Every year, the battle for the Memorial Cup is a delight full of wild twists and turns. After the deadline, the playoff picture and league favourites become much clearer. I’ve decided to rank the teams in each of the three leagues based on their chances of making it to the Memorial Cup. I’ve also put the teams into tiers to give a better perspective than only numerical rankings.
In the OHL this season, a few teams have gone all in while some have turned their attention to the race for Shane Wright. This OHL season has gone much differently than I originally thought. Niagara was one of my preseason favourites, but I never saw Ottawa or London being as good as they have been. I predicted Sault Ste. Marie would fall harder but they are clearly still in the championship hunt.
Keep in mind, this is a ranking for the likelihood of winning the OHL Championship. These rankings don’t necessarily reflect recent performance but rather the team in it’s entirety.
London Knights: 34-7-6 (Tier 1)
Who else but the London Knights? Junior hockey’s dominant dynasty are the league favourites once again. Icing what is likely the deepest team in the CHL, the Knights are vying for another OHL Championship. First in the OHL in PTS% despite Formenton, Bouchard, Hancock and Keane playing 50% or less of the Knights’ games this season.
Ottawa 67’s: 36-9-4 (Tier 1)
The 67’s are in the same tier as the Knights, but they are not quite as good. Having picked up two of the best OHL overagers in Lucas Chiodo and Kyle Maskimovich, the 67’s find themselves with a talented first place roster. The acquisition of G Michael DiPietro will go a long way in the playoffs.
Niagara IceDogs: 31-10-7 (Tier 1)
The IceDogs possess the most dangerous offense in Ontario. Led by the likes of Jason Robertson, Akil Thomas and Jack Studnicka, the IceDogs can score their way through the opposition. Will the scoring be enough to bring them postseason success? That remains to be seen, but Niagara is a stacked team through and through.
Saginaw Spirit: 30-14-4 (Tier 2)
The Saginaw Spirit, who could be called the Saginaw Steelheads after acquiring Owen Tippett and Ryan McLeod from Mississauga, have been excelling in the second half. The Spirit are showing they are amongst the league’s best, especially when the new additions are factored in.
Guelph Storm: 26-13-9 (Tier 2)
Realizing 2019 would be the end of the window, the Storm bought hard at the deadline, adding Entwistle, Suzuki, Phillips, Durzi and Gordeev. Although they haven’t performed up to par this season in terms of their overall record, these new additions will help them gun for a championship.
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds: 31-11-6 (Tier 2)
Nobody expected the Greyhounds to repeat last season’s performance. However, with Morgan Frost and Barrett Hayton still in the fold, the Greyhounds are still an elite hockey team. The Soo were quiet at the deadline, which is keeping them positioned in sixth place.
Oshawa Generals: 28-18-2 (Tier 2)
The Generals made some moves at the deadline, seemingly buying and selling simultaneously. The Generals have a solid roster that will be able to compete with the best. Anytime Kyle Keyser is in net, the Gens have a good chance to win.
Sudbury Wolves: 28-16-3 (Tier 2)
The Wolves have been surprisingly good this season. 2018 first overall pick Quinton Byfield has helped the franchise win games and ultimately get back on track. Although the Wolves are not quite as good as the teams ranked above, they have a chance to go far in the 2019 playoffs.
Peterborough Petes: 24-22-2 (Tier 3)
Based off Peterborough’s trades, it seems they are choosing next season as their year to go all in. Things have been slow for the Petes lately, but they are still a competitive hockey team capable of winning at least a round in the OHL playoffs.
North Bay Battalion: 23-23-3 (Tier 4)
Justin Brazeau is big-time player for the Battalion. Unfortunately, he is likely not enough to make North Bay true contenders in the playoffs. North Bay will make the playoffs and may surprise a team, but they lack the depth of teams above them.
Kitchener Rangers: 22-22-3 (Tier 4)
After making the third round of the playoffs last year, the Rangers lost most of their firepower. They will try their best to turn some heads in the playoffs, but it will be very difficult against a top western conference opponent.
Mississauga Steelheads: 22-20-6 (Tier 4)
The Steelheads have had ups and downs over the course of the season but ultimately decided to move on from core players Owen Tippett and Ryan McLeod. Even without those two, the Steelheads will be a playoff team, acquiring some quality players in various trades.
Hamilton Bulldogs: 23-23-4 (Tier 4)
After making it to the Memorial Cup last season, the Bulldogs do not have the same depth as last season. After trading Brandon Saigeon to Oshawa, Arthur Kaliyev is left to lead the Bulldogs’ offense in the future.
Barrie Colts: 20-25-2 (Tier 4)
Even with the addition of Jacob Tortora, Barrie could not kickstart their team this season. However, with only a -3 goal differential, the Colts are not as bad as their record indicates. Draft eligible F Ryan Suzuki and the Colts will need to sort themselves out by playoff time if they want to have a chance.
Sarnia Sting: 21-22-7 (Tier 4)
The high-scoring Sting are one of the top offensive teams in the OHL. However, their inability to keep the puck out of their own net has them ranked sixteenth in these power rankings. Forwards Jamieson Rees and Jacob Perreault are cornerstones for the future of the Sting.
Owen Sound Attack: 23-21-4 (Tier 4)
Although the Attack were not at all a bad team to start the season, they recognized their championship window had passed and decided to move on from their core. With Suzuki, Hancock, Durzi and Phillips moving on, the rebuild has started in Owen Sound.
Windsor Spitfires: 21-26-3 (Tier 4)
The Spits are a young team with a fantastic group of ‘01’s and ‘02’s. Jean-Luc Foudy is going to be an OHL superstar and Windsor fans should be excited. This team is going to be competitive as soon as next year.
Erie Otters: 19-26-2 (Tier 5)
The rebuilding Otters will get another big piece in the priority selection after drafting Jamie Drysdale last season. With a thin roster, Erie will be outside looking in come playoff time. Fortunately for them, the future looks bright.
Flint Firebirds: 9-38-2 (Tier 5)
Despite winning four of their last ten games, the Firebirds are still last in the standings. However, Flint is not nearly as bad as they were the first half of the season. In fact, I believe the future looks bright for Flint if they can make improvements in their goals against department.
Kingston Frontenacs: 12-36-1 (Tier 5)
Although Flint currently sits last in the standings, it’s Kingston who takes the cake as worst team in the OHL. With a non-existent offense, things have been tough for the Fronts lately. For them, the focus turns to the future, especially after they add a huge (perhaps exceptional) piece this offseason.