If you were to start talking about a 6-foot-9 center, most people would assume that you were talking about a basketball player, not a hockey player.
But for Curtis Douglas, a Dallas Stars 4th-round pick (106th overall) from the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, a recent change from playing wing to playing center has got fans of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires talking.
Douglas started the season on the wing before being shifted to the middle of the ice on Oct. 12, and the results since then have been nothing short of great. He has 12 points in the nine games since then, including finding the score sheet in seven of his past eight games.
More importantly for his team, though, the Spitfires are on a stellar 7-0-1 run over their past eight games, thanks in large part to the impact that Douglas has in all three zones. They’ve even climbed into the weekly CHL Top 10 rankings, an impressive feat considering how relatively young the roster is.
With his enormous reach and a rare level of quickness and puck skill for a guy his size, Douglas is a hard player to match up against in a center-to-center showdown. His contributions on the ice extend far beyond what appears on the stat line.
This isn’t the first time that Douglas has played center in the OHL. He’s dabbled in the position in the past, including in his draft year, but it hasn’t continued for long stretches at a time.
Given how well things are rolling along right now for the Spitfires, however, that previous trend might change.
North American Juniors
Ty Dellandrea and Thomas Harley wrapped up the OHL leg of the 2019 CIBC Canada/Russia Series on Monday night when Russia skated away with a 3-2 win. Riley Damiani played in the first OHL game but not the second one.
Dellandrea had a goal in Thursday’s game (a 4-1 Team OHL victory). He also led his team in faceoffs taken in both games, showing off his all-situations versatility. During the broadcast on Monday the Sportsnet duo of RJ Broadhead and Sam Cosentino lauded Dellandrea’s faceoff prowess and predicted that the Flint Firebirds center will be a part of Canada’s roster at the 2019 World Juniors next month.
#CHL: C Ty Dellandrea (DAL 1st/2018) pops in a rebound off an initial shot from C Quinton Byfield (Ranked No. 2) to give the OHL an 1-0 lead over Russia. RHD Jamie Drysdale (Ranked No. 10) picked up the secondary. pic.twitter.com/RykJ7BYDKo— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) November 8, 2019
Nick Porco picked up his first goal as a member of the Barrie Colts on Friday in a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Erie Otters.
This past week Swedish forwards Albin Eriksson and Oskar Back took part in the U20 Four Nations Tournament in Finland. Comprised of Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic, the Swedes came out on top this year, going undefeated.
Back, a center, played a lot of minutes for his team, including time on the 1st line. He showcased the steady blue-collar game that he’s known for, but didn’t really stand out in any big ways. Eriksson played a mostly defensive role in this tournament, killing penalties and closing out games, something that I’ve never seen of him before. He did, however, manage to score a goal in a 6-1 victory over Russia.
The Texas Stars’ struggles continued over the weekend, dropping a pair of contests. Their winless streak now sits at eight games. As I wrote in this space last week, this is a young roster that’s going to go through a lot of growing pains this season.
Jason Robertson and Josh Melnick scored goals in a 5-2 loss to the Colorado Eagles on Saturday. It was the first professional goal for the speedy center Melnick, who was signed by the Stars as an undrafted free agent out of college.
Melnick scored again on Monday, finishing off some hard work by himself and linemates Riley Tufte and Tye Felhaber, but it was the only Texas tally in a 4-1 loss to the Manitoba Moose.
Landon Bow allowed four goals on 13 shots on Saturday before Jake Oettinger was called upon in relief. Oettinger then stopped 27 of 30 in his Monday start. Both goalies were left out to dry on a number of different occasions by the inexperienced team in front of them.
Defenseman Ben Gleason is going through something of a sophomore slump after an impressive rookie AHL season last year. He’s been struggling on the defensive side of the puck as of late and took a terrible penalty against the Moose that led to their first goal of the game on the powerplay.
Robertson and defenseman Emil Djuse are currently tied for the team lead in scoring with seven points in 13 games each, but the best prospect on the team right now is Rhett Gardner, who has been a consistently positive difference-maker all over the ice thanks to his smarts and power game.
For a full database of the organization’s prospects and their stats, check out the Stars’ “In the System” page on Elite Prospects.