Season Preview: 2012-13 Plymouth Whalers

Posted: September 21, 2012 in 2012-13, Whalers

Last Season: 47-18-2-1 | 97 Points(1st West Division, 2nd Western Conference)

Playoffs: Western Conference Semifinals – Eliminated by the Kitchener Rangers in 7 games.

Departing Players:

  • Defense
    • D. MacDonald
    • Levi
    • Schmitz
    • Trutmann
  • Offense
    • Devane
    • Bathgate
    • Heard
    • Dempsey
  • Goalie
    • Wedgewood

Returning Players:

  • Defense
    • C. MacDonald
    • Malysa
    • Crombeen
    • Jones
  • Offense
    • Payne
    • Wilson
    • Noesen
    • Miller
    • Whaley
    • Meurs
    • Vanderwiel
    • Mistele
    • Rakell
    • Aleardi
  • Goalie
    • Mahalak

New Faces:

  • Defense
    • Peters
    • Duda
    • Carrick
    • Curcurruto
  • Offense
    • Bratina
    • Hartman
    • Sills
  • Goalies
    • Corbin
    • Nedeljkovic

Predictions Across the League:

Jim Parker – Windsor Star

Projected finish: Second in conference

Player to watch: Whalers have had a great one-two punch in net in recent years, but the team’s fortunes will rise and fall with Matt Mahalak’s play in goal.

Fast fact: Vellucci needs two wins to become the 13th head coach in OHL history to record 400 wins behind the bench.

Ontario Hockey League Website

Key Returnee: Veteran forward and Ottawa Senators first rounder Stefan Noesen led the Whalers in scoring last season with 38 goals and 82 points and looks like he’s capable of putting on a repeat performance this season.

Forwards: Noesen leads a solid group of returning forwards for the Whalers including the speedy Alex Aleardi, Anaheim Ducks prospect Rickard Rakell and Rangers prospect JT Miller, who scored 25 goals as an OHL rookie last season. Fourth year forward Garrett Meurs has enjoyed a steady offensive improvement every season and will get every opportunity to add to those totals again this season.

Defence: The Whalers were one of the stingiest teams in the OHL last season and will lean on veterans like Colin MacDonald, Nick Malaysa and Curtis Crombeen to continue that trend this season. Swedish defender Simon Karlsson is also capable of contributing at both ends of the ice. Former first round pick Gianluca Curcuruto is a terrific skater and should be able to step up his offensive production this season.

Goaltending: Matt Mahalak has played enough minutes as a back up in his first two seasons to show that he has the ability to play a much larger role this time around.

Behind the Bench: Mike Vellucci is one of the most successful coaches in OHL history and has a knack of getting the most out of his group year in and year out. This time around shouldn’t be any different.

MIHockey.com

Wilson, by far. As one who leads by example, Wilson can get the team going with a big hit, dropping the gloves or by showcasing his offense, as he did during the 2012 playoff run. Wilson is the perfect example of how a big hit or fight can change the tempo of a game and if he can stay injury-free and maybe pick his spots this year, expect bigger numbers from Wilson, along with a bigger role.

The Hockey Writers

The Whalers are expected to finish near the top of the Western Conference once again this season. They emerged as one of the best teams in the country last year, and after bringing in some talented hockey players from the USNTDP in Connor Carrick and Ryan Hartman, they are considered a favourite for the J. Ross Robertson Cup. They could be battling the London Knights for top spot in the West all season long.

 

The NHL lockout is going to have an odd effect on the start of this season. Rather than have a number of players at NHL training camps, they will have most of their players starting the season with the Whalers. This means a potential strong start, but a potential loss of talent when and if the season gets underway. The Whalers are a team that are always in the mix when it comes to playoffs, missing only their first season in the league. Like last year, the Whalers are ranked high and expected to go far, but time will only tell with this season.

My Prediction:

98 Points – First in the West. Followed by #2. London, #3. Kitchener, and #4. Guelph.

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