Bulldogs 2017/18 Overage Situation
Hamilton inherited a hockey team designed to make a deep playoff run during the spring of 2018, thanks to decisions made in January of 2015. George Burnett was put in a difficult situation as a General Manager when centre Jake Marchment requested a trade after being stripped of his captaincy. Burnett effectively ignited a rebuild for his roster by snagging two Erie Otters with ’97 birthdates, adding them to an already solid group of ’97s. Burnett’s transactions have set the team up to make noise in the playoffs this year, which may give current GM Steve Staios some headaches when making cuts in the fall of 2017.
There are currently six Bulldogs who will be over-age eligible on the roster, a number that will need to be trimmed down to three by early January 2018.
- LW Trent Fox
- C Adam Laishram
- D Justin Lemcke
- RW Matt Luff (LAK FA – 2016)
- D Jesse Saban
- D Connor Walters
What was easily the biggest weakness on the Bulldogs team when they first arrived in Hamilton was a lack of experience and depth on the blueline, which will likely be the team’s largest asset next season when you consider the list above.
At this point, there is a lot on the line for the the organization with regards to establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the OHL Eastern Conference. The team has only won 2 in their last 10, and the potential to be Memorial Cup hosts must be hanging in the back of the minds for these young men, who otherwise might not have a sure-fire chance to play on junior hockey’s largest stage. This group of six really needs to step it up and treat the second half of the season as an audition for next fall.
Something Bulldogs fans will need to come to terms with is that Matt Luff, who was leading the team in points until an early season shoulder injury, will likely transition to professional hockey. The right wing earned himself an entry-level contract from the Los Angeles Kings following the team’s rookie camp in September, and will be a prime candidate for a roster spot with the Ontario Reign (AHL) next fall.
Based on the outlook of the team’s current depth, it’s likely that management tries to retain one forward and two defenders. This all depends on NHL invites, CIS opportunities and potential trades between now and September. If given the opportunity, expect Staios to extend captain Justin Lemcke the opportunity to lead the Bulldogs in his final season. Again, the next 30 games will go a long way to helping shape the decisions of the general manager.