Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images

Off-season outlook: Windsor Spitfires

2018-19 OHL Season

The Windsor Spitfires began the 2018-19 season with question marks around the team. There was how their group of rookies would handle the transition into the OHL heading into the season. There was also question marks around the team’s star goalie, Micheal DiPietro, and his future with the team after the trade deadline.

Those were answered before the season turned the calendar on 2018.

Rookies Jean-Luc Foudy and Will Cuylle passed their entry into the league with flying colors. Cuylle would score in his first game and would later record his first multi-point game. The Toronto, Ontario native would have five multi-point games during the season and would go on to score 26 goals and 41 points and named to the OHL Rookie 2nd All-Star Team. Foudy would get his first OHL assist in the same game as Cuylle’s goal, a primary assist on Luke Kutkevicius’s overtime goal. Foudy would score his first OHL goal in his fourth career game, also registered 3 assists in his first of two four-point games of the season. That game would also be the first of 12 multi-point games, scoring 8 goals and adding 41 assists to end the season.

The Spitfires selected goalie Kari Piirioien in the first round of the 2018 import draft with the hopes he would take the crease from DiPietro. Over his first nine games, the rookie would post a 0.947 save percentage and would record his first shutout in his seventh game. Piiroien’s strong play would allow the team to trade Pietro away for assets on December 4th to the Ottawa 67’s. The goal with the trade to help build towards the future. The club would go out and get Colton Incze from Niagara IceDogs to help with the workload of Piiroien. The two would create a tandem that would help lead the Spitfires to the post-season.

The team also saw an increase in production from a number of forwards. Cole Purboo would lead the team in scoring, with 29 goals and 55 points. Curtis Douglas would match Purboo’s PPG, 0.8, with 53 points, 27 goals, and 26 assists, in 66 games. Daniel D’Amico, 21, and Tyler Angle, 20, would both hit 20 goals on the season, with D’Amico finishing with 46 points in 67 games and Angle finishing with 44 points in 58 games.

Connor Corcoran of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images

The Spitfires saw offensive contributions from the blue-line as well, with Connor Corcoran leading all defense with 10 goals and 32 points. Nathan Staios and Louka Henault were both impressive in their draft year. Staios scored 9 goals and added 20 assists, while Henault scored 2 goals and added 20 assists as well.

The club would finish in the last playoff spot in the Western Conference and match up against the top-seeded London Knights. The Knights would sweep the Spitfires but the young Spitfires would learn a few lessons on playoff hockey in the OHL. There would also be signs of positivity for the future. The team would show heart and resilience in almost coming back from a 3-0 deficit and almost tie the game in the final moments in game one.

2019 OHL Draft

R1 – Wyatt Johnston
R2 – Pasquale Zito
R4 – James Jodoin
R5 – Isa Parekh
R6 – Max Donohoe
R8 – Ben Felicetti
R9 – Zak Kruszewski
R10 – Ty MacDonald
R11 – Justin Brown
R13 – Sutter Muzzatti
R14 – Shaun Horne
R15 – Ethan Straky

Signed Players

Forwards (10):
1999 – Ben Garagan, Luke Boka, Cole Purboo
2000 – Curtis Douglas, Chris Playfair, Tyler Angle
2001 – Daniel D’Amico, Jordan Frasca,
2002 – Will Cuylle, Jean-Luc Foudy

Defensemen (6):
1999 – Thomas Stevenson
2000 – Connor Corcoran
2001 – Louka Henault, Grayson Ladd, Nathan Staios
2002 – Dylan Robinson

Goalies (2):
1999 – Colton Incze
2001 – Kari Piiroinen

Overage Shuffle

The Spitfires have five eligible players for three spots. There are forwards, Ben Garagan, Luke Boka and Cole Purboo, Thomas Stevenson on defense and goaltender Colton Incze.

Boka captained the team during the 2018-19 season and Purboo was an assistant captain. Purboo also led the team in goals and points. Both should both be considered locks for the roster spots, while the last position is up in the air. Garagan was a trade-deadline pickup and Stevenson seen himself on the bottom-pairing for a lot of the season, so it would make sense to keep Incze. Incze was also key in the final stretch of the season, helping the Spitfires get to the playoffs and can continue mentoring Piiroien.

Garagan and Stevenson seem like the odd men out.

Aged Out

Sean Allen and Chase Campbell.

Import Issues

The Spitfires have had ownership rumors swirling around them since the end of the season. Those rumors were further speculated when the team drafted Isa and Aydin Parekh, sons of the potential future owner, Azim Parekh. The potential sale will work itself out over the summer, along with the role of current GM and part-owner Warren Rychel. The team needs to focus on continuing to make progress from last season and not let the off-ice drama spills itself out on the ice.

NHL Draft

The Spitfires have two forwards ranked in the Central Scouting’s North American skaters rankings, Tyler Angle (174) and Daniel D’Amico (217). On the mid-term rankings, the Spitfires had one defenseman on the list, Louka Henault. Henault went from 163 at the mid-term rankings but finished ranked 216. After a strong back half of the season, Nathan Staios joined Henault as the other ranked defenseman. Staios would go from unranked on the mid-terms to finishing 182 on the list. Kari Piiroinen was listed as 18th amount North American goalies on the mid-term rankings but finished the season just outside the list at the end of the season. Grayson Ladd could have seen his name on the ranking but would have to sit out the final 20 games of the season with an injury. Ladd was picking up momentum