Chris Hartsburg, Dave Brown, OHL, Previews and Predictions

Diagnosing the Erie Otters Roster Bubble

Two preseason games are in the books for the Erie Otters. After an 8-0 win on Saturday night, they followed up Sunday with a 2-1 loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs despite firing 40 shots at Bulldogs’ starter Marco Costantini.

The Otters still have 28 players on their roster and two weeks before their next preseason games. We know that Chad Yetman and Maxim Golod will each be attending NHL camp next week. It’s also safe to assume they will make the final roster.

So that leaves us with 26 players vying to make the 2019-20 Otters. While many are safely in, there are several players who are on the bubble. Some of these may come as a surprise to you. We will try to diagnose this as best we can.

OHL, Erie Otters, Chris Hartsburg
Chris Hartsburg and staff have some interesting decision to make. (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

Diagnosing the Bubble

Let’s start with the 2003’s. Coach Chris Hartsburg admitted post game on Sunday that he is pleased with both Christian Kyrou and Brett Bressette. Each will be a player in this league, but their time is not now, Hartsburg told us. So when the time comes, Kyrou and Bressette will be sent down. But each will be a big factor in 2020-21.

That leaves us with Connor Lockhart. He showed well on Saturday and had a more modest showing Sunday. But he’s a great player and a big part of the plans. The expectation is that he will make this roster.

The 2002s

  • Aidan Campbell: He made his OHL debut on Sunday and played very well. Hartsburg said this is the most confident he’s been in the goaltending since he’s been in Erie. Campbell will backup Daniel Murphy to start the season. He is the goalie of the future for the Otters.
  • Jamie Drysdale: Next!
  • Elias Cohen: He is squarely on the bubble. He left Saturday’s game with an injury, but it’s not serious. With the health of Noah Sedore a question, Cohen could find himself making the roster depending on the circumstances. He’s played well and would deserve a spot. Assuming he’s good to go in two weeks, I’d expect him to play against London.
  • Cameron Morton: This one is interesting. He just agreed to a standard player agreement on Friday. With some of the other defenders on the bubble in my mind, Morton could be one of the youngsters that could push a veteran out. I don’t suspect he agreed to a player agreement for him to be moved down. There’s a lot of factors in play, but Morton definitely has a shot at this.
  • Noah Sedore: He suffered a brutal injury late in Sunday’s game. He had to be helped off the ice and couldn’t put any weight on his left leg. Hartsburg had no immediate update on his status. But Sedore was primed to make this roster. The status of this injury could alter what the roster looks like. It’s too early to say anything for sure.

The 2001s

  • Brendan Kischnick: He’s on the bubble. He played in both games on the third defensive pair. With Morton and others in play, Kischnick might go down to the wire. He plays with an edge and that’s something the team loves about him. But nothing is guaranteed here.
  • Hayden Fowler: Moving on.
  • Daniel D’Amato: In my mind he’s safe but he did play in both games this weekend which does say something in my book. He slotted in on the second line Saturday and fourth line Sunday. The fact that he’s an ’01 birthday makes him safer than some others, but still could go either way.
  • Austen Swankler: He’s good. On to the next one.
  • Marcus Gillard: This one feels safe to me. He played Saturday and did fine and didn’t play Sunday. Again being an ’01 helps in this situation. He might not play every night, but when he does, he’ll be fine.
  • Brendan Sellan: Another bubble candidate. Things are in the air with Sedore’s injury which could open the door. Even still, he’s right there on the cusp of making it and hasn’t given any reason to doubt him.
  • Brendan Hoffmann: I’ve liked Hoffmann’s game in recent viewings. He can play up and down the lineup and does what’s asked of him. He also brings good energy to the team. He’s safe for me.
  • Emmett Sproule: This one might not be as guaranteed as you’d think. I believe ultimately he makes it, but I just feel like there’s so much more there that we haven’t seen from him. He also was scheduled to play in both games this weekend. He was a late scratch Sunday due to a pregame injury. If there’s anyone that could fetch something in return on the market, Sproule might be the one to do that. I could be dead wrong on this but there’s at least a non-zero chance of a surprise move.
Austen Swankler, OHL, Erie Otters
Austen Swankler will be a huge part of the Otters this season. (Photo courtesy of the Erie Otters)

The 2000s

A quick note before we begin. This is where I think the most action happens. With 2000’s being overage players next season, the Otters have a ton of them, so it would make sense to move someone now to get assets back.

  • Daniel Murphy: He’s the starter, but with Campbell here, it might be one more year and done given who else is on the roster as a potential OA.
  • Joseph Mack: Definitely on the bubble. He’s been ok in my viewings but hasn’t done anything significant to establish separation. He will go right to the wire and is a prime candidate for trade.
  • Matthew MacDougall: Also on the bubble. He came over last year to help bring some leadership to a young team. He too could fetch a return on the market given he has two years of eligibility left.
  • Chad Yetman: He’ll be here this year and next. Good player.
  • Jack Duff: See Yetman, Chad.
  • Kurtis Henry: Very much on the bubble. He took two early penalties Sunday that hurt his team. I don’t think anything’s been decided on him at this point. Could go either way.
  • Luke Beamish: It’s nice to see him healthy. When healthy he’s a serviceable defenseman. He feels safe to me as teams would wonder about injury history. I see him starting on the third pair on opening night.
  • Maxim Golod: He’ll be an Otter for two more seasons it seems.
  • Alex Gritz: Definitely on the bubble. He hasn’t stood out in a way you’d like to see. He’s a very hard working player and plays an honest game. But with the youngsters fighting for spots, he might fall victim in the end.
Maxim Golod, OHL, Erie Otters
Max Golod appears safe for two more seasons given what he can bring to the table. (Credit: Matt Mead, Matt Mead Photography LLC)

The 1999’s

  • Ryan Martin: He is returning from injury and seems primed to start in the top-four this season. Can’t rule out something crazy happening but assuming health, he starts opening night.
  • Jacob Golden: He’s currently the only Otter who has his rights owned by an NHL team. Barring something crazy, he’s in.
  • Danial Singer: Had a tough year last season with the passing of his mother. He can still add offense especially on the power play. I have him in to start.

No matter how it shakes out, the Otters have some very interesting decision to make. The youth are certainly making it tough. The London games could ultimately determine the final roster.

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