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OHL Stock Watch: Rodwin Dionicio latest Saginaw Spirit defenceman to soar

With just ten or so games remaining for each OHL team, the playoff picture has come into focus. Ten teams have clinched playoff spots. As the Brantford Bulldogs, Sudbury Wolves, and Oshawa Generals jostle for the top spot in the East, the London Knights continue to hold off the Saginaw Spirit for first in the West, though they are separated now by just one point.

Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t address this right off the bat - Easton Cowan is currently riding the longest point streak in the entire CHL this season (29 games), but he only made this month’s list as an honourable mention. Because a plethora of Knights were featured in last month’s edition, and Cowan was also featured back in November, I made the decision to highlight other players who also had excellent Februaries.

Rest assured, Cowan’s stock is flying higher than ever with every game the point streak is extended to, and if it lasts until the end of the regular season, it’s a safe bet to assume he’ll be making another appearance on next month’s edition.

Now, onto the rest!

Stock Rising 📈

Rodwin Dionicio, D, Saginaw Spirit (Anaheim Ducks)

For the second straight month, a Saginaw Spirit defenceman landed on the Stock Rising list, and no defender in the OHL was more potent than Rodwin Dionicio in the month of February.

Every single game that Dionicio picked up points in last month was a multi-point outing. He was leading the rush, jumping up into the play, and manipulating defenders all month long. There’s no question how much Saginaw relies on Dionicio’s play every night - the majority of his goals were scored at key moments in games, either to jumpstart a comeback, respond after a goal against, or to tie the game late in the third.

His skating is still unlikely to be an advantage in the NHL, but for now, Dionicio is able to carve up opposing defences with ease - look no further than this ridiculous goal he scored as part of a five-point game against Barrie:

On a team as loaded with talent as Saginaw, to have an offensive weapon on the backend like Dionicio will be instrumental in the postseason - and he’s just one of several that the Spirit boast on their deep blueline.

Sandis Vilmanis, LW/RW, North Bay Battalion (Florida Panthers)

One of the more under-the-radar moves at the trade deadline was the North Bay Battalion acquiring Sandis Vilmanis from the Sarnia Sting.

Vilmanis was one of Latvia’s best players at the 2024 World Junior Championship, and the Florida Panthers prospect returned from that tournament eager to make an impact with his new team.

And once Vilmanis landed in North Bay, he was almost unstoppable. He scored fourteen times in eleven games in February, which included a hat trick performance against Saginaw and a four-goal outing versus Kingston.

Now, Vilmanis has nearly double the amount of goals with the Battalion (18) that he did with the Sting (10). He reads off his linemates effectively, slips into pockets of space and can execute in the blink of an eye, whether it’s jaw-dropping dangles through his own legs or snipes from close range.

On a Battalion team that has one of the most effective lines in the league this season (in Anthony Romani, Dalyn Wakely, and Owen Van Steensel), Vilmanis’ goal-scoring prowess will only make North Bay an even larger threat in the postseason - and clearly the Panthers are taking notice, because they inked Vilmanis to his entry-level contract last week.

Lucas Karmiris, C, Mississauga Steelheads (2025 NHL Draft)

On the youngest team in the league filled with draft-eligible talent and a likely 2025 top-5 pick in Porter Martone, fellow 2025 NHL draft-eligible Lucas Karmiris has flown under the radar for much of the season.

But he won’t for much longer. Karmiris exploded offensively in February, racking up 19 points in 12 games for the Steelheads - he had just 16 points on the campaign when the month began. His productive month started with a four-assist outing against one of the West’s best in the Soo Greyhounds, and it ended with a three-point game that helped Mississauga mount a late comeback against division rival Sudbury.

Karmiris is fearless on the ice, consistently attacking opposing defenders. Despite the smaller frame, he’s an impactful forechecker and defensive supporter, physically engaged and always looking to exploit and expose weaknesses to create turnovers. But last month, he was far more willing to utilize his heavy shot, catching goalies off guard from distance.

As some of his other teammates quieted offensively, Karmiris stepped up to lead the way for the Steelheads. Now, he’s on pace to finish his draft-minus-one season at a respectable 0.68 points-per-game rate, and he’ll certainly be a player to keep an eye on for the next draft season.

Honourable Mentions: Easton Cowan (Toronto Maple Leafs), David Goyette (Seattle Kraken), Carson Rehkopf (Seattle Kraken), Marek Vanacker (2024 NHL Draft), Owen Beck (Montreal Canadiens), Beau Jelsma (2024 NHL Draft re-entry)

Stock Steady ↔️

Cole Beaudoin, C, Barrie Colts (2024 NHL Draft)

Points were difficult to come by for Cole Beaudoin at the start of the campaign, but even then, it was impossible not to love who he was as a player. The skating might be a hindrance, but the work rate and motor are remarkable. He executes cutbacks cleanly, overwhelms players on the rush and forecheck, is a diligent backchecker, and he’s one of the most dominant puck possession players in this OHL group of draft-eligibles.

Then you factor in the skill level. The flashes of higher-end playmaking and handling abilities that are right now limited partially by skating. The shot, which looks NHL-calibre, that he can off-load from just about anywhere on the ice. The ability to gain the inside with ease, the physical skills, and the intelligence. He’s the total fourth-line package.

And in 2024, Beaudoin picked up the production. He went on a 16-game point streak, scoring nine goals and 24 points. Now, he’s on pace to finish above a point-per-game, which is even more impressive given that he wasn’t producing anywhere near that rate in the first half of the season.

Beaudoin might be the most sure-bet fourth liner in this class. The skating might hold him back from being a first-rounder, but he’s going to make it.

Stock Falling 📉

Eduard Sale, RW, Kitchener Rangers (Seattle Kraken)

On paper, Eduard Sale’s trade to the offensive powerhouse Kitchener Rangers seemed like a perfect fit, especially after struggling to produce in Barrie - Sale finished his tenure with the Colts with just seven goals and 20 points in 25 games.

Unfortunately, the opposite has happened in Kitchener, and his struggles are all the more surprising considering the Rangers have given Sale every opportunity for offensive success. Despite playing first or second line minutes with Carson Rehkopf, Filip Mesar, Adrian Misaljevic, and Matthew Sop, and top powerplay minutes, Sale’s production significantly lags behind his teammates.

In 18 games with Kitchener, Sale has just four goals, 11 points and only two multi-point games. The production alone is concerning, though it’s not for a lack of trying. In his last four games of February, Sale was shooting the puck far more often on target - as many as six or seven times a game. But Sale had just one true even strength primary point in February (technically two, although the second came off a Rehkopf goal scored one second after their powerplay expired), a well-placed wrister from distance on a screened goaltender.

The physical tools that made Sale one of the most talented prospects available at last year’s draft just haven’t been there for much of his OHL tenure. He's a tremendous skater, a ridiculously skilled passer and an excellent shooter. But he hasn’t been able to utilize those tools to his advantage in the OHL.

Far too often, Sale’s a perimeter player most nights. He hovers, he follows the play, but he struggles to impact the puck and he’s almost never attacking the middle of the ice. His motor, or lack thereof, was a concern for our scouts last season and has only become a more glaring issue in the OHL.

Perhaps a new month brings an opportunity for Sale to start fresh - he’s already up to three assists in two games in March so far. But he’ll have to overhaul many of the habits in his game to make a consistent impact for the Rangers, or his stock may continue to fall.

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Saginaw Spirit continue loading up, add Ducks prospect Rodwin Dionicio and Alex Christopoulos
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This article is about:
Barrie Colts Brantford Bulldogs Kingston Frontenacs Kitchener Rangers London Knights Mississauga Steelheads North Bay Battalion Oshawa Generals Saginaw Spirit Sarnia Sting Soo Greyhounds Sudbury Wolves OHL Cole Beaudoin Owen Beck Easton Cowan Rodwin Dionicio David Goyette Beau Jelsma Lucas Karmiris Porter Martone Filip Mesar Adrian Misaljevic Carson Rehkopf Eduard Sale Matthew Sop Owen Van Steensel Marek Vanacker Sandis Vilmanis Dalyn Wakely
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