Greyhound GM needs to step it up

January 21, 2016

Methinks that Soo Greyhounds general manager Kyle Raftis needs to do a better job of providing better players for coach Drew Bannister as the Ontario Hockey League team moves forward.

As the rookie head coach of the Greyhounds, Bannister took over a team this season that was in major rebuild mode following a run at the 2014-2015 OHL championship that ended well short of the goal with a bitter loss to the underdog Erie Otters in the Western Conference finals.

Not only did the 2014-2015 season end in disappointment but it also marked the exodus of several high-end players to graduation, notably defensemen Darnell Nurse, Anthony DeAngelo and Connor Boland and forwards Justin Bailey, Nick Ritchie, Sergey Tolchinsky and Jean Dupuy.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe also graduated to the pro ranks and forward Jared McCann did the unexpected and made the National Hockey League as a 19-year old.

So, suffice to say that Bannister had a good idea what he was getting into when he accepted the job to replace Keefe.

But it says here that while Bannister has done a pretty-good job as a first-year bench boss by keeping the Hounds in Western Conference playoff position with a .500 mark at this stage of the season, Raftis as second-year GM has fallen short.

As credit was given to Raftis for pulling off the number of impact trades that landed the Hounds the likes of DeAngelo, Boland, Bailey and Ritchie last season, he has failed to provide Bannister with a suitable roster this season.

That is, the Greyhounds remain so-so between the pipes and below-average back of the blueline.

More telling, the Greyhounds are minus a physical presence to the extent that overall, they lack balls and get pushed around by many teams in the OHL.

To be sure, Raftis needs to elevate his management of the Greyhounds as the team moves forward beyond this season.

At this month’s trade deadline, Raftis did well in the getting the OHL rights to small-but-skilled-and-fiesty forward Frankie Pucci in a deal with Erie. Now, Pucci needs an extended opportunity to show what he can do as a 1997 birth-year player who only played in a few OHL games for Erie over last season and this.

And while I suspect that Pucci will become a useful player for the Hounds, Raftis needs to bring in more players who play with the grit and grind that is necessary for a team to be a contender in the OHL.

PHOTO: Soo Greyhounds GM Kyle Raftis.

What you think about “Greyhound GM needs to step it up”

  1. This article couldn’t have been said any better. However, that shiny 9-2 win last night over Sudbury sure helps.

  2. It seems the Hounds have a capable and formidable defensive physical presence playing in their backyard, they should give a look t: Mike Winn, Soo Eagles (6’3 / 181 lbs).

    This kid has the talent and tools to play, a source or two familiar with the Soo, MI team reported Winn is a character kid who is looking to move to the next level.

    Raftis doesn’t have to look to far for a kid that can make an immediate impact on the blue line.

  3. Randy: Frankie Pucci seems to be enjoying himself playing Junior B hockey in Niagara Falls. Last night he had a 3 point game and as a 19 year old I’m just wondering if he’ll report to the Soo net season.

    Jaaklekko: Mike Winn would be considered an overager next season so I think he should consider the NCAA route as opposed to the OHL.

  4. No ncaa eligibility is wiped out as soon as you sighn an ohl contract and if he played games there’s no chance he could get cleared to play college

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