By Jamie Neugebauer
North York Rangers minor midget forward Daniil Vertiy has signed with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, the club announced Tuesday.
Vertiy, 16, put up 28 points in 29 games for the Rangers in his first season in North America since coming over from Russia last year.
Hailing from the town of Nizhnevartovsk in western Russia, Vertiy’s coach with the Rangers, Lorne Hunchuck, feels he is well suited for the OHL.
“Daniil’s tools are absolutely unbelievable,” he said.
“He is one of those guys with a really high skill level and I am not surprised at all that was taken where he was in the draft, as he certainly has an OHL skill level.”
Vertiy was selected with the sixth pick in the second round, 26th overall in the 2014 OHL draft, but needed special dispensation from the league to be picked as a local player instead of an import.
“I’m glad that it’s worked out,” Vertiy told the Windsor Star newspaper, “I wanted to try myself in the OHL as soon as possible and didn’t want to wait. I think everything will be fine.”
A 6-foot-1 and 198-pound winger, Vertiy shoots left but plays right wing (playing the off-wing is far more normal in Russia), and his three goals in four games in North York’s competitive run at the OHL Cup no doubt helped his draft stock.
He also caught the eye of the Rangers’ Junior ‘A’ bench boss John Dean, who played the youngster in one game this past year as a rare minor midget call-up at the Ontario Junior Hockey League level.
“Like most kids his age, there’s work to do, but he’s very talented offensively and he shoots like a man,” said his new head coach in Windsor, Warren Rychel, to the Windsor Star.
“When he tops out (through age and experience), he’ll be a top-line guy.”