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Claimed:The Future Is Here

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The Future Is Here


Season 40 was marked by the influx of a number of extremely talented rookies.  While you cannot ignore the big names such as Tyrone Williams and Devin Sundberg, this rookie class was headlined by the top four selections out of the highly regarded Season 40 Entry Draft.  These top four picks were not your typical rookies - each established themselves as impact players immediately and are very much the future of the VHL, all of them with enormous potential that very well may spark a great new rivalry between the Cologne Express and the Toronto Legion as both teams are shaping up to be big-time contenders.


We will start off with a look into the rookie season of center Thomas O'Malley, the first overall pick.  Without question, O'Malley lived up to his draft position by picking up an incredible 110 points that not only led all rookies but was fourth in the league and just five points less than reigning MVP Odin Tordahl.  His +/- of 71 was the best in the VHL and his faceoff percentage was one of the best in the league.  The Express could not have made a better pick at first overall and O'Malley is an offensive powerhouse who helped the team jump from a lottery selection to the first seed in the European Conference and very much a Continental Cup contender.  Despite Thomas O'Malley's outstanding rookie season, many cite his lack of physicality as a detriment and something that very well may catch up to him as teams around the league begin to figure out how to limit his impact on the ice.  But, his skill is unquestionable and if this season was any indication, Thomas O'Malley is a name that will go down in the history books as one of the very best to play in the VHLM.



Thomas O'Malley is a natural talent, something the rest of the league learned quickly.


Cologne's second overall pick just as easily could have been selected first.  Mason Richardson, last season's Bourque Trophy winner as the top defenseman in the VHLM, continued to impress this season.  His 98 points were only three shy of Conner Low's 101 and Richardson will likely give him competition for the title of top defenseman in the VHL of Season 40.  His 30 goals easily led all defensemen while 16 of these were scored on the powerplay, establishing himself as an elite powerplay QB.  Richardson also played very soundly defensively all year and his 137 shots blocked were eighth best in the league.  Much like O'Malley, though, Mason Richardson's physical play, especially as a defenseman, left quite a bit to be desired and might be the only thing holding him back from being a complete player who can truly do everything at a high level.


The first of Toronto's hoard of picks in the Season 40 draft, Tyler Cote was named the captain of this young team before ever stepping onto the ice in the VHL.  While his scoring output wasn't at the level of O'Malley or Richardson, partially due to the fact that the Express simply had a deeper roster, his 64 points were fifth best among rookies.  But the thing that makes Cote such an impressive player is his all-around ability.  The winner of the Steve Yzerman Trophy as the top VHLM two-way forward just a season ago, Cote's 329 hits were fifth best in the league, putting him right up there with some of the best two-way forwards in the VHL.



Tyler Cote is a player who can do it all and perhaps the most important player for the future of the Legion.


Finally, we have fourth overall pick Jerrick Poole.  Although he didn't score at a Mason Richardson-esque pace, he finished with 60 points which was good enough for sixth among rookies and eleventh among defensemen.  Poole's physicality, though, was a bright spot for the rebuilding Toronto Legion as he finished with 261 hits, more than any defenseman with more than 60 points aside from Jake Wylde.  In addition, Poole's 215 shots blocked were second best in the league, giving Toronto much needed help in the defensive zone.  His 198 penalty minutes are a concern, though, and he will have to improve his discipline in order to avoid giving opponents too many powerplay opportunities.


Overall, O'Malley, Richardson, Cote, and Poole headline a new influx of young talent heading to the VHL.  Already widely regarded as one of the best draft classes in VHL history, we will see even more Season 40 draftees making the jump to the VHL next season looking to make their mark in league history.  With these four essentially destined to be the next generation of superstars, all eyes will be on them to continue to establish themselves and help the VHL continue its impressive legacy.

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