Countdown to training camp: The OHL off-season so far

Mike Stubbs/AM 980

As of 9 o’clock in the morning on Aug. 1, the OHL Trade freeze is history.

July tends to be the slowest time the Ontario Hockey League sees.

Still, there are more than a few things to get caught up on as training camps begins in less than a month.

Photo: The Canadian Press/Jacques Boissinot
Photo: The Canadian Press/Jacques Boissinot. The Canadian Press/Jacques Boissinot

The Latest

Former London Knights’ goalie, Michael Houser has signed a one-way American Hockey League deal with the Tucson Roadrunners. Houser was named CHL Goaltender of the Year in 2012 and started his pro career in the AHL. The bulk of his last two seasons have been spent in the ECHL with Cincinnati and Manchester. Being on a one-way deal will give him some security in a Coyotes’ organization that features a number of young goaltenders like Marek Langhammer, Hunter Miska and Adin Hill.

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Hakon Nilsen’s time in the Ontario Hockey League is over. Nilsen is the son of Flint Firebirds’ suspended owner, Rolf Nilsen and has signed to play with HC Kladno in the Czech Republic in 2017-18. Nilsen had the tough task dealing with the events that led to his father’s suspension while with the Firebirds. As the story goes, Rolf Nilsen became upset about his son’s playing time on more than one occasion, which led to coaching changes and at one point, the walkout of every player, including his son. The situation is on a much different path now in Flint where the team has a solid young roster, led by budding star, Ty Dellandrea and others.

Londoner Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack and Owen Tippett of the Mississauga Steelheads are the first two OHLers from the 2017 NHL Entry Draft to sign entry-level contracts. Tippett was taken 10th overall by the Florida Panthers in June. Suzuki went 13th overall to the Vegas Golden Knights. Expect both of them to be back in major junior this year.

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The end of June brings the NHL Entry Draft and then the CHL Import Draft and when you mix in good weather, those two things tend to overshadow anything else that takes place.

There were a total of five trades made before the trade freeze went into place. Two of them were orchestrated by the Guelph Storm and their “new again” GM, George Burnett.

The Storm traded overage defenceman, Kyle Rhodes to Sudbury for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2019. That brought Guelph down to three 20-year-olds for a minute or two.

The Storm then pulled off a four-player swap with North Bay, dealing Luke Burghardt and Luke Moncada to the Battalion for former first-rounder, Zach Poirier, overage defenceman Mark Shoemaker and a conditional third-round pick in 2021.

Poirier is heading into his fourth season and is still trying to find the offence he displayed in midget. Shoemaker is a defensive defenceman and a sixth round pick of the San Jose Sharks.

North Bay gets a 19-year-old in Burghardt who is a great candidate to play two more years in the OHL and 17-year old Moncada, who Battalion General Manager, Stan Butler says North Bay had targeted before he was selected by the Storm. He only has 37 games of major junior experience under his belt.

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After missing the playoffs for two straight seasons, don’t be surprised if the Storm are challenging for home ice advantage in 2018.

North Bay also shipped import forward, Max Kislinger to Flint and then used the seventh overall selection in the 2017 CHL Import Draft on forward Filip Chytil, who was drafted in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers.

In separate trades, the Barrie Colts sent a pair of 17-year-old draft picks, Matthew MacDougall Victor DeSanctis to Windsor for draft picks.

READ MORE: London Knights select two players from Sweden in Import Draft

Photo: The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette
Photo: The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette. The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette

Coaching changes

Since the end of last season, eight teams out of 20 have made or endured a change in their head coaching position — most due to the departure of their old coach. Here are the new faces behind the benches:

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Erie – Chris Hartsburg

Guelph – George Burnett

Kingston – Jay Varady

Ottawa – Andrew Tourigny

Owen Sound – Todd Gill

Sudbury – Cory Stillman

Windsor – Trevor Letowski

Saginaw – TBD – Spencer Carbery has left for a position in the AHL

READ MORE: Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens part ways

Management changes

Since the end of last season, eight teams out of 20 have made a change to their general manager position. Here are the new faces behind the scenes:

Guelph – George Burnett, takes over for Mike Kelly who retired

Flint – Barclay Branch, takes over for George Burnett who moved to Guelph

Kingston – Darren Keily, takes over for Doug Gilmour who is now president of Hockey Operations

Kingston – Mike McKenzie, takes over from Murray Hiebert who stepped down to retire

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Mississauga – James Richmond, will now be coach/GM after James Boyd’s departure to Ottawa

Ottawa – James Boyd fills vacant GM position with the 67s

Niagara – Joey Burke, assumes general manager role

Sudbury – Rob Papineau, takes over for Barclay Branch who moved to Flint