Petes roster laced with NHL talent

TSR Features | 11 Nov 2011

2012 NHL Draft prospect Slater Koekkoek has taken his game to the next level in his 2nd OHL season.

The past few years haven’t been kind to fans of the Peterborough Petes. For a franchise with one of the most illustrious traditions in all of junior hockey, the Petes have struggled to maintain their winning tradition after winning the OHL crown in 2006.

2011 is a different story, however, as the Petes have assembled a stockpile of NHL calibre talent which has vaulted the team to the upper echelon of the OHL’s Eastern Conference Standings and put Peterborough back on the map as an OHL power. After catching the team in a couple of recent games here’s an update on some of the team’s players who are already NHL-Drafted or will be on the draft radar in the upcoming seasons.

LD Slater Koekkoek | 1994 | 2012 Eligible

Here’s a player who I firmly believe is going to have a very good NHL career in front of him. You will be hard pressed to find a defenseman who plays more minutes than Koekkoek, and this 17-year-old certainly doesn’t look out of place. Koekkoek has the size – although he’s still filling out the frame – and is a tremendous skater who can influence the pace of the game. He moves the puck extremely well and is very capable offensively. Koekkoek has also refined his defensive game quite nicely, and does a good job of dishing out hits and playing in all situations. Koekkoek is still a bit raw, but his overall package of skills is going to be very hard to pass up as he should be contending to be a Top 10 pick next June.

LW Matt Puempel | 1993 | OTT 2011 (1/24)

After being named the OHL’s Rookie of the Year in 2010, Puempel’s sophomore season was marred by season ending hip surgery. The numbers this year are not off the charts, but his play has taken another step. Puempel’s strength will always lie in his elite shot release and ability to find space in the scoring triangle, but I’ve been impressed with his ability to create offense on his own. When he came into the league, he was a passenger on the team’s big line, but Puempel has added a more dynamic element to his game which allows him to carry his line now. He’s got the skillset to play on a top NHL line and as long as his development path continues, he’s got a release that will allow him to score a lot of goals.

RC Austin Watson | 1992 | NAS 2010 (1/18)

Watson’s offensive game has never progressed as much as some would have hoped, but his all around game makes him a valuable prospect moving forward. You’d be hard pressed to find a better penalty killer in the OHL, and Watson’s versatility to play all three forward positions gives the coach some flexibility. Watson has good size and strength but needs to use it more consistently to generate offense. He’s a player who should be able to chip in offensively at the next level and provide some reliable minutes. He looks to be a safe bet to perform at the NHL level, but whether he can play on a 2nd line or be reserved to a bottom 6 role remains to be seen.

LC Alan Quine | 1993 | DET 2011 (3/85)

Quine’s OHL career took a positive turn after a mid-season trade to the Petes last season, and he appears to have found some good chemistry so far playing alongside Puempel on the team’s top line. Quine is a very talented player and relies on smooth skating and a slick array of puck skills to generate offense. Concerns about NHL upside center on him being a little weak and easily pushed off the puck. He’s got the talent to be a player at the next level, but he needs to show he can battle through tight defense and consistently provide offense every night.

LW Nick Ritchie | 1995L | 2014 Eligible

The 2nd overall pick in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection, Ritchie has had a nice start to his OHL career with 6 goals and 11 points through his first 19 games. Ritchie is an imposing winger who creates a lot of offense with his speed and ability to shield off checks. He’s a pretty north-south player who is most effective off the rush and loves to shoot the puck on the fly. I don’t think Ritchie has the high-end creativity that a lot of offensive players have, but his raw physical tools will be intriguing to see develop over the next couple of years.

RW Stephen Nosad | 1995 | 2013 Eligible

I have to give some credit to another Petes 16-year-old who is a real gamer. I saw Nosad several times with the York Simcoe Express last year and came away impressed every time. Nosad always finds ways to win battles and is a great two-way player for his age. Already trusted to play on the penalty kill, Nosad competes hard and has some intangibles which are going to make him a very good OHL player, and someone who should get some strong NHL draft consideration in two years.

It’s not difficult to find NHL calibre talent in Peterborough this year, as GM Dave Reid has done a strong job of building a roster that is primed for long-term success. It’s success that will be long overdue in the Lift Lock City, as their fans anxiously await meaningful spring hockey once again.

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