Playing on the worst team in the Ontario Hockey League did not help the stock of North Bay Battalion goalie Joe Vrbetic for the 2021 National Hockey League draft.
Vrbetic, a former Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League star with the Powassan Voodoos, faced baptism by fire for the Battalion during the most recent OHL season in playing for a North Bay team that posted an awful record of 17-41-4.
Still, the 6-foot-6, 190 pound Vrbetic stood tall for the Battalion in registering a record of 14-25-1 with a 4.23 goals against average and .881 save percentage.
Doing the math, as North Bay had a record of 14-25-1 with Vrbetic in the net, the Battalion had a simply atrocious mark of 3-16-3 when the big kid wasn’t playing.
Montreal Canadiens obviously took a liking to Vrbetic.
The Habs used their seventh round pick, 214th overall, at the recent NHL draft to select Vrbetic.
And Montreal’s assistant general manager Trevor Timmins gave his take on the Canadiens decision to take Vrbetic towards the tail end of the 2021 NHL draft.
“He’s a big goalie, obviously,” Timmins said of Vrbetic, who has an October 24, 2002 birth date. “He played on a bad team in North Bay. We are looking for him to really take his game forward. You never know when a goalie hasn’t played for so long but I know he’s working at his game and off the ice … he’s put a lot of work and effort into becoming even a better athlete.”
Meanwhile, North Bay general manager Adam Dennis, who is a former OHL championship goalie with the London Knights, noted that “I really feel like Montreal got a steal with this pick.
“Joe, like many OHL players, wasn’t able to show the hard work that was put in over the off-season but he will certainly make the Canadiens proud of their pick,” Dennis opined.