It was yet another busy week in the Ontario Hockey League after some massive transactions. Like last week, there were a couple more trades, however, they might be a bit more impactful this time. Also, a couple of impactful players were returned to their junior teams ahead of the all-important month of December, which should separate the contenders from the pretenders and the rebuilders. If you slept through the last week in the OHL, you missed a fun one, but we’ve got you covered.
Mason McTavish Sent Back To Peterborough
In the biggest transaction of the week, the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks returned their third-overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Mason McTavish, to the Peterborough Petes. McTavish played nine games with the Ducks this season, scoring two goals and one assist, but also spent some time with the San Diego Gulls in the American Hockey League (AHL), scoring a goal and an assist in three games. Before they burned a year of his entry-level contract, the Ducks returned McTavish to the Petes for a second season once he reached his nine-game threshold.
McTavish, who was the fifth-overall selection in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection, was a big contributor to a really good Petes team in 2019-20, but after the pandemic wiped out the entire 2020-21 season, Petes fans weren’t expecting to have the chance to send him off properly. While his addition might be temporary as the Petes could look to move him at the deadline, fans will have the chance to see him play in the maroon and white for at least a little while, and the Canadian World Junior team will be happy to have him back for the tournament in December and January.
On Thursday night, McTavish returned to the lineup against the North Bay Battalion at home. It was a night for the Carp, Ontario native, who earned the night’s first star after scoring three goals in the Petes 5-3 victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Battalion. He should be considered one of the best players in the league today, right up there with Shane Wright.
Zayde Wisdom Returns to Kingston
The Petes weren’t the only ones to get a big name back. The Kingston Frontenacs got Zayde Wisdom back. Where Wisdom would be playing this season was up for debate as he was eligible to play in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season because he played 28 games with them in 2020-21, but ultimately, the Philidelphia Flyers and the Fantoms decided that Kingston is the best place for him to continue his development.
Wisdom and Wright were a scary combination for the Frontenacs in 2019-20, despite how bad the team was. While Wright put up crazy numbers as an exceptional-status rookie, Wisdom was right there with him in his second season, scoring 29 goals and 30 assists in 62 games. Both players are two years further in their development, so we can expect big things from them as the Frontenacs look to finally become one of the best teams in the league.
Wisdom won’t be seeing the ice on his return as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery he had in the summer. There is no immediate timeline for his return, but the good news for Kingston is they are capable of handling their business without him. When they do get him into the lineup, they will be a very good team offensively.
Barrie Colts Acquire Goaltender Mack Guzda
The Barrie Colts were looking for a goaltender since the start of training camp. Many names came up, including Saginaw Spirit goaltender Tristian Lennox, but with the Spirit’s good start, the Colts turned their attention elsewhere. The Owen Sound Attack are off to a slow start and became sellers, meaning that Mack Guzda, the veteran goaltender, became available.
The Colts, who were also off to a slow start, wasted little time in trading for Guzda. It cost them a third-round pick in 2023 and a fifth-round pick in 2022, but it secured them the reliable goaltender they so desperately needed. This is their fourth goaltender this season, after Matthew Sbrocca and Tanner Wickware struggled.
Guzda will share the crease with Matteo Lalama who has been considerably better than both Sbrocca and Wickware this season. The Colts have lost games thanks to their goaltending, and for a team that was expected to be good, the crease was really letting them down. Now that they have a capable goaltender, so they should start to climb the standings and start competing as expected.
Kingston Frontenacs Acquire Defenceman Ben Roger
It might be a little bit early to suggest that the Frontenacs are in desperation mode, but they aren’t happy with the modest start to their season. Over a quarter way into the campaign, they are fifth in the conference despite a solid point percentage. Their pedestrian start isn’t because of their offence, but rather their defence not playing up to their potential. This is what made the decision to trade Ethan Ritchie last week so confusing, but it did clear a path to add a defenceman and a good one at that.
The Frontenacs added Ottawa Senators prospect Ben Roger, formerly of the London Knights. Roger plays a stout style of defence, and at six-foot-four and 205 pounds, he makes an already intimidating Kingston defence even scarier. He won’t be scoring too many points if history tells us anything, but the Senators liked him enough to make him a second-round pick in 2021.
Some in the Knights camp questioned why this trade went down, but it sounds like they are expecting Kirill Steklov, their Russian import defenceman, to join the team eventually. This trade also gives them a couple more assets to add another forward, possibly even McTavish if/when the Petes try to move him.
OHL Players Shipping To Ottawa for the Capital City Challenge
Some of the OHL’s best U17 players won’t be available for the next handful of games as they head to the Capital City Challenge starting on Friday, Nov. 26 and wrapping up on Wednesday, Dec. 1. The tournament will pit three U17 teams made up of Canada’s best 2005-born players against the Canadian Women’s National Team in a round-robin tournament followed by semi-finals and bronze and gold medal games.
The OHL will be sending 24 players to Ottawa for the one-time event to replace the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge that was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It also serves as an opportunity for Canada’s National Women’s team to compete as part of its centralization schedule. Calum Ritchie of the Oshawa Generals, Luca Pinelli of the Ottawa 67’s and Matthew Soto of the Frontenacs will be participating in what should be a great tournament.
It will be a great opportunity to check out Canada’s woman’s team, and Ottawa fans have already shown great interest in them. On Tuesday night, TD Place was sold out when they battled the United States in a 2-0 loss in front of the largest crowd in the arena since it was reopened after COVID restrictions were lifted.
Dylan Robinson Gets Eight Game Suspension
The 67’s got some bad news on Thursday when the league announced that Dylan Robinson will be suspended for eight games as of Sunday, Nov. 21. The penalty was issued after he elbowed a Wolves forward in the head after a goal that was eventually waved off for goaltender interference. The play came well after the whistle, and the principal point of contact was the head, which prompted a five-minute major and a game-misconduct penalty called on the ice.
Robinson has been very effective this season for the 67’s and is one of their better forwards. Through 13 games, he has six goals and four assists, but his low number of games is due to a five-game suspension handed out after the season opener.
This comes at a very poor time for the 67’s. They have been hit hard by the injury bug and are missing a good chunk of forwards, while Pinelli and Chris Barlas will head to the Capital City Challenge. In the meantime, they have recalled Jack Dever and Cooper Foster.
Last Weekend of November
Here we are in the last weekend of November. It’s hard to believe that we are thinking about Christmas and the World Juniors already. We’re now past the quarter-mark, and things are starting to heat up. This next month could determine who will be buyers and sellers when the trade deadline rolls around. We’re just getting the ball rolling on another exciting OHL season.
Currently a journalism student at Algonquin College in Ottawa, I have always had a passion for the OHL and the Ottawa 67’s in particular. I have been attending games since I was young, and being involved with sports has always been a dream of mine. Sports writing fits perfectly into that. You can also find me talking and writing other sports (primarily Canadian football) on my website 13thmansports.ca!