Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Off-season Outlook: Saginaw Spirit

2018-19 OHL Season: The Saginaw Spirit recently finished their best season ever points-wise, culminating in their second ever West division banner. They finished the season with a record of 45-17–3-3 good for 96 points.

They were led up front by 17-year-old Cole Perfetti who, in his first year in the OHL, scored 37 goals and 74 points. on the backend, New York Islanders 2018 2nd round pick Bode Wilde picked up 70 points in his inaugural OHL campaign.

Inbetween the pipes, Saginaw leaned heavily on 19-year-old import goaltender Ivan Prosvetov. The Russian backstop started 53 games posting a 2.93 GAA and .910 S%.

In the playoffs, the Spirit made it to the conference championship without much to do dispatching Sarnia in four straight games and Sault Ste. Marie in six. In the third round, after being up three games to one in the series they lost three straight to the eventual OHL Champions Guelph Storm ending their deepest postseason run ever.

Bode Wilde of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Natalie Shaver/OHL Images

2019 OHL Priority Draft: 

In the first round of the OHL Draft the Spirit selected Connor Punnett from the North Central Predators. According to Prospect Pipeline Punnett has quietly put his name on the map as one of the top puck-moving defencemen available for this year’s OHL Draft. His skills at both ends of the ice, as well as upper-level strength and physicality, were two leading reasons for his inclusion on Team Ontario’s roster for the 2019 Canada Winter Games. You can read the rest of the report here.

You can find the remainder of Saginaw’s draft below.

#30 Saginaw Spirit  Joshua Bloom (F)
#48 Saginaw Spirit  Dylan Duke (F)
#66 Saginaw Spirit  Davis Codd (F)
#88 Saginaw Spirit  Roberto Mancini (D)
#121 Saginaw Spirit  Cole Hipkin (D)
#161 Saginaw Spirit  Robert Andreakos (G)
#181 Saginaw Spirit  Eddie MacLean (D)
#201 Saginaw Spirit  Eamon Powell (D)
#207 Saginaw Spirit  Jake Barkley (F)
#221 Saginaw Spirit  Griffin Jurecki (F)
#241 Saginaw Spirit  Carter Garvie (G)
#261 Saginaw Spirit  Bennett Barnes (F)
#281 Saginaw Spirit  Luke Hughes (D)
#301 Saginaw Spirit  Dean Loukus (F)

Source – Elite Prospects

Aged Out: Saginaw will be losing two 20-year-old defencemen in Justin Murray and Reagan O’Grady. Both Murray and O’Grady struggled on the offensive side of the puck this year but their +/- more than makes up for it at a combined plus 42. The last exit due to age is Import Albert Michnac. The Czech forward put up an impressive 56 points in 68 games playing for his third OHL team in as many years.

Overage Shuffle: On paper, the Spirit have eight eligible overage returnees. One who is very unlikely to return is 2017 Florida Panthers first-round pick, Owen Tippet. Tippet is signed by the Panthers and eligible to play in the AHL next season. Ryan McLeod is also signed and may find his way into the Oilers organization.

Owen Tippett of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Another interesting situation will be goaltender Ivan Prosvetov. While he is eligible to come back next year he would be a two-spotter and take up both an overage and import slot. Would Saginaw want to do this? Would Prosvetov even want to return for his 20-year-old season?

That leaves five players, two of which are returning assistant captains in Brady Gilmour and D.J. Busdeker. The other possible returnees  Reilly Webb, Cole Coskey, and Hayden Davis.

Import Issues: As mentioned earlier the Spirit will certainly have an open import slot due to the aging out of Michnac. What is still up in the air is if they make a second selection to replace their starting netminder. Teams have to declare their open import slots before the CHL Import Draft takes place (unless a current roster import is an NHL first rounder) so we should know the answer to this question before June 28th.

2019 NHL Draft: Saginaw has two players ranked in the NHL CSS final rankings. Forward Nicholas Porco is ranked 103rd and defenceman Mason Millman is ranked 122nd.