2018-19 OHL Season:
The Hamilton Bulldogs had an underwhelming season following their OHL Championship in 2018.
Just one year after their banner season the Bulldogs posted a 29-34-5 record, clinching the eighth and final playoff spot in the east late in the season. However, a rebuild is clearly in the works after one season under head coach Dave Matsos. Despite 19-year-old Nick Donofrio expecting to take the net in the 2018-19 season, 2001-born goaltender Zachary Roy led the way all season between the pipes and shows no signs of slowing down. It seems that he will be the starter for the Bulldogs moving forward.
16-year-old Logan Morrison was fifth on the team in scoring with 14 goals and 34 points in 47 games played this season. Going into his second year in the Ontario Hockey League, expect him to take a leadership role with a young Bulldogs team.
The Bulldogs finished their season with only two of their three OA spots filled with Owen Burnell and Eric Henderson. Burnell was injured for the majority of the season, but Henderson made an impact in Hamilton after coming over from Oshawa at the trade deadline. They will both take their talent and dedication elsewhere heading into next season.
2019-2020 Overage Players:
The Bulldogs are heading into next season with seven overaging players in Isaac Nurse, Nick Donofrio, Zachary Jackson, Liam Stevens, Conor Ali, Kade Landry, and Josh Wainman. With the league leaving only three spots for overaging players per team, the Bulldogs have to weigh out their options on who to keep and who to move on from.
Isaac Nurse is a hard-working offensive and physical presence on the ice. He has value on the front end, but may be a good idea to hang on to until the trade deadline in order to allow him to gain some more value for a better trade.
Kade Landry is coming off a career-high 51 points, adding value to him as a player on the back end.
Coming off a rough season, Nick Donofrio has little trade value but the Bulldogs have no reason to keep him. Zachary Roy has seemed to find his place in the net and is no longer in need of an older mentor, and 2002-born goaltender Marco Costantini had an impressive season with the Bulldogs Junior B affiliate.
Josh Wainman is a strong defensive-defenseman. He finished the season only -1 playing for a weak Bulldogs team who gets scored on a lot per game. He could be a good option to hang on to as a mentor for the younger players just entering the OHL; however, he has some value to be traded before next season kicks off.
Another option the Bulldogs have is to cut the players who had unimpressive seasons. Liam Stevens and Zachary Jackson put up a combined 20 points last year, leaving them both near the bottom of the team stats. Young talent could replace them on the roster to start working towards the full rebuild.
2019 NHL Draft:
The Bulldogs have three players on the final edition of the NHL Central Scouting Draft Rankings, most prominently Arthur Kaliyev. The 17-year-old potted 102 points in just his second season in the OHL, securing himself at 7th among North American skaters in the draft rankings as well as the top ranked OHL prospect.
18-year-old Navrin Mutter also appeared on the final draft rankings at 189th among North American skaters. Tag Bertuzzi was left off of the rankings this year due to injuries, but he is currently on the Limited Viewing list as one of the four players.