Barrie Colts: 5 Storylines to Follow in 2019-20

Despite missing the postseason in 2018-19, the Barrie Colts’ future remains incredibly bright and loaded with elite young talent. In this article, we’ve proposed five storylines which will be critical to the Colts’ success this coming season.

Despite a red-hot start to their 2018-19 campaign, the Barrie Colts struggled down the stretch and wound up missing the post-season.

Skating to a 26-38-4 record, the Colts were hampered by a slew of injuries throughout their most recent season — one which also saw a number of long-time Colts and fan favourites traded out of town ahead of the deadline. These transactions significantly decreased the experience and average age of Barrie’s lineup, as the Colts went on to ice the youngest team in the OHL in 2018-19.

Justin Murray of the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
The departure of team captain Justin Murray this past season — amongst a slew of others — decimated Barrie’s depth and ability to compete for the postseason. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

However, it is the young age of the Colts’ roster which is brewing a great deal of hope and excitement within the organization and the city’s fan base. With a number of highly touted prospects eager to leave a lasting impression at the OHL-level this coming season, the Colts’ poor campaign in 2018-19 will likely be forgotten once the 2019-20 version of the club takes to the ice with a renewed sense of purpose and ability.

With this being said, here are five storylines to follow regarding the Colts which could prove crucial to their success or failure this coming season. Although a number of questions continue to surround the team, the fact remains that the future of OHL hockey is incredibly bright in Barrie.

5 Storylines to Follow

Here are our five key storylines to follow in Barrie this season. Although the answers to these questions are not immediately known, the outcomes which arise from the situations below will likely dictate the success or failure of the Colts in 2019-20

1. Who Will Seize the Colts’ Crease?

Kai Edmonds, Jet Greaves, and Maxim Zhukov all enjoyed time in the Colts’ crease this past season, however, it appears as though it will be a two-man show come the 2019-20 campaign. And, although Edmonds impressed for Barrie last season, it appears as though Greaves will lead the charge in between the pipes this coming September.

Likely to be selected by an NHL franchise come the 2019 NHL Draft in June, Greaves is a highly athletic and competitive netminder who makes highlight-reel saves with incredible consistency. Square to opposing shooters and never taken out of the play, Greaves proved that he can afford the Colts with an opportunity to win each and every time he takes to the crease — a quality which will prove incredibly valuable given the youth of Barrie’s projected lineup this coming season.

If Greaves, alongside Edmonds, can provide the Colts with stability in the crease this season, it will undoubtedly inflate the confidence of Barrie’s young players and provide them with a solid foundation for success in the years ahead.

2. Can Riley Piercey Take the Next Step?

Nabbed by the Colts with the 16th overall choice in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, Riley Piercey has all of the qualities of an elite offensive player at the OHL-level. A smooth-skater, Piercey features a strong shot, natural playmaking abilities, and the drive necessary to penetrate opposing defences and generate offensive opportunities for his team.

Riley Piercey of the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Piercey’s lethal skill set should translate to considerable offensive potency in the coming 2019-20 campaign. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

His rookie season, however, left something to be desired. Come to the end of the 2018-19 season, Piercey had put forth three goals and 14 points — a total which ranked him as the 42nd-highest scoring rookie in the league. Moreover, Piercey’s three goals placed him in a tie for 48th overall in rookie goal scoring — two outputs which were not reflective of his abilities or ultimate potential at the OHL-level.

An undeniable talent, Piercey has the skill-set necessary to become an impact player and go-to force for the Colts. If he can enjoy a breakout season in 2019-20 — an outcome which would not come as a surprise — Barrie will surely be well on its way to a playoff-berth.

3. Will Brandt Clarke Make an Instant Impact?

When the time came for the Colts to make their first round selection in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection, there was no question as to who they would be selecting. In Brandt Clarke, the Colts added a dynamic two-way defenceman with size who will be one of the top defence prospects to compete in the OHL in quite some time.

The one question surrounding Clarke is just how quickly can he transition to the OHL-level?

Absolutely dominant for the Don Mills Flyers of the GTHL in 2018-19, Clarke has the ability to alter the course of any given game which he competes within and can do so with ease at both ends of the ice. Given his size and strength, Clarke should not be overmatched in his defensive zone — it is his desire to rush the puck and push the pace offensively which will surely take longer to develop against an increased level of competition.

4. Can Ryan Suzuki Lead a Rebound in Barrie?

As a former first overall selection in the OHL Draft, Ryan Suzuki has yet to come close to reaching his ultimate potential. This particular fact was on full display this past season, as Suzuki continued to lead the Colts’ attack at both ends of the ice despite a lack of consistent support from within Barrie’s lineup.

Ryan Suzuki of the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Ryan Suzuki has the skill-set and potential necessary to lead a resurgence in Barrie. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

With this being said, if there was one player to lead a resurgence in Barrie, it is no one other than Suzuki. An uber-creative playmaker whose goal-scoring abilities continue to improve, Suzuki’s two-way play is simply sensational and will only improve alongside the strengthened abilities of his fellow teammates. If the likes of Piercey and Clarke can play vital roles in 2019-20, look for Suzuki to lead the Colts back to a playoff-berth.

5. Will Ryan Del Monte Add Depth Scoring?

An incredibly talented puck-handler who starred for the Toronto Nationals of the GTHL this past season, Ryan Del Monte was a clever selection by the Colts in the second round of the 2019 OHL Draft. A playmaker first and foremost, Del Monte can devise lethal opportunities with relative ease and is no stranger to firing the puck into the back of the net. However, injuries hampered the second half of Del Monte’s minor midget season — a reality which left many questioning his value in the Priority Selection.

However, the Colts did not hesitate in selecting Del Monte with the 24th overall selection, as the youngster could very well become a crucial depth player for Barrie this upcoming season. Although he isn’t the biggest player on the ice, Del Monte’s ability to elude his opponents should allow him to enjoy a substantial amount of success as a first-year player. If Del Monte’s creativity and confidence can transition to the OHL-level without issue, the Colts could stand poised to receive far more depth scoring than they initially anticipated.


2019 NHL Draft: Canada’s Top Early Performers

Although it’s only November, it’s time to check in on the best Canadian prospects eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. In this article, we analyze three players who have impressed this season from each CHL league and check in on the Canadian Jr. A circuit.

Canada has proven time and time again to be a developmental powerhouse in the hockey world.

Consistently pumping out a number of the NHL’s youngest elite players, Canada and the many leagues within it serve as a significant gateway for future stars regardless of their country of origin. And, in 2018-19, exactly such is once again the case — the three leagues which comprise the Canadian Hockey League are saturated with highly skilled talent while the Junior A circuit features a handful of dynamic players as well.

Now, although the 2018-19 season remains young, a slew of players have already begun to separate themselves from their competition. Through consistent and lethal play, these particular prospects — which you will meet below– have enjoyed sensational starts to their first campaigns of NHL Draft eligibility.

Western Hockey League

The Top-3 Early Performers:

  • Kirby Dach (Saskatoon Blades)

Standing 6-foot-4 and 200-pounds, Kirby Dach is an intimidating force who features an explosive offensive skill set. A tremendous passer with exceptional vision, Dach also boasts an improving shot and innate instincts — a combination which makes him a presence each and every shift.

To begin the 2018-19 campaign, Dach wasted little time applying his versatile skill set. In his first 22 games played with the Saskatoon Blades, Dach had recorded 12 goals and added 23 assists for an impressive total of 35 points — the most of any WHL draft eligible forward.

  • Peyton Krebs (Kootenay ICE)

Although his standing within various NHL Draft rankings has fluctuated, Peyton Krebs remains as a constant attacking force for the Kootenay ICE. Standing slightly less than 6-feet tall, Krebs is a workhorse for the ICE and a tireless puck hound. Agile and creative, Krebs can weave through opposing defences and carve his way to the goal while in possession of the puck.

Despite a slightly slow start, Krebs has ramped up his offensive game. Mid-way through the month of November, Krebs had earned himself 27 points alongside six goals. Although his plus/minus rating of -17 left plenty to be desired, Krebs could develop into a strong attacking forward similar to Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

  • Bowen Byram (Vancouver Giants)

Bowen Byram could very well be the best defenceman eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. Extremely mobile and confident, Byram can be utilized in a variety of situations and is a dominant force at even-strength.

At the half way point of the month of November, Byram had already collected six goals and 15 points alongside a respectable plus/minus rating of +3. As a driving force for the Giants, Byram has consistently displayed the ability to lead his team at both ends of the ice while logging major minutes in the process.

Honourable Mention:

  • Brett Leason (Prince Albert Raiders)

Although he is a 1999-born prospect, Brett Leason could be one of the most promising yet overlooked players available for the 2019 NHL Draft. With two average seasons of WHL play in-hand, Leason has exploded out of the gate to begin his 2018-19 season with 18 goals and 42 points in just 20 games played.

With great size given his 6-foot-4 frame and 205-pound weight, Leason could prove to be a hidden gem if drafted by an NHL franchise this coming June. Although he’ll surely need to develop within the professional ranks before being afforded a shot at the NHL-level, the native of Calgary, Alberta clearly boasts the skill-set of a legitimate NHL prospect.

Ontario Hockey League

The Top-3 Early Performers:

  • Arthur Kaliyev (Hamilton Bulldogs)

Not only is Arthur Kaliyev a smooth skating forward with a wicked shot, but he is also one of the most lethal offensive players in the OHL this season. As a natural goal-scorer, Kaliyev can beat goaltenders in a variety of ways but relies primarily on his heavy and devastating shot to do damage.

Kaliyev is a devastating offensive force who plays with remarkable consistency. (Photo Credit: Bandon Taylor)

With 17 goals and 32 points through his first 21 games played this season, Kaliyev has quickly established himself as a premier offensive player eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. Rocketing his way up respective draft rankings and showing no signs of slowing down, Kaliyev could be a hidden gem within this year’s class.

  • Ryan Suzuki (Barrie Colts)

As the first overall choice in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, it should come as no surprise to see Ryan Suzuki as a top performer early on this season. A dynamic playmaker who boasts terrific vision, Suzuki is a consistent threat who makes those around him better on a nightly basis.

Through his first 19 games played with the Colts this season, Suzuki had already accumulated 29 points — eight of which goals. If able to consistently dominate his opposition this season while further strengthening his defensive play, Suzuki could be chosen inside of the top-10 come the 2019 NHL Draft.

  • Thomas Harley (Mississauga Steelheads)

Although he began the 2018-19 OHL season as a relative unknown, Thomas Harley is quickly making a name for himself. A smooth and polished skater with oodles of confidence, Harley is becoming one of the OHL’s best puck-moving defenders despite his young age of just 17-years.

Harley is a smooth-skating defender of significant size who loves to contribute offensively. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Having recorded 18 points through his first 21 games this season, Harley is proving that he can play a responsible two-way game against his opponent’s top attacking lines. Although his defensive game remains a work in progress, there is simply far too much to like with regards to Harley’s game to go unmentioned.

Honourable Mention:

  • Matthew Struthers (North Bay Battalion)

Although he was first eligible to be chosen in the 2018 NHL Draft, Matthew Struthers’ lethal play this season could lead to his selection in the 2019 NHL Draft. Of solid size given his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame, Struthers is an intimidating force who has come to play a significant offensive role for the North Bay Battalion.

Having potted 12 goals and 27 points across his first 18 games played this season, Struthers has been remarkably consistent and endlessly potent. Playing alongside an incredibly dangerous teammate in Justin Brazeau, Struthers has become an offensive catalyst for the Battalion yet one capable of being utilized in a variety of situations. If able to maintain his current level of play, Struthers could very well be chosen in the upcoming NHL Draft.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

The Top-3 Early Performers:

  • Nathan Legare (Baie-Comeau Drakkar)

Nathan Legare nearly topped his entire offensive output from his rookie season in October alone to begin the 2018-19 season. Blasting home 16 goals and 35 points in his first 23 games played this campaign, Legare has quickly cemented himself as a prospect to watch within the QMJHL this year.

Although long overlooked due to the presences of Jakob Pelletier and Raphael Lavoie, Legare has shed the shadow cast by his competition through competitive and consistent offensive play. A speedy and purposeful skater, Legare demands puck possession and has proven his ability to create lethal scoring chances in the blink of an eye.

  • Jakob Pelletier (Moncton Wildcats)

As the third-overall selection in the 2017 QMJHL Entry Draft, Jakob Pelletier has long been a prospect of immense potential. Fortunately for Pelletier, he is quickly living up to the expectations placed upon him — the Quebec City, Quebec native netted 11 goals and 30 points in his first 20 games played this season.

Incredibly quick, agile, and decisive, Pelletier is a tireless force who loves to attain both personal and team success. Not one to take a night off, Pelletier has come to drive Moncton’s offensive game and is now relied upon by his coaches and teammates to do exactly such. Although somewhat undersized, the punch which Pelletier packs in unquestionable.

  • Raphael Lavoie (Halifax Mooseheads)

In addition to Dach, Raphael Lavoie could be one of the 2019 NHL Draft class’ best power forwards. Standing 6-foot-4 and 200-pounds, Lavoie is an intimidating threat who also plays a consistent offensive game. In fact, Lavoie recorded 12 goals and 22 points through his first 20 games played this season.

What separates Lavoie from most power forwards, however, is his long yet smooth and efficient stride. Despite his lanky frame, Lavoie is a fantastic skater with breakaway speed and the agility necessary to operate deep within the offensive zone. As a late 2000 birth date, Lavoie is one of the oldest yet most NHL ready players eligible for the upcoming NHL Draft.

Canadian Jr. A

The Top-3 Early Performers:

  • Alex Newhook (Victoria Grizzlies)

Long the primary player to watch within the Canadian Jr. A circuit this season, Alex Newhook has wasted little time in establishing himself as a top NHL prospect early on this season. Skating in his second campaign with the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL, Newhook has already netted 12 goals and a whopping 36 points in his first 24 games played.

Committed to Boston College for the 2019-20 season, Newhook is an explosive and extremely dynamic forward capable of driving his team’s offensive game. As a fluid skater of ample speed and agility, Newhook is endlessly crafty and is most lethal when the puck is on his stick.

  • Harrison Blaisdell (Chilliwack Chiefs)

A second year player with the Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL, Harrison Blaisdell is quietly piecing together a strong sophomore season. Committed to the University of North Dakota for the 2020-21 campaign, Blaisdell has been a model of consistency thus far in 2018-19 — recording 15 goals and 27 points across his first 25 games played.

Although of a slightly smaller stature, Blaisdell has become a lethal offensive force for the Chiefs. As a versatile offensive player, Blaisdell can move the puck to his teammates with relative ease or uncork a crisp and accurate shot on goal.

  • Eric Ciccolini (Toronto Jr. Canadiens)

The Toronto Jr. Canadiens are off to a hot start to begin their 2018-19 OJHL season, however, said success would not have been possible without the play of Eric Ciccolini. Headed to Colgate University for the 2020-21 season, Ciccolini has quickly become a devastating attacker for his team.

Having collected 14 goals and 36 points through his team’s first 24 games, Ciccolini led the Jr. Canadiens with absolute authority. As a solid skater with exceptional puck-handling abilities, Ciccolini is a creative skater who can generate quality scoring opportunities off of the rush or via the cycle game.

Can Ryan Suzuki Best His Brother?

Ryan Suzuki of the Barrie Colts is a sensational playmaker who plays a strong and calculated game. Long motivated by his older brother, Nick, could Ryan surpass his sibling as an NHL prospect?

As the first-overall choice in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, attention tends to follow Ryan Suzuki regardless of where he plays.

A former standout with the London Jr. Knights, Suzuki enjoyed a solid rookie season with the Barrie Colts in 2017-18 — scoring 14 goals and adding 30 assists for a total of 44 points. Although he didn’t claim any notable individual awards, Suzuki’s campaign proved to be a promising one considering the depth of the Colts’ roster and his incredible composure with the puck.

Ryan Suzuki
Precise skating and calculated decision making proved crucial to Suzuki’s rookie OHL campaign. (Photo Credit: Miranda Zilkowsky Photography)

Extremely calculative while in possession and rarely pressured into making mistakes, Suzuki’s seemingly veteran style of play mixed with his lethal offensive upside immediately garnered comparisons to another current OHL-star — the youngster’s brother and Owen Sound Attack sniper Nick Suzuki.

Although they do boast their differences, both Suzuki and his older brother are remarkably similar players. Of average height and weight, the brothers are endlessly intelligent and creative on the ice — an ability which drives both players’ offensive games.

However, given their similarities, this begs one ultimate question: can the younger Suzuki become a more talented and promising player than his older brother?

The Surging Suzuki Sibling Rivalry

Although they are family, there is no question that the Suzuki brothers are incredibly competitive and strive to out-duel one another.

On one hand, there is the oldest Suzuki.

As a first-round choice of the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Draft, Nick seemingly holds the distinct advantage in the sibling rivalry. Although Ryan is slated to be selected in the coming 2019 NHL Draft, Nick boasts the bragging rights — and will continue to do so if Ryan fails to hear his name called earlier than Nick did at 13th overall.

What’s more is that the elder Suzuki has two dynamite OHL seasons in-hand. In 2016-17, Suzuki potted a whopping 45 goals and 96 points for the Attack before adding another 42 goals and 100 points for Owen Sound last season. Further, Suzuki owns two William Hanley Trophies as the OHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player — he’s collected just 32 penalty minutes thus far in his 192-game career.

Then, on the other hand, we have the younger of the two brothers.

Although he only has one OHL season under his belt, Ryan’s inaugural campaign was incredibly impressive and one which cemented the native of London, Ontario as a potential top-10 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Despite drawing less ice time than he arguably would have garnered with different franchises throughout the OHL, the younger Suzuki made the most of his playing time as a rookie and was able to leave a lasting impression. As an immensely intelligent player, Suzuki’s playmaking abilities were regularly on full display — his willingness to saucer passes through traffic with success was a treat to watch.

Further, Suzuki established himself as a prospect who refuses to buckle under pressure. Routinely utilized on Barrie’s power-play and in high-pressure situations, Suzuki’s patience and willingness to wait for high-percentage scoring chances to develop helped to drive the Colts’ man-advantage — Barrie concluded the 2017-18 regular season with the OHL’s sixth-best power-play.

So, although he doesn’t hold any hardware, Suzuki is evidently well on his way to becoming as good as — if not better than — his older brother. Sure, he needs to strengthen his frame and improve his shot — two weaknesses which will improve with physical maturity — however, the fact remains that Suzuki is staring down a lucrative career at the NHL-level.

And, although he and his brother play in opposite OHL Conferences, the personal drive to improve shared by the two on a nightly basis is endlessly inspiring

NHL Prospect Profile: Ryan Suzuki

Ryan Suzuki is one of the smartest players available for the 2019 NHL Draft, combining tremendous skating and playmaking abilities to rack up points and likely become a top-15 pick at next year’s draft.

– Ryan Suzuki –

Barrie Colts (OHL) | Center | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

London, Ontario, Canada | May 28, 2001 | 6-foot, 172-pounds

Ryan Suzuki, brother of Golden Knights’ prospect, Nick, was the 1st overall selection at the 2017 OHL Priority Selection. A natural playmaker, Ryan has incredible hockey sense, dubbed one of the smartest OHL prospects in recent years by Elite Prospects. He racked up 14 goals and 44 points in 64 games with the Colts last year.

Suzuki skates effortlessly and can beat defenders to the outside with impressive top speeds. He has performed admirably in international competition for Team Canada, including the IIHF U17 Championships and the recent Hlinka Gretzky Cup, quickly rising to be an on-ice leader for both teams.


  • Hockey Sense
  • Skating
  • Playmaking

Suzuki is an incredibly smart individual, on and off the ice. He seems to see the game one step ahead of everyone else, utilizing his innate instincts to find open space. Suzuki uses this ability when in possession of the puck as well, slowing the game down to find minuscule passing lanes which create scoring chances for his teammates.

Ryan Suzuki effectively utilized his hockey sense and innate vision to quickly become  one of the Colts’ top playmakers during his rookie year. Expect a breakout year in ’18-19 as he gets first-line minutes. Photo Credit – Miranda Zilkowsky Photography

A smooth skater, Suzuki accelerates quickly and maintains incredible agility at top speeds while controlling the puck with ease. He has surprising lower-body strength and can employ it to protect the puck against larger opponents. Suzuki also has astonishingly silky hands and the creativity to turn defenders inside out regularly.


  • Consistent Scoring Ability

While Suzuki has shown flashes of dynamic scoring abilities, he has yet to consistently use his underrated shot at the OHL level. On a strong Barrie team last year, Suzuki tended to resort to feeding his teammates more often than using his own shot. If he wants to rise up the draft rankings in 2019, Suzuki will need to find ways to use his shot more consistently.

With many of the Colts’ top centermen moving on from last year, Suzuki is sure to see top-line minutes each night in 2018-19. As such, he must use his strong wrist shot to earn the respect of his opponents. If he can prove to be both a dangerous sniper and playmaker, then watch for his goal and point totals to increase exponentially this season.

Future Potential:

Ryan Suzuki projects to be a top-six center at the NHL level. He plays a complete 200-foot game and has the hockey sense and skating abilities to thrive in today’s league as an elite playmaker.  Comparables include Claude Giroux and Mathew Barzal. Heading into the ’18-19 season, Suzuki projects to be a Top-15 pick at the 2019 NHL Draft.