Adam Dennis is not, and will not, close the door or pull in the Battalion welcome mat for future NHLer Adam Fantilli.
"I am certainly not closing it," said Dennis.
Fantilli, expected to be taken second overall in the NHL Entry Draft, has had quite a season. He won gold with Canada's World Junior team at Christmas, won the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA's top player. He netted 65 points and averaged 1.81 points per game with the University of Michigan Wolverines.
He is currently the youngest member of Team Canada's Men's World Championship team which is heading to the semi-finals on Saturday against Latvia for the event taking place in Finland this spring.
In September of 2021, Battalion GM Adam Dennis acquired the Ontario Hockey League rights to highly regarded centre Adam Fantilli in a trade with the Saginaw Spirit.
The Battalion sent Saginaw, which chose Fantilli in the first round, 18th overall, in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection, the Sarnia Sting’s sixth-round pick in the 2022 Priority Selection, and four conditional choices, including two second-rounders.
"I don't think his focus is on the North Bay Battalion at this point," said Dennis.
"I think he is looking forward to starting his NHL career and we will definitely be monitoring it. Certainly, we will never close that door but I do not think the Battalion is in his purview and if that time does ever come it would be pretty exciting for us. We are not calling him daily though that is for sure."
See related: Last chance to lure Adam Fantilli
While the chances are high that Fantilli will be selected high in the NHL Entry Draft and play in the National Hockey League as an 18-year-old, there is always a chance Fantilli could be sent down. As an NCAA player, as soon as he inks an NHL contract, Fantilli can no longer go back to play in the NCAA.
Dennis can only hope a scenario like what occurred with Shane Wright last season unfolds.
Wright, was selected fourth overall by the Seattle Kraken, was sent down to the AHL for a conditioning assignment, and eventually was re-assigned back to his major junior team in Kingston which subsequently traded his rights to Windsor.
"I do not know what other options would be available to him," stated Dennis.
"It is an interesting one to think about but we are kind of in the back seat and passengers in that one. Hopefully, he makes the NHL and I am sure he would like to stick all year and if anything happens we will see how it goes. We have not had a ton of conversations with that. He is more focussed on the draft and I am sure he is hoping to crack an NHL team which I think he has a really good chance of doing."
However, if things do not work out at the NHL level, Fantilli does have friends here as he is close with Battalion stars Dom DiVincentiis and Ty Nelson. Fantilli was coached by Battalion assistant general manager John WinStanley with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens.