Spitfires set for future flight

March 8, 2024

Their ascent to the top of the Western Conference standings over the past two seasons is in descent. Windsor Spitfires may be in a tailspin that will result in them missing the Ontario Hockey League playoffs this season but they are in position to be airborne effective next season.

Spitfires power forward Liam Greentree. (Postmedia photo)

Just as the Soo Greyhounds returned to OHL stature this season after missing the playoffs last season, it is anticipated and envisioned that the Spitfires will rev their engine up the ranks in the Western Conference next season.

Not only did Windsor general manager Billy Bowler add no less than seven future draft picks just prior to this year’s trade deadline, the Spitfires have a foundation of young players to boost and build on for next season and beyond.

There is also a bracket of potential overage players who could help pilot the Spitfires’ flight plan for next season.

Notably though, it is the younger generation that hold the keys to the Spitfire cylinder.

Windsor already has its franchise player in 2006 birth year forward Liam Greentree. One of the youngest captains in Spitfires history, the 6-foot-2, 200 pound Greentree is at the 30 goal and 80 point mark for this season and is poised to become a first round pick at this year’s National Hockey League draft.

Conor Walton

The 2006 age group of Spitfires also features a promising class of forwards Cole Davis and A.J. Spellacy and defensemen Anthony Cristoforo, Carson Woodall and Conor Walton. Davis has become a 20 goal scorer as an OHL rookie and Spellacy is also within range of that mark.

As for Walton, the Espanola Paper Kings of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League played a season long role in 2022-2023 in the development of the hulking defenseman who has since become a top four defender with the Spitfires as an OHL rookie.

Then there is 2007 birth year forward Jack Nesbitt, who was Windsor’s first round pick at the 2023 OHL priority selections draft. Nesbitt has size at 6-foot-4 to go with skill and is projected to become a Spitfire standout.

Jack Nesbitt

There are also players with 2005 birth dates who could be somewhere in the mix as 19-year olds next season — defensemen Josef Eichler and Tanner Winegard and goalie Joey Costanzo.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Billy Bowler, as the Spitfires GM, faces a crucial decision as to who will be Windsor’s bench boss when the first puck drops on the 2024-2025 season.

Bowler justifiably fired first head head coach Jerrod Smith 21 games into this season after the Spitfires sputtered to a 4-16-1 start. Windsor has since put up a 14-19-6 record with Casey Torres as the interim head coach.

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