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Six CHL overagers shining offensively in their final seasons of junior hockey

The regular season is coming to an end...

Rimouski Oceanic v Quebec Remparts Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images

Back in October, I put together a post on CHL undrafted overage players (anyone born in 1999) who had had fast starts to their regular season. It’s been a while since then, and since we’re approaching the end of the CHL’s regular seasons, I thought it would be a fun idea to see how that list has changed since then.

Only two players that I profiled back in October are overagers who have managed to keep their production consistent. I’ve added five more players who have been racking up points in the respective Canadian junior leagues — and who knows, maybe the Tampa Bay Lightning will take another flier on one of them at the end of the season.

I’m hoping to do a third post following the Memorial Cup in May, because the playoffs are a whole different game — and there could very well be overagers who reach another level and lead their team to playoff success.

The Overagers

Bryce Kindopp (RW) — June 14, 1999
Everett Silvertips (WHL)
6’2”, 190 lbs

Kindopp was one of the three overagers who made it back onto this list. He was leading the WHL in scoring back in October, but he’s dropped back a little bit in that regard as the season has continued. Right now, Kindopp has 71 points in 60 games this season, good enough for 12th in the WHL. The Silvertips captain is just two goals away from the 40-goal plateau — a mark that only three other WHL players have managed to reach this season.

Though there wasn’t an NHL team prepared to take a chance on him through the draft, Kindopp did get an opportunity with the Colorado Avalanche last summer, both at their development camp and training camp. Kindopp has continued to prove his offensive game has grown, but not at the expense of his excellent defensive game. Though a bigger body, Kindopp is very mobile winger with effortless transitions and a positionally sound game.

Brett Neumann (C) — February 15, 1999
Oshawa Generals (OHL)
5’9”, 171 lbs

Neumann was another player to land on both this post and the one back in October. He hit the 80-point mark over the weekend and is the second-highest scoring overager in the OHL this season. Still, the OHL has been incredibly high-scoring this season, so Neumann’s 80 points in 60 games (43 of which are goals) are only good enough to get him tenth in league scoring. The speedy and high-energy forward has continued to score in a variety of ways this season, and seven of his goals have been game-winners. Despite his playmaking abilities Neumann isn’t afraid to shoot the puck — he leads the entire OHL in shots on goal.

NHL teams tend to shy away from undersized players (even now), and that, combined with playing on bottom-feeder OHL teams in his prime draft years, is likely what kept Neumann from being drafted. Still, the Toronto Maple Leafs liked enough of what they saw to invite him to their development camp in 2018. Neumann’s point production this season is undeniable, and he’s a legitimate contender to hit 50 goals by the end of the OHL season (he’s only seven goals away).

Joseph Garreffa (RW) — August 9, 1999
Ottawa 67s (OHL)
5’7”, 176 lbs

Garreffa is a pure example of the size discrimination that still exists within the NHL and team scouts. Though definitely on the smaller side — and barely 5’6” in his NHL draft year, Garreffa put up 60 points in 68 games in his draft year (2016-17) with the Kitchener Rangers and has continued to up his point production steadily with each subsequent season.

Currently, Garreffa has 84 points in 49 games this season with Ottawa. He hadn’t missed a single game in each of the last three seasons with Kitchener. Garreffa was due to return to the Rangers at the start of this season as well, but decided to try to turn pro instead. Though he attended rookie camp with the Los Angeles Kings, when pro offers didn’t pan out, he returned to the OHL, and the 67’s acquired him after losing one of their star forwards to injury.

Lovingly compared to the cartoon ‘Mighty Mouse’, Garreffa is a versatile, high-energy forward who actually spent significant time during his rookie season playing defense when Kitchener’s blueline was decimated with injuries. Like a lot of undersized players, Garreffa’s strength is his skating — he can take off or change directions in an instant. The shifty speedster gives opposing defensemen fits as he can weave around players with ease through the neutral and offensive zones.

Cedric Pare (C) — January 24, 1999
Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
6’4”, 212 lbs

So, why did the Boston Bruins let this guy walk? All he’s done this season is continue to rack up points in the Q. The Oceanic’s assistant captain has 87 points in 61 games this season, tied fourth overall in the QMJHL. Pare continues to be a high-energy power forward who tying up defensemen to allow space for his linemates (like one Alexis Lafreniere) to create with the puck. Yes, his point totals are likely directly correlated to playing with Lafreniere, but it isn’t necessarily easy to play and succeed with star players.

His skating looks much better as well, even from when I wrote about it at the beginning of the season. His stride appears longer and smoother. Pare has continued to demonstrate his prowess in the faceoff dot and his one-timer is a rocket when he does get it off. It remains to be seen whether or not Pare tries to turn pro after this season or head towards USports (he remains uncommitted to any school at the moment). However, the combination of size and skill that Pare has will make him an attractive target at the end of the season.

James Hamblin (C) — April 27, 1999
Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
5’10”, 181 lbs

Medicine Hat’s third-year captain is coming off 66 and 77-point years in the WHL and hasn’t missed a beat in his overage season. Hamblin has 87 points in 59 games in his final year of junior hockey and sits third in WHL scoring. He’s been invited to both the Toronto Maple Leafs’ and Boston Bruins’ development camps over the last two seasons, so NHL teams are taking notice of his play.

Though incredibly important on the ice, Hamblin’s biggest asset is his off-ice impact. He captained Canada White to a U17 gold medal in 2015. The former WHL first round pick was named captain of the Tigers in his third year with the team. On the ice, he’s defensively responsible and can drive offense for Medicine Hat. Teams may still shy away from him due to his size and he could very well be USports-bound after this season, but Hamblin’s offensive production has increased steadily over his WHL career and he’s surpassed the 60-point mark in each of the last three seasons.

Noel Hoefenmayer (LD) — January 6, 1999
Ottawa 67s (OHL)
6’1”, 196 lbs

The final overager — and only defenseman — was also drafted into the NHL, but the Arizona Coyotes chose to let his rights expire. Hoefenmayer is an interesting player to note — he is definitely a confident puck rusher, but scouts have questioned his skating ability and cited it as his biggest weakness. That seems like a contradiction at first glance, but Hoefenmayer has solid straight line speed, it’s his edgework that needs improvement. He has good scoring instincts and knows when and when not to jump into the rush or pinch on plays.

As far as how he plays in his own end, Hoefenmayer is positionally sound, reads developing plays well, and uses his stick or body to break up passes or push players to the outside. He looks like a different player this season — it’s obvious that his confidence is through the roof. Plus, the 67s don’t have a captain this season, but Hoefenmayer is usually their go-to choice for taking ceremonial puck drops.

Hoefenmayer’s 75 points in 55 games, spread out over a full 68-game season, would put him at around 92 or 93 points. Because the 67s only have nine games left in the season, Hoefenmayer is projected to finish with 87 points. Still, that’s incredible for a defenseman — the OHL has only had a handful of defensemen eclipse the 80-point mark in a season. There have only been four instances in the last decade where an OHL defenseman finished a season with 87 points or higher (Ryan Ellis did it twice). The 67s are wrapping up another dominant season in both the OHL and CHL, and Hoefenmayer has been large part of both their on and off-ice success this season.

Honourable Mentions: Alex-Olivier Voyer (QMJHL), Felix Robert (QMJHL), Zane Franklin (WHL), Wyatte Wylie (WHL), Brady Lyle (OHL)