After a disappointing 2019-20 season that ended up cancelled due to COVID-19, the Toledo Walleye, like every other team, had to start completely over as the offseason started. With the first signing of the summer, the Walleye added two rookie defensemen to the team’s backend with both a ton of experience.
After an impressive display in one game last season, Toledo announced on Monday the re-signing of defensemen Butrus Ghafari. Ghafari brings an impressive junior hockey resume, playing four years between the Fargo Force and .Bloomington Thunder. As such, he’s managed to rack up 202 penalty minutes throughout his career. The native of Detroit, MI transitioned to nearby Michigan State for his college career following four seasons in the USHL. Ghafari brings experience to the Walleye, having played four years with the Michigan Spartans.
Lastly, Toledo signed defenseman Connor Walters. Bringing championship experience after winning a title in OHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs, Walters put up an impressive 60 points in his OHL career between Hamilton and the Owen Sound Attack. Following his five OHL seasons, Walters followed it with schooling where he continued to play at Brock University. Walters put up only 29 points over two years spanned with the Badgers at Brock. On paper, Walters brings an offensive game to the backend; something not so common in Toledo.
Walleye head coach Dan Watson has always struggled in his career finding the right defensive core. After Watson found good defence last year with solid defensemen in Kevin Spinozzi and Blake Hillman, it will be interesting to see how two rookie defensemen will make their fit into the new equation.