The QMJHL has completed more than 150 games of their 2020-21 schedule, giving prospects in the league a chance to continue their development and put performances on tape for scouts to view. The WHL hasn’t announced an official schedule yet but is on track to start their season later this month. That left the OHL as the last remaining CHL member without a clear plan for their teams this season, as Ontario continues to debate how even AHL hockey will take place.
We may be heading closer to a return for the OHL however, as Scott Wheeler of The Athletic reports that a memo was sent to teams today with plans for a restart. The 24-game season would be held in four hub cities, with a target start date of the April 2-4 weekend. None of that plan has been made official and is still subject to government approval.
While development and scouting is certainly the most important result of an OHL campaign taking place, it also would have an impact on NHL rosters later this season.
For instance, a player like Philip Tomasino, who is currently tied for the AHL scoring lead with five points in his first three games, would not actually be eligible to play in the minor league if the OHL was in session. The 19-year-old forward would have to either stay with the NHL club or go back to his OHL club (in this case the Oshawa Generals), but importantly, once assigned to junior could not be recalled until his season there was complete. Currently, Tomasino could be recalled from the AHL at any time to help the Predators if they felt he was ready.
Still, the benefits for an NHL scouting department are huge, given the league is already considering drastic options like pushing the 2021 Entry Draft until next year. There’s simply not enough information about this year’s draft class, or at least not as much as NHL teams want. 24 games would be better than none, though even this plan is far from confirmed at this point.