Sean Day became the fourth player to receive special exemption to play in the Ontario Hockey League at the age of 15. But unlike John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad and Connor McDavid before him, Day did not go first in his draft class. That honour went to forward Travis Konecny, who will be a major part of the rebuild in Ottawa.
The Erie Otters became the second team to pass on Day when they drafted Dylan Strome, the younger brother of New York Islanders prospect and Niagara IceDogs forward, Ryan Strome. There’s already talk that Strome will convert from his natural centre position to wing, and play alongside reigning OHL rookie of the year McDavid next season.
Day’s slide continued when the Peterborough Petes opted instead for another defenceman, Matt Spencer, with the third pick. The decision to pass on Day had less to do with the 15-year-old’s ability than the belief Spencer is the better playe. Petes GM Mike Oke told the Peterborough Examiner’s Mike Davies.
Day finally found his new home when the Mississauga Steelheads, who will see substantial graduations from their blue line, ended his wait at No. 4.
Day, a Canadian citizen who lives in Michigan and was born in Belgium, will now live in the country he holds a passport for the first time in his young life.
The optics of Day receiving “exceptional player” status and falling to the fourth spot doesn’t look good for the player, Hockey Canada or the Ontario Hockey Federation.
Day could have stayed much closer to home had it not been for the Windsor Spitfires forfeiting their first-round pick to sanctions resulting from violating player recruitment and benefits. The Spitfires would have otherwise held the fourth pick in Saturday’s priority selection. Instead, they spent the days leading up to the draft focusing on matters they could control.
Rockets make history, anything left?
The Kelowna Rockets became just the second team in Western Hockey League history to erase a 3-0 series deficit to win a series. Five of the seven games went into overtime, with Tyson Baillie capping the comeback with his third of the night in a 3-2 win in Game 7 on Wednesday.
It was a tough moment for the Seattle Thunderbirds, the underdog team that finished with 50 fewer points than the Rockets in the regular season. Captain Luke Lockhart earned the respect of his peers in this series, especially after tying Game 7 with just seven seconds left in regulation.
The downside of a long playoff series is being felt by the Rockets. The injury bug bit their defensive corps in particular, and they were down to just four defencemen for their series opener with Kamloops on Saturday.
Baillie, the overtime hero in Game 7, may have escaped punishment for a late hit on Kamloops Blazers forward Colin Smith in Game 1 on Saturday. No penalty was called on the play, and Smith didn’t return. Baillie was later suspended for Game 2 while Smith also sat out with an injury. The Blazers took a 2-0 series lead with a 5-1 win on Sunday.
Drouin cleans up at QMJHL awards
Halifax Mooseheads forward Jonathan Drouin was the big winner at the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League awards on Wednesday. Drouin was named the league’s most valuable player, best pro prospect, personality of the year, and to the league’s first all-star team. His ascension is surprising even to the man who drafted him second overall two years ago.
Dominique Ducharme, Drouin’s coach in Halifax, took home coach of the year honours after the Mooseheads tied the QMJHL all-time mark with 58 wins in a season.
Anthony Stolarz posted a 34-save shutout en route to a 2-0 London Knights win over Kitchener on Sunday. The game remained scoreless through 55 minutes until Max Domi got the game’s first goal.
Matt Puempel appeared to have come close late in the second period on a shot that Stolarz gloved by the near post. There was no review at the time, and it was concluded no-goal by the officials during the intermission, according to this story from the Kitchener-Waterloo Record.
Hamilton and Winnipeg relocation?
The relocation rumours surrounding the Erie Otters to Hamilton continued last week. Hamilton Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer told the Hamilton Spectator he’d like to purchase an OHL team, while remaining owner of the American Hockey League’s Bulldogs.
Next on the agenda would be obtaining a new rink with a smaller, more appropriately-sized capacity for junior and the minor leagues.
Rumours continue to swirl around Winnipeg acquiring a WHL team. True North Sports and Entertainment, the company which owns the NHL’s Jets, are currently gauging interest in bringing the WHL to the city.
Screaming Eagles staying put
Meanwhile, the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles appear to be heading towards the status quo. The franchise endured its worst season since relocating from Granby in 1997.
Parker Rudderham, a Cape Breton businessman, told the Cape Breton Post last week that his interest in buying the team is gone now after expressing interest to purchase majority shareholdings.
The Screaming Eagles won the draft lottery and obtained the first-overall pick on Thursday. Head coach and GM Marc-Andre Dumont is targeting “character players” , while speculation for the top pick is already underway.
Former Greyhounds trio cleared
Nick Cousins, Andrew Fritsch and Mark Petaccio were charged with sexual assault in late August. They entered counseling shortly thereafter and the storyline followed throughout the season.
Many wondered how the charges would affect the hockey-playing futures of each player, particularly Cousins, the Philadelphia Flyers’ third-rounder. Charges were dropped Thursday in a Sault Ste. Marie courtroom when the Crown cited “no reasonable prospect of conviction.”
-The Moncton Wildcats relieved Danny Flynn as head coach last week. He will remain in his role as director of hockey operations.
-The Oshawa Generals locked up head coach D.J. Smith to a three-year contract extension. http://www.ontariohockeyleague.com/article/dj-smith-commits-to-three-year-contract-extension-with-oshawa-generals
-Portland Winterhawks goaltender Mac Carruth set a WHL record for playoff wins with his 39th in Portland’s Game 2 win over Spokane Saturday. Carruth also set a franchise record for playoff shutouts with four in his career.
-Carruth’s teammate, forward Ty Rattie, set a franchise mark for playoff points with 72 and counting in Game 1 on Friday. He surpassed Randy Heath:
-From posing as a muscle-man in family photos to the Notebook as one of his favourite movies, this feature on Seth Jones shows there’s more than meets the eye to the potential first-overall NHL pick.