When it comes to overage players in the Canadian Hockey League, the impact can vary but the role they play is a key one.
A look across the country sees a number of overage players coming through offensively for their respective clubs and some of those players are drawing pro interest thanks to big seasons.
One such player is Soo Greyhounds forward Keeghan Howdeshell.
Drafted by the Greyhounds in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection, the Brighton, Mich., native spent two seasons with the U.S. National Development program and had committed to play college hockey at Ferris State.
He eventually made the jump to the OHL prior to the 2017-18 season, joining a Greyhounds team poised to make a run at an OHL title.
In his first season with the Greyhounds, Howdeshell scored 16 goals in 61 games. Undrafted, it’s tough to ignore what the 20-year-old has done early on this season.
Howdeshell has 10 goals in his last 11 games, including a pair of hat tricks over the weekend as the Greyhounds picked up wins over the Saginaw Spirit and Flint Firebirds.
“Back-to-back hat tricks is a pretty impressive feat,” Greyhounds Coach John Dean said following Sunday’s three-goal effort.
Dean has spoken highly of the forward, calling him “the pulse of the team.”
Greyhounds forward Morgan Frost, a Philadelphia Flyers first-rounder, called Howdeshell “one of the most underrated guys in the league.”
“He works really hard,” Frost said.
“Howdy is a really well-liked player on our team,” Frost added. “When he gets going, is playing well and scoring goals like that, it has an effect on the rest of the team.”
With 23 goals in 29 games, Howdeshell is fifth in the OHL in goals. Among the top five goal scorers in the league to this point, four are in their overage season, including league leader Tye Felhaber of the Ottawa 67s, who has 29 goals.
A look across the country sees some of the top scorers in their final season in the Canadian Hockey League.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s scoring leader is Rouyn-Noranda Huskies overage forward Peter Abbandonato. The Laval, Que., product has 15 goals and 52 points in just 29 games with a Huskies team that has a 24-5-0-0 record, tops in the QMJHL.
In the Western Hockey League, Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks, a San Jose prospect, sits third in league scoring. With 25 goals and 53 points, the Frederikshavn, Denmark product is well on his way to setting career highs in all major offensive categories.
Tristin Langan of the Moose Jaw Warriors has already set career highs offensively. Sitting sixth in league scoring, the Swan River, Man., product has 18 goals and 44 points in 25 games.
SETTING THE PACE
With the OHL’s Ottawa 67s and WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders continuing to roll in their respective leagues, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies continue to go about their business in Quebec.
The Huskies sit atop the QMJHL standings with a 24-5-0-0 record and 48 points.
Winners of nine of their last 10 games, the Huskies have been one of the league’s top offensive clubs but also boast the fewest goals against in the league with 64.
Overage netminder Samuel Harvey has been strong between the pipes for the Huskies, boasting 14 wins, a 2.18 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 19 games.
Second-year netminder Zachary Emond, a sixth-round draft pick of the San Jose Sharks, has also been solid, winning 10 games. His 1.93 goals-against average and .934 save percentage are both tops in the league.
ON THE MOVE
After hosting the 2018 Memorial Cup, the Regina Pats moved a trio of veterans last week, dealing defenceman Aaron Hyman to the Tri-City Americans and forwards Nick Henry and Jake Leschyshyn to the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Lethbridge is currently battling with the Red Deer Rebels for top spot in the WHL’s Central Division and the deal gives the team a pair of scoring threats to go along with highly-touted NHL draft prospect Dylan Cozens and overage forward Taylor Ross.
The Hurricanes sent Jadon Joseph, Ty Colle, first-round picks in 2019 and 2020, a third-round pick in 2019, a fourth-round pick in 2022, an eighth-round pick in 2019 and conditional third-round picks in 2021 and 2022 to Regina in the deal.
Not to be outdone, the Rebels completed a deal with the Kootenay ICE to bring in veteran forwards Brett Davis and Cam Hausinger.
The Rebels sent River Fahey, Austin Schellenberg, Justin Svenson, Chase Berthelot, a first-round pick in 2019, a second-round pick in 2020, a third-round pick in 2019, a sixth-round pick in 2019 and a conditional third-round pick in 2022 to Kootenay as part of the deal.