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Monday, June 18, 2018

TOP 10 O.H.L. Draft Prospects

Every year Brock Otten who runs a great prospects site does a media/scout O.H.L. Top 10 poll, and I am happy to participate whenever time permits.   DISCLAIMER:  Trust me, I'm not a scout , and as a play by play broadcaster I am looking at the game from a different lens than those guys do.  They are the professionals who look for the tangibles and intangibles and their depth of research is beyond reproach.   Sure, I see a lot of players year to year, but I look at factors such as statistics, prior rankings and whatever I see with the naked eye.  For better of for worse , here are my Top 10 O.H.L. prospects, as submitted to Brock, who collated all of the responses to average out the prospects for a final ranking.   

Brock, by the way runs a great website here :OHL Prospects and his Twitter handle is @BrockOtten


1. Andrei Svechnikov-   I still think that he is going to have the most successful NHL career, and that is saying something given that Rasmus Dahlin is in the draft.   He's big, aggressive, plays on the edge, has terrific instincts on the ice, a heavy shot and a quick release.  Plus, you are drawn to him whenever he is on the ice.  He's that talented.    He'll score over 30 in his first year and would not surprise me if he hits 40. 
2. Evan Bouchard-    One of the biggest risers and the beneficiary of Dale Hunter selling at the deadline because he , along with Alex Formenton became the focal point for London.  He played major minutes, did not miss a beat and if not for Nic Hague pounding over 30 goals wins CHL D man of the year.  Thrived with the max minutes and it showed as scouts rocketed him up the draft 

3. Barrett Hayton- it says something when you standout amidst a stacked team like Sault Ste Marie .    He does everything well, and showed that he could thrive in pressure situations. 

4. Ryan Merkley- Based on talent alone, Merkely moves up on my list from mid-season.  We know the issues with discipline, and the defensive lapses, but I am counting on NHL teams putting him through the grinder when it comes to questions of character.    He's a smaller, dynamic puck moving D man who can QB your power play.  They do not grow on trees.   If he keeps his head on straight, he's worth the investment 

5. Akil Thomas-  Ever try to learn a new position on the fly , and have that new position be centre?   That's what Akil Thomas did with Niagara this year, and he did well.  He held his own in terms of face offs, and became more of a play maker (57 assists) than a goal scorer (24 goals).  He elevated his game in the post season, and meshed well with Pittsburgh FA signing Sam Miletic.  He is on the smaller side, but was fine with playing the physical game.   The skill set and speed is certainly there.  Had one NHL Player Personnel person tell me he has 100 point potential. 

6. Serron Noel-    Noel did not have a great playoff versus Niagara, as he was not able to use his size and strength and took a lot of penalties , though some of those calls were curious to say the least.    The thing is that he is a 6'5 winger with a long , and fluid stride who put up close to 30 goals and is expected to play an even bigger role with Oshawa next year.  

7. Ryan MacLeod-   a similar type player to Akil Thomas, but did not have as good of a year, but then again Mississauga as a team under performed, based on the talent that they have .   MacLeod is a dynamic skater and sees the whole ice well and a deft finisher.  He will be either a centre piece trade acquisition for someone, or will be the leader and likely captain in Mississauga.  He just looks like he has a pro game already.   

8. Rasmus Sandin-     Smooth skating European D man?  Yes please!   Sandin is such a treat to watch.  He has great vision, sees the ice well, can lead a rush, jump into a rush and play his position.  He also adapted very quickly to playing  CHL hockey and stepped into an excellent Sault Ste Marie team seamlessly.      

9. Ty Dellandrea-   Sometimes you have a guy who steps into a great team effortlessly and not look out of place and then you have a guy like Dellandrea was the best player on a rebuilding Flint team that missed the playoffs.  To me the measure of a player is how he plays in adversity and Flint had plenty of it last year.   He's a highly skilled player who likely hits 80 points on a better team.  Plus, he's a top 3 OHL draft pick who lived up to the pressure. 

10. Kevin Bahl- Likely not top 10 talent wise, but I've got a soft spot for Bahl because he's a big , physical, throwback type D man.  He stands 6'6 over 220 lbs and you notice him on the ice with his size and strength.  He will hardily dazzle you with his scoring but his reach and defensive play was very good on a very young and talented Ottawa 67's team that will be among the leagues better teams next year.  Expect Bahl to play a large role with them. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Golden Age of Sports?

After a two year absences, it's good be back writing.  I used to maintain this blog quite regularly, engaging in my passions such as broadcasting, hockey and other stuff that popped into my head.  Then I stopped and lost interest in writing.  I found that when I revisited this blog that I found that writing for me was an outlet and it was cathartic, and I enjoyed doing it. How long Thoughts From The Broadcast Booth Version 2 will last is yet to be determined, but I'm happy to back writing again!   If a topic is worth tackling, I'm happy to do it! There might be some longer reads, or more bullet point versions such as this one.  Most will be sports, or sports entertainment (yep, I like wrestling), and some not.  There will be updates on my own broadcasting adventures, and journey and content on the leagues I cover like the OHL and OUA Football.  Expect anything! So here we go.... 

Media, including sports media,  has taken quite the hit recently.  Technology has made positions redundant or shifted the means of production.  Subscription based models have scrambled to either offer a digital subscription to satiate those who are cord cutters, or have had to accept that revenue derived from a subscription based model just is not going to be as lucrative as it was before when you could count on those signing up bolstering your bottom line.  Ad revenue has shrunk as traditional models are not working for companies and they choose to shift their ad dollars to social media platforms such as Facebook or engines such as Google.    

Through all of this sports, and professional leagues remain vibrant as they seek to increase their revenue streams, build stadiums and arenas, engage in start up leagues or add expansion teams which come with a hefty price tag with the spoils being divided among other franchises.  Sports is Teflon, when compared to other forms of media.  Its live and immediate and much more tougher consume when recorded or on demand, and the content it provides fills airwaves.  

Here in Canada, a new soccer league called the CPL plans to launch in 2019, armed with solid franchises, with stable ownership , probably a relatively lucrative broadcasting deal and an economic model they insist will work.  And you know what?  It probably will work.  Attempts to start professional leagues in soccer have never really taken flight.   This one has fulfilled the promise of being patient with its start up and not rushing things.    That allows the league to pick cities and franchises and give them the time to develop the infrastructure, marketing and revenue streams needed for success.  The CPL will launch with eight franchises , mainly in leagues where there is a CFL presence, and come with CFL ownership.   As long as the seasons do not stretch the consumer dollar, the cross marketing possibilities are endless.    The league fills a void and piggy backs on a game that is played widely in Canada. 

The CFL will add a 10th team it seems in the near future and finally be a true Canadian league from coast to coast.  The move to have the East Coast as a viable entity in the CFL seems to finally come to fruition with a sensible plan, backed by sensible ownership and the stadium.    There seems to be something of a revival in Toronto and Hamilton , cornerstones of the league. New venues that are fan friendly, a Grey Cup win for Toronto , and the star power of Johnny Manziel to Hamilton have led the renaissance.  The CFL has done a crafty job of staying in the public eye in the off season by promoting their draft more, and introducing CFL week in the middle of the off season to sustain fan interest. 

There is even a new Canadian based basketball league coming.    Even the NBCL lurches from season to season with more lives than a cat, this new league billed as the CEBL (Canadian Elite Basketball League) fills that they can fill a void that the NBLC has not filled.     That league, headed up by former CFL star and Hamiltonian Mike Morreale will launch likely with six teams next year.  Franchises are confirmed in Hamilton, Guelph, Niagara , Saskatchewan and BC, with more to come.   

Meanwhile, in the NHL while Quebec remains the girl dressed up for prom with no date, Seattle has muscled their way into the league and looks certain to be the 32nd franchise.  Quebec did everything right.  They had solid ownership, a beautiful, modern arena, and a passionate hockey market.   It's biggest problem is that it's Quebec City, a city with limited ancillary revenues streams and a smaller population.  Seattle gives Gary Bettman a coveted spot on the west coast, a large potential audience to draw from and ready made rivalries with Vancouver and the California based teams.   Building on the wildly successful venture into Las Vegas in which the arena has been full, the fan base passionate and the branding has been outstanding , Seattle hopes for much of the same.   Though, a Stanley Cup Final appearance might be too much to ask.   

Leagues are growing. Content for sports media and broadcasting is growing.  There are more options than ever for fans discretionary income.  Will these new franchises, leagues sustain themselves?  Or will we writing about their demise ?  Only time will tell. 

Steve Clark