Everyone wants a piece of top 2023 NHL Draft prospect Adam Fantilli, even those who probably don’t have a reasonable shot at him. The Ontario native made his development plans clear when he spurned the OHL for the USHL and then solidified his intent by committing to the University of Michigan last month. However, at least one team back home in Ontario is still hoping that he changes his mind. The North Bay Battalion have announced that they have acquired the OHL rights to Fantilli from the Saginaw Spirit in exchange for a package of picks. While most of the selections are conditional, Saginaw will at least land a 2022 sixth-round pick outright (not to mention the 2022 compensatory first-rounder already heading their way based on Fantilli’s “defected status.) Should North Bay’s gamble pay off, the Spirit would receive a 2024 second-round pick and 2025 second-round pick if Fantilli plays an OHL game in 2023-24 and an additional 2023 third-round pick and 2024 fourth-round pick if he plays any earlier. With Fantilli expected to join the Michigan Wolverines next year, it is highly unlikely that Saginaw will receive all four conditional picks. However, if the NCAA does not go as planned or if Fantilli decides to turn pro immediately after being drafted but is reassigned to the OHL, there is a slight chance that they could land those second-rounders. In reality though, Fantilli will likely shine at the college level and either be on an NHL roster or leading Michigan for one last season in 2023-24. The big scoring center is still worth the risk for North Bay, but the odds of a payoff are low.
- The Colorado Avalanche have revealed a coaching shake-up in the minor league ranks. Brett Clark, assistant coach for the AHL’s Colorado Eagles, will be unable to coach this season due to “new league protocols”. This implies that Clark is unvaccinated and cannot work with players during the 2021-22 campaign. In his place, Colorado has promoted Tim Branham, the head coach of their ECHL affiliate, the Utah Grizzlies, to the AHL assistant position. Branham, 40, has held the head coach as well as GM role for the Grizzlies since 2013 but will finally get a chance to show what he can do at the next level. The team release notes that Clark hopes to return to coaching as soon as possible.
- The top free agent coach right now is very likely Rick Tocchet, who mutually parted ways with the Arizona Coyotes this off-season and was a finalist for seemingly every other vacancy across the league. PHNX Sports’ Craig Morgan writes that Tocchet did have at least two offers to serve as an assistant in the NHL, but decided to go in a different direction. Tocchet has joined TNT as a studio analyst, Morgan notes, and will work alongside Wayne Gretzky during the network’s weekly broadcast. That is, until another head coach position opens up. Tocchet felt that he had to stay close to the game to stay relevant as a coaching candidate, but decided that working as an analyst could accomplish that goal. “It’s an opportunity to stay in the game, learn more about the game and reinvent yourself,” Tocchet said. “I think that every year, coaches have to hit the refresh button on something. You can’t bring the same thing to the table every year. You’ve got to learn new things because the game is always changing; players are always changing.” A former standout two-way forward in addition to an experienced coach, Tocchet will bring a lot to the analyst position – for however long it lasts.