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Sunday, May 15, 2011

OHL update: Owen Sound wins Robertson Cup

The Owen Sound Attack beat the odds to defeat the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors in overtime today to take the OHL championship.

It's a tremendous accomplishment for the team from one of the smaller markets in junior hockey, getting an overtime goal from Jarrod Maidens to take a 3-2 OT win in the Hershey Centre (Mississauga) for Game 7.

2011 draft eligible goalie Jordan Binnington, who came into action for Game 6, making 41 saves, may have raised his draft stock considerably after looking dead in the water going into the series. He faltered in the opening round against London and was relegated to third goalie status. However, when Michael Zador couldn't get it done and Scott Stajcer's health didn't permit him to be an option, Owen Sound head coach and OHL coach of the year Mark Reeds made a gutsy call to go with Binnington. The 18-year-old made 25 saves for his fourth win of the OHL postseason. He's got a lot of physical prowess, but uneven performances are what have kept him from rising to the top of the draft class to be in the same conversations with John Gibson. When dialed in, he can be very good, but you're not always sure which Binnington you'll get, and he let the Knights into the first round series with a 2-2 deadlock after four until Zador closed them out. Give him credit for staying sharp, biding his time, and making 66 saves to go 2-0 to clinch the OHL title.

Keevin Cutting is another 2011 draft-eligible player who isn't all that heralded as a September 1992 birthdate who missed the 2010 draft cutoff by exactly a week. A solid skater, smart positional player and able to take the body effectively, Cutting is one of those middle-to-late rounders who has a chance to develop into a potential bottom pairing guy one day. He had two goals and 16 points with 61 penalty minutes during the regular season. He added two goals in 22 playoff games this spring. Nothing spectacular, just solid according to reports from scouts we've talked to.

Andrew Fristch did not play much in the postseason, registering two assists in seven games with the Attack after a 28-goal regular season (27 tallies with the Attack). Fritsch has good hands and scoring instincts, and is a project player for whomever takes him.

Undrafted free agent Robby Mignardi (1990 birthdate) won the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as OHL playoff MVP, scoring 15 goals and 24 points in 22 games. He followed up a solid 30-goal, 61-point season for the Attack. You wonder if he'll get any interest now. Guy's a gamer and even though he may not have the NHL-caliber skating and puck skills, you wonder if there's a team who might value his consistency and clutch play as a role player on their lower lines.

Majors defenseman Stuart Percy scored in the loss to finish the postseason with two goals and 12 points in 20 games. He's a solid all-around guy who doesn't have a ton of upside, but plays a smart, safe defensive game. He could be one of those later-developing puck movers with some offensive chops, even if his numbers haven't been much to write home about. One NHL scout really liked him as a guy with offensive upside at the summer evaluation camp for the Eight Nations/Ivan Hlinka, so he's shown some tools at times. It will be interesting to see if he can put it together.

For more on some of the better OHL prospects for the 2011 NHL Draft, Brock Otten has started publishing his annual top-50 list, starting with with 50-30. You can read the first post here. Most are guys you should be familiar with, as the Bruins have had a heavy presence in Ontario over the past few years. There's a good chance we will see more than one Boston pick coming out of the OHL in 2011.

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