Ottawa 67’s Make Blockbuster Trade For Star Goalie Michael DiPietro
Photo credit: Claus Andersen (Getty Images)
The first-place Ottawa 67’s seem to be in win-now mode. They may not be saying so but their actions certainly do. On Tuesday morning, without disrupting their current lineup, they made a blockbuster trade to acquire elite goaltender Michael DiPietro.
Ottawa sent Yegor Afanaseyev, four second-round draft picks and three conditional picks for the star goaltender. He joins a 67’s team that looks poised for a serious run at the Memorial Cup, something they have not won since 1999.
In DiPietro, the 67’s add perhaps the OHL’s current most accomplished goaltender. The 19-year-old led his hometown Windsor Spitfires to a 2017 Memorial Cup championship and was selected as the OHL Goaltender of the Year last season.
DiPietro was taken by the Vancouver Canucks in the third round of last year’s NHL Entry Draft and attended their camp earlier this year. He was also invited to Canada’s World Junior camp earlier this week and is the favourite to be the team’s starting goaltender for the tournament.
This season, DiPietro leads the OHL with a goals against average of 2.32, while his Spitfires have hovered around mediocrity. He now joins a team stacked with offensive talent. It appears to be a move that will put Ottawa ‘over the top’ but the team’s brass points instead to their long-term process.
“It’s not about all in or not. It’s about getting better as a team,” said 67’s head coach Andre Tourigny. “We’re better and we will move forward.”
Even if Tourigny somewhat downplayed what the move symbolizes, the buzz around Ottawa so far this season in undeniable. The team is dominating and the fan base is excited. It has been seven years since the 67’s have made it past the Conference Quarter-Finals, the first round of the playoffs, and the trade will do nothing to limit fan expectations of ending the drought.
This 67’s team has come into its own in year two under Tourigny. They have gone from barely making the playoffs last season with one of the league’s youngest rosters to becoming a front-runner with a lineup littered with elite scorers. They simultaneously have one of the best first lines in hockey, made-up of Tye Felhaber, Austen Keating and Marco Rossi, as well as one of the deepest overall forward lineups.
The 67’s are flat-out overpowering opponents with a relentless offense. They lead the league in goals per game, but are also allowing the third least. Goalie Cedrick Andree has blossomed in his first year as a starter with a stunning record of 19-2-1. No matter how the team decides to split their starts, Ottawa now boasts the OHL’s best goalie tandem with Andree and DiPietro.
Contention has alluded the club for years but the 2018-19 season already appears to be the 67’s brightest in years.
“I’m excited to get going with Ottawa,” said DiPietro before he took off for the Canadian capital on Tuesday.
DiPietro practiced with his new team for the first time Wednesday morning and will suit-up in net this weekend.