New Kids on the Bulldogs (Pt.1)
Hamilton Bulldogs’ managers Steve Staios and Troy Smith still have some roster tinkering to do before we have a final picture of who will play the majority of the season in the new black and gold jerseys. An OHL team is allowed to carry 25 roster players, although most keep 23 with the main club on a regular basis. The Bulldogs currently have 26 players with the club and two pre-season games against the Erie Otters on the weekend. This is a good opportunity to examine the newest junior hockey players that will play in Hamilton this year (Ancaster is apart of Hamilton).
— Teri Pecoskie (@TeriatTheSpec) September 3, 2016
- HK36 Skalica (Slovak Extraliga) GP 35 – G 8 – A 8 – Pts 16
The young man will likely be assigned a top six role over the course of the season, and should see some power play time throughout. Very apparent that he is comfortable handling the puck and getting it on net. It looks as though the off-ice officials weren’t tracking shots on Saturday. He very clearly had at least three shots on goal, all within the slot, all of them dangerous scoring chances. Studenič is going to make a lot of space for himself this season, and the flashy style that he plays with will likely win him some fans both in the stands, as well as in the scouting booths. He will not be listed as a rookie this season as he played professional hockey in a men’s league last year. The long distance goal is he finds success this year, an NHL team likes him enough to spend a pick on him, and fingers crossed he’s assigned to the team again for a Memorial Cup run in 2017-18.
— Dan Hickling (@DanHickling) September 4, 2016
- Grey Bruce Highlanders (SCTAMN) GP 28 – G 19 – A 20 – Pts 39
Picked third overall in the Priority Selection, Roberts gives the Bulldogs the advantage of having a young power forward that brings energy and speed to the lineup. It’s hard to tell that he’s only 16 when he’s on the ice, his skating is already on par with the competition. Roberts doesn’t give up on the play, he battles to separate the man from the puck and retrieve possession. Give him a year, and he’ll be one of the most physically imposing forwards on the team.
It’s likely that the coaching staff is going to ease him into the league in the first half of the season. He’s been centring the fourth line and getting some time on the penalty kill. Hamilton has loads of centre depth this season, so there is a good chance he’ll spend time on the wing as he adjusts to the speed of the league. Roberts will miss a couple of games in November as he’s a guaranteed invite to the Under-17 tournament.
- Niagara North Stars (SCTAMN) GP 33 – G 9 – A 11 – Pts 20
McCourt is in tough to make it as a consistent presence on the blue line this season considering the depth that the team currently enjoys. Right now he’s the 8th option on the back end, 9th if you consider that Gordeev could shift back if being a forward doesn’t work out. While it’s expected that he’ll likely be assigned to the Ancaster Avalanche of the GOJHL, he will probably be a first choice option of all the prospects to play if there are injuries. All of this could change if there are any roster moves before Christmas, but this is how things are shaping up currently.
Scouts are generous when it comes to assessing McCourt’s hockey intelligence, most seem to agree that he can play well with the puck and uses his teammates to control the flow of play. McCourt said he would like to model his game after Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators, a fast defender who is elite offensively and plays solid defensive hockey. He’ll need to bulk up in order to match the physical demands the OHL requires. His father played NCAA and coached the Niagara IceDogs, so he has quite a few advantages when it comes to off-ice assistance. Having a player of his caliber in the system creates good problems for Staios as we learned last year that you can never have too much depth on the blue line.
Feature Image: Gary Yokoyama / The Hamilton Spectator