With three players drafted in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft, it is not a stretch to say that the event was a great success for the Windsor Spitfires.
Step back and think about that for a moment: of all the eligible players from teams from around the world, ten per cent of the most sought-after junior players came from the Spits.
And that great accomplishment will only grow in its significance when and if Clayton Keller, drafted ninth overall by the Arizona Coyotes, signs with the team and ends up in Windsor as a result. Keller, a second round pick of the Spitfires in 2014, has a verbal commitment to attend Boston University this fall.
Spitfires’ right-winger Christian Fischer, who was also drafted out of the US National Development Program (USNDP) last year and was headed to Notre Dame University last fall. Then he signed with the Coyotes and ended up in Windsor last fall.
There’s a tremendous opportunity for the Coyotes brass to watch both Keller and Fischer play 100 games during the upcoming 2016-2017 OHL season that will see the Spitfires host the 2017 Memorial Cup.
While Mikhail Sergachev, drafted ninth overall by the Montreal Canadiens, was widely-regarded as being the most-ready defence prospect heading into the draft, he was selected by a team that
has a long history of developing their young ds slowly but surely. Defenceman Noah Juulsen, the Habs’ first round pick in 2015 was signed to an entry level contract before being returned to Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips for his FOURTH season. Sergachev, as outstanding a prospect as he is, needs to be returned to Windsor for just his SECOND season – and he will be. However, should Sergachev have another great season in Windsor in 2016-2017, all bers are off for him returning for his third campaign in a Spits uniform.
Logan Brown being drafted by the his dream team, the Ottawa Senators, also bodes well for the chances of the big centre being returned to Windsor. None of the Sens’ first round picks in the last dozen years – including Matt Puempel of Essex – have made the jump directly to the NHL the fall after being drafted.
Of all of the Spits players drafted in the first round of the 2016 Draft, Logan Stanley (selected by the Winnipeg Jets with the 18th pick overall) is just about an absolute lock to return to the WFCU Centre this fall. The mammoth (6’7”, 220-lbs.) rearguard was one of the biggest real-good stories to come out of the NHL player lottery as his development last season was truly remarkable. The Jets, coached by former Spits captain Paul Maurice, himself a former defenceman, are not about to jeopardize that development by rushing him into the NHL.
More wonderful news to be realized from so many Spitfires being drafted so high is that success breeds success and that translate into some players who may not originally view the Ontario Hockey League as a viable option for their development may now realize just the opposite: the Windsor Spitfires are a team you want to play for.