Ten issues facing the OHL this season

Can the London Knights repeat as OHL champions this season? (DEREK RUTTAN/QMI Agency file photo)

Can the London Knights repeat as OHL champions this season? (DEREK RUTTAN/QMI Agency file photo)

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:55 PM ET

The 10 biggest questions in the OHL heading into this season:

10. How exceptional is Erie centre Connor McDavid?

Centre John Tavares had 45 goals for Oshawa as a rookie in 2005-06. Barrie defenceman Aaron Ekblad, granted early entry to the OHL last year, looked at home on the Colts blue line. So it wouldn't be surprising to see the newest 15-year-old wunderkind average a point a game-- or more -- for the rebuilding Otters.

9. Can the London Knights repeat as OHL champs?

With coach Dale Hunter back from an NHL stint in Washington and a bunch of players who remember what it's like to lose the Memorial Cup final in overtime, the odds are in their favour. They Knights are one of a handful of teams with a serious shot at qualifying for the championship in Saskatoon next spring.

8. Where's fighting going?

The way of the dodo, it appears. The OHL is on the verge of new laws featuring stiff penalties for frequent pugilists, eventually forcing tough guys to think before they drop their mitts.

7. Is Windsor still favoured to hold the 2014 Memorial Cup?

Yes, but things got more interesting last month after the OHL fined the Spitfires $400,000 last month and stripped them of five top draft picks for illegal recruitment, penalties the team vows to appeal. The club's young core better prove early that it is worthy of winning the bid, or this might not be the slam dunk it was supposed to be.

6. Who benefits from an NHL lockout?

All 20 teams, really. But no one needs the extra attention more than those in the suddenly Maple Leaf-less in the Greater Toronto Area. Brampton and Mississauga -- rebranded the Steelheads -- have been at their wit's end trying to increase attendance. Here's one more glorious opportunity.

5. Will Sault Ste. Marie and Peterborough finally make the playoffs?

Missing the OHL post-season two years in a row is a disaster. Being left in the cold three years in a row is nearly unthinkable. Both teams have challenges. The Greyhounds started training camp with three veterans facing sexual-assault charges and the Petes traded their best forward -- again -- with Matt Puempel heading to Kitchener.

4. Who will take over from Sarnia's Nail Yakupov as the league's most exciting player?

His former Sting linemate, Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal's No. 3 overall pick, could grab the baton. If he doesn't rise accordingly, go with Barrie's Mark Scheifele -- if he doesn't jump to the Winnipeg Jets whenever the NHL returns -- or Kitchener's veteran defender, Ryan Murphy.

3. Is Kitchener coach Steve Spott the right man to lead Canada at the world juniors?

He better be. It's high time the Canadians start mining gold again and it won't be easy all the way over in Ufa, Russia. Spott knows the drill and the pressure that comes with it, from coaching the Rangers. That should help.

2. Is the OHL's Western Conference still the best in junior hockey?

No question. Spott said it best: "If you happen to get a point on the road in this conference, you just get on the bus and go with it. It's not easy here." And looking ahead, next season isn't going to be any different.

1. Is this union thing -- a Canadian Hockey League Players Association -- going to fly?

It remains to be seen. The crew behind it raises some valid points at times, but goes about a funny way of doing it. Bottom line, the players, their agents and parents will decide this one.


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