Recapping the 2015-16 OHL, WHL and QMJHL Regular Seasons

All three Canadian Hockey League regular seasons are officially over, namely  the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

It was yet another intense year in all three leagues, as competition became heated and playoff races were as close as ever.

As the race to the Memorial Cup begins, there are certainly a few teams in the lead as early favourites. As well, a number of players have established their value in their respective leagues this year, with each league’s scoring title coming to a close finish.

CHL Final Top 10 Rankings

The CHL rankings did not vary too much during the course of the year, but some teams certainly established themselves as potential contenders towards the end of the year.

Here are the results of the 2015-16 regular season, broken down into top teams, as well as leaders in the statistics department.

OHL Standings

The OHL was dominated by the Erie Otters and London Knights all year long. For a large portion of the season, the Kitchener Rangers kept the divine crown in sight, but faded out during the last month of play. In the end, it came down to the final game of the season, between the Otters and the Knights. The Otters came out on top, and captured the first seed in the Western Conference. The Otters were ranked 2nd in the CHL, the Knights in 3rd, and the Rangers in 8th at the end of the season.

On the Eastern side, The Kingston Frontenacs established a gap between themselves and the Barrie Colts after the trade deadline – acquiring Michael Dal Colle and Stephen Desrocher – and never looked back. The Frontenacs finished ranked 6th in the CHL. For a while, the North Bay Battalion looked to be a prime dark horse, led by 50-goal scorer, Michael Amado, but inconsistencies let them down in the end, finishing third in the East.

OHL Statistics

Here are the statistical leaders for the following categories. Note: Players must have played at least half of the season for eligibility.

  • Points: Kevin Labanc – 127

The San Jose Sharks nabbed Labanc (Barrie) at 171st overall in 2014, and he has taken off since. After totalling 107 points in 2014-15, Labanc added 20 more in ’15-16 for the Barrie Colts, to beat out Christian Dvorak (London) by six points.

  • Points per Game: Christian Dvorak – 2.05

The Arizona Coyotes 58th overall pick in 2014 has blossomed into a top prospect in the NHL today. Dvorak narrowly topped his Knights’ teammate, Mitch Marner, who scored 2.04 points per game.

  • Goals: Christian Dvorak – 52

In a year which featured four 50-goal scorers – the first time since 2005-06 – Dvorak squeaked to the top with just one more goal than Andrew Mangiapane (Barrie) and Alex DeBrincat (Erie).

  • Assists: Kevin Labanc – 88

Labanc established himself as one of the premier playmakers in the league this year, racking up the most assets since Sergei Kostitsyn had 91 with the Knights in 2006-07.

  • Goals Against Average: Tyler Parsons – 2.33

Behind a stacked Knights lineup, Parsons (London) continued to prove why he should be one of the top goaltenders selected at the 2016 NHL Draft, providing consistent net minding each night.

  • Save Percentage: Tyler Parsons & Mackenzie Blackwood – 92.1%

Parsons and Blackwood (Barrie) paced the league as top goaltenders this season, becoming a large part of their team’s chance to win every night.

WHL Standings

Although the Kelowna Rockets were among the Top 10 in the CHL for more weeks, 19 of 26, they were ousted by the Victoria Royals in the Western Conference in the end. The Royals finished the year hot, going 13-0-1 to end up at the top of the WHL at year’s end, and ranked 4th in the CHL. Meanwhile, the Rockets fell to an honourable mention. The Seattle Thunderbirds also went 13-0-1 to end the year, and finished the year ranked 10th in the CHL.

In the Eastern Conference, the Brandon Wheat Kings cruised to the top seed, finishing the season on a 11-0-2 run, and ranked 9th in the CHL. The Lethbridge Hurricanes and Memorial Cup host, Red Deer Rebels, challenged the Wheat Kings at times, but lacked the extra edge to become a true threat, finishing second and third in the conference, respectively.

WHL Statistics

Here are the statistical leaders for the following categories. Note: Players must have played at least half of the season for eligibility.

  • Points: Adam Brooks – 120

The 1996-born center will be eligible again for the 2016 NHL Draft, and should be picked up somewhere between the fourth and sixth round. Brooks (Regina) nearly doubled his 2014-15 point total.

  • Points per Game: Brayden Point & Jayce Hawryluk – 1.83

Hawryluk (Brandon) was a Panthers second round pick in 2014, and showed an offensive edge never seen before during his WHL career. Point (Moose Jaw) was a third round pick by the Lightning in 2014, and missed 24 games during the season, likely costing him the scoring title.

  • Goals: Dryden Hunt – 58

Hunt (Moose Jaw) exploded this season, adding nearly 70 points to his previous career high. He also scored about 30 more goals than ever before, ultimately earning himself a contract with the Florida Panthers.

  • Assists: Adam Brooks & Brayden Burke – 82

Brooks (Regina) and Burke (Lethbridge) tallied over an assist per game this season. Both forwards have gone undrafted in previous NHL Drafts, but look primed to make a splash at the year’s venue.

  • Goals Against Average: Carter Hart – 2.14

The 2016 NHL Draft eligible goaltender is currently ranked as one of the top net minders available. Hart (Everett) continued to improve his numbers this year while starting 63 games for the Silvertips.

  • Save Percentage: Landon Bow – 92.3%

The 20-year-old played his fifth WHL season this year, and it was a trade to the Seattle Thunderbirds that turned his year around. Bow posted a 3.09 GAA and a .913 SV% in 30 games with Swift Current, then turned it all around, with a 1.76 GAA and a .938 SV% in 23 games with Seattle.

QMJHL Standings

The QMJHL has some serious competition in seeds one through five, all of which earned at least an honourable mention in the final CHL rankings. The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies continues to improve all season long, finishing the year on a 14 game winning streak to capture the 1st seed in the league, and on the CHL Top 10.

The Val d’Or Foreurs were not far behind for the main stretch, and ended up nine points back after a rough finish. The got the fourth seed, because they were not a division winner, and were ranked 5th in the CHL Top 10. Gatineau finished ranked 9th, while division champions, Shawinigan an Saint John, end up as honourable mentions.

QMJHL Statistics

Here are the statistical leaders for the following categories. Note: Players must have played at least half of the season for eligibility.

  • Points: Conor Garland – 128

Garland (Moncton) exploded onto the scene in 2014-15, scoring 129 points and earning a selection in the fifth round by the Arizona Coyotes. It was much of the same this year, as he put up 128 points in five fewer games, establishing himself as a top prospect for the Coyotes.

  • Points per Game: Conor Garland – 2.06

Garland was able to better his ’14-15 season, bumping his points per game up over two per game, the only player to do that in the league. The 5’8 winger began the season with 88 points in just 36 games.

  • Goals: Nicolas Roy – 48

Roy (Chicoutimi) made tremendous strides this season after dropping to the fourth round in the 2015 NHL Draft. He saw a bump from 50 to 90 points, and tripled his goal total, from 16 to 48.

  • Assists: Conor Garland – 89

Yet another statistical title for the 20-year-old. Garland presents himself as an elite playmaker and has proved such, with 183 assists over the last two seasons.

  • Goals Against Average: Chase Marchand – 2.42

The undrafted 20-year-old made great improvements this season, playing behind the best team in the CHL, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. In 38 games, he gave the Huskies very little worries between the pipes.

  • Save Percentage: Julio Billia – 91.9%

Billia (Chicoutimi) finally showed his true potential during his fourth QMJHL season, posting a sub 3.00 GAA and a beyond .900 SV% for the first time. He established a large gap between any other goalie, with the second best being just .911.