No less than seven players with northeastern Ontario roots could very well be impact performers for the Espanola Express this season.
All are veterans with prior experience in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League who just might be a part of the Express having its first winning season in a franchise history that began in 2015.
Espanola is coming off of a 2019-2020 season in which it posted a record of 17-34-5 in sneaking into the West Division playoffs for the first time since its inaugural 2015-2016 NOJHL campaign.
The significant seven from northeastern Ontario who are primed to board the Express for the 2020-2021 season are listed below, in alphabetical order.
Josh Boucher. A 2001 birth year forward, the 6-foot, 175 pound Boucher came through with 10 goals, 16 assists, 26 points in 55 games for the Express last season after playing high school hockey the previous campaign. He hails from Lively, which is just outside Sudbury.
Carson Boutin. A 2002 birth year goalie, the 6-foot, 185 pound Boutin finished the 2019-2020 season in Espanola after beginning it with the Cochrane Crunch. Boutin had a 3-1-0 record with a 1.56 goals against average and .945 save percentage with Cochrane. And, facing a whopping 636 shots in 932 minutes of play in Espanola, Boutin had a 4-7-0 record with a 4.32 goals against average and .895 save percentage. He is from Iroquois Falls.
Bradley Brunet. A 2003 birth year forward, the 6-foot, 165 pound Brunet got into 45 games for the Express in 2019-2020 and produced eight goals, four assists, 12 points. A Sudbury product, Brunet is an Ontario Hockey League draft pick of the Niagara Ice Dogs.
Cole Delarosbil. A late blooming, 2001 birth year forward, Delarosbil was limited to just 27 games as a rookie last season due to a broken ankle. But despite playing mostly on the third and fourth lines, the 6-foot-1, 190 pound Delarosbil nonetheless managed six goals, three assists, nine points. Known for his relentless work ethic and year round commitment to fitness and conditioning, Delarosbil is a Sault Ste. Marie product.
A.J. Favot. A smart, puck moving defenseman with a 2002 birth date, the 5-foot-11, 165 pound Favot netted four goals, 20 assists, 24 points in 51 games for the Express last season. He was particularly effective on the Espanola power play, netting 16 points, including 15 assists. To be sure, Favot figures to be among the top defensemen in the West Division this season. Like the aforementioned Brunet, Favot is an OHL draft pick of Niagara who also calls Sudbury his home. Of further note, he is a son of Tim Favot, who patrolled the left wing for three full OHL seasons from 1989 to 1992, suiting up for both the North Bay Centennials and Sudbury Wolves as a hard toiling skater.
Devon Savignac. Skilled and smart and a 5-foot-11, 175 pound forward with a 2003 birth date, Savignac potted 22 goals, 13 assists, 35 points in 49 games for the rival Blind River Beavers last season. The 22 goals that Savignac tallied for the Beavers as a 16-year old rookie last season were the second most on Blind River, trailing only league scoring champion Caleb Serre. Recently acquired by Espanola from Blind River in a trade of major significance, Savignac is an OHL draft pick of the North Bay Battalion who hails from Sudbury. There is little doubt that if Savignac plays the full season in Espanola, he should be among the top scorers in the entire NOJHL.
Cameron Walker. A 5-foot-11, 165 pound forward with a 2003 birth date, Walker produced 11 goals, 15 assists, 26 points in 55 games for the Express last season. A Sudbury product, Walker is an OHL draft pick of the Kingston Frontenacs.