67's shooting high

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

In Jamie McGinn, Logan Couture and Arron Alphonso, the 67's expect to have one of the best lines in the OHL next season.

A challenge is finding a solid second punch.

Ottawa's lack of scoring depth was a primary reason for its early exit from the playoffs Sunday in Belleville. In a first-round series that lasted just five games, the Bulls had nine players with at least three points, including overager Tyler Donati (2G, 9A), Florida Panthers prospect Shawn Matthias (5G, 3A) and Eric Tangradi, a likely first rounder in the upcoming NHL draft.

A Philadelphia native, Tangradi had five points in the last two games, including the winning goal in both.

PRODUCTIVE TRIO

Along with Couture, who led the 67's with one goal and seven assists, the 67's could rely on McGinn (5G, 1A) and Alphonso (2G, 2A), but not much more.

Only two other forwards (Thomas Kiriakou, Brett Liscomb) had even two points.

"At the start of every season, you have high hopes and when you're eliminated, you wonder what went wrong," said GM/coach Brian Kilrea, who will return for a 31st season in September. "I don't know if we felt we could achieve first place, but we hoped to go a little further than the first round."

The next month will be a key in adding pieces to the 2007-08 puzzle. Owner Jeff Hunt, scout Pat Higgins and assistant coach Chris Byrne will travel overseas next week to investigate talent for the European draft.

Kilrea and his staff will then have to come up big in the May 5 OHL priority selection.

There are some sizable holes to fill, especially on the blue line.

The 67's biggest loss will be captain Derek Joslin, a future San Jose Shark, who was exceptional in the playoffs with a goal and four assists.

Other defencemen on the move are overagers Joe Grimaldi and Brodie Beard, as well as Czech Jakub Vojta.

That leaves Tyler Cuma, Julien Demers and Sean Ryan to anchor the blue line next season, with hopes that draftees who spent the season in the CJHL, such as Mathew MacDougall (Smiths Falls) and Jordon Gallea (Nepean), plus Rene Lamoureaux from the Ottawa West Golden Knights, can step in.

The goaltending situation is up in the air. The 67's could bring back Brady Morrison as an overager; go with Swiss import Lukas Flueler, who had an up-and-down rookie season; or go in a different direction.

RETURN OF THE NATIVES

The 67's are likely to have back Ottawa natives Matthieu Methot and Jason Bailey as overagers. Both forwards will provide leadership, hustle and size, but aren't likely to provide anywhere near the production Donati gave the Bulls from the 20-year-old slot.

While being disappointed in the abbreviated playoff run, Hunt says he's excited about the way rookies such as Cuma, Thomas Nesbitt and Cody Lindsay developed.

Asked what he expects for 2007-08, Hunt said: "I'll say what Brian Kilrea always says -- I think we'll finish in first place.

"We have a lot to be satisfied with this year," he added. "But now we have to start building for next year.

''We figured out that one line would not be able to do it offensively. We have to add some depth to become one of the more dangerous teams."

NOTE: Couture has been invited to play on the under-18 national team headed to Finland later this month for the world championship.


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