2019-2020 OHL Season Previews: Sudbury Wolves

Sudbury Wolves 
Last Season: 43-20-3-2 (2nd in Central Division)
Story of the Season: The Wolves trade-deadline acquisitions (Ruzicka and Demeo) turned this team into a contender heading into the postseason
Postseason: 4-4 (eliminated in the 2nd round of the OHL Playoffs to the Ottawa 67’s)
Leaving: C Adam Ruzicka (4th rd CGY ’17), LW Darian Pilon, RW Drake Pilon, LD Cole Candella, LW/D Ryan O’Bonsawin, LD Anthony Demeo
Key additions: C Landon McCallum, C Ethan Larmand, RW Chase Stillman, C Kosta Manikis, C Ryan Smith, C/RW Giordano Biondi, LD Andre Anania, C/LW Nicholas Degrazia, LD Nathan-Ribau
Overagers: LW Shane Bulitka, LW MacAuley Carson, LW/RW David Levin
Imports: G Frederik Dichow 18 (DEN), Kalle Loponen 18 (FIN)
The Wolves are Howling:

The future is here. After a miraculous turnaround from the season before, the Sudbury Wolves are contenders to win the OHL Cup for the upcoming season. The state of the team can be attributed to the acquisitions of Adam Ruzicka and Anthony Demeo, where the Wolves traded Drew Wawrow, a 2020 3rd round pick, a 2020 5th round pick, a 2021 2nd round pick (Erie’s), a 2021 3rd round pick (Missauga’s) and a 2021 3rd round pick. Basically, the Wolves are willing to sacrifice their draft capital to acquire players that will help them immediately.

Last season was a step forward for the Wolves. After selecting Quinton Byfield with their first overall pick, the team looked poised to make a deep run with goaltender Ukka-Pekka-Lukoonen and they lost in the second round to the Ottawa 67’s. With Lukoonen aging out and moving on to the Sabres organization, there are concerns surrounding Sudbury’s goaltending and who will fill the starter position. 

Sudbury finished in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, and with their younger players taking bigger roles this season, there’s a reason to expect improvement.

Shane Bulitka of the Sudbury Wolves. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Welcome to the Quinton Byfield Show:

Heading into the 2019-2020 season, most CHL scouts will be keeping their eyes on Quinton Byfield in his second OHL season. As a projected top-5 pick in the 2020 NHL draft, it’s expected that Byfield could potentially put up 35-40 goals to go along with 90-100 points this season. Byfield is comparable to John Tavares with his skillset as he excels with deflecting the puck and scoring rebound within 5 feet from the oppositions net. Expect Byfield’s name to come up a lot this upcoming season.

Quinton Byfield of the Sudbury Wolves. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Are they a serious contender?

Sudbury is a team with an elite star and considerable depth at the forward and defense position. This team will go as far as Mitchell Weeks or Jonathan Lemaire will take them (unless a trade to acquire a goaltender is made). This appears to be the year for Sudbury to try and win a championship, as it’s unexpected Byfield will be returning to the team next year. Don’t be surprised if a trade for a top-pairing defenseman or a starting goaltender is made at the trade deadline. So, the Wolves are a contender, but they aren’t a favourite to win the J. Ross Robertson Cup