OHL Monday Night Major: Here Come the Knights – Again!

Welcome back to yet another Monday and another week of the Monday Night Major.  It has been another busy week around the league as the teams adjust to missing players for the under 17 challenge and the Canada Russia series.

Let’s see what else is making news around the league.

Here Come the Knights

It seems like yesterday that we were wondering what exactly was wrong with the London Knights this season.  The Knights entered armed with high expectations but took four weeks to really get rolling.

We will never know what impact the Jordan Kooy situation had on the team but since his departure, the team has found a new gear.

The Knights find themselves back at the top of the Midwest Division and the goaltending situation seems to be resolved.

Dylan Myskiw has arrived via trade from the Sarnia Sting and has won all four of his games with the Knights. Myskiw has posted a 1.83 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage in those four games.  While we can’t expect the overage netminder to continue this pace, it certainly shows how good London can be with a high-level goaltender.

Connor McMichael continues his torrid pace of late as well and leads the league in scoring with 41 points in just 16 contests this year. The scouting staff of the Washington Capitals has to believe they may have stolen McMichael with the 25th pick in the 2019 Entry Draft.

Dylan Myskiw of the London Knights has been sensational since joining the team. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Of course, McMichael is not doing it alone either. Five other Knights players are now averaging a point per game or more with OHL newcomer Hunter Skinner falling just short of that on defence as well.

In fact, if Skinner were to be averaging a point per game, that would give London three defenders averaging a point per game which is truly impressive.  While it’s hard to believe that Skinner or Alex Regula can continue to contribute offensively to this degree, the defence has become a strength of this team.  I am not sure anyone would have considered that looking at this roster in September having lost Adam Boqvist.

Unfortunately for OHL fans, the Knights appear to be back on top. You can argue it is bad for the league to always have them near the top but there is no denying London continues to find a way to the top.  This season appears to be no different for the rest of the OHL.

FIVE IN THE BOX

Sahil Panwar

While the Knights continue to roll and receive credit for the success of their development, it may not be working out well for one of the team’s 2018 second-round selections.

Panwar had a reasonable first season in London with eight points in 26 games and was expected to take a step in his development this season. Unfortunately, that has not quite been the case as the second-year forward has yet to record a point in 15 games thus far.

Panwar was considered to be a first-round selection by a few teams in 2018, but slid to the second round where the Knights were able to grab him. It stands to reason for the player and team that it does not appear to be working out and he could use a change of scenery to capitalize on the immense potential of Panwar.

I personally hate to speculate when it comes to trading teenagers (they already go through enough) this could be a situation where a deal could work for both sides. Having said that, London could easily choose to keep Panwar and have him break out next year. Nothing would surprise me in this situation but what is clear is that Panwar has yet to capitalize on the talent he has to play the game.

Will Cuylle

Much was expected from the second-year forward this year after a 26 goal, 41 point rookie campaign.

The Spitfires paid a boatload for the talented goal scorer last year however Cuylle started slowly with just seven points in his first 13 games.  In that span, Cuylle had just a single goal as well.

Will Cuylle has been on fire the last two games with four points.

Cuylle appears to be turning that around with three goals in his last two games and was the league’s first star on Saturday, November 9th.

There is no telling if the pressure of his draft year has impacted his game thus far but Windsor definitely needs more out of their 6’3″ left winger than they have received so far.  It looks as though he could be breaking out which could be scary for the rest of the league given Windsor has been playing great hockey without significant contributions from Cuylle.

Matthew Philip

The overage native of Ilderton, Ontario is in his first year as a member of the Owen Sound Attack and is already halfway to his career-high of 16 goals.

Philip started his career in the OHL as a center but has transitioned to the wing in the later years and seems to have found a strong fit in the OHL’s smallest market.

Philip has excelled on the penalty kill this year and has two short-handed goals to his name.

Perhaps the biggest reason for his early success is that Philip is shooting the puck more, as he is finding the net at least one more time per game than he did in Niagara.

Philip also recently hit his 100th point in his OHL career is now averaging half a point per game throughout his 195 game career.  While those numbers are not staggering, Philip has certainly accomplished a lot for a ninth-round draft pick and is only one of two players taken in that round still playing in the OHL.

Marshall Frappier

Frappier has the odd distinction of being tied for the league lead in shutouts despite playing just six games for the Saginaw Spirit.

Frappier has surrendered just 2.14 goals-against per game this year to go along with a solid .910 save percentage but has struggled to receive ice time with second-year goalie Tristan Lennox receiving the majority of the starts despite a .879 save percentage.

One has to wonder how long Frappier will continue to only play once every three games if he can continue to post numbers as he has thus far.

Tyson Foerster

Foerster has given the Colts a significant offensive contribution this year and has already surpassed the 23 points he accumulated as a rookie over 64 games a year ago.

Foerster has 14 goals and 27 points in just 17 games with the majority of those coming over a 10 game point streak that saw him collect 18 points.

There are not a lot of pundits around the league that would have believed Foerster would have more points than NHL draft picks Matej Pekar and Ryan Suzuki on the Colts roster.

It was easy to see last season that Foerster had the potential to contribute a point-per-game in this league at some point but it would have been premature to think it was as early as this season.

Foerster is a big reason Barrie sits in second place in the Central Division and might be the most pleasant surprise in the league aside from Sean Josling’s play.

While I do not expect Foerster to finish in the top ten in scoring (he currently sits 9th), he certainly will gain significant attention as the 2020 NHL draft approaches with his strong play.

Erie Penalty Kill Big Reason for Turnaround

It’s no secret in the game of hockey a lot of wins and losses come as the result of the penalty kill.

Last season the Erie Otters missed the playoffs by just four points and a big reason may have been the penalty kill.

Erie last year was dead last in the league at 67.6% efficiency.  This year they have done something you do not see regularly in the league; they have become the best at it by killing off 87.7% of their shorthanded situations.

Of course, anyone in hockey will say goaltending is a key to the penalty kill and Daniel Murphy’s improved play certainly has to be a big part of the turnaround.

Some of that improvement can also be attributed to the Otters’ coaching staff as well, along with the natural development of the players as they also mature.

It stands to reason though that a big part of the turnaround in Erie is the fact that they are giving up .38 goals against while shorthanded compared to 1.01 a season ago.  If the Otters can continue at their current pace that would reduce their goals against by 44 this season; a huge number when you consider Erie sits in the middle of the pack in goals against.

If the Otters return to the postseason, they will likely be able to thank their penalty kill as one of the major reasons why.   It is amazing just how important this improvement could be for Erie.

Thanks again for reading the Monday Night Major. Until next week keep supporting the OHL and enjoy the game