Five players to watch in the OHL
By Mackenzie Liddell, Contributing Editor
Toronto, Canada (Sports Network) - The Ontario Hockey League is officially in full swing, and with a weekend's worth of action in the books, here are five players who should continue to light up the score sheet - or keep it clean, in one case - throughout the season.
GABRIEL LANDESKOG (RW) Kitchener Rangers
With 50-goal-scorer Jeff Skinner still making a case for himself at Carolina Hurricanes training camp, and Jeremy Morin, who scored 47 goals last season, doing the same in Chicago, the Rangers are in desperate need of an offensive savior.
Welcome Mr. Landeskog, a 6-1, 207-pound Swedish sensation.
The 17-year-old had an impressive rookie campaign last year, scoring 24 goals and 46 points while helping the Rangers reach the Western Conference final with 23 points in 20 playoff games.
After scoring a hat trick in his season debut Thursday, it looks like Landeskog picked up where he left off in the spring.
International Scouting Service ranks him as the 11th best draft-eligible prospect for 2011, and his stock could rise quickly if the early-season success is any indication of his goal-scoring ceiling.
MATT PUEMPEL (LW) Peterborough Petes
Puempel is another draft-eligible prospect (he's currently ranked No. 12) who should create huge waves in his sophomore season.
He captured the Emms Family Award as the OHL's top rookie last season, after scoring an impressive 33 goals as a 17-year-old.
Like Landeskog, Puempel also got off to a quick start this year, scoring three goals, and four points in his first two games.
With high-end offensive instincts and a solid frame (6-0, 190 pounds) to work with, Puempel should challenge for the goal-scoring crown this season and emerge as one of the best prospects for the draft in June.
DANIEL CATENACCI (C) Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Catenacci arrived last season with big expectations after being selected first overall in the OHL Priority Selection.
But unlike previous No. 1 selections, Catenacci didn't make an immediate impact on the roster, finishing his rookie campaign with 10 goals and 30 points.
After losing top scorer Jacob Muzzin and all-star goaltender Robin Lehner to the pros, the Soo will need Catenacci to take a big leap forward in his sophomore season.
The slick forward has certainly taken to the challenge thus far, notching five points while helping the Greyhounds win their first two games.
Although he doesn't have the size of Landeskog or Puempel, his skill level is on the same plane, and his success should be right there with the former two come the end of the season.
ALEX GALCHENYUK (C) Sarnia Sting
Following the path of Catenacci is this year's No. 1 OHL draft pick Alex Galchenyuk.
The American-born, Russian-raised phenom will play a huge role in bringing the last place Sting back to respectability this season.
Galchenyuk came over to play for the Chicago Young Americans of the Midwest Elite League last year and tore up the competition to the tune of 44 goals and 87 points in 38 games, good for the league lead and 33 points superior to his next closest challenger.
He has flashed that same dynamic offensive presence in the early stages of his junior career as well, scoring a goal in each of the Sting's first two games.
While it's too early to tell how Galchenyuk will hold up over the course of the season, he certainly has the potential to follow in the footsteps of a former Sting player taken first overall - a kid by the name of Steve Stamkos.
IGOR BOBKOV (G) London Knights
Even though Bobkov hasn't stepped onto OHL ice this season, his impact in the league should be as large and menacing as his 6-6, 240-pound frame.
The mountainous Russian netminder is currently attending NHL training camp with the Anaheim Ducks, but is likely to be returned to the Knights after the International Ice Hockey Federation approved his transfer last week.
His size and athleticism should fit well in the fast-paced OHL, while playing behind a formidable Knights' defense should help his transition to the North American game.
Upon his arrival in London, it will be easy to keep an eye on this can't-miss (literally) Russian prospect.
09/27 12:17:55 ET