like about a player, this kid has it. He may be the No. 1 prospect in the OHL. A notch below these two would be the Erie Otters forward tandem of Nikita Alexeev and Brad Boyes, and on the blue-line you have Windsor’s Dan Growden and North Bay’s Chris Eade who’s currently out because of an
Torres is now
quoted 14 pounds heavier than his OHL Media Guide weight of 193 lbs., and at 207 it Read more»
Player: Jeff Richards
Born: September 17, 1981
Hometown: Kenora, Ontario
Position: Left Wing
Weight: 175 lbs
When the Soo Greyhounds drafted centre Jeff Richards in the 7th
round (148th overall) of the 1999 OHL draft I don’t think they expected him
to have much of an impact on the team this season.
Well, after his first 16 games Richards is becoming one of the top
rookies in the OHL. After 16 games Richards has posted 4 goals and 14
points. That puts him in 6th in team scoring behind Josef Vasicek (28
points), Cory Pecker (25 points), Ryan Jardine (24 points), Chad Spurr (19
points) and rookie sensation Trevor Daley (19 points).
Many surprises have taken place a little over a month into the 1999-2000 OHL season.
There are the usual surprise teams that have made early surges into the top of their division
and there have been the teams that were predicted to be strong contenders that slipped to the
basement. But the biggest surprise that has taken place that has fans around the province taking
note is the production of the league’s rookies early in the season.
Usually, teams this early in the season tend to lean on their older, more experienced
players to get the team on the right track and to help the younger players adjust to the league.
This OHL season has been somewhat of an exception as the rookies have stepped up and have become
the players that team relies on in the late stages of a close game. In most cases, these players
have delivered. Derek Roy, the 16 year old rookie for the Kitchener Rangers, is currently leading
the league in rookie scoring and is also leading his team. This is common in the league, where
the leading scorer for the team is a rookie. It represents a strong future for the league and
many great players on the horizon.
General Manager Jamie MacDonald of the Kitchener Rangers has been a busy man in 1999, recently making a number of trades, and before that, striking gold at the draft table. This years edition of the Rangers has seen 13 rookies lace up the skates, 9 from the 1999 Priority Draft and 2 from the European Import Draft.
Despite the large number of rookies on the roster, the Rangers are playing 500 hockey, averaging about 4 goals a game, and are right in the thick of things in the competitive and tight Western Conference. This bodes well for the future as many of these rookies are getting tons of ice time and will surely benefit from it.
Steve Emiger was their first round pick, 4th overall. This 185 pound defenceman stands 6 feet and 2 inches and has played a regular shift, first line power play, and killed penalties. He just turned 16 on Halloween, and the only thing scary about him is how good he could be. Due to his late birthday, he will not be drafted until the 2002 NHL entry draft, and from what I’ve seen of him so far he is first round material. He has great offensive instincts and reminds me a little of Phil Housley.