2023-24 OHL Season Preview: Brantford Bulldogs

2023-24 OHL Season Preview: Brantford Bulldogs

Last season, the Hamilton Bulldogs finished with a record of 35-28-4-1 in the regular season, ranking them second in the Midwest Division. The franchise has temporarily relocated to Brantford as the First Ontario Centre undergoes renovations. They integrated some youthful pieces into the lineup, and challenged the Barrie Colts in the opening round of the OHL Playoffs before being eliminated in Game 6. Moving forward, players such as Nick Lardis, Patrick Thomas, and Cole Brown will be looking to elevate their skillset in all three zones.

Nick Lardis - OHL Images
Nick Lardis, of the Brantford Bulldogs (OHL Images)

Before we dive into the current product on the ice, let’s recap the Bulldog’s 2023 OHL Priority Selection and the draft class that will take the team into the future.


2023 OHL Priority Selection Draftees

  • Round 1 – #8: F – Jake O’Brien (Toronto Jr. Canadiens – GTHL U16) (signed)
  • Round 2 – #34: F – Dylan Tsherna (Don Mills Flyers – GTHL U16) (signed)
  • Round 3 – #54: F – Joshua Avery (Peterborough Petes – ETAHL U16) (signed)
  • Round 3 – #58: D – Ben Radley (Peterborough Petes – ETAHL U16) (signed)
  • Round 4 – #82: D – Cameron Hankai (Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs  – SCTA U16)
  • Round 6 – #109: F – Cooper Dennis (Bishop Kearny – Nepack 15U)
  • Round 7 – #129: F – Parker Holmes (Kemptville 73’s – HEO U18)
  • Round 9 – #169: D – Niko Krmpotic (Halton Hurricanes – SCTA U16)
  • Round 10 – #189: F – Briir Long (Mississauga Senators – GTHL U16)
  • Round 11 – #209: F – Evan Bradacs (Brantford 99ers – Alliance U16)
  • Round 12 – #229: G – Logan Synder (Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs – SCTA U16)
  • Round 13 – #249: F – Owen Fitzgerald (Peterborough Petes – ETAHL U16)
  • Round 14 – #269: F – Jacob Uhm (Hamilton Huskies – Alliance U16)
  • Round 15 – #289: F – Caysen Craig (Cambridge Hawks – Alliance U16)

Jake O’Brien is a two-way center that has a terrific shot coming off the half-wall, as he can pick his targets. He is someone that can likely step into the OHL right away and not look out of place, as long as he’s put in the right situation. Dylan Tsherna played on the Don Mills Flyers with Barrie Colt’s prospect Shamar Moses, and still has some work to do before he becomes a full-time contributor on the Bulldogs. 

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Next, let’s briefly touch on their results in the CHL Import Draft, and where those players are situated heading into next season.

2023 CHL Import Draftees

  • 19th: Adam Jiricek (unsigned)
  • 79th: Dominik Badinka (unsigned)

This will be a quick analysis, as both players are unsigned at this point. Adam Jiricek is a projected top-15 pick in next year’s NHL Draft, and will play for HC Plzen in the Czechia pro league. The right-handed blueliner spent the majority of last season in the Czechia U20 league, where he scored 12 goals, and 29 points in 41 games. 

via @OHLBulldogs on Twitter

Dominik Badlinka has the potential to sign with the Bulldogs before the end of the month, but the likely option is that he will play in both the Liiga and the U20 SM-sarja in Finland. The blueliner had 5 goals and 26 points in 43 games for Jokerit last season, and is another projected first-round pick in next year’s NHL Draft.

After the team sold at the trade deadline and acquired a boatload of assets, that trend did not carry over into the offseason.  There is still work to be decided on who will be coming back, and who is leaving for university or college. The team has made no trades in the offseason to this point.

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Season Prediction: 33-29-5-1 (3rd in East Division)

The Bulldogs struggled at points after the trade deadline, but one player that thrived in more minutes was Lardis. The Chicago Blackhawks made a value selection when they took him with the 67th selection in last year’s NHL Draft. After he was acquired from Peterborough, he scored 25 goals and 46 points in 33 games, while adding 5 goals and 10 points in 6 games.

Brown, a New Jersey Devils prospect, should jump into the point-per-game range for offensive production. If their youth can integrate into the lineup, such as O’Brien, that will make them a top-5 team in the Eastern Conference next season.

Let’s be conservative for now, and see how teams that were ahead of them last season fair. At this point, I see them climbing over some of the opposition and having a successful season playing in front of the fans at the Brantford Civic Centre.

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