Off-season outlook: Kitchener Rangers

2018-2019 OHL Season: The Kitchener Rangers completed their campaign with a 34-30-3-1 record. A roster with plenty of experience returned, 2017-2018’s semifinal exit from the playoffs still fresh in their minds.

To start the year, Kitchener won four of their first five before having a mediocre season from that point on. Unable to string wins together, the Rangers battled for their fifth-place spot in the OHL Western Conference.

The trade deadline approached and ultimately it was quiet in Kitchener, except for the departure of forward Nick McHugh to the Mississauga Steelheads and the arrival of defenseman Joseph Rupoli from the Oshawa Generals. Queue the impressive run for five players and their team heading into the playoffs.

The Rangers former first rounder Greg Meireles finished the season with 97 points, just missing out on the century mark. The Rangers point leader for the year, Greg capped off his season with an impressive 20 game point streak.

Greg Meireles of the Kitchener Rangers Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images

Rangers import selection Rickard Hugg rejuvenated his game once he became captain. The Swedish born forward tallied 33 goals and 40 assists for a 73 point season.

Riley Damiani, the Dallas Stars prospect, tallied 30 goals and 55 helpers for 85 points, Riley will enter Dallas Stars training camp battling for a roster spot next season. Joesph Garreffa put up 32 goals and 55 assists, Garreffa finished second on the Rangers in total points for the season.

Jonathan Yantsis potted 50 goals for the 17th time in Rangers history and for the first time since ’09-’10 when Jeff Skinner reached the fifty goal plateau.

Stellar goaltending from Luke Richardson, the OHL veteran playing in his fourth season for Kitchener started 50 games this past season; he finished with 3 shutouts and a 28-19-2-1 record. Luke ended the regular season with 3.52 goals against average and a .890 save percentage which does not portray just how impressive he was for the Rangers.

Luke Richardson of the Kitchener Rangers Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images

After it was all said and done the playoff result was a first round exit for the third time in the last five seasons. The Guelph Storm took the first four games to complete the sweep and sent the Rangers home early. A disappointing finish as the Rangers seemed nonexistent against Guelph; Richardson had no chance against the high powered offense that the Storm had assembled at the trade deadline.

OHL Draft: Fresh off the early exit from the playoffs the OHL draft approached and the Kitchener Rangers had the 13th overall pick in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection draft.

Round 1; 13th overall – Francesco Pinelli (C), Toronto Red Wings

Round 2; 36th overall – Roman Schmidt (D), Don Mills Flyers

Round 4; 75th overall – Simon Motew (D), Chicago Mission 15’s

Round 4; 79th overall – Jesse Fishman (C), Mississauga Rebels

Round 4; 81st overall – Mitchell Martin (LW), Sudbury Wolves MMAAA

Round 6; 115th overall – Justin Wu (G), Mississauga Rebels

Round 7; 135th overall – Matthew Sop (LW), Kitchener Jr. Rangers

Round 8; 151st overall – Caden Brown (C), St. Louis Blues U16

Round 9; 175th overall – Carter Schade (D), Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 16U

Round 11; 215th overall – Brenden Anderson (C), Brantford 99ers

Round 13; 255th overall – Mark McIntosh (RW), Guelph Gryphons MMAAA

Round 14; 275th overall – Ryan Walker (F), Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 15’s

Round 15; 295th overall – Joseph Blackley (D)

The Rangers added two prospects that will likely play big roles for Kitchener in the future. Francesco Pinelli the Rangers first round selection is a dynamic two way forward who played for the Toronto Red Wings in the GTHL. Pinelli is a talented playmaker with impeccable vision and a skill set that should translate well in the OHL.

The second selection for the Rangers will be a big addition to Kitchener’s defensive group. Roman Schmidt the 6’5” two-way defender is a skilled puck-moving defenseman with a physical element that he utilizes often. A member of the Don Mills Flyers in the GTHL, Roman and the Flyers won the GTHL Championship going undefeated.  Schmidt tallied 18 goals and 53 assists during the 2018-2019 season.

Overage Shuffle: Two defensemen, Kyle Gentles and Cole Camerons will see their OHL careers come to an end. Cole Cameron has joined the University of Guelph.

NHL Draft: Four players will enter the 2019 NHL Entry draft as Rickard Hugg enters for the second time. Jonathan Yantsis, Michael Vukojevic, and Joseph Garreffa will all take part as well.