After a crazy start to the off-season, the Windsor Spitfires have left the doom-and-gloom behind them, bringing in some much-needed offence. Over the last four days, the Spitfires made two big splashes, signing a highly-touted NHL prospect and a key player from their 2019 OHL Draft.
This hasn’t been an easy two months, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and the wait could be very well
Windsor Welcomes Wyatt
Patience isn’t easy but, sometimes, it’s necessary. For 16-year-old Wyatt Johnston, it all worked out. Fans can breathe a little bit easier as the Spitfires’ 2019 first-rounder is officially signed, sealed, and delivered.
After being selected sixth overall in April’s OHL Draft, Johnston didn’t say much while the Spitfires were trying to figure out their ownership situation. Instead, he waited it out.
Two months later, the Spitfires’ owners didn’t sell and Johnston is happy to be in town. He said it was about being patient and seeing how the ownership situation played out.
‘There was just a lot of uncertainty around draft time so I was just listening to my adviser and trusting him to make the right decision,” Johnston told AM800.
“Now that the
He brings some much-needed offence after scoring 38 goals and 94 points for the Toronto Marlboros last season. Johnston said Windsor’s history helped him make the decision.
“I’ve heard great things about them, so I know they are going to do whatever it takes to help Windsor win another Memorial Cup and OHL championship,” he said to AM800.
“It’s just really, really exciting.”
He’s the kind of elite offensive talent that Spitfires’ general manager Warren Rychel was looking for in the draft.
“Wyatt has all the skills you could ask for in a young forward,” Rychel told windsorspitfires.com.
“He’s an extremely intelligent player and a
Johnston joins a young core that includes 18-year-old Daniel D’Amico and 17-year-olds Will Cuylle and Jean-Luc Foudy, all of whom produced at least 40 points last season.
Spitfires Add Afanasyev
The signing caps off a busy stretch for Rychel. Just four days earlier, he signed 18-year-old forward Egor Afanasyev from the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL.
The Spitfires acquired Afanasyev’s rights in December in the Michael DiPietro blockbuster deal with the Ottawa 67’s, along with several picks. Rychel believes this kid is the real deal.
“He’s one of the most improved players in North America over the last two (seasons),” Rychel told Blackburn News.
“He’s got the whole package. He’s big (6-foot-4, 210 pounds). He plays physical. He can really shoot it and he’s got the ability to finish. We’re incredibly happy to welcome Egor.”
Afanasyev told CTV Windsor that he believes the OHL is the closest league to the NHL, which has always been his goal. His game also suits the OHL.
“I’m a two-way power forward, I have a pretty good shot, and I like the puck-possession style of play,” he said.
Afanasyev was born in Russia but has played in North America for three seasons.
After 27 goals and 62 points in 58 games in 2018-19, Afanasyev is expected to be a high pick during the 2019 NHL Draft this weekend. He’s rated to go at the end of the first round.
The last Spitfire to be chosen in the first round was forward Gabriel Vilardi in 2017 when he went 11th to the Los Angeles Kings.
The Spitfires have a young group that’s ready to break out and adding Afanasyev and Johnston can only benefit the club. They were third-last in the OHL (216) in goals scored in 2018-19.
With these signings done, Rychel now focuses on the CHL Import Draft on June 26. The Spitfires have the 14th-overall pick. Expect a busy summer in the Rose City.
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.