Better late than never

May 4, 2017

Centre Blade Jenkins did a bit of an end around. But the end result is that the first round draft pick of the Saginaw Spirit from 2016 has signed up with the Ontario Hockey League team.

Two days after signing 2017 first-round draft pick Nick Porco, Saginaw general manager Dave Drinkill tallied another off-season goal by inking Jenkins to a standard OHL player agreement.

Rather than play in the OHL for Saginaw, the Michigan-born Jenkins spent the 2016-2017 season with the U.S. National Team Development Program.

“The future is extremely bright,” Drinkill said in the aftermath of the double-play signings of Jenkins and Porco. “I can tell you that.

“I think (Jenkins and Porco) have the ability to make plays with their speed, skill and vision,” Drinkill added.

A year after being drafted, Jenkins is full of Spirit.

“The Saginaw Spirit are a young, growing team and I think next year is going to be an unbelievable year,” he stated.

The addition of the two young forwards — Jenkins was born in 2000 and Sault Ste. Marie product Porco has a 2001 birth date — adds on to what is already a promising group of players in Saginaw.

Under second-year GM Drinkill and first-year head coach Spencer Carbery, Saginaw opted for a full-out youth movement in 2016-2017, dealing off veteran players for younger skaters and a bushel of draft picks.

Still, the Spirit challenged for a Western Conference playoff spot until the latter portion of the regular-season schedule only to finish in ninth place, albeit with a respectable point total of 63.

Indeed, the 63 points that Saginaw put up were more than three teams who made the playoffs in the Eastern Conference — Sudbury Wolves, Ottawa 67’s and Niagara IceDogs — managed.

PHOTO: Blade Jenkins signs with the Saginaw Spirit, joined by general manager Dave Drinkill. (Photo by Saginaw Spirit.)

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