Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League have two defensemen rated on the current rankings ahead of the 2024 National Hockey League draft. But more than one individual who is connected to an NHL team has relayed to Hockey News North that they are of the notion that it is an un-rated Spitfire who is the best pro prospect of any Windsor defenseman.
While Spitfire defenseman Anthony Cristoforo and Josef Eichler are currently rated by NHL Central Scouting, it is 6-foot-6, 220 pound Windsor defender Tanner Winegard who has opened some eyes despite the limited ice time that he gets as an OHL rookie.
This isn’t to say that Winegard will become a NHL draft pick. But if not, he could gain a coveted invite to an NHL rookie camp.
At any rate, it certainly has been a long road to the OHL for Winegard, a 2005 birth year defender who was an 11th round draft pick by Spitfires general manager Billy Bowler in 2021. It took him three training camps with the Spitfires and stops with three different Junior B teams before he finally arrived in Windsor last fall.
To be sure, his hulking size and that fact that is still growing into his body has made Winegard, who is a right hand shooting defender, an intriguing NHL prospect to some.
As one of seven defensemen on the roster of the Spitfires — who are in last place in the Western Conference of the OHL but within range of the Flint Firebirds and Sarnia Sting for the eighth and final playoff spot — Winegard has had to bide his time. But still, there is NHL personnel out there who have passed on positive notes on the upside of the big d-man while wondering why Winegard doesn’t get more ice time from Spitfires interim head coach Casey Torres.
SCOUTING THE SPITS: With five players rated by NHL Central Scouting ahead of this year’s draft, the Spitfires are among one of the most watched OHL teams by the pro scouts. Besides aforementioned defensemen Anthony Cristoforo and Josef Eichler, three Windsor forwards are also on the current rated list of NHL Central Scouting. They are Liam Greentree, A.J. Spellacy and forward Cole Davis. Greentree is by far the main attraction. The 6 foot 2, 200 pound Greentree not only leads the Spitfires in scoring by a country mile but with a 2006 birth date, he is one of the youngest captains in Windsor’s OHL history. A steal as a former second round pick by the Spitfires, Greentree could possibly go in the first round of this year’s NHL draft.