The next head coach of the Saginaw Spirit will take over a team that is on the rise with some of the best young talent in the Ontario Hockey League.
After one season on the job, Spencer Carbery is moving on as Saginaw’s bench boss for an assistant coaching position in the minor pro, American Hockey League. Carbery’s departure from Saginaw was confirmed today by Spirit general manager Dave Drinkill.
Under Carbery, Saginaw missed the Western Conference playoffs in 2016-2017. But under the well-planned management of the visionary Drinkill, who is considered to be one of the bright young minds in the game, Saginaw is poised for advancement in 2017-2018 — and serious contender status beyond the upcoming season.
Now, as he has carefully constructed the Spirit into a good work of progress as he enters his third year as the GM in Saginaw, Drinkill has the task at hand of having to find a replacement for Carbery.
Despite the rather odd timing of Carbery’s exit from Saginaw — the start of training camp is just over a month away — Drinkill should have no shortage of qualified candidates to select the next head coach of the Spirit.
And while it may not be ready to compete for the top spots in 2017-2018, the Spirit looms as a formidable force for the future with so much young talent.
Consider the number of better-than-average, up-and-coming players with OHL experience that Saginaw has that have 1999 and 2000 birth dates.
The roster of 1999 and 2000 birth year players who have already debuted in Saginaw boast promise and potential and includes forwards Brady Gilmour, Cole Coskey, D.J. Busdeker, Damian Giroux and Maxim Grondin and defensemen Hayden Davis and Brock Hill.
Then there are a pair of 2000 birth year dandies who committed to Saginaw during this off season after being draft picks in 2016 — forward Blade Jenkins and defensemen Caleb Everett.
And even younger, Saginaw has also signed 2017 first-rounder Nick Porco, a 2001 birth-year forward from Sault Ste. Marie who the Spirit took fourth overall at the April 8 minor midget draft.
As an aside, Drinkill has shown an affection for players from northern Ontario in using high picks the past two years to draft not only Porco but the aforementioned Giroux, who hails from the Sudbury area, and Grondin, who is from the remote, French-speaking town of Hearst.
There is one more 2000 birth-year plum from the 2016 draft — in addition to Jenkins and Everett — who could be another better-late-than-never arrival in Saginaw at some point.
Hulking, man-child defenseman Bode Wilde was taken by Saginaw in the second round of the 2016 draft after the Spirit used its first-round pick on Jenkins. Wilde has a future, Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association commitment and is prepping for a second season with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program but remains on the radar of Drinkill and the Spirit.
Regardless of whether Wilde opts to take a walk on the wild side in Saginaw, the Spirit is lurking in the Western Conference and it’s but a matter of time before it rises to OHL prominence.
Ergo, the new coach coming into Saginaw is going to be coming into a really good situation.