Minor League Hockey

OHL Roundup: NHL-ready prospects take the next step

By Mackenzie Liddell, Contributing Editor

Toronto, Canada (Sports Network) - A look at some storylines from around the Ontario Hockey League:


NHL teams have nine games to evaluate recent draft picks before their entry- level contracts kick in by the 10th game.

Although it's no surprise that Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin -- the top-two picks in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft -- are ready for primetime, the graduation of Jeff Skinner, Alexander Burmistrov and Cam Fowler comes as a bit of a surprise.

Skinner, the seventh overall pick in 2010, has adapted quickly to the rigors of the NHL and has found a steady job on the Carolina Hurricanes playing close to 16 minutes a night.

He has amassed three goals and four assists in 10 games, including a highlight-reel marker against the New York Rangers last Friday.

After spending the start of his NHL career playing on the fourth line in Atlanta, Burmistrov has been given more responsibility recently playing in all situations. He currently has one goal and one assist in 11 games played.

Before breaking his nose Oct. 17, Fowler was playing superbly for the Anaheim Ducks. He was logging big minutes and showed tremendous poise and puck-moving prowess, while collecting a goal and two assists in six contests.

Although Windsor has managed to stay afloat after the loss of Hall and Fowler, Barrie and Plymouth have struggled without their stars, while Kitchener hasn't lived up to pre-season hype in Skinner's absence.


After an up-and-down start to the season, the Windsor Spitfires were flawless in Week 5 and finally received quality goaltending from Jack Campbell.

There was plenty of hype surrounding the American phenom -- taken 11th overall in the 2010 NHL draft -- coming over from the United States National Team Development Program (USNTD), and it finally looks like Campbell is finding his comfort zone in the OHL.

He started all three games for the Spits this week in consecutive nights and was a difference-maker in all of them, including a 36-save performance Friday against Erie.

Ryan Ellis led the charge offensively for Windsor, scoring once and adding three helpers in wins over Sault Ste. Marie, Erie and Niagara.


The Sarnia Sting finished the week 2-0-1 and crawled out of the West Division basement, in part due to the performance of Russian phenom Nail Yakupov.

Yakupov, the second player taken in this year's Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, is not only leading the OHL's Russian revolution, he is also taking charge in the scoring race.

The shifty 17-year-old ripped up opposing defenses this week with four goals and three assists and vaulted into the league lead with 27 points, one ahead of Attack forward Garrett Wilson, Niagara's Ryan Strome and Ottawa's Shane Price.

While many import players have had trouble adjusting to the rugged Canadian junior leagues in the past, Yakupov has managed admirably with a great hockey sense and top-end skill set.

Yakupov along with Kale Kerbashian, Tyler Peters and Alex Galchenyuk have turned last year's worst team into an exciting, competitive goal-scoring machine.


Owen Sound forward Joey Hishon was named the OHL Player of the Week for the period ending Oct. 24.

After returning from injury, the 17th player taken in the 2010 NHL draft paced the Attack with four goals and four assists in only two games played.

The Attack made other news when the CHL released its most recent top-10 rankings, placing fifth after sitting fourth a week prior.

Saginaw jumped from sixth to third while Mississauga fell two spots to fourth.

11/01 12:58:53 ET

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