Overaged players in the CHL are so important to their clubs. Not only do most of them provide leadership, but in many cases overagers are the top point producers on the best teams.
Looking back to last season, Swift Current’s overagers were forwards Glen Gawdin, Giorgio Estephan and Matteo Gennaro, and Gawdin finished second in the league with 125 points in the regular season. The trio combined for 36 goals and 73 post-season points to lead the Broncos to a WHL title.
Acadie-Bathurst won the Memorial Cup led by two high-scoring overage defencemen in Adam Holwell and Olivier Galipeau, who finished first and ninth respectively in league scoring by defencemen. No doubt their leader was Jeffrey Truchon-Viel, an overager who did it all for the Titans.
The OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs did it slightly differently with stalwart defenders Justin Lemcke and Connor Walters. Up front, Ryan Moore found ways to produce with his speed and skill.
This year, once again most of the top teams around the CHL are anchored by the fine play of their overagers. Here are the top 10 producing overagers from coast to coast.
1. Tye Felhaber, Ottawa 67’s (1st place OHL) 53 G, 38 A, 91 PTS in 51 games
Challenged by coach Andre Tourigny at the end of last season, Felhaber trained part-time with Claude Giroux in the off-season. His hard work has paid off and by all accounts a pro deal with Dallas is in the offing.
2. Joachim Blichfeld, Portland Winterhawks (4th place WHL) 43 G, 48A, 91 PTS in 52 games
A solid international resume with his native Denmark, Blichfeld is making his mark in the North American game. He was the second-last player taken in the 2016 draft by San Jose, and that pick is starting to look like a bargain. The leading point-getter in the WHL this season, Blichfeld will see his offensive totals double from 2017-18.
3. Justin Brazeau, North Bay Battalion (13th place OHL) 45 G, 40 A, 85 PTS in 51 games
Like those before him in North Bay (Barclay Goodrow and Mike Amadio), Brazeau has taken time to hone his craft. Coach Stan Butler has always had a penchant for developing bigger players, whom he can groom to become pros and Brazeau is his latest project.
4. Peter Abbandonato, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (1st place QMJHL) 25 G, 59 A, 84 PTS in 52 games
On most nights he’s the hardest worker for his club, so it is by no mistake that Abbandonato has taken the league by storm. Having grown up in a pro-calibre program, Abbandonato has emerged as the Huskies’ go-to in all situations.
5. Tristan Langan, Moose Jaw Warriors (7th place WHL) 38 G, 44 A, 82 PTS in 48 games
It took some pondering, but Langan’s decision to return to Moose Jaw has paid dividends for both player and franchise. Another tireless worker whose honest game has lead to higher leverage minutes, Langan has not disappointed. He’s notched eight game-winning goals and scored the first goal of the game seven times to sit in a tie for second in the league in both categories.
6. Kevin Hancock, London Knights (2nd place OHL) 39 G, 41 A, 80 PTS in 51 games
Some knock his skating, others are worried about his size in terms of pro potential. One thing is for certain, Hancock’s produced enough over the past three seasons to earn the right to prove everyone wrong.
7. Brandon Saigeon, Oshawa Generals (8th place OHL) 33 G, 45 A, 78 PTS in 51 games
A stellar 2018 playoff run (18 goals in 21 games) for OHL Champion Hamilton helped him get drafted as a re-entry player in the fifth round. He’s got size, skill and an NHL-ready shot. He’s still working on bringing consistency to his game, but when he’s on, he’s on.
8. Jimmy Huntington, Rimouski Oceanic (5th place QMJHL) 31 G, 39 A, 70 PTS in 50 games
A grinder earlier in his career, Huntington has not only benefitted from playing with the league’s next great superstar in Alexis Lafreniere, but Lafreniere has also been better off thanks to playing with Huntington.
9. Samuel Asselin, Halifax Moosheads (4th place QMJHL) 40 G, 29 A, 69 PTS in 51 games
His experience as a Memorial Cup champion was key in Halifax GM Cam Russell’s plan to acquire Asselin. He’s excellent in the dot, takes care of his own end, and has a wicked release that has put him in position to score 50-plus goals by the end of the season.
10. Kyle Maksimovich, Ottawa 67’s (1st place OHL) 29 G, 40 A, 69 PTS in 50 games
A couple of cracks at NHL camps has not elicited a deal, but a long run into the spring with his new team in Ottawa may change that. A smaller (5-foot-9), skilled type, who gets off the mark in a hurry is still questioned for his size. Having said that, he’s played on a lot of good teams with a lot of excellent players which should indicate that his game will translate to the pros.