The Guelph Storm has tidied up its crowded crease situation by trading overage goaltender Anthony Popovich to the Flint Firebirds.
In return the Storm gets a third round pick and a fifth round pick in the 2020 Priority Selection.
"This is a team that's going to be a top team in the Western Conference, they certainly are with his presence in the net. I don't want to speak for them, but they're a good, solid team and it's a great opportunity for him," Storm coach/GM George Burnett said in an interview.
"To drag on, three or four weeks down the line ... three goalies is not a good situation for anybody. We're committed to developing a young goaltender," Burnett said.
The Storm now has 19-year-old Nico Daws and 17-year-old rookie Owen Bennett in net.
Burnett felt he got a fair return for Popovich, considering the market.
"I'm very comfortable that we've got a strong return. In order to look at a bigger return you need to have a number of teams vying for his services. Ideally you're looking to get a top young player or second round picks ... but in two or three weeks time, if there is no opportunity, then what are the options? It's a fair return."
Popovich, a 6’2”, 197-pound goaltender from Belleville was a seventh round pick (134th overall) by the Storm in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection.
After spending his first year of eligibility playing tier II, he played the past three seasons in Guelph, a total of 172 regular season and playoff games. He compiled a 16-7-1 record in backstopping the Storm to an OHL championship last season.
Over the course of his career, Popovich has a record of 66-51-10-6 with a goals against average of 3.61 and a 0.895 save percentage. His 1,802 saves last season led the OHL and were the most by a Storm goaltender since Craig Anderson in 2000-01.
“We are thrilled to be adding veteran experience to our lineup,” said Flint Firebirds Vice President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Barclay Branch said on the Flint Firebirds web site. “Anthony is a proven winner, with championship experience and his veteran leadership will be a significant addition to our club moving forward.”
“From what I have heard from my friends that have played in Flint, is that they treat their guys like pros. I’ve only heard good things about the billets (host families) and that everything is ran first-class in Flint,” said Popovich. “I heard there’s a good group of guys there to go far this year and surprise a lot of people. I think they’re going to have a special group this year.”