Welcome one and all to my first column of 2020!
The World Junior tournament is now a thing of the past and we are just days away from the OHL trade deadline.
While it’s almost deadline time, we can’t get there without concluding our look at the first half! Without further adieu let’s get the awards complete.
Most Improved Since Last Season
Nico Daws gets the nod here with a slight edge over Tyson Foerster and Sean Josling.
As we previously discussed in the first part of the Halfy Awards, Daws has been spectacular for Guelph this season and has put himself on the NHL draft radar.
Foerster has 21 goals and 47 points for the Barrie Colts this season while Josling has 27 goals and 59 points for the Sting.
Kingston’s Zayde Wisdom and Hamilton’s Liam Van Loon also get honourable mentions but there is no doubting that the three above are the most improved trio across the league.
Most Likely To Be Dealt To A Contender
First, it should be noted that I hate talking about the prospect of teenage hockey players being dealt. Having said that, we would be ignoring the obvious topic around the league this week by not discussing this topic.
Fresh off of his golden goal at the World Junior championship, Akil Thomas leads the way in this category and with good reason.
Any team acquiring the Los Angeles Kings’ prospect is getting a 100 point player that is also very defensively sound as proven in the World Junior tournament. Add in the fact that he is now viewed as a clutch player after his winning goal, and it makes a ton of sense that Thomas leads the way.
There is no denying Niagara needs to replenish their team by dealing Thomas and that this trade is one that should likely bring back multiple players and high picks. Thomas could set the bar that much higher for trade deadlines of the future given the fact he could bring back a second player as well; something that rarely happens.
The runner-up here is Oshawa’s, Serron Noel.
With Oshawa thought to be all in for a Memorial Cup bid next season, moving the 19-year-old winger makes a lot of sense as the return will surely be significant.
Noel has underachieved in Oshawa this year with just 29 points in 28 games played but teams covet his size in addition to that offensive acumen.
Surprisingly nobody that was involved in the survey actually had Daws as a guy likely to be dealt. They are either convinced Guelph is all in again or just absolutely convinced that Thomas and Noel make more sense for their respective franchises.
Best Overage Player
For the only time in the survey, we had a tie as Ivan Lodnia and Noel Hoefenmayer each had the same number of votes.
Lodnia’s return has been nothing short of sensational for Niagara with 46 points in just 25 contests since his late assignment by the Minnesota Wild. Lodnia’s week this week includes a six-point outing against the North Bay Battalion in a game that possibly showcases the overager at the OHL’s trade deadline.
Noel Hoefenmayer is also having himself one heck of a season in Ottawa as he looks for a free agent contract.
The defenceman has 50 points in 35 outings for the 67’s and is a +34 this season. While he does not have to worry about being moved at the deadline, he is very easily one of the league’s top defencemen at both ends of the ice.
Sean Josling also had a respectable showing in this category but let’s be honest; it’s almost impossible to take anyone other than the two co-winners above.
Most Unheralded/Underappreciated Defenceman
This category actually shocks me quite a bit as Adrien Beraldo.
Beraldo was acquired for a 13th round pick in 2021 earlier this year from Kingston and has 14 points in 18 games played for the IceDogs.
Beraldo is well on the way to a career-high in points and is playing in all situations. It’s almost unbelievable that Kingston could not find ice time for him but this is also the second defenceman they have moved this year that is close to a point per game with his new team.
Erie’s Jack Duff also got considerable love here, finishing in second place.
I’ve always liked Duff myself as he plays a very simple game that is reliable for the coaching staff. While he has only posted 12 points in 38 games, his value extends far beyond any offence he potentially brings to the game.
There were not any other players that really finished high as the vote was either Duff, Beraldo or massively split across the markets.
One guy I thought would get a lot more credit than he has is Peterborough’s, Declan Chisholm.
Chisholm has 45 points in 38 games for the Petes and has finally put it all together this year and will easily surpass his 48 points from a year ago. It might be that the 48 points from last season are hurting him in this regard but it just seems like he does not get the attention he deserves playing in small-market Peterborough.
The Week Ahead
This week should be rather exciting for the OHL as the OA and trade deadline takes place on Thursday and Friday respectively.
We’ll have a full recap of what happens this week on the OHL Network and will also break it down further in next week’s Monday Night Major.
Regardless of what your team does this week, remember that they are doing it with the best intentions in mind for your favourite team. It hurts to see a star player move on but embrace the talent you are receiving in exchange as that player or players are the future of your team.
Until next week, enjoy the crazy week that will be deadline week!