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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Top Ten Barrie Colts Imports of All-Time by Ryan McArthur and Justin Stapleton #OHL




The 2018-2019 Barrie Colts are bringing back a solid group of returning players, including two top NHL Draft eligible stars (Nathan Allensen and Ryan Suzuki). Andrei Svechnikov and Dmitry Sokolov are unlikely to return to Barrie, since they are likely headed to the pro ranks. Therefore, the Barrie Colts are expected to select two players in the 2018 CHL Import Draft. The quality of players the Colts are able to acquire in the CHL Import Draft will go a long way in determining the strength of next season's squad.

The CHL Import Draft is held each year at the end of June/early July. The Barrie Colts have typically done well adding international talent to the roster during this draft. Leading up to the 2018 CHL Import Draft, Ryan McArthur (@ryanpmcarthur on Twitter) and Justin Stapleton (@staples1311 on Twitter) ranked the top 10 import players in Colts history and completed write-ups for each player. We hope this piece brings back fond memories of these players for Colts fans and some debate over the rankings. The players listed below were some of the most talented players to ever wear a Barrie Colts uniform.


  1. Andrei Svechnikov (Russia), Forward
  2. Alexandre Volchkov (Russia), Forward
  3. Mathias Niederberger (Germany), Goaltender
  4. Martin Skoula (Czech Republic), Defenceman
  5. Rasmus Andersson (Sweden), Defenceman
  6. Jan Bulis (Czech Republic), Forward
  7. Denis Shvidki (Ukraine/Russia), Forward
  8. Dmitry Sokolov (Russia), Forward
  9. Ivan Telegin (Russia), Forward
  10. Alexandre Burmistrov (Russia), Forward
Honourable mentions:
Vladimir Nikiforov, Jan Platil, Thomas Marcinko, Alexei Lipanov


Justin Stapleton on Andrei Svechnikov:

Andrei Svechnikov (2017-2018) had 40G and 32A for 72 points in just 44 regular season games with the Barrie Colts. In 11 playoff games he scored 5G and 6A for 11 points. Andrei is expected to be selected 2nd overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes. At the time of this posting, the 2018 NHL Draft was about a week away. He was selected 1st overall in the 2017 CHL Import Draft by the Colts.

When coming up with this list, there was lots of debate on where players would rank. However, there was no question that Svech would be #1. Although he had an injury shortened season, it was sure one to remember. Svechnikov and his line-mates went on an absolute tear down the stretch and Andrei finished the season on a very impressive 23 game point streak. This was longest points streak in the OHL during the 2017-2018 season. During these 23 games, he had 24G and 22A for 46 points. While the numbers are impressive, there was much more that made Svech special. He could burn a team in multiple ways, whether it be his strength down low, his strong skating, edges that embarrassed defenders, his rocket of a shot, or his heavily underrated play-making ability. As impressive as his offensive prowess was, Svech was absolute monster in his own end and closed gaps incredibly quick on the back check. He would often gain half the ice back on players, steal the puck, and work it back into the offensive zone. As skilled as Andrei is, his success wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for his work ethic. All year you would hear from coaches, teammates, and management just how hard Andrei worked. He was very well-liked by his teammates and encouraged them off the ice when he was nursing a hand injury early in the season. It was truly an honor to watch such an amazing talent, and selfishly it would be great to have him back in Barrie for one more year.

Ryan McArthur added:

Svechnikov took down several nods in the 2017-18 OHL Coach's Poll. He was ranked first in Best Skater and second in Best Shot. He crushed the competition in the weave agility drill with and without the puck at the CHL Top Prospects game on-ice testing. Therefore, pretty much all the main skills of a top offensive dynamo are there. Combine that with his defensive ability and gap control on the back-check, and you have a very intriguing NHL prospect.


Ryan McArthur on Alexandre Volchkov:

Alexandre Volchkov (1995-1997) had 66G and 80A for 146 points in 103 regular season games with the Barrie Colts. In 16 playoff games, he scored 8G and 12A for 20 points. He was selected in the first round (fourth overall) in 1996 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals. He was selected 44th overall in the 1995 CHL Import Draft by the Colts.


Volchkov was the first superstar player of the Barrie Colts, along with fellow import sensation Jan Bulis. He came into the OHL and displayed expectational flare. In the 1995-96 season, he was named to the First All-Rookie team in the OHL. For the first two months of his rookie season, he was the talk of the league and shot up the NHL draft rankings. The main strength of Volchkov was his size and skill. He was completely loaded with skill moves and had tons of strength. With this combination, he often looked like a man amongst boys, as it was nearly impossible for opponents to take the puck off him. If he decided he was going to take the puck to the net, it was very hard to stop him. He was a solid selection at 44th overall in the CHL Import Draft and that draft pick was the main reason why the Colts made the playoffs in their first two OHL seasons. If other teams knew what he was capable of, he would have been selected much earlier. Bert Templeton (coach and GM at the time) was the OHL Executive of the Year in 1995-96. The selections of Alexandre Volchkov, Jan Bulis, and Daniel Tkaczuk went a long way to making that possible. The downside to Volchkov was that he was a major bust in the NHL. This wasn’t expected by Colts fans, who were fortunate enough to see him shine in the OHL for two seasons.


Justin Stapleton on Mathias Niederberger:

Mathias Niederberger (2011-2013) had a 64-26-3-3 record with a 2.50 GAA and 0.926 save percentage in 105 regular season games with the Barrie Colts. In 35 playoff games, he had a 22-11 record with a 2.51 GAA and a 0.930 save percentage. Niederberger went undrafted and now plays at home in Germany. He was selected 25th overall in the 2011 CHL Import Draft by the Colts.

Arguably one of, if not the best goaltender in Barrie Colts history, Niederberger backstopped the Colts to game seven of the OHL final in 2013. He was a bit of an unknown upon coming into the league in 2011. At the time, many Colts’ fans questioned the selection with John Chartrand and Clint Windsor in the fold, but wow did their opinions change quickly. Before Christmas, Windsor was gone and Neiderberger was the main guy in Barrie. It was a very solid bounce back season for the Colts after a tough rebuild in 2010-11. Niederberger’s final season was a special one in Colts country, but came to an unfortunate ending. During the season he was just unbelievable and he out-dueled high end goalie prospects such as Malcolm Subban along the way. Niederberger is a special goalie and here’s to hoping he continues his pro career, with maybe another stop in North America.


Ryan McArthur on Martin Skoula:

Martin Skoula (1997-1999) had 21G and 82A for 103 points in 133 regular season games with the Barrie Colts. In 18 playoff games, he scored 4G, 13A for 17 points. He was selected in the first round (17th overall) in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. He was selected 33rd overall in the 1997 CHL Import Draft by the Colts.

Skoula was a force for the Barrie Colts during his two seasons with the team. He had excellent size and was very strong on his skates, which gave him plenty of leverage below the dots. Skoula used his skating ability and patience with the puck to break out of the defensive zone efficiently. His offensive game was strong, and he had all the tools of a complete all-round defenceman. Skoula had the best plus minus in the OHL during the 1998-1999 season with plus 58 rating (he was also a second team all-star) and he logged tons of minutes. He had incredible hockey IQ and you could easily put him in the top four (arguably top two) all-time best Barrie Colts defenders. Martin Skoula was the first-ever Barrie Colts player to win a Stanley Cup when he won it in 2001 with the Colorado Avalanche. Overall, he is one of only three OHL Barrie Colts alumni (along with Kyle Clifford (2) and Tanner Pearson) to ever win the Stanley Cup. Skoula played ten seasons in the NHL for the Avalanche, Ducks, Wild, Penguins and Devils. He also had a KHL All-Star game appearance in 2011 and ended his pro career in 2015.


Justin Stapleton on Rasmus Andersson:

Rasmus Andersson (2014-2016) had 21G and 103A for 124 points in 131 regular season games with the Colts. In 24 playoff games, he scored 3G and 16A for 19 points. He was selected in the second round (53rd Overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames. He was selected 37th overall in the 2014 CHL Import Draft by the Colts.

Andersson came in as advertised as an offensive minded defenceman. This was a huge need for the Colts at the time with the graduation of Aaron Ekblad. Andersson played a huge role in back to back central division championship teams, including a trip to the conference final in 2016. Andersson possesses a great shot from the point and, ability to control the play, and rushes the puck effectively. He is one of the best defensemen to wear a Colts uniform. Coach Hawerchuk relied heavily on Andersson to run a successful Colts powerplay that featured the likes of fellow Flames prospect Andrew Mangiapane, Kevin Labanc and Joseph Blandisi on the top unit over his two years in Barrie. Rasmus has since moved onto pro hockey with the Flames organization and has a good shot at making the big club this fall.


Ryan McArthur on Jan Bulis:

Jan Bulis (1995-1997) had 71G and 91A for 162 points in 123 regular season games with the Barrie Colts. In 16 playoff games, he scored 5G, 10A for 15 points. He was selected in the second round (43rd overall) in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals. He was selected 2nd overall in the 1995 CHL Import Draft.

Jan Bulis was the first ever player selected in the CHL Import Draft by the Barrie Colts. He was part of the upstart Barrie Colts in their inaugural OHL season. If you ask Colts fans, they may be divided on who was the best player during the first two years of the franchise.  However, I’m sure all Colts fans can agree that Bulis, Volchkov, and Tkaczuk were the players who were responsible for kick-starting the journey of this fantastic OHL franchise. Bulis was famous for controlling the play and was a corsi wonder for puck possession.  He was somewhat of a virtuoso on the ice and dictated the game. He had about every gift imaginable of an offensive dynamo and that led him to a decent NHL career.  Most famously, he spent four years with the Montreal Canadiens and scored 40 points twice. He spent nine years in the NHL and played professional hockey until 2015. Not bad considering he was drafted to the OHL in 1995. He didn’t have the pro career Colts fans had hoped for, but he showed brilliance in the OHL with the Colts and is remembered fondly by his fans in Barrie.


Ryan McArthur on Denis Shvidki:

Denis Shvidki (1998-2000) had 76G and 124A for 200 points in 122 regular season games with the Colts. In 21 playoff games, he scored 10G and 10A for 20 points. He was selected in the first round (12th overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers. He was selected 11th overall in the 1998 CHL Import Draft by the Colts.

Shvidki is the only player on this list who won an OHL Championship. He won the J.R Robertson Cup with the 2000 edition of the Barrie Colts. This team was the arguably the best Barrie Colts team ever (in my opinion, the 2010 team rivaled them closely), but came with a lot of controversy and trouble (that’s a topic for another day). Back then, I swear there were flames coming off the roof of the BMC during home games that year – it was loud and the team was on fire!! Shvidki only ended up playing in 43 NHL games, but he was a fantastic junior hockey player. He had such a dynamic offensive game and was an absolute killer on the power play. His vision and playmaking ability were exceptional, and his shot had a quick release with pure accuracy. I usually refer to the speed of top players, but he was exceptionally fast. Shvidki could really motor at top speed and some referred to him as the ‘Ukraine Train.’ For those who were lucky enough to see him play, they saw him thrive along with several other Colts legends. Shvidki played during the golden years for the Colts and was a key cog in their success during the 1999-2000 OHL Championship season.


Justin Stapleton on Dmitry Sokolov:

Dmitry Sokolov (2018) had 30G and 28A for 58 points in 29 regular season games with the Barrie Colts. In 12 playoff games he had 8G and 7A for 15 points in 12 playoff games. He was selected in the seventh round (196th Overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Minnesota Wild in 2016. He was selected 3rd overall in the 2015 CHL Import Draft by the Sudbury Wolves. On January 10, 2018, Barrie traded Alexei Lipanov for Dmitry Sokolov and a condition third round pick.

One of the most prolific scorers in the OHL during his time in the league, Sokolov was dealt to the Colts at the last minute in exchange for Alexey Lipanov from Colts rival, the Sudbury Wolves. What seemed like a questionable move at the time became one of the best trades in recent memory for the Colts as Sokolov put up over a goal a game pace and around a two point a game pace in his time in Barrie. While Sokolov was only here a short time he sure was entertaining with his patented bow and arrow celebration and some of the best natural scoring ability to grace the Barrie Molson Centre ice. There's no doubt in my mind, if Sokolov played his entire OHL career in Barrie he would be much higher on this ranking. Sokolov’s chemistry with fellow countryman Andrei Svechnikov and line-mate Aaron Luchuk was something special to watch. While Dmitry could return for the 2018-2019 season, it is expected he will graduate to pro hockey.


Justin Stapleton on Ivan Telegin:

Ivan Telegin (2011-2012) had 35G and 29A for 64 points in only 44 games with the Barrie Colts. In 13 playoff games, he had 5G 9A for 14 points. He was selected in the fourth round (101st Overall) by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He was selected 42nd overall in the 2009 CHL Import Draft by the Saginaw Spirit. On June 27, 2011, Barrie traded a conditional seventh round draft pick, Mississauga’s second round draft pick in 2013 and London’s third round pick in 2013 for Ivan Telegin.


Telegin was acquired June 27th, 2011 from the Saginaw Spirit to help bring a young Colts team back to the playoffs. He didn’t have the best start in Barrie only scoring once in his first eleven games, but boy did he ever catch fire after that. Barrie’s Russian Rocket scored 34 goals in 35 games after the slow start and helped the Colts to a 51 point improvement in the standings. Telegin was a prototypical Russian sniper possessing a great shot and could absolutely fly for a player that was 6’4. He sure was a treat to watch! Like many players on this ranking, it would have been great to have Telegin around longer. But after one impressive season the big Russian was off to begin his pro career. No doubt Telegin’s presence helped the young core develop to which eventually became the Eastern Conference champions in 2013.


Ryan McArthur on Alexandre Burmistrov:

Alexandre Burmistrov (2009-2010) had 22G and 43A for 65 points in 62 regular season games with the Colts. In 17 playoff games, he scored 8G and 8A for 16 points. He was selected in the first round (8th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers (Winnipeg Jets). He was selected 12h overall in the 2009 CHL Import Draft by the Colts.

Burmistrov played for the Barrie Colts powerhouse team from 2010. This is the only ever Barrie Colts squad to be ranked first overall in the CHL team rankings (although these rankings haven’t been around forever). Burmistrov dealt excitement, big time!! Ummm, maybe I stole that catch-phrase from Casino Rama. He electrified Colts fans with bursts of speed and stunning skill moves that made the crowd “oh and ahh.” Anytime Burmistrov was in the lineup, he was well worth the price of admission on his own. It's possible that he is the most entertaining player to ever play for the team. He gave opposing defenders fits with his canny ability to blow by them in any direction with his shiftiness and agility. Burmistrov had a decent pro career with the Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers, Arizona Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks, and in the KHL. Burmistrov helped lead the Colts to the 2010 OHL final where Taylor Hall absolutely crushed the Colts. That was heartbreaking for fans - sorry for the reminder. After that season, Windsor got hit hard by the OHL with penalties for breaking league rules. Add that to the list of grievances Colts fans have - and trust me, there are plenty. However, even though that season didn't end the way we all hoped, it was still a heck of a ride! 


GO COLTS GO!!!!

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