When most OHL fans think of the Oshawa Generals, they immediately think of John Tavares, with good reason. The 18-year-old center has been making headlines ever since the OHL granted him exceptional player status and allowed him to enter the league a year early. Since then, Tavares has cemented himself as one of the league’s best players with a career total of 348 regular season points and a +30 rating; along with that he has tallied 35 post season points and two all-star appearances. Now, during his draft season, the hype and scrutiny has reached a fever pitch, with media, coaches and players all focusing on number 91, but the Generals have much more to offer than their star forward.
The Generals blue line boasts Michael Del Zotto, the Stouffville Ontario native who was drafted by the New York Rangers in the first round of the 2008 NHL entry draft. Del Zotto, who was the number two pick overall in the 2006 OHL entry draft behind only Steven Stamkos, is now in his third year with Oshawa. You’ll find Del Zotto controlling the pace of the game with his end to end play and pinpoint passing, which is especially important on the power play. Del Zotto, who patterns his games after the likes of Scott Niedermayer and Bobby Orr, has excellent offensive instincts combined with the puck movement and skating skills which enable him to jump into a rush at any time.
The 2007-08 season was a banner year for the future Ranger; he averaged almost a point a game, racking up 16 goals and 47 assists and a +7 rating, making him the third highest scoring defenseman in the league. During the postseason, Del Zotto played with an edge, finishing his memorial cup run with eight points and 38 penalty minutes in 15 games. Michael Del Zotto has always been a standout player, providing consistent play for Team Canada at the under-18 level, and he became the 16-year-old to play in an OHL all-star game. He scored the gold medal winning goal at the 2007 Canada winter games for team Ontario and now as he winds down his junior hockey career and prepares for his future as an NHL blue liner, he stands poised to steal some of Tavares’ spotlight.
Kory Nagy is a 19-year-old center who has been converted into a right winger to play alongside John Tavares or second line center Brett Parnham. The Walsingham Ontario Native is now in his fourth season with the Generals and is expected to come up big as a secondary scorer on the heels of his best season last year, and even better playoff run. He tallied six goals and three assists in 15 playoff games and was a +4. Nagy, the New Jersey Devils fifth round draft pick in 2008, has a great work ethic and has worked hard to develop his skills over the past two seasons. A fifth round OHL draft pick as well, he needed to work hard impress his coaches in Oshawa to earn himself a place on the team, and he has steadily risen up the team rankings.
Now an alternate captain, Nagy has great leadership skills and is a favorite amongst his teammates. He is a high energy player who can be relied upon to get in some good hits along the boards in puck battles, and take the abuse in front of opposition goalies. His work ethic has gotten him a prime spot as one of the team’s top penalty killers where he is aggressive on the puck and has the speed to get back into his defensive role. Nagy’s hard work has already paid off this season, netting two game-winners including an overtime goal against Niagara.
Although his coaches have previously commented that his offensive numbers don’t match his value to the team, he has tallied 11 points this season so far. The team has high expectations for Nagy this season and if his production continues at its current pace, he will likely exceed those expectations.
Another player to watch is Generals rookie Calvin de Haan, who has logged a considerable amount of minutes for a rookie. That can probably be credited to the way he has played like a veteran throughout the early part of this season. Calvin’s OHL career has started out with a bang as he is currently leading the league’s rookies in scoring (11 points) and is also first in power play assists. The 17-year-old from Carp Ontario was Oshawa’s third round selection in the 2007 OHL draft.
Last year, de Haan won rookie of the year honors in the Central A League as a member of the Kemptville 73’s, and had been considering taking the NCAA route, but is excited about his decision to come to play in Oshawa, and you can be sure the Generals are just as, if not more excited as well. A swift skater who thinks the game well and has great puck-handling skills, de Haan is a potent offensive threat who has had the opportunity to play on the first power play unit. This rookie has demonstrated poise beyond his years in several situations, taking the time to adjust his position to find shooting lanes and having patience under pressure. Still in the early days of his OHL career, de Haan has already made his mark on the Oshawa Generals and has already become not just a top rookie, but a top player to watch this season.
As long as John Tavares in playing in Oshawa, the focus will be fixed on him and his abilities, but this season he’ll undoubtedly be getting some help from his talented and dedicated teammates. The Hockey News may have ranked the Oshawa Generals to finish dead last in the OHL this season, but as long as Tavares and his talented supporting cast can live up to their potential, it’s not hard to imagine the Generals putting together a winning season and some stellar offensive numbers.
Other Generals to Watch
Tony DeHart – He has speed, great puck moving skills, is not afraid to shoot and provides a calm, solid presence on the back end.
Conor Stokes – A high energy player recently acquired from Guelph, likes to throw his weight around. He already has as many points this season as he did all of last year.
Alexander Denezhkin – A fast skater that can split the defense. Once he matures a little physically, expect him to be an offensive threat.
Shea Kewin – Returning from a broken leg which kept him off skates for six months, he scored in his first game back on October 10th vs. Erie. There are high expectations to provide secondary scoring.