2018-2019 OHL Season: Although they were defeated in the opening round by the Sudbury Wolves in five games, the Mississauga Steelheads exceeded expectations by simply remaining competitive after the transactions and distractions that they had to combat during their regular season.
Two seasons ago, after rolling through the Eastern Conference playoffs, The Mississauga Steelheads found themselves fighting against the Erie Otters for OHL supremacy. While they might have lost to an Otters team with stars throughout the lineup such as Dylan Strome, Alex DeBrincat, Anthony Cirelli, and Warren Foegele in five games, the Steelheads were set up for the future with a fairly young core.
With Mikey and Ryan McLeod, Owen Tippett, Nic Hague, and Jacob Ingham all returning for the 2017-2018 season, all seemed well for the Steelheads, but after a rather disappointing regular season, they were eliminated by the Barrie Colts in the first round (for the second time in three years), thus changing the approach for the Steelheads’ future.
With Mikey McLeod and Hague making the transition to the pros, the Steelheads were still left with a few players from that OHL Finals-bound team (Ryan McLeod, Tippett, Ingham), Mississauga was in a rather uncomfortable position.
Steelheads General Manager and Head Coach James Richmond had two options: Either keep this core intact and try to compete for a trip to Halifax for the Memorial Cup or trade what’s left from the team in 2017 and rebuild for the future.
Richmond elected to go through with rebuilding for the future, trading Albert Micnhac, Owen Tippett, and Ryan McLeod to the Saginaw Spirit for future draft picks.
Following these trades, it seemed the Steelheads were destined for the bottom of the standings, however, due to the strong play of draft-eligible players like Thomas Harley and Keean Washkurak, and of OA’s like Alan Lyszscarcyk and Cole Carter, the Steelheads managed to defy all odds and finish fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Signed Players (23):
1999 – C.J. Clarke, Nick Isaacson, Nick McHugh
2000 – Nicholas Canade, Richard Whittaker
2001 – Cal Christner, Aidan Prueter, Cole Schwindt, Adam Varga, Keean Washkurak
2002 – Max Dodig, James Hardie, William Portokalis
2003 – Luca Del Bel Belluz
1999 – Liam Ham, Ryan Wells
2000 – Isaac Walker
2001 – Thomas Harley, Duncan Penman
2002 – Charlie Callaghan
2003 – Ethan Del Mastro
2000 – Jacob Ingham
2002 – Joe Ranger
2019 OHL Draft: Following a rather quick playoff run, the Steelheads were quite busy on Draft day, selecting a total of 14 players in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. The first two draft picks for Mississauga (Ethan Del Mastro and Luca Del Bel Belluz) have already signed with the Steelheads, and there may be a possibility that more signings from the 2019 draft class will come later in the summer.
1st Round (12thOverall): Ethan Del Mastro – D – Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)
3rd Round (51stOverall): Luca Del Bel Belluz – F – Toronto Red Wings (GTHL)
3rd Round (60thOverall): Chas Sharpe – D – North Central Predators (OMHA)
3rd Round (61stOverall): Joshua Reid – F – Pembroke Lumber Kings (HEO)
6th Round (114thOverall): Adam O’Marra – F – Oakville Rangers (OMHA)
7th Round (134thOverall): Drew Jeffers – D – Compuware U16 (HPHL)
7th Round (141stOverall): Justin DiLauro – G – Whitby Wildcats (OMHA)
9th Round (174thOverall): Riley Rosenthal – D – SFHA (Florida)
10th Round (194thOverall): Callum Chisholm – F – Richmond Hill Coyotes (OMHA)
11th Round (214thOverall): Tye Scott – D – Mississauga Rebels (GTHL)
12th Round (234thOverall): Ikki Kogawa – F – Toronto Nationals (GTHL)
13th Round (254thOverall): Sean Mateer – F – Markham Waxers (OMHA)
14th Round (274thOverall): Connor Driscoll – F – Toronto Nationals (GTHL)
15th Round (294thOverall): Wade Bolton – D – Central Ontario Wolves (OMHA)
Aged Out: Ryan Barbosa, Cole Carter, and Alan Lyszscarcyk were key components to the Steelheads’ success in 2018-2019.
Lyszczarcyk was dealt to the Steelheads from the Owen Sound Attack early into the 2018-2019 season, and took charge following the trade deadline, filling the void by leading the Steelheads in points with 71 points (35 goals, 36 assists) in only 54 games.
On the other hand, Cole Carter was the heart of a pesky Steelheads team, captaining the 5th place team. Playing next to Lyszczarcyk, Carter formed instant chemistry with his centreman on the top line, as he would also net 35 goals, ultimately finishing the season with 68 points.
Also graduating from the Steelheads was mainstay defensemen, Ryan Barbosa. In 61 games with the Trout, Barbosa amassed 18 points, while playing against the opponents top lines every night.
Overage Shuffle: Since the Ontario Hockey League only allows three overage players each season, there will be a lot of tough decisions for Richmond this off-season. Currently, the Steelheads have five players born in the ’99 birth year, C.J. Clarke, Nick Isaacson, Nick McHugh, Liam Ham, and Ryan Wells.
2019 NHL Draft: Come June, the Steelheads could very well have many players be selected in the NHL Draft. Thomas Harley was able to fill the void of 2018 CHL Defensemen of the Year Nic Hague and will most likely be a mid-to-late first-round pick.
Meanwhile, 2017 second-round pick Keean Washkurak was excellent down the stretch for Head Coach James Richmond, showcasing his abilities as a strong two-way centerman, so much so that his play caught the attention of Hockey Canada, earning a spot playing for Canada’s U18 team. The Waterloo native is a projected mid-round pick.
Also projected as a mid-round pick was Washkurak’s linemate, Cole Schwindt, who provided consistent secondary scoring for the Steelheads, tallying 49 points (19 goals, 30 assists), while playing in all 68 games. Standing at 6 foot 3 inches, Schwindt has the potential of being an NHL power forward and will look to fill out his frame to become a dominant OHL player.