August 31, 2014

Introducing the 2014-15 Ottawa 67's

An important bounce-back 2014-15 campaign began in Leitrim during the final week of August, marking the start of the Jeff Brown era.  The team’s new regime put together a squad that should catapult the Barberpoles back into the playoffs. 

While Brown and general manager Pat Higgins stayed with a fairly similar forward corps to last season, the defence and goaltending positions became the most interesting as draft picks pushed to make two already-young positions even younger.

The 2014-15 Ottawa 67’s: 

Between the pipes:

G Liam Herbst
After a series of setbacks and adversity in his young career, the 67’s starting job is Herbst’s to lose this season.   

G Leo Lazarev
Herbst may be the starter this season but Lazarev is clearly the goaltender of the future as Ottawa has found the second coming of Petr Mrazek.

Lazarev has the ability to make amazing acrobatic saves, gets out to the top of his crease quickly and swallows pucks into his chest well.  His one downfall is lateral movement – not that it’s not fast enough, but that he finds himself out of position when moving left-to-right.  It’ll be an adjustment he needs to make before he starts full-time in the OHL.

G Connor Hughes
As great as Lazarev was at camp, Hughes stole the show, especially on the second day.  He’ll have to have a big pre-season as well to beat out one of the top two.

G Olivier Lafreniere
Lafreniere was a pleasant surprise for the 67’s at camp.  He’ll likely be sent to Junior ‘A’ before the regular season starts, but he’s done well to stick around for the time being.  The 16-year old squares up well to shooters and is excellent at playing the puck behind the net, but he needs another year to be fully OHL-ready.
On the blueline:

LHD Matthew Mercer
The 67’s sorely missed Michal Cajkovsky last season but they’ve finally found his replacement.  The 6’1 defender taken 100th overall in last year’s draft plays an identical game to “Big Mike” and was one of Ottawa’s more impressive d-men at camp.

RHD William Brown
Brown is the type of defender that you don’t always notice, but in a good way.  An extremely smooth skater, especially for a 16-year old.  Doesn’t play an overly physical game but is smart physically, similar game to Matt Niskanen of the Washington Capitals.  He’ll play a Travis Gibbons-type role with the 67’s one day, although one would think he’ll play sheltered minutes before getting sent to the CCHL this year.

LHD Jacob Middleton
Middleton was the best player on the ice for long stretches.  Threw a massive hit on Dylan McDonald that knocked his helmet off.   Going last in the NHL Draft lit a fire under him, he was a physical force.

RHD Troy Henley
Will sit the first two games of the season to suspension, but his progression from the first half of 2013-14 to the second half was exponential.  He’s poised to have a huge sophomore season.

LHD Alex Lintuniemi (was not on the ice at camp)
LHD Mike Vlajkov (was not on the ice at camp)
LHD Jonathan Duchesne
LHD Nevin Guy
RHD Taylor Davis

Up front:

LW Travis Barron
Perhaps it’s fitting that the 67’s traded Joseph Blandisi to Barrie and went on to collapse in the final month of the season, because the draft pick they received as a result of missing the playoffs landed them Blandisi’s replacement.

Barron plays an identical game to Ottawa’s top-line forward from last year.  Wasn’t as physical as fans may have been expecting but skates well and has amazing hands. 

C/RW Nathan Todd
It’s not every day you see an 18-year old selected in the fifth round of the OHL Draft, it was clear the 67’s saw something in Todd we didn’t, and it looks like they were right.  Todd was one of the best forwards at camp.  He’s physically dominant and a strong skater, very similar to the game Mark Petaccio played two years ago.

RW Artur Tyanulin
If you swapped the numbers 13 and 17 at training camp, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Tyanulin and Travis Konecny, they're that identical to one another. 

Tyanulin is the most talented import forward the 67's have had since Lukas Kaspar and Jakub Petruzalek joined the team at this time ten years ago.

LW Jeremiah Addison 
Acquired for Connor Brown and picks, Addison has the talent to play in the top-six but will be relied on physically.  He will open up the ice well for smaller skilled guys, perhaps on a line with Tyanulin and Konecny.

C Dylan McDonald
Impressed during the pre-season last year and didn’t look too out of place in call-ups to the OHL last year.  His skating improved over the summer, he’ll remind 67’s fans of Ryan Martindale.

RW Ben Fanjoy
Another local product with a little bit of experience with the Barberpoles is OHL-ready and could play in a third-line role this season.

RW Kevin Groulx
Has steadily become bigger and more physical.  He was hitting everything that moved at camp, the 67’s are hoping he has a bit more of that in him as Groulx tries to finally stick in the OHL for a full season.

LW Tyler Hill
Hill’s skating hasn’t taken the extra step some fans would have liked to see but he’s even bigger and his stickhandling has improved.  He was the most creative player on the ice throughout the entire camp, he’ll make opposing defences look silly this season.

LW Erik Bradford
Wasn’t taking part in games at camp but was working out on-ice with Shean Donavan between sessions.  His skating didn’t look hindered, if you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t have guessed that he had snapped his femur six months ago.

C Trevor Dulong
Connor Brown was tradeable mostly because Dulong can fill his spot right away.  Good skater who also plays a very physical game, he could be a perfect third-line center.

LW Brendan Bell (was not on ice during camp)
C Travis Konecny
C Dante Salituro
RW Sam Studnicka
LW Connor Graham
LW Andrew Abou-Assaly

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