As the story is annually told, the month of December for the OHL is quite busy and on the side of the yearly World Juniors, there’s been no shortage in the last four days. With that being said, after Danil Antropov was dealt to Saginaw, the North Bay Battalion joined the mix on Monday, trading Matthew Struthers to the Owen Sound Attack.
The deal comes on the hands of what was a rather hectic start to the week as Hockey Canada announced in the morning their selection camp roster for the 2020 World Juniors. Speaking of which, general manager Dale DeGray said before the announcement that Aidan Dudas, who captains the Attack, was being ‘highly considered’ for an invite. However, it was reported that his upper-body injury could be a factor in the decision.
With that report in mind, his unknown status had started to circulate with some implications suggesting four-to-six weeks, or in the words of the league, a short-term IR stint. However, with just one week before camp in Oakville, the 19-year-old centreman was invited to selection camp.
World Juniors news aside, it was reported by Bayshore’s Fred Wallace that a trade involving Owen Sound was pending with incoming players to be revealed by noon. However, general manager Dale DeGray would not confirm nor deny the report. A short time later, the agreement was confirmed with Matthew Struthers being the deal’s main subject.
Heading to North Bay, Ontario from the Owen Sound Attack would be three draft picks, all of which belonged to the Attack and would be eligible for the next four seasons. The picks included a second for the 2022, a third in 2023 and a sixth-round pick in 2024.
In a statement from Dale DeGray who is the general manager of the Owen Sound Attack, he said, “He’s a great leader, he’s going to make an immediate impact in our room. We have a young group of guys and he’s really going to show them what it means to come to the rink every day and perform. He’s going to be huge on the ice as well. Matt’s only grown since we sent him to North Bay two years ago, and he’s going to come back and make a difference for us.”
Struthers, 19-years-old, is in his third season with the team in North Bay where he has played in 25 games while scoring 11 goals and 10 assists. While Struthers, a London, Ontario native, has racked up 14 penalty minutes thus far, his stats line also includes 21 points and a Plus/Minus rating of -23.
Struthers, an alternate captain, joins Aidan Dudas with the Owen Sound Attack, a team that he will contribute to, both offensively and defensively as well. Stan Butler, discussing the trade, would open his statement regarding Matthew Struthers saying, “We’re in a rebuilding year, and we felt this would give some of our younger players even more of a chance to play. We didn’t have a second-rounder in 2022, so we get that back, and it gives Matthew a chance to play somewhere else.”
In a statement from Struthers himself after learning of the news from his head coach on Monday, the forward said, “I’m really excited to be back in Owen Sound. I think I’ve grown as a player and as a person since last playing here and it’s pretty cool I get the opportunity to finish my OHL career where it started. I can’t wait to get started and be back at the Bayshore!”
Struthers, a former member of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, was a third-round pick (55th overall) of the North Bay Battalion back in 2015. Since then, he has scored 80 goals and 99 assists in 261 career OHL games. This also includes a resounding 179 points recorded.
The centreman, who weighs in at 6’2, 188lbs, is coming off of a career year in the league last season where he scored 31 goals and 50 assists, making for a total of 81 points registered. He managed to rack up these numbers while having appeared in 61 games played.
While Struthers remains draft eligible, the left-handed shooter returns to Owen Sound for his second stint playing for the Attack. Struthers was dealt to the Battalion after the 2017-18 season. Prior to returning to his roots, Struthers finished the 2018-19 season which was followed by a stint with the AHL’s Laval Rocket. During this time, he appeared in five games, scoring one goal which made for one point. He also added a Plus/Minus rating of -3 to his resume.
As Struthers, a native of Milton, makes his return to Owen Sound, he provides the Attack with another overage centreman while also improving the team’s core at forward. This allows him the opportunity to finish his OHL tenure where it all began.
Struthers will make his return on Wednesday night on home ice at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre as the Owen Sound Attack seek a second straight win when they play host to the Niagara IceDogs. It will be the first time this season that the Niagara IceDogs and the Attack square off which will see Struthers sport No. 15 with puck drop scheduled for 7:00pmET. The game can be seen on AHL Live and Rogers tv, meanwhile, it can be heard on NewsTalk 610 CKTB and 560 CFOS Bear Radio.