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USING NUMBERS TO LOOK AT THE NHL'S FUTURE STARS
The Erie Otters were hosting the Soo Greyhounds on Tuesday night looking to grab a commanding 3-1 series lead before heading back to the Soo for Game 5.
Both teams are stacked from top-to-bottom and loaded with NHL prospects, but I decided to stick with draft eligibles in this one.
For Erie I tracked Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome, while I did the same for Blake Speers and Zach Senyshyn off SSM.
Score: 7-5 Erie.
Dylan Strome and Connor McDavid are arguably the two best players in the OHL, and they are quite capable of playing at either of the rink. I think the zone starts reflect that, as Erie didn’t seem too adamant about starting them in offensive situations.
Zach Senyshyn and Blake Speers are both very good players who play primarily in Soo’s bottom-6 because their absurdly balanced and talented lines. Head coach Sheldon Keefe has skilled players on all four lines, so I don’t think he was overly concerned with matchups besides getting Darnell Nurse out against McDavid.
Storm showed the ability to gain the line with possession, however, he wasn’t the go-to-guy on his line in that regard, as 2016 eligible Alex DeBrincat seemed to carry that load.
McDavid was dominant through the neutral zone. He possesses elite speed and high-end acceleration, which forced Soo’s defense to back off and respect him. That shows in the results.
Senyshyn is a real good skater who also showed the ability to safely carry the puck into the offensive zone. He didn’t play a ton – though he did take a few shifts with Nick Ritchie on the top line – but did well in his small sample.
Speers didn’t play a ton and started 50% of his shifts in the offensive zone, so he didn’t have many carry-in opportunities. He made the most of what he did have, though.
Strome was on the ice for five shot attempts against on his first shift and he never really recovered. He blocked some shots defensively and did a good job of limiting the chances Erie allowed when he was on the ice, however, it still wasn’t a good even-strength performance. He helped make up for that with strong special teams play, as he scored a goal and tallied an assist on the man advantage.
McDavid didn’t have a great game in terms of possession, but he spent most of his time playing against a) Nick Ritchie’s line and; b) Darnell Nurse’s defense pairing. Those are tough matchups for anyone, and McDavid still came out almost even in possession while dominating through the neutral zone and recording four assists — including a beauty to Alex DeBrincat.
Senyshyn started just two of nine shifts in the offensive zone, and still did exceptionally well in possession. He showed why he’s rising up a lot of draft boards.
Speers had a really good game. He didn’t get on the scoresheet, but he created several chances throughout, and SSM carried play when he was no the ice.
If you use or share this data, please cite this blog as the resource. Thanks!