By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
With the season now far in the rearview mirror and the next one in sight, Generals general manager Roger Hunt is feeling excited.
Hunt feels the off-season is going well, but notes off-seasons in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) are typically slow.
“[In] the month of July, the league takes a bit of a break – there’s a no trading period,” he explains. “So, it’s time to kind of catch your breath a little bit.”
He says training camp invitations have been sent out, and he is excited camp is only seven or eight weeks away.
Hunt is also excited about their two top draft picks, centres Brett Harrison and Daniel Michaud.
“You’re always excited when young kids come in,” he says. “I’m excited to see Harrison and Michaud on the ice. Those are the ones that were top minor midget players, and we hope that transfers over to us.”
He also notes some players who haven’t been drafted by the NHL have been invited to professional training camps. One such player is Danil Antropov, who has been invited to the Florida Panthers training camp.
The Generals GM also notes a few players have been invited to international training camps.
“We’ve had a lot of success with our players on the national stage, and this year is no different,” says Hunt.
Three players are currently at camp with under-17 teams, with Ty Tullio and Leighton Moore heading to camp with Team Canada.
He also notes there are a couple of players invited to world juniors camps, such as Serron Noel, at the Canadian camp, and Nico Gross is at the Switzerland camp.
“Lots of watching, listening and cheering on our guys to do well in the off season,” says Hunt.
One hole the team needed to fill in the off season is in net, as longtime goalie Kyle Keyser is no longer eligible to play junior hockey.
“Our goaltending situation really is a situation where we’ve got three guys signed,” says Hunt.
The Gens already have Aidan Hughes, last season’s backup, as well as Zachary Paputsakis, who was at prep school last year, and Matthew Sbrocca, the team’s third goalie during their playoff run.
“I think it’s safe to say Kyle Keyser will not be back,” he says with a chuckle. “As much as that pains me to say because he had such a fantastic final year of junior. But that’s something we’re going to have to work through and see where we end up. It’s certainly a wide open spot, and our hope is that one of the guys we’ve got currently grabs it.”
Hunt is also excited to see what former rookies are going to do, as players such as Tullio and Moore have now gotten their feet wet in the OHL.
“Their necks are a little bit bigger, they’re a little bit heavier, they’re a little bit taller, and they continue to grow,” says Hunt.
After a strong rookie season where he had 42 points, Hunt expects Tullio to improve.
“You always hope that continues to trend up, and I think in Ty’s case that will certainly be the trend,” he explains.
He notes Moore only played a few games with the team, but he left a positive impression on the fans and the team.
“I think they realized, ‘Hey, this is a pretty young, dynamic defenseman that can skate, can move the puck’,” says Hunt.
While he notes Moore may need to work on the defensive side of the game, he believes he and Tullio will anchor the team’s powerplay for years to come.
He’s also hoping for huge years from guys such as Noel, Allan McShane, Brett Neumann, Kyle MacLean and other veterans.
“You’re hoping that those guys come back and really take that final step as they enter the league as 19-year-olds,” says Hunt.
The Gens season begins on Sept. 20 on the road against the Kingston Frontenacs.