Recapping the 2017-18 OHL Coaches Poll Winners

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Morgan Frost
LONDON, ON - SEPT 30: Morgan Frost #16 of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds skates with the puck against the London Knights during an OHL game on Sept 30, 2016 at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario, Canada. The Greyhounds defeated the Knights 3-2 in an overtime shoot-out. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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On Thursday, the Ontario Hockey League revealed the results of their annual Coaches Poll.

After 68 games of experience (well, almost), those behind the benches are asked about the players they instruct and prepare for each day. Who is the most under-rated player in the league? Which player was the most improved? And who would you turn to if the game came down to a shootout? The coaches picked from both the Eastern and Western conference, and while some results are widely expected, some could catch you by surprise.

Sometimes, the Coaches Poll also offers a bit of insight on players who are eligible for the upcoming NHL Draft. We’ll highlight those that appear throughout the poll, while offering a little input every so often.

Recapping the 2017/18 OHL Coaches Poll Winners

Most Underrated Player

Eastern Conference

  1. Justin Brazeau, North Bay Battalion (34 votes)
  2. Linus Nyman, Kingston Frontenacs (21)
  3. Brandon Saigeon, Hamilton Bulldogs (17)

Western Conference

  1. Aidan Dudas, Owen Sound Attack (25 – 2018 NHL Draft Eligible)
  2. Kyle Maksimovich, Erie Otters (20 – second last season)
  3. Franco Sproviero, Sarnia Sting (15)

Most Improved Player:

Eastern Conference

  1. Joey Keane, Barrie Colts (24)
  2. Jakob Brahaney, Kingston Frontenacs (18)
  3. Serron Noel (18 – 2018 NHL Draft Eligible)

Western Conference

  1. Liam Foudy, London Knights (36)
  2. Mac Hollowell, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (31)
  3. Connor Schlichting, Sabrina Sting (7)

Smartest Player

Eastern Confernece

  1. Robert Thomas, Hamilton Bulldogs (33)
  2. Jason Robertson, Kingston Frontenacs (26 – third last season)
  3. Aaron Luchuk, Barrie Colts (24)

Western Conference

  1. Morgan Frost, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (36)
  2. Jordan Kyrou, Sarnia Sting (27)
  3. Evan Bouchard, London Knights (16 – 2018 NHL Draft Eligible)

Our Thoughts: Brazeau was an early favourite of ours to have a big season this year and he’s follow through on that (39 goals, 75 points). Liam Foudy could win his award based on the last two months alone. Since mid-January he’s been on fire. Thomas (St. Louis Blues), Robertson (Dallas Stars), Frost (Philadelphia Flyers) and Kyrou (Blues) are all having outstanding seasons, but their NHL clubs have to be happy they’ve been identified for their smarts.

Hardest Worker

Eastern Conference

  1. Travis Barron, Ottawa 67’s (30)
  2. Brett Neumann, Kingston Frontenacs (14)
  3. Sam Miletic, Niagara IceDogs (13)

Western Conference

  1. Jonah Gadjovich, Owen Sound Attack (29 – third last year, T-2nd in 2015/16)
  2. Hayden Verbeek, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (27 – second last year, first in 2015/16)
  3. Cam Hillis, Guelph Storm (13 – 2018 NHL Draft Eligible)

Best Playmaker

Eastern Conference

  1. Gabriel Vilardi, Kingston Frontenacs (41)
  2. Robert Thomas, Hamilton Bulldogs (21)
  3. Sasha Chmelevski, Ottawa 67’s (10)

Western Conference

  1. Morgan Frost, SSM (35)
  2. Jordan Kyrou, Sarnia Sting (28)
  3. Nick Suzuki, Owen Sound Attack (14)

Most Dangerous in Goal Area

Eastern Conference

  1. Dmitry Sokolov, Barrie Colts (37 – third last season)
  2. Owen Tippett, Mississauga Steelheads (20 – first last season)
  3. Jason Robertson, Kingston Frontenacs (18 – second last season)

Western Conference

  1. Boris Katchouk, SSM (39)
  2. Adam Mascherin, Kitchener Rangers (28 – second last season)
  3. Jonah Gadjovich, Owen Sound Attack (11 – third last season)

Our Thoughts: Once those last six names we listed graduate, goalies will be breathing a little easier. Outside of Katchouk, all of them appeared on the poll in that category last year. It’s only taken Vilardi two months (Los Angeles) and 55 points in 30 games to take the top playmaker mantle.

Best Skater

Eastern Conference

  1. Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie Colts (37 – 2018 NHL Draft Eligible)
  2. Ryan Moore, Hamilton Bulldogs (17)
  3. Ryan McLeod, Mississauga Steelheads (16 – 2018 NHL Draft Eligible, third last season)

Western Conference 

  1. Alex Formenton, London Knights (34)
  2. Jordan Kyrou, Sarnia Sting (24 – third last year, T-3rd in 2015/16)
  3. Hayden Verbeek, SSM (12)

Best Shot

Eastern Conference 

  1. Owen Tippett, Mississauga Steelheads (39 – finished first last year)
  2. Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie Colts (16)
  3. Jason Robertson, Kingston Frontenacs (13)

Western Confernece

  1. Adam Mascherin, Kitchener Rangers (45 – finished second last year, first in 2015/16)
  2. Evan Bouchard, London Knights (17 – 2018 NHL Draft eligible)
  3. Nick Suzuki, Owen Sound Attack (17)

Hardest Shot

Eastern Conference

  1. Nicolas Hague, Mississauga Steelheads (45 – finished first last year)
  2. Eemeli Rasanen, Kingston Frontenacs (13)
  3. Nikita Korostelev, Peterborough Petes (11)

Western Conference

  1. Evan Bouchard, London Knights (37 – 2018 NHL Draft eligible)
  2. Adam Mascherin, Kitchener Rangers (33 – finished second last season, third in 2015/16)
  3. Taylor Raddysh, SSM (15)

Our Thoughts: Surprise, surprise Mascherin has one of the most-feared shots in the league. After back-to-back 35 goal seasons, he topped 40 for the first time this year. Panthers fans should be excited to see Tippett and Mascherin firing them off the wing. The way that Svechnikov has dominated the OHL this season, it’s no surprise he’s the East’s beset skater.

Best Stickhandler

Eastern Conference:
1. Gabriel Vilardi, Kingston Frontenacs (39)
2. Sasha Chmelevski, Ottawa 67’s (15)
3. Robert Thomas, Hamilton Bulldogs (10)

Western Conference:
1. Jordan Kyrou, Sarnia Sting (25 – finished second last season)
1. Morgan Frost, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (25)
3. Nick Suzuki, Owen Sound Attack (14)

Best on Face-Offs

Eastern Conference:
1. Michael McLeod, Mississauga Steelheads (31 – finished second last year)
2. Zach Gallant, Peterborough Petes (17 – finished first last year)
3. Aaron Luchuk, Barrie Colts (16)

Western Conference:
1. Drake Rymsha, Sarnia Sting (39 – finished third last year)
2. Kevin Hancock, Owen Sound Attack (19)
3. Connor Bunnaman, Kitchener Rangers (18)

Best Penalty Killer

Eastern Conference:
1. Tyler Burnie, Kingston Frontenacs (21)
1. Ben Jones, Niagara IceDogs (21)
3. Will Bitten, Hamilton Bulldogs (20)

Western Conference:
1. Boris Katchouk, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (20 – finished first last year)
2. Kevin Hancock, Owen Sound Attack (19)
3. Keaton Middleton, Saginaw Spirit (14)
3. Anthony Salinitri, Sarnia Sting (14)

Our Thoughts: A consistent scorer throughout his OHL career, Katchouk has earned this honour. After recently crossing the 200-point threshold, he may be one of the more well-rounded players heading towards the next level. Heading to a deep and competitive Tampa Bay organization, it’ll be interesting to see what his role is in the pro ranks.

Best Offensive Defenceman

Eastern Conference:
1. Nicolas Hague, Mississauga Steelheads (45)
2. Matthew Brassard, Oshawa Generals (12)
3. Adam Thilander, North Bay Battalion (10)

Western Conference:
1. Evan Bouchard, London Knights (45 – 2018 NHL Draft eligible)
2. Sean Durzi, Owen Sound Attack (18)
3. Cam Dineen, Sarnia Sting (13 – finished third in 2015/16)

Best Defensive Defenceman

Eastern Conference:
1. Joey Keane, Barrie Colts (17)
2. Jacob Moverare, Mississauga Steelheads (16 – finished third last year)
3. Riley Stillman, Hamilton Bulldogs (15)
3. Riley Bruce, North Bay Battalion (15)

Western Conference:
1. Conor Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (43)
2. Keaton Middleton, Saginaw Spirit (14)
3. Connor Hall, Kitchener Rangers (10)

Our Thoughts: There was some movement among defenceman at the trade deadline and for good reason. Dineen (Arizona) has been a known commodity for years despite falling off of last year’s rankings. Durzi meanwhile, has turned heads all year long. The Rangers and Greyhounds are breathing easier now that Hall (Pittsburgh) and Timmins (who signed with the Avalanche earlier in March) are back.

Best Puck-Handling Goalie

Eastern Conference:
1. Dylan Wells, Peterborough Petes (26 – tied for third last year)
2. Kyle Keyser, Oshawa Generals (21)
3. Kaden Fulcher, Hamilton Bulldogs (17)

Western Conference:
1. Michael DiPietro, Windsor Spitfires (23)
2. Matthew Villalta, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (22)
3. Justin Fazio, Sarnia Sting (21)

Best Shootout Goalie

Eastern Conference:
1. Jeremy Helvig, Kingston Frontenacs (31)
2. Kyle Keyser, Oshawa Generals (17)
3. Christian Propp, North Bay Battalion (12)

Western Conference:
1. Evan Cormier, Saginaw Spirit (23)
2. Justin Fazio, Sarnia Sting (22)
3. Michael DiPietro, Windsor Spitfires (20 – finished second last year)

Our Thoughts: Ok so maybe he’s not the best in shootouts, but DiPietro (Vancouver) showing up on both lists helps him stake his claim to the Best Goalie in the League mantle. Wells (Edmonton) has been a workhorse the last two years, so he’s had plenty of opportunities to show off his puck-handling.

Best Shootout Shooter

Eastern Conference:
1. Aaron Luchuk, Barrie Colts (19)
1. Adam Thilander, North Bay Battalion (19)
3. Jason Robertson, Kingston Frontenacs (16 – finished third last year)

Western Conference:
1. Isaac Ratcliffe, Guelph Storm (20)
2. Kole Sherwood, Kitchener Rangers (18)
3. Jonathan Ang, Sarnia Sting (14)

Best Body Checker

Eastern Conference:
1. Travis Barron, Ottawa 67’s (22 – finished second last season)
2. Ted Nichol, Kingston Frontenacs (13)
3. Tyler Tucker, Barrie Colts (11)

Western Conference:
1. Jacob Friend, OS (37 – finished first last season, T-2nd in 2015-16)
2. Michael Pezzetta, Sarnia Sting (14)
3. Keaton Middleton, Saginaw Spirit (12)

Best Shot Blocker

Eastern Conference:
1. Jesse Saban, North Bay Battalion (20)
2. Liam Murray, Kingston Frontenacs (19)
3. Connor Walters, Hamilton Bulldogs (18 – finished T-3rd last season)

Western Conference:
1. Luke Boka, Windsor Spitfires (19)
2. Garrett McFadden, Guelph Storm (15)
2. Chase Campbell, Owen Sound Atack (15)

Best Defensive Forward

Eastern Conference:
1. Ryan Cranford, Kingston Frontenacs (25)
2. Jake Henderson, North Bay Battalion (14)
3. Ben Jones, Niagara IceDogs (13)

Western Conference:
1. Kevin Hancock, Owen Sound Attack (39 – finished second last year)
2. Alex Formenton, London Knights (14)
3. Ryan McGregor, Sarnia Sting (7)
3. Barrett Hayton, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (7)
3. Luke Boka, Windsor Spitfires (7)

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