One of the best goaltenders in the CHL is on the move.
Michael DiPietro has backstopped the Windsor Spitfires for the past three and a half seasons. He has become the next big goaltending prospect, following Carter Hart’s graduation to the pros. The Vancouver draft pick has been fairly consistent in his time in the OHL. His best season was the 2016-2017 season, where he went 30-12-4-2, with a 2.35 GAA, and a .917 SV%. His outstanding performances carried the team to the Memorial Cup that Spring. After a slight drop off last season, he has come back strong in what could be his last year in junior hockey. While the Spits have not been the best team in front of DiPietro, The Amherstberg, Ontario native has been outstanding, with a 2.32 GAA and .920 SV% to his credit. He has been so exceptional this season that he is projected to be the starter for Team Canada in the World Junior Tournament.
There is no question that his talent is be squandered in Windsor. However, this brought the eyes of many clubs looking for goaltending, and who are capable of making deep run in the post-season. One of such clubs was the Ottawa 67’s.
The 67’s are on an incredible run. Through the team’s first 29 games, they are 22-3-1-1. and have not lost a game in regulation since (scroll…scroll) October 3rd. Since then, they are 19-0-3-1. It has truly been a turnaround season in Ottawa. The club nabbed the last playoff spot in the East Division. Now, they are on a run, in hopes of reaching the OHL Finals for the first time since 2005. General Manager James Boyd is going to do everything in his power to take his team to the Promise Land. This led Boyd’s decision to go out a snag the top goaltender in the ‘O’, DiPietro himself.
The 67’s current starter, Cedrick Andree, has been decent between the pipes for Ottawa. He has a 2.56 GAA and .911 SV% in 23 games this season. This only being his second season, the Orleans product has yet to really prove himself as a worthy starter for a team looking at a deep playoff run. This furthers the reasoning for the decision to bring in DiPietro. DiPietro clearly has the postseason experience, and is looking to be at the top of his game. He may just be what Ottawa needs to take that next step.
Like most trades for big names, the Spitfires received plenty of pieces in return. In terms of current players, the Spitfires receive the rights to Egor Afansyev. Windsor will also obtain Ottawa’s second-round picks in 2019, 2022, and 2023, London’s second-round pick in 2021, along with Ottawa’s three conditional picks (one second and two thirds) in 2021 and 2022 that will be returned if Afansyev chooses to play for Windsor.
Afanysyev is currently playing for Muskegon in the United States Hockey League. The 6’3″ Moscow native has helped the club’s impressive start, scoring 26 points in 19 games.
Obviously this is a huge move for the 67’s, who have been a franchise who have not been able to hold up with the league’s elite in recent years. With an outstanding lineup, and now, one of the best goaltenders in the country in net, Ottawa has gone from a good team, to shoe-in favourite for the Robertson Cup.
stats from eliteprospects.com