Five questions for the 2023-24 Oshawa Generals

Published July 17, 2023 at 3:01 pm

Calum Ritchie Photo OHL Images

The Ontario Hockey League believes the Oshawa Generals, which snuck into the playoffs in the final week of the season and went out in five in the first round to league regular season champs Ottawa, have the stuff to go a bit deeper this year.

Josh Sweetland, a regular OHL contributor, thinks so after asking (and answering) five questions about the club heading into the coming season:

  1. Is Ritchie ready to break out?

Calum Ritchie now has first round NHL Draft pick status to add to his second overall standing from back when the Generals selected him in 2021. The Colorado Avalanche took the 6-foot-2 centreman with the 27th overall pick last month in Nashville, adding a player with a great stride and all the tools to their depth chart. Ritchie finished his sophomore season with 59 points (24-35–59) in as many games. Is year three where he really takes off offensively? With Ryan Gagnier having graduated, top line centre responsibilities are Ritchie’s to run with as the Oakville native tries to lead Oshawa to the top of the East Division for the first time since 2015.

  1. Does the defence come back stronger?

The Generals surrendered 290 goals last season, the third-highest total in the OHL. It’s a defence group that’s going to be a year older, with no big losses to graduation and names like the draft eligible Ben Danford ready for bigger assignments in year two. Oshawa’s blueline is positioned to be led by a pair of guys named Luca in 2004-born puck-mover Luca D’Amato, who was acquired from the Flint Firebirds in November. Draft eligible defender Luca Marelli saw lots of power play time in 2022-23 and comes back for a third season ready to increase his workload. Expect Danford to be a big part of Oshawa’s back end. The former first round OHL Draft pick will represent Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August.

Jacob Oster

  1. Is Oster back in top form?

It’s no secret that Jacob Oster (and the entire Guelph Storm team by extension) had a rough start to the 2022-23 season. Oster had a strong rookie campaign in 2021-22 but battled consistency issues in the first half of last season. A change of scenery did him well as he played to an 8-11-0-2 record with three shutouts in 23 regular season games for Oshawa. The former fifth round pick by Guelph in 2020 was Oshawa’s guy in the playoffs last year as the Generals were eliminated in five first round games by the Ottawa 67’s. Carter Bickle remains an option in the crease as does former U-18 Priority Selection choice Hayden Sabourin, who had a strong showing for the Elmira Sugar Kings of the GOJHL last season. Second round 2023 OHL Priority Selection choice Isaac Gravelle looks like a big part of the future but has inked with the Port Colborne Sailors of the GOJHL where he’ll get regular playing time as he adjusts to junior hockey.

  1. Is there a potential Sennecke, Griffin connection on the horizon?

Beckett Sennecke burst onto the scene as one of two Generals first round picks last season, lighting the lamp 20 times and finishing with 55 points, becoming the first Oshawa rookie to eclipse 50 since Michael Del Zotto in 2006-07. Sennecke was a force at the U16 AAA level with the Toronto Marlboros program in 2021-22, showing the same offensive dominance that 2023 first round OHL Draft pick Owen Griffin did with the York-Simcoe Express last season. A right-handed shot like Sennecke, Griffin led the OMHA ETA circuit with 94 points (51-43–94) in just 35 games last season, tacking on 28 (17-11–28) in eight playoff contests. Griffin recorded over a point-per-game in U16 AAA hockey two years ago, playing up as a member of the Markham Waxers. Sennecke and Griffin are two of the top pure offensive performers in their respective age groups and present a potentially lethal offensive combination.

  1. Could 6-foot-7 Roobroeck be a force in his 19-year-old year?

While the Generals can likely count on 30+ goals from overage Stuart Rolofs this coming season, big 6-foot-7 centreman Dylan Roobroeck is a name that took huge strides in 2022-23. Acquired from the Niagara IceDogs for an eighth round pick in September, Roobroeck proceeded to record 53 points (15-38–53) over 68 games in his second OHL campaign, impressing the New York Rangers who selected him in the sixth round of the NHL Draft. The London, Ont. native gives Generals head coach Derek Laxdal a reliable option down the middle as he comes into the season as one of the OHL’s more imposing figures.

 

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