Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

OHL: Burning questions; the Peterborough Petes

With the OHL season beginning this week, BTN is doing a survey of each team in reverse order of last season's standings.

Peterborough Petes

In 2010-11— 20-45-1-2, 43 points; 19th overall.

Final Dynamic Dozen ranking — 20th OHL, 56th CHL.

Draftees — LW Matt Puempel (right photo; Ottawa Senators, first round, 2011), C Austin Watson (centre photo; Nashville Predators, first round, 2011), C Alan Quine (Detroit Red Wings, third, 2011), C-RW Andrew Yogan (New York Rangers, fifth, 2010), D Peter Ceresnak (Rangers, sixth, 2011), RW Derek Mathers (Philadelphia Flyers, seventh, 2011).

Draft watch — D Slater Koekkoek (left photo) is ranked as a B-list prospect on NHL Central Scouting's Futures List.

Questions?1. What can Puempel and Quine achieve in a full season together?

The two 18-year-olds, Puempel the finisher and Quine the facilitator, did make the Petes marginally better last season. Peterborough was 13-25-1-0 when each was in the lineup and 7-20-0-2 the rest of the time (mostly when Quine was still with the Kingston Frontenacs prior to the Ryan Spooner trade and at the end of the season after Puempel required hip surgery). The post-draft season is often when a junior player makes his biggest off-season improvement. The Petes will need both to lead an attack that also boasts Watson, Yogan, a creative second-year import in 18-year-old Swiss Lino Martschini and No. 2 overall choice Nick Ritchie, a power winger.

2. Did GM Dave Reid have access to early drafts of The Extra 2% last season?

It sure seemed like the Petes, after hiring Reid to replace universally respected 17-year GM Jeff Twohey, followed the Tampa Bay Rays' principle of letting certain areas of the team slide since they weren't ready to contend. That included goaltending, defensive depth and overage scoring — the Petes had only 26 goals from their 20-year-olds last season, or only seven more than one of the overages Reid let go, Jamie Doornbosch, had by himself. (And Doornbosch is a defenceman.)

The goaltending, with Mike Morrison (2.65 goals-against average, .912 save percentage) coming in via a trade with Kitchener, has been upgraded. Yogan, a Rangers prospect now playing for a coach with ties to that NHL organization, can help fix the dearth of OA scoring. The back end might inhibit the Petes' growth, although there's obvious potential with the 6-foot-3, 209-pound Ceresnak and the  Koekkoek. They likely need more than a back end built around an import and a 17-year-old; it's worth noting that 18-year-old defenceman Clark Seymour, the overlooked second player who came in the Spooner trade, might be the wild card (Pelino early in the training camp: "Someone said to us you won't even recognize Clark Seymour because of the work he's put in."). An improved defence would go a long way toward improving that 19th-ranked penalty kill (75.2 per cent; only last-place Barrie was worse).

3. Who are their best bets to play in the world junior championship?

There's a chance for the Petes to have players representing four countries. Watson, a two-way type who did count 34 goals as an 18-year-old last season, has a strong shot at making Team USA. Puempel is among a host of scoring-line candidates for Team Canada. Ceresnak represented Slovakia last winter in Buffalo, while Martschini was a late cut from Switzerland.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports . Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photos: CHL Images).

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