With One week left until training camp kicks off on September 1st, here’s a look at the Frontenacs Forward group as the team prepares to enter the 2010-11 season. Right off the top, the Fronts are looking to improve on last year’s fourth place finish in the Eastern Conference and eventual Game Seven loss to the Brampton Battalion. The Fronts made great strides last season, after missing the playoffs in each of the two previous seasons and they hope to improve on what was started last season.
On paper, it will be difficult to find a team with three centre’s as deep and as skilled as the Frontenacs will have. Overage Nathan Moon, New York Rangers second round pick Ethan Werek and 2009 second overall pick Alan Quine give the Fronts as deep a centre ice group as there is in the league.
Moon returns for his fifth and final season with the Frontenacs and has amassed 107 goals and 258 points in 251 career OHL games, all of them spent as a member of the Fronts. The Pittsburgh Penguins elected not to sign their 4th Round pick from 2008, thus sending Moon back to the OHL for his overage year. Moon has his detractors, but still consistently produces in the 30 goal and 70 to 80 point range, which is hard to ignore. Moon definitely has the potential to be one of the most productive overagers in the entire OHL, but much of that will depend on Moon himself.
In two seasons in Kingston, Ethan Werek has nearly identical numbers, scoring 32 goals and 64 points as a rookie and 30 goals and 63 points last season in eleven less games. Statistically, Werek was the best face-off man on the Frontenacs last season and will once again be counted on to be one of the offensive leaders on the club. Werek will head to New York for his second NHL training camp this fall and like Taylor Doherty and Erik Gudbranson, Werek will either have to make the Rangers or be returned to Junior due to his age.
Quine will be looking to have a break-through offensive year this season, as he enters camp fresh off helping the Canadian Under-18 team to a Gold Medal at the Ivan Hlinka Hockey Championship in early August. Quine, the second overall pick in last year’s OHL draft scored 11 goals and finished his rookie year with 28 points in 64 games, but will be looking to become an impact scorer for 2010-11.
Another offensive player to watch out for his the slick handed Michael Fine, who can play both centre of the wing. Given the Fronts depth at the Centre ice position, there is a good chance Fine could play the wing again this season, unless one of the previously mentioned centre’s are moved to the wing, which could then open a spot down the middle for Fine. Finer, who also played the point on the power play at times last year, finished the season with 16 goals and 42 points and will once again be counted on to be one of the top offensive players for the Fronts.
The surprise duo of last season had to be rookies Derek Froats and Corey Durocher, who will step into much bigger roles heading into this year. Durocher was drafted in the sixth round of the NHL draft by the Florida Panthers and Froats was disappointingly passed over in the draft, but vows to come in this year and work harder than ever. The two sophomore forwards can both skate like the wind and finished with nearly identical offensive numbers. Durocher scored 15 goals and 26 points, while Froats finished with 14 goals and 23 points for two more than respectable rookie campaigns. However, Froats found one niche that he previously never thought he had, which was with his fists. Froats became a very effective player, who played hurt, blocked shots, scored the occasional goal and was not afraid to drop the gloves. Froats is definitely a player that has leadership qualities if not this year, then in the very near future.
The front runner for the final overage spot at this point in time is Michael Farrell. Farrell has potential to be a game breaker when he keeps his focus. His highlight reel behind the back goal from last season made The Score Network’s Plays of the year and generated over 48,000 hits on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o93UtUtd3DQ
Another player with strong leadership qualities is fourth year winger Mitch Lebar, who had a solid 17 goal and 39 point season last year with the Fronts. This will be a big year for Lebar, who is expected to flank one of the Frontenacs top lines. Lebar brings a ton of skill to the lineup and will be looking to maximize that skill this season and improve on last year’s solid season.
The top three lines should definitely be a source of strength for the Fronts heading into the season, but who the final player in that group of nine forwards is, has yet to be determined. Colt Kennedy appears to be on track to make a return to the team after spending most of last season with the Kingston Voyageurs. Kennedy is a former first round pick, who has all the skill and potential in the world to be a dominate player if he wants too. Sophomore forward Steven Broek will also be looking to take a step forward in his progress, after putting in his dues last season, he will be looking for more of a role this year. Third year centre Charles Sarault is in a similar situation to that of defenseman Tyler Mort. Both players were second round picks in 2008 and enter their third year with the Frontenacs and looking to make an impact. Sarault finished last season with 4 goals and 16 points but had a team worst plus/minus rating of -19 and will need to change that in order make the progress he wants to for this season.
Over the course of last year, the Fronts were able to get 2009 draft picks Ryan Davidson and Brett Morgan into a couple of games and give them a taste of what to expect heading into this season. Davidson, is a gritty little centre-man, while Morgan at 6’2 has potential to be a physical power forward. Also in the mix as new comers is this year’s second round pick Nathan Cull from Thunder Bay. The right winger scored 41 goals and 95 points last season in midget and should be a big part of the Frontenacs future.
Fifth Round pick Robert Polesello is a speedy little centre who scored 56 goals and 112 points for the Toronto Jr Canadians last year. He has committed to Boston University for the Fall of 2012, but if the Fronts can find a way to lure him to the OHL, they may have a steal of a mid round pick. Other rookies heading to camp next week are Dylan Staples from North Bay, Spencer Green from the North Central Predators, Braden Wiffen from Huron Perth, Kyle Soman from the Toronto Marlboros, Jean Dupuy from Ottawa and Nicholas Lepone from the Toronto Young Nationals. 2009 sixth round pick Eric Neiley, seventh Round Pick Jarrett Smith, 13th round pick David Friedman are also still in the Frontenacs system.
The Frontenacs look pretty solid as they head into camp and are gearing up to try and improve on last year’s finish. The team has gotten better in both seasons under current Head Coach Doug Gilmour and he hopes to lead the way for the Frontenacs to progress deep into the playoffs. The Fronts main camp begins on September 1st, with the first on ice sessions set for September 2nd and 3rd and the regular season set to begin on September 24th against the Memorial Cup host Mississauga St. Michaels Majors.