On the last day of the 2016-2017 prospect season, the least likely of prospects Sean Day became a champion. Day and his Windsor Spitfires did what few (including myself) was possible and won the 2017 Memorial Cup after defeating fellow OHL team the Erie Otters 4-3. The Spitfires who were eliminated in the first round of the OHL playoffs and did not play a game for 44 days was able to sweep the league champions including knocking off Erie twice to win the championship.
What a year for Sean Day whose selection by the Rangers back in the third round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft was seen as a gamble. Day who was seen as an exceptional talent never played up to the lofty expectations when he joined the OHL as a 15-year-old. Day was seen by several as a problem player who put himself above his team by his critics.
His time in Mississauga was filled with rumors about his behavior and that he and his family were demanding a trade this season. Day got that trade this year to Windsor and to his credit while his play at times remained inconsistent, the whispers about his behavior ended and he made a major effort to improve his overall game.
There has never been any question that Day has the offensive skill set to be an NHL player. His skating ability alone is way above average despite being 6’3 230 as Day glides like very few and when he is open ice, he can make so many miss as he skates by. Day can shoot and pass like few others and if not for the other baggage then Day would have been a first round pick in the same draft.
Day remains weak defensively but the signs of improvement were clearly on display during the Memorial Cup as Day was rarely caught out of position, he was blocking shots and after a slow start was doing a solid job getting the puck out of his defensive zone. Day still needs work especially on becoming more consistent with his play but the signs are there that he one day can be a huge help to the New York Rangers.
It was ironic in his biggest game of his career that Day’s defense was better than his offense. Day had two blocked shots, no turnovers and no penalties. His coach Rocky Thompson had enough faith in Day to have him out on the ice in the last minute of the final while the Spitfires were protecting a one goal lead. A year ago nobody would have even considered doing such a thing.
Day because this was his fourth full season in the OHL is eligible to play in the AHL next year even though he is only 19 so the Rangers are expected to give him a very long look come next training camp.
Today though Sean Day is a champion and a well deserved one.
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