The North Bay Battalion got a big boost to their offence with the return of Brandon Coe from the San Jose Sharks earlier this week.
The 2020 fourth round selection by the Sharks, is likely penciled in for the Battalion’s top line and is a strong candidate to lead the team in points production in the season that starts Oct. 7 with a visit by the Peterborough Petes.
He scored 25 goals and earned 32 assists for 57 points in 60 games in 2019-20 before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the OHL until training camps in the last few weeks.
The third-overall choice in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, from the Toronto Nationals minor midgets, Coe has played 188 games over three seasons, totaling 52 goals, 65 assists and 117 points with 99 penalty minutes.
Coe’s Dec. 1 birthday made him the OHL’s youngest player in his rookie season of 2017-18, when he scored 10 goals and added 13 assists for 23 points in 63 games.
The Ajax, Ontario product now joins right winger Mitchell Russell and defenceman Simon Rose in constituting the Troops’ overage trio.
While leaving an NHL camp can be disappointing, the 6'5", 203 pound forward wants to make the most of his last year in North Bay.
"I'm really looking forward to having the opportunity to play in front of the city of North Bay again and having the chance to play my last year of junior," he said.
“I want to be a leader on this team. We’re going to be a pretty young team but, from watching the first few exhibition games, I think we have a strong chance of being a top team in our conference and hopefully have a big push in the playoffs this year.”
The NHL experience made for a welcome return to more customary conditions, Coe noted, after the pandemic interrupted hockey and so much else.
“It was great to finally have a normal start to the year by having the chance to go to the rookie tournament and getting to compete at main camp.”
Russian import Alexander Lukin was scheduled to arrive late Tuesday, leaving fellow defenceman Avery Winslow as the only member of the Battalion still to join the club for the start of the season. Winslow, a resident of St. Pete Beach, Fla., is at the Tampa Bay Lightning’s camp.