The Canadian Hockey League season has returned to its regularly scheduled programming with full seasons getting started in recent weeks. After a year of shortened seasons - or canceled, in the OHL’s case - things are looking positive as fully vaccinated fans pack buildings across the league.
With that said, most teams have played a few games now and it’s a good time to take a quick peek at who has been playing well and who hasn't. By no means does the opening few games dictate the way the rest of the season is going to go, but it doesn't hurt to do a little early stock check:
Stock up: Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg ICE
While he was already one of the most highly regarded prospects in the 2022 draft class, Savoie has come out of the gate on fire. He has collected a dozen points in just six games as he and fellow 2022 draft prospect Conor Geekie have helped lead the ICE to an undefeated start six games into the season.
Savoie has been an outstanding playmaker with cerebral playmaking ability and a shiftiness that is only more dangerous because of his speed. He finds open ice with ease in the offensive zone with ease thanks to a great feel for the spacing between defenders. At just 5-foot-9, there will be those who never fully appreciate Savoie’s skillset until he’s doing it at the NHL level, but his ability to be a game-changer at the WHL level is undeniable.
Stock Down: Shane Wright, C, Kingston Frontenacs
Alright, hear me out here. Wright is still the clear-cut number one on the board for the 2022 NHL draft. He has also been kind of just fine so far to start the OHL campaign. With many debating on whether Wright would surpass the two points per game mark, he is currently sitting at just over one point per game as he totals six points through five games.
Again, this isn’t a tumble-down-the-board start to his season by any means. The incredible instincts, outstanding tool kit, and mature game are all still evident. Wright is still just 17 years old and he will likely be a major factor on the Candian World Junior team in December. There isn’t much to truly worry about, but his "slow" start is noteworthy. The Frontenacs captain is just a big game away from being the player so many expected to start the year.
Stock Up: Jack Thompson, D, Sudbury Wolves
The third-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 has been smoldering hot to start the year. Thompson is leading the OHL in scoring with ten points in just five games, doing it all from the back end. His offensive game has always been his calling card but numbers like this couldn’t have been expected from the Wolves captain.
A highly skilled blueliner with excellent hands and solid mobility, Thompson may be the next in a long line of Tampa finding a diamond in the rough at the draft. His decision-making on both ends of the ice has been much more efficient to start the year. Having played 18 games in HockeyEttan (Swedish third division men’s league), his maturity has been clear this year. Thompson seems to have found his balance between going for the big play and making the right play.
Stock Down: Cameron Whynot, D, Halifax Mooseheads
Whynot was drafted in the third round by the Calgary Flames this past summer, but it hasn't been smooth sailing ever since. The skating and passing ability seems to be his biggest strengths, but there is a lot of his game that is inconsistent.
Whynot seems to struggle at times putting things together at both ends of the ice with a spotty defensive game and erratic offensive game. The transition game is where you see his value really take hold. He displays his skating and passing so well when moving through the neutral zone, you are constantly finding yourself asking why he can leverage those tools elsewhere on the ice. The upside is there but the questions still remain.
Stock Up: Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan Cataractes
After putting together a very strong training camp with the Dallas Stars, Bourque has returned to the QMJHL and has dominated. He has only played three games, but Bourge has put up seven points with his trademark shiftiness and vision. He remains one of junior hockey’s most analytical offensive players with his ability to diagnose and break down his opponent with ease.
While the likelihood of Bourque making the Stars this season was pretty low, he had a very good camp by all regards and his name will likely be on the shortlist to make the squad going into camp next season. He could add a dynamic offensive element to their forward group but for now, the QMJHL will have to put up with him loading up stat sheets at the junior ranks.