It appears that if and when the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) returns to the ice, they are going to have some very unpopular rules imposed upon it. Plus, one of the top teams in the league received a commitment from a young goaltender who has been impressing in Europe. Finally, the Calgary Flames have loaned another prospect to Europe to get some game time before things begin in North America.
No Body Checks in the OHL
Earlier this week, the OHL announced that they are now targeting Feb. 4, 2021, as their new starting date. Now, the word is that when they do return to the ice, the players will not be able to body check.
Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister of sport, released a statement in which it was declared that “prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports is not permitted.” It is hard to imagine any hockey game at this level played without “prolonged or deliberate contact” or how you can even get players to avoid it.
There has yet to be any official comment from the OHL on this issue. TSN insider Darren Dreger later reported that the league was still negotiating with provincial officials, but MacLeod quickly shot it down.
Of course, this declaration has been met with plenty of blowback, and rightfully so. MacLeod said the decision was influenced by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), which had several COVID-19 outbreaks on its teams earlier this fall.
A recent contest between the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Sherbrooke Phoenix led to 26 new COVID cases. Of those who tested positive, two on-ice officials were among them, who did not issue a single body check during the entire game. Is throwing a check at center ice more dangerous than sitting shoulder to shoulder with your teammates breathing hard on the bench?
If this is, in fact, a rule for the 2020-21 season, it will be interesting to see if this leads to players looking to play elsewhere. While physicality is not as important in today’s game as it once was, it is still a factor in how scouts rate young players.
Otters Receive Goaltending Commitment
Staying in the OHL, the Erie Otters announced that Belarusian goaltender Alexei Kolosov has committed to the team and signed a standard player agreement. The Otters selected Kolosov in the first round of last June’s Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Import Draft.
“Alexei is a very quick, athletic goaltender that challenges shooters and uses his speed to his advantage,” assistant director of hockey operations Scott Grieve said. “Alexei has been impressive in international tournaments with Belarus, while also playing professionally in the Belarus Extraleague and most recently the KHL. We are thrilled to welcome Alexei to the Erie Otters organization and excited to see him in an Otters jersey very soon.”
Kolosov is currently playing for Dinamo Minsk in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The 18-year-old has faired quite well in Russia’s top professional league. In three games, he has one win with a 1.66 goals-against average and .939 save percentage. Earlier this week, he became the youngest goaltender in team history to record a shutout.
Gawdin Heads to Switzerland
The Flames announced that they have loaned forward Glenn Gawdin to the ECH Visp Lions of the Swiss League. He had recently signed a one-year contract extension with the Flames before the decision was made to send him to play in Europe. He is the sixth Calgary prospect to be loaned to a European club as we await the start of the 2020-21 season.
Gawdin was originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the fourth round (116th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He signed with the Flames after becoming a free agent in 2017. He turned pro in 2018 after a successful junior career with the Swift Current Broncos in the Western Hockey League (WHL).
His rookie season in the American Hockey League (AHL), saw him score 11 goals and 38 points in 64 games for the Stockton Heat. Gawdin broke out last season with 16 goals and a team-high 47 points in 52 games before the season was canceled. He was named as an AHL All-Star as well.
Be sure to stay with us and our prospects coverage here at THW. We will keep you updated on all the latest news out of the CHL and the European leagues.