April 28, 2016

Learning from the best; how the 67's can draw from unfavourable OHL Championship series

Any team in a retooling stage has to take a best of a bad situation mentality at times, and the 67's of today are no different.

As a nightmarish scenario plays out for fans of the Barberpoles -- their biggest modern day rival Niagara facing off against everyone's modern day rival London in the OHL Finals for the second time in four years -- the two squads offer a reminder that the not-so-playoff-hardened 67's may not be so far away.

Toughest test to date

With next-to-no playoff experience on the roster and injuries to both minute-logging Nevin Guy and rookie sensation Sasha Chmelevski, Ottawa is still the only team to win a game against Niagara in these playoffs.

Niagara has only lost once in regulation in their last 17 games, a game three, 4-2 loss to the 67's, who essentially played the latter half of the game with five d-men after Guy's injury.

Ottawa was clearly outclassed in the first round, but a different break in the extra frame of the fourth game could've totally changed the way the East played out.

Digging south of the border

Jeff Brown hinted recently in an interview with TSN 1200 that he would like to swing for the fences when it comes to drafting NCAA-bound players who drop in the draft, looking largely at the Knights and their courtship of Matthew Tkachuk.

Ottawa successfully lured Ivy League hopeful and local native Andrew Abou-Assaly when he was a highly-regarded prospect in 2012 but have largely changed their drafting style since Brown came aboard.

They did select American-born Trevor Peca, son of former 67 great Michael, in the 6th round this year.

Brown went on to suggest that they're trying to pluck an American defenceman currently in their system, and a lot of those connections would link to Steven Ruggiero from Providence College.

Ruggiero would almost certainly play top-four minutes right away, if not on the top pairing, if he left the NCAA to come to the Nation's Capital.

The 67's also have the OHL rights to Green Bay Gamblers blueliner Andrew Peeke, committed to Notre Dame for the upcoming season.

Counterproductive as it may be to the development of Canadian players, there will be 16 American players taking part in the 2016 OHL Finals, apparently it's the way to go in terms of stockpiling assets and building a contender.

Ottawa has the same big-city pull as London and are more than capable of taking the same route, whether or not they follow through with the American drafting approach in future years and pony up the money to help coax top-end Europeans is to be seen.

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