After getting in to one preseason game, the Oilers returned hulking and talented prospect winger Ostap Safin to St. John of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Oilers drafted the 6’5 winger in the 4th round of the 2017 draft and Safin had a solid draft plus 1 season putting up 26 goals and 58 points in 61 games for the Sea Dogs, leading the team in scoring. The issue is, Safin didn’t just lead the team in scoring, he had a 17 point gap on the team’s second leading scorer as, after Joe Valeno was traded away at the deadline, Safin was essentially on an island as the sole plus offensive talent on the team. In fact, the last place Sea Dogs often dressed only 10 forwards and asked Safin, a natural winger, to play center. It was far from an ideal situation and Safin’s rookie season, and first season in North America should be deemed a success under tying circumstances.
Given the lack of offensive talent on the Sea Dogs, the Oilers likely contemplated the option to send Safin to the American Hockey League where he was eligible to play this year as a teenager due to being drafted to the NHL from Europe prior to being taken in the CHL import draft (and his ELC would remain subject to slide). I was of the opinion that, despite likely not quite being ready for the pro game, unless Safin was provided some help in St. John, or traded, maybe the American Hockey League was the right place for him this year
Safin hasn’t played in either of the Sea Dogs’ first two games this year - something needed to give as the Sea Dogs have two newly drafted imports on the roster and team’s can only have a maximum of two imports on the roster.
Yesterday reports circulated that Safin is likely on the move this week to the powerhouse, and Memorial Cup host, Halifax Mooseheads:
“A credible report from Quebec-based journalist Mikael Lalancette surfaced on Saturday saying Halifax is poised to acquire Czech winger Ostap Safin from the Saint John Sea Dogs. The Sea Dogs do not have room for Safin because they already have imports Maxim Cajkovic and Filip Prykril on their roster.
Safin, 19, is a fourth-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers and was sent back to junior by the NHL team earlier this week. He had 58 points in 61 games for Saint John last season. Halifax general manager Cam Russell could not be reached for comment.”
To me, this is fantastic news. Safin will get to play on a strong team with a solid offence and will be guaranteed to play in the Memorial Cup. The only downside I see is, given the Mooseheads will play so late in the season, Safin won’t be assigned to Bakersfield for a few pro games at the end of the year. A small price to pay for a move that should be a huge plus for Safin’s development.