Two notable NHL prospects and recent CHL Import Draft selections have joined the ranks of the OHL. 2020 draft eligible forward Danil Gushchin, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 Import Draft, has signed with the Niagara Ice Dogs, while forward Albin Grewe, a 2019 third-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings, has signed with the Saginaw Spirit.
Gushchin’s move signals a shift in his developmental path. A consensus second-round pick in the coming NHL Entry Draft, Gushchin is a very talented forward with great speed and stick skills. The one glaring concern about his game is his size: Gushchin stands just 5’8” and weighs in at around 160 lbs. For this reason, it seemed the Russian winger was favoring the collegiate development path, which can often be better for undersized players. The No. 7 overall pick in the CHL Import Draft last year, Gushchin instead opted to play another season in the USHL with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, preserving his NCAA eligibility. However, with questions about the likelihood of a college hockey season, Gushchin may have decided that the best choice for his development was to improve his level of play next season and the OHL was his safest bet. The question now, and one that NHL scouting staffs will have to decide, is whether the size and skill that made him a point-per-game player in the USHL will translate to the OHL and eventually to the pros.
As for Grewe, the move to the OHL is not unexpected following a disappointing 2019-20 campaign. A skilled and pesky two-way winger out of Sweden, Grewe was considered a great value for the Red Wings at No. 66 overall last year. He was expected to play a larger role with the SHL’s Djurgardens IF this year after getting into 15 games last season but failing to record a point. Instead, he was limited to just 19 games and managed just one point, while his production fell off considerably in the junior SuperElit as well. In fact, the only real statistical growth this year for Grewe was in penalty minutes. Grewe needs to work more on his offensive game and skill development and has a better chance of doing that playing meaningful minutes against his peers at the junior level rather than bouncing back and forth from a pro team where he was clearly not ready to compete. Although Saginaw waited to select Grewe until the second round of the Import Draft, both sides were happy to sign on for next year. Now Detroit fans just have to hope that the talented forward can get back on track with his new team and league.