Will Spitfires sputter?

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

All Ontario Hockey League eyes will be on Windsor to see if the Memorial Cup champs can do it again in 2009-10.

Spitfires star Taylor Hall, OHL playoff and Cup MVP, takes over for John Tavares as the NHL's No. 1 prospect. But the Kingston native will be in a battle with his own new teammate -- U.S. defenceman Cam Fowler.

The Spits should be great, but the London Knights lead a competitive rest of Western Conference trying to knock them off.

In the East, Barrie and Mississauga St. Michael's Majors look like the beasts to beat.

western conference

windsor spitfires

Last year: 57-10-0-1, 115 points. Won OHL title. Won Memorial Cup.

Leadership: Coach Bob Boughner brings back bulk of first squad in Canadian Hockey League history to rally from 0-2 start at a Memorial Cup.

Top guns: F Taylor Hall, OHL playoff and Memorial Cup MVP, is NHL draft first pick favourite. Nashville first rounder D Ryan Ellis (89 points) was OHL's top defenceman.

New blood: American D Cam Fowler and Slovakian F Richard Panik make already loaded team more dynamic.

Happy trails: G Andrew Engelage, who holds the OHL's single-season record for wins, has used up his junior eligibility. It's American Josh Unice's crease now.

Outlook: Better than ever. Club has 60-win potential.

london KNIGHTS

Last year: 49-16-1-2, 101 points. Lost in third round to Windsor.

Leadership: Coach Dale Hunter was OHL's fastest to 300 wins. With brother Mark providing talent, he'll be quickest to 500, too.

Top guns: If Leafs send him back, Nazem Kadri is 100-point man. If Rangers send him back, D Michael Del Zotto will challenge Ellis as league's most valuable blue liner.

New blood: G Michael Hutchinson of Barrie and talented rookie D Scott Harrington, who starts season with broken wrist.

Happy trails: All-time OHL goal-scorer John Tavares now Islanders, great beacon of hope . . . Workhorse D John Carlson scored, hit and dominated in first OHL season. Then, he went and won a Calder Cup with Washington affiliate Hershey Bears.

Outlook: Hungry after heart-wrenching five-overtime playoff loss to Windsor.

GUELPH STORM

Last year: 35-26-4-3, 77 points. Lost in first round to Saginaw.

Leadership: Captain Matt Kennedy (33 goals) will boost GM/coach Jason Brooks' crew if he blows back into town from Carolina camp.

Top guns: No top 20 scorer last year. That changes with Taylor Beck, Peter Holland and Michael Latta shooting.

New blood: First-round pick Carter Sandlak is skilled son of former NHLer Jim Sandlak.

Happy trails: F Brandon Buck and 53 goals over past two seasons.

Outlook: G Brandon Foote's hip injury costs him a half season so Cody St. Jacques and Matt Hoyle, who left Harvard, must step up.

PLYMOUTH WHALERS

Last year: 37-26-5-0, 79 points. Lost in second round to Windsor.

Leadership: GM Mike Vellucci returned behind the bench and team took off.

Top gun: F Tyler Seguin (21 goals as rookie) ready to be an OHL star.

New face: First-round F Garrett Meurs begins career against Windsor. Nothing like starting against the best.

Happy trails: F Chris Terry and F Matt Caria. The second and fifth top scorers in the OHL last season.

Outlook: Never count out the league's best goalie. The Whale has Minnesota pick Matt Hackett on board.

KITCHENER RANGERS

Last year: 26-37-3-2, 57 points. Missed playoffs.

Leadership: It took only one year for GM and coach Steve Spott to perform post-Memorial Cup overhaul.

Top gun: Playmaker Chris MacKinnon (10th in OHL scoring last year) has found a home in Kitchener.

New blood: The three Americans -- goalie Brandon Maxwell, forward Jeremy Morin and defenceman John Moore -- will lead a Rangers resurgence.

Happy trails: G Parker Van Buskirk, who made Kitchener look better than they were on many nights.

Outlook: Start printing those playoff tickets again for the long term.

OWEN SOUND ATTACK

Last year: 26-27-7-8, 67 points. Lost in first round to Windsor.

Leadership: After Bobby Ryan left, F Joey Hishon has become the franchise face.

Top gun: Playing with Hishon, F Steve Shipley should have a splendid NHL draft year.

New blood: It won't take first pick D Curtis Crombeen long to anchor Attack blue line.

Happy trails: G Tyler Beskorowany, now in Kingston, gives Scott Stacjer less crowded crease.

Outlook: Hishon on a mission leaves foes wishing they didn't have to go to Owen Sound.

ERIE OTTERS

Last year: 34-29-3-2, 73 points. Lost in first round to London.

Leadership: Robbie Ftorek got the Otters back in the playoffs. Next step: Win a round.

Top gun: Solid F Ryan O'Reilly a Colorado second rounder.

New blood: First rounder David Broll of Mississauga is 16 and already six-foot-one and 220 lbs. Clear the track.

Happy trails: Play-by-play guy Mark Jeanneret, who will call AHL games in Portland, one step closer to an NHL gig like his dad Rick in Buffalo.

Outlook: It's taken a while but GM Sherry Bassin's rebuild is shaping into fine form.

SAGINAW SPIRIT

Last year: 36-24-4-4, 80 points. Lost in second round to London.

Leadership: It starts and ends between the pipes with Ed Pasquale for GM and coach Todd Watson.

Top gun: Pesky Tyler Murovich had 27 goals last year.

New blood: Russian F Ivan Telegin has the potential to kick-start Saginaw offence.

Happy trails: F Jack Combs. Hard to replace strong 30-goal, 100-penalty minute man.

Outlook: Everything needs to mesh to duplicate last year's success.

SAULT STE. MARIE GREYHOUNDS

Last year: 19-45-2-2, 42 points. Missed playoffs.

Leadership: Coach Denny Lambert expected to turn these Hounds around.

Top gun: F Jordan Nolan scores big goals but he'll start season suspended.

New blood: F Dan Catenacci was first player chosen in 2009 draft.

Happy trails: Inspirational captain Matt Lyall, who never gave up on a lost season.

Outlook: Even a 20-point improvement might not be enough for a playoff spot.

SARNIA STING

Last year: 35-26-4-3, 77 points. Lost in first round to Plymouth.

Leadership: In summer of change, GM/head coach Dave MacQueen remains the constant.

Top gun: It'll be scoring by committee with this crew but Kale Kerbashian has the skills.

New blood: Four rookies -- JC Campagna, Brett Richie, Brandon Francisco, Craig Hottot -- make up future core.

Happy trails: F Justin DiBenedetto (45 goals, 93 points), third in OHL scoring last year.

Outlook: Full rebuild mode.

eastern conference

BARRIE COLTS

Last year: 30-33-3-2, 65 points. Lost in first round to Mississauga.

Leadership: Coach Marty Williamson can turn to rough-and-tumble F and world junior veteran Stefan Della Rovere to lead charge.

Top gun: Tampa Bay pick F Alex Hutchings has led the Colts in scoring past two years.

New blood: Off-season pickup F Luke Pither had 19 points in 17 playoff games for Belleville last year.

Happy trails: G Michael Hutchinson, now the main man in London.

Outlook: Colts will be kicking up high this season.

Mississauga ST. MICHAEL'S MAJORS

Last year: 39-26-1-2, 81 points. Lost in second round to Brampton.

Leadership: Coach Dave Cameron will be back as assistant with Canadian world junior team in Saskatchewan this year.

Top gun: Jordan Mayer (22 goals) was ticked he wasn't drafted. He'll take it out on opposing goalies.

New blood: Sarnia dealt first-round F Gregg Sutch so he could play closer to home.

Happy trails: F Jared Gomes, who led club with 31 goals last year.

Outlook: At least Senators owner Eugene Melnyk will like his junior club's results.

OTTAWA 67's

Last year: 40-21-5-2, 87 points. Lost in first round to Niagara.

Leadership: New head coach Chris Byrne takes over for legendary Brian Kilrea, who retains GM duties.

Top gun: W Tyler Toffoli could leap past last season's 17 goals and 29 assists in 54 games.

Happy trails: San Jose prospect F Logan Couture after a 39-goal season in his fourth OHL campaign.

Outlook: Their seven-game loss to Niagara last spring should be all the incentive they need.

PETERBOROUGH PETES

Last year: 28-37-1-2, 59 points. Lost in first round to Brampton.

Leadership: On Ken McRae's team, don't mess with Zack Kassian or get in his way. Just ask John Tavares.

Top gun: F Ryan Spooner had 30 goals as a rookie last season.

New blood: First pick Matt Puempel named first Mickey Renaud award winner by Sun County Panthers for dedication, determination and leadership.

Happy trails: F Tony Romano, who led Petes with 36 goals and 69 points last year.

Outlook: Habs pick Jason Missiaen has to play like Carey Price two seasons ago, not last year's version.

SUDBURY WOLVES

Last year: 26-35-3-4, 59 points. Lost in first round to Belleville.

Leadership: GM Mike Foligno, whose wife Janis died this summer, handed coaching reins to Bryan Verrault.

Top gun: Former first overall pick John McFarland has a year under his belt and ton of talent.

New blood: D Justin Sefton played out west with Notre Dame Hounds and can make immediate impact.

Happy trails: F Akim Aliu. At times, the Blackhawks prospect was the club's best player.

Outlook: Middle of the pack.

NIAGARA ICEDOGS

Last year: 26-31-5-6, 63 points. Lost in second round to Belleville.

Leadership: Fired coach Mario Cicchillo last month. It's Mike McCourt's 'Dog show now.

Top gun: Chris DeSousa has 40-goal potential.

New blood: Rookie D and second-rounder Dougie Hamilton wanted to play with his older brother Freddie.

Happy trails: D Alex Pietrangelo. If he comes back yet again from St. Louis, bump these 'Dogs up the standings a bunch.

Outlook: These guys were tough to play last year. Ask Ottawa and London.

KINGSTON FRONTENACS

Last year: 18-40-6-4, 46 points. Missed playoffs.

Leadership: Doug Gilmour will try to make it work in his first full season behind the hometown bench.

Top gun: Rangers prospect Ethan Werek scored 32 times in first OHL season.

New blood: Fronts grabbed Ottawa F Alan Quine second overall in draft.

Outlook: The turnaround begins.

OSHAWA geNERALS

Last year: 25-35-2-6, 58 points. Missed playoffs by one point.

Leadership: Trading John Tavares baptism by fire for GM and coach Chris DePiero.

Top gun: F Brett Parnham notched 50 goals last year and could do it again if he returns with Isles first-round D Calvin de Haan.

New blood: Gens just acquired Niagara's first rounder Lucas Lessio for draft picks under new league rules on trading first-year prospects.

Happy trails: $10,000. Team fined that amount by league for training camp violation.

Outlook: Pieces being put in place for pretty solid squad.

BELLEVILLE BULLS

Last year: 47-17-2-2, 98 points. Lost in third round to Brampton.

Leadership: Three straight trips to the OHL final four for GM and coach George Burnett. He'll be back soon enough.

Top gun: Watch for big things from Andy Bathgate, who has lots of hockey in his genes.

New blood: Speedy Toronto Marlies midget F Michael Curtis, a Bulls second rounder, fits well on Yardmen Arena's big ice.

Happy trails: G Mike Murphy, the best in the CHL last year.

Outlook: Over-age F Bryan Cameron could fetch a nifty price from a contender to hasten reloading.

BRAMPTON BATTALION

Last year: 47-19-1-1, 96 points. Lost in OHL final to Windsor.

Leadership: All 11 seasons have been under Stan Butler's stewardship. Last year was the best.

Top gun: Who knows? CHL MVP Cody Hodgson, Evgeni Grachev and Matt Duchene could all be gone. That's quite a line.

New blood: Rookie first-round F Barclay Goodrow had a pre-season hat trick against Owen Sound.

Happy trails: G Thomas McCollum, now in the Detroit Red Wings crease mix.

Outlook: No team loses more up front than the reigning Eastern Conference champs.


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