Junior hockey has more turnover than just about any other sport or league in the world. Possibly European soccer could be on par but virtually every two seasons the clubs have a pretty good size overhaul.
To those who don’t follow junior hockey all that closely the idea of wanting more 16-18 year old players vs 19-20 is baffling but that’s the “nature of the business”. The 20 year old age restrictions plays a factor as well. When it came to Blues prospects being traded this year there were a few big names you may recgonize. Spanning all three leagues across the country.
Easily the biggest name to move in terms of being a Blues property, the London Knights sent Thomas to the Hamilton Bulldogs. The return on the deal was a touted OHL prospect and a slew of picks. The center has been productive this season despite the Knights slow start, having racked up 46 points in 27 games. Thomas is young enough to play in the OHL next season at just 18 but the club feels like their is a risk he could make the Blues lineup next year. The Bulldogs sit atop of the Eastern Conference currently and look prime for some playoff hockey.
Switching things to the Quebec league, goalie prospect Fitzpatrick was moved to a club that really needed a solid starter in net. Acadie-Bathurst Titan picking up Fitzpatrick just might be the move he needs as things never quite worked out for him in Sherbrooke. The 19 year old has never been a .900 goalie which doesn’t spell well for his future so any change at all could be the one he needs.
Yet another big prospect was moved this time in the WHL. Tanner Kaspick was the captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings this season having put up 37 points in 35 games. Sadly he just missed out on being selected for the Canadian National Team at the World Juniors but it doesn’t seem to have slowed him down at all. Kaspick takes his talents to the Victoria Royals, who are barely holding onto their playoff spot. The 19 year old continues to remind me of a younger version of Scottie Upshall.
What a tough year Luke Opilka has had. He hasn’t played a single game this season due to the fact the 20 year old is still recovering from two hip surgeries this summer. For a goalie or any position for that matter coming off THREE hip surgeries by the age of 20 isn’t a ideal situation for development. Which is exactly why the Kitchner Rangers released him from his contract. There are plenty of questions when it comes to Opilka’s future. Just where does he go from here?
Well this current season for him has to be taken as a “wash”, just heal and focus on next season. As to where Opilka will play is up to the Blues. The goalie is about to age out of junior and will have to prepare himself for the pro game. I think we just may have found one of the Tulsa Oilers goalies in the ECHL next season.