By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
As the 2019-2020 season approaches, several Generals players are looking to break into the lineup, or simply break out.
This season Oshawa has several holes to fill, and the team is looking at its young players to step up.
The Gens had a deep playoff run in 2018-19, and are looking to go even further this time around.
Here is a list of five players to watch during the upcoming season:
Ty Tullio – Centre
After a strong rookie season in which he amassed 42 points in 60 games, Tullio is looking to continue to improve.
The right-handed centre had a stronger rookie season statistically than former captain Jack Studnicka.
While Studnicka scored four goals, 22 assists, and 26 points in 62 games, Tullio’s campaign saw him score 15 goals, 27 assists, and 42 points.
He also had his first taste of the playoffs, scoring three goals with three assists in 14 games.
After an offseason where the 17-year-old will have grown some, Tullio is headed towards a season in which he will play at a point-per-game clip.
“He’s a talented player, and he’s shown in our training camp when he gets that opportunity, he’s pretty deadly in the scoring area. I think that’ll lend itself to producing some pretty big numbers for us,” says Roger Hunt, Generals general manager and vice-president.
Prediction: 25 goals, 40 assists, 65 points in 62 games.
Leighton Moore – Defense
The main chip in the Jack Studnicka-Matt Brassard trade, Moore is looking to take his ability to handle the puck and play a full season.
During his rookie campaign which saw him play in 32 games between the Niagara IceDogs and the Gens, Moore scored two goals with 11 assists for 13 points.
Moore was also plus-22, while only amassing six penalty minutes from the blue line.
He also had a strong playoff performance. Despite not scoring a goal in 15 playoff games, Moore had five assists and was plus-five.
“He could be a pretty special player. I think with him we know the offensive instincts and the ability to skate is there,” Hunt says. “For him coming into his second year, he’s not going to surprise anybody anymore. He’s an extremely talented player. I think the challenge with him is reigning it in sometimes… I think he has to pick his spots and be able to go when the time is right, and sit back and take care of his own end also.”
Prediction: With a full-season ahead of him, Moore will more than likely see his goal total hit 10, with 30 assists. Expect him to work on his play in his own end as well.
Brett Harrison – Forward
The Gens’ first round draft pick in the 2019 priority player selection, Harrison is a centre who shoots from the left side.
Only 16-years-old and 6’2”, 166 lbs., Harrison already has the size to back up the skill he showed as a London Jr. Knight.
Last season with the Junior Knights, Harrison played 33 games in which he scored 42 goals, along with 21 assists for 63 points.
While he enters the season working for a spot on the opening day roster, Harrison is poised for a strong rookie season.
“He’s a very talented, gifted player. His best attribute is probably his ability to score and create offense,” Hunt states. “With that being said, it’ll take him a little time to get used to the speed of the league, but I think once he gets comfortable, and once he gets a few games under his belt, he’s going to be a real dynamic player that our fans will love to watch.”
Prediction: 18 goals, 15 assists for 33 points in 50 games played.
Danil Antropov – Left wing
The son of former Toronto Maple Leaf, Nik Antropov, has been a consistent force for the Gens since joining the team, and is poised for a breakout season.
After scoring 15 goals each in the last two seasons, Antropov is entering his age-19 season looking to pump those numbers up.
He showed an increased play-making ability last season, more than doubling the 16 assists he had in 2017-2018 with 37.
He also improved the number of shots on goal he took significantly, going from 69 to 104. It’s only a matter of time before more of those hit the back of the net.
Antropov is entering a key season, so look for him to take more shots, and to make a push after going undrafted.
“He had a great summer… he worked hard at his craft,” says Hunt. “I think going undrafted stuck in his throat a little bit. At the end of the day he realizes if he can up his play there’s certainly going to be the opportunity here to showcase what his skills are.”
Prediction: Similar to Anthony Salinitri breaking out with the Gens last season in a big way, Antropov will score 30 or more goals, along with another 30 assists.
Oliver Suni – Right Wing
The Finnish import is looking to make a name for himself in his first season in the OHL much like Swiss-import Nando Eggenberger did for the Gens last season.
In 2018-19, Suni played for the Karpat U18 A squad, where he scored 19 goals with 17 assists in 23 games.
He also managed to amass 12 points in eight playoff games as well.
The 6’2”, 183 lbs. winger brings size to the Gens’ front end alongside his goal scoring abilities.
Expect a strong season from another Gens rookie.
“He’s certainly shown thus far that he’s pretty dynamic,” says Hunt. “He’s grown a fair bit since our guys last saw him live, and I think he’s shown here in training camp that he’s got a good touch around the net, he’s got some good speed, and, again, he’ll take a little time [to get comfortable].”
Prediction: 20 goals, 25 assists for 45 points in 60 games.
Bonus: Everyone competing for the starting goalie job
Kyle Keyser, who has been a stalwart in net for the Gens, is gone.
That leaves a wide open roster spot for the Gens, and they are looking in their own organization for his replacement.
Currently there are three goalies competing for the spot, backup Aidan Hughes, Matthew Sbrocca, and Zachary Papatsukis.
Hunt notes currently the job is Hughes’ to lose, as he has young guys fighting to take his spot.
“It’s open more so than the last couple of years,” says Hunt. “I think more so over the last little while, we’ve known who the incumbent was, and realistically, Hughes is our guy.”
The Gen’s season starts on Friday, Sept. 20 In Kingston against the Frontenacs. The first home game is also against Kingston on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 6:05 p.m.