If the OHL resumes play this season, the Guelph Storm will have some huge holes to fill.
Overage candidates Pavel Gogolev and Nico Daws have both signed professional contracts and are unlikely to return to Guelph.
Gogolev is joining Vasby IK, a team in Sweden’s second tier Allsvenskan league. Daws has signed with ERC Ingolstadt of the Germany’s top flight DEL.
“This isn’t a big shock to me,” said Storm general manager George Burnett, adding that lots of players are looking for opportunities to play in Europe, given the uncertainty surrounding the OHL’s future right now.
The league plans on starting its season on Feb. 4.
Gogolev will almost certainly not be returning to Guelph while the Storm and Daws have agreed to talk again in the new year to see where things stand, said Burnett, adding that he doesn’t want to give the wrong impression that Daws is coming back.
Daws has a German passport, making him a non-import in Germany.
“His circumstances will be revisited in the new year,” Burnett said of Daws.
Burnett added that Gogolev is still hoping to sign a contract in North America at some point and that playing and developing in Sweden, where he has signed for the remainder of this season, might help him get there.
“It’s a tough year for overage players,” the Storm general manager said of the uncertainty surrounding what would be their final junior seasons.
“If the opportunity is out there to play and develop, they have to consider it.”
Guelph has two players – Daniil Chayka and Andrei Bakanov playing pro in Russia right now, but because of their age and contracts they would be returning to Guelph if and when the OHL season resumes.
Gogolev led the Storm with 45 goals and 51 assists in 63 games last season.
He took to Instagram to thank the Storm and his former team, the Peterborough Petes.
“Wanna thank @petesohlhockey for giving me opportunity to start my junior career. And wanna thank @guelph_storm_ohl for giving me the best 2 years of my life. Cheers to junior 🍻♥️” he posted on Monday.
Daws was named the OHL’s goaltender of the year and was a member of Team Canada’s junior team. He was a third round pick of the New Jersey Devils in the recent NHL draft but has not yet signed.
The move leaves Guelph with two overage candidates currently: Keegan Stevenson and Eric Uba.