As the new season nears, the Canadian Hockey League is highlighting 2000-born graduated players who will move on to the pro ranks and to other academic programs for the coming campaign:
A pair of wingers have graduated from the Barrie Colts in Victor Hadfield and Luke Bignell. For Hadfield, he closes out his junior career after spending all three seasons with the Colts, totaling 124 appearances and highlighted by a 26-point finish in 2019-20 coming in 46 contests. The one-time first overall pick from the 2017 OHL Under-18 Priority Selection, Hadfield has since joined the pro ranks with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. As for Bignell, the Kitchener, Ont., native also spent the entirety of his junior career with the Colts, counting three seasons and including the 2019-20 campaign in which he captained the squad and finished fifth in team scoring with 37 points in 54 games. Bignell has committed to the Guelph Gryphons for the coming campaign.
A trio of players have graduated from the Mississauga Steelheads beginning up front with longtime forward Nicholas Canade, a hometown product who skated three seasons with the Steelheads from 2017-20. With the OHL shuttered last season, Canade then joined KOOVEE of the second-tier Finnish league, while the coming season will see him elevate to Finland’s top professional circuit. Meanwhile, also graduating from the Steelheads is fellow forward Richard Whittaker who after beginning his career with the London Knights spent two seasons in Mississauga including 2019-20 when he finished fifth in team scoring with 44 points in 57 games. Rounding out the graduates in Mississauga is goaltender Kai Edmonds who following two years with the Colts closed out his junior days with a career-best 25-win season with the Steelheads.
The Niagara IceDogs will have a new look this season with as many as four players set to move on. The changes begin at the forward ranks with veteran left-wing Jackson Doherty who joined the club in 2019-20 after spending the past two seasons in Owen Sound to bring his career totals to 176 games and 38 points. Doherty has committed to the Ryerson Rams for 2021-22, while also opting for the academic route is fellow forwards Andrew Bruder who has joined the Western Mustangs following three seasons and 151 games spent with the IceDogs as well as Lucas Theriault who has joined the York Lions following a lone season in the OHL spent with Niagara. Additionally, the IceDogs will also see the departure of defenceman Adrien Beraldo whose decorated career totaled 164 games played following stops in Peterborough, Kingston, and Niagara.
North Bay Battalion
After leading the North Bay Battalion in scoring with near point-per-game production of 34 goals and 26 assists through 62 appearances in 2019-20, veteran centre Luke Moncada tried his hand at the pro ranks last season in joining the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters, while the coming year will see him head overseas as he links up with the Vienna Capitals of the top-tier Austrian league. One of four departing players from the Battalion, that group also includes forward Chad Denault who following part of four seasons split between Peterborough and North Bay has committed to the Nipissing Lakers. Also departed is defenceman Branden Henderson whose OHL career totaled 167 games with Sarnia and North Bay as well as goaltender Cameron Lamour who made 16 appearances with the Battalion in 2019-20 after previously standing in the blue paint with Saginaw and Sarnia.
A handful of longtime members of the Sudbury Wolves have skated their last game with the club headlined by veteran forward Owen Gilhula who spent all four seasons of his junior career with the organization, highlighted by a career-best 33-point finish in 2019-20. Gilhula has committed to the York Lions for 2021-22, while also heading to the classroom is defenceman Emmett Serensits who will suit up for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues after spending the past three seasons in Sudbury, as well as veteran netminder Christian Purboo who will join the Queen’s Gaels following his close-out season with the Wolves in which he set career highs in both games played (45) and wins (20). Meanwhile, the Wolves have also waved goodbye to forwards Nolan Hutcheson and Owen Robinson as well as defenceman Adam Samuelsson, all of whom spent their entire junior careers with Sudbury, with the latter set to continue his playing career in 2021-22 with Mariestad BoIS of the tier-three Swedish league.