2020-2021 OHL Season Preview: North Bay Battalion

This article may come a little earlier than people expected. I said Wednesday last week, but I couldn’t wait to talk about maybe one of the fastest rebuilds in OHL history. The North Bay Battalion are on a course never seen before. This article will examine how the team looks going forward and what it did to become a realistic threat in the OHL’s Eastern Conference.

Management Shake Up

Luke Durda/OHL Images

On December 10, 2019 the North Bay Battalion had a major shake up in the front office Stan Butler was reassigned to special advisor to the owner and Adam Dennis took over the rains as general manager while Ryan Oulahen stepped in and was named the interim head coach. Since that day both of been named permanent replacements in these positions and have had an extremely positive impact on the hockey club. The new head coach brought a spark to the way the team played as they pressured the opponents and never gave up while the new GM made his mark on the team by bringing in a player like Shane Bulitka who brought veteran leadership the team would rely on for the season’s remainder.

The team would finish last in the league, but were only four points out of a playoff spot when the league was shut down due to COVID-19.

The Leadership Team For 2020-2021

Terry Wilson/OHL Images

Let’s look ahead to the upcoming season shall we? the leadership team for the North Bay Battalion is becoming more experienced as it appears overager Luke Moncada will return as captain for the 2020-21 with possible alternates Brandon Coe, Mason Primeau and Mitchell Russell leading the charge for the youthful team. Also, the Battalion have a solid puck stopper in Joe Vrbetic who will bail the team out when they are in a rough patch this upcoming season, however, I think this projected leadership team, combined with the young blood the troops added, could do some damage in the OHL in 2020-2021.

New Blood Brought In To Troops Through Trades And Drafting

Tim Cornett/OHL Images

The North Bay Battalion had the first overall pick in the 2020 OHL priority selection with the pick the selected defensemen Ty Nelson of the Toronto junior Canadiens U16 AAA program. Ty Nelson represented Canada on the Youth Olympics games roster for Canada which shows how good of a defensemen Nelson could be at the OHL level. With their second-round pick the Battalion selected projected first-round pick Dalyn Wakely from the Quinton red Devils AAA program with their food selection in the priority selection the Battalion selected Tnias Mathurin from the Ajax Pickering Panthers under 16’s.

All of these prospects are signed to an education agreement which means the battalion have a bright future a defence and forward combined with the veterans returning the battalion could be a force to be reckoned with in the OHL for seasons to come. The Battalion have already made a significant trade this offseason as they acquired centre and winger Matvey Guskov from the London Knights who is the Minnesota Wild draft pick and will provide an offensive spark for the team in North Bay.

Building For The Future

Timo Savela/EliteProspects.com

The Battalion also have the first overall pick in the upcoming CHL import draft this is where they could add another piece to the puzzle by selecting Brad Lambert. If they don’t select Lambert, they can also add another strong European, but this would be a key piece to the puzzle in 2020-21 wherever the North Bay Battalion may be in the standings this season. I know lots of fans in North Bay will be cheering them on, including myself. Go Troops Go!

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