It was a busy week for the Windsor Spitfires as they got settled into their 2018-19 Training Camp at the WFCU Centre. Rookie hopefuls battled seasoned veterans in hopes of winning one of just a few open spots on this seasons roster. After camp ended, though, the Spitfires made some cuts and brought in a big name from the Eastern Conference.
Coming into this season, the Spitfires lost three veterans — forward Jake Smith and defenceman Zach Shankar, both to graduation, plus goaltender Lucas Patton, who went to Jr. B.
This meant that camp was very competitive and there were just a few open spots for new hopefuls. One of those open spots was taken on Friday, though, as the Spitfires made a major splash in the trade market.
Rychel Gets Cuylle
In April’s OHL Draft, the Peterborough Petes selected six-foot-one 201-pound forward Will Cuylle with the third overall selection. In 43 games for the Toronto Marlboros Minor Midget AAA, he had 33 goals and 29 assists for 62 points. However, he had stated he wasn’t going to report to the Petes’ training camp this season.
After much speculation as to where he would end up, it all became clear Friday afternoon. Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel pulled off a blockbuster deal with the Petes. Rychel acquired Cuylle from the Petes in exchange for several draft picks. They include:
– Kingston Frontenacs’ second-round pick in 2019
– Frontenacs’ third-round pick in 2020
– Spitfires’ third-round pick in 2023
– Spitfires’ fifth-round pick in 2020
– Barrie Colts’ second-round pick in 2022
– Spitfires’ third-round pick in 2023
– Kitchener Rangers’ second-round pick in 2024 (conditional)
The Petes also pick up the fifth-overall pick in the 2019 OHL Draft and the final pick of the second round in 2019. Both of those are league-awarded picks under the OHL Compensation Pick rule because Cuylle is considered a defected player and the Petes had selected Cuylle third overall.
Rychel told windsorspitfires.com that this is a big addition to the club’s future.
“It’s an exciting day when you can acquire a big, elite power forward like Will without giving up a player,” Rychel said.
“He has so many tools, a great shot and a real knack for the net. For now, he will fit in well with our young group moving forward. We expect big things from Will.”
Petes’ general manager Mike Oke told gopetesgo.ca that, while they hoped Cuylle would report, Rychel made an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“When we selected Will in the first round of this year’s draft, we did so with the intent that he would play in Peterborough,” Oke said.
“We … were working to show Will and his family that there would be a great opportunity for him here, but Windsor presented us with an offer that we couldn’t ignore. We feel that acquiring these nine picks was a great opportunity and is what’s best for the future of the Peterborough Petes.”
Cuylle is expected to be in the lineup for the Spitfires on Saturday during the OHL Showcase in Buffalo, NY. He joins a young core of 17-year-olds that includes forwards Cody Morgan and Daniel D’Amico, plus defencemen Nathan Staios, Lev Starikov, Louka Henault and Grayson Ladd.
While the price seems steep for one player who hasn’t played in an OHL game yet, it’s on par with other defected players in the past. In 2015, Ryan McLeod was drafted by the Flint Firebirds third overall and traded to the Mississauga Steelheads for three second-round picks and three third-round picks.
This isn’t the first time Rychel has acquired defected players, either. In 2014, he brought in Logan Brown from the Niagara Ice Dogs, which turned out to be a big part of the Spitfires’ 2017 Memorial Cup title. He also brought in Adam Bateman from the Ice Dogs in 2011 and Nick Ebert from the Mississauga Steelheads in 2010.
Exhibition Roster Mostly Finalized
With the addition of Cuylle, who will wear #21, the Spitfires’ have their roster nearly set for exhibition games.
The roster includes the Spitfires’ top three picks from the 2018 OHL Draft. In the first round, the Spitfires selected five-foot-11 163-pound forward Jean-Luc Foudy, while they went bigger in the second round, grabbing six-foot-four 181-pound forward Kyle McDonald. In the third round, they went to defence, selecting six-foot-three 181-pounder Dylan Robinson.
All three have signed with the Spitfires and will dress in exhibition games. Robinson might be a candidate for LaSalle Jr. B. as the Spitfires currently have seven defenceman on their roster from last season. Foudy and McDonald are expected to see plenty of playing time with the Spitfires, though.
The Spitfires also have newcomer Kari Piiroinen in goal. The six-foot 176-pound 17-year-old is from Helsinki, Finland and was the 30th selection in the 2018 CHL Import Draft. Entering his NHL draft season, Piiroinen came over looking to show scouts what he could do. He’ll have a prime mentor in the locker room, too, as he joins Vancouver Canucks’ prospect Michael DiPietro between the pipes.
You can watch Piiroinen, Cuylle, and the rest of the new and returning Spitfires during the OHL Showcase in Buffalo this weekend. The Spitfires play their only home exhibition game on September 13 at 7:05 p.m. at the WFCU Centre against the Sarnia Sting. The home opener is a week later on September 20 when they take on the Guelph Storm.
I’m a resident of Windsor, ON and a graduate of St Clair College Journalism and New Media program as well as the University of Windsor Communication, Media, and Film program. I’ve been a junior hockey fan (specifically the Windsor Spitfires) for 30-years and have written about/photographed junior hockey since about 2005.