I don't come to bury Michael, but I'm not going to praise him either. After a strong start to the tournament, with a goal and an assist in the first game against the Remparts, he only picked up another assist the rest of the way. He was shut out tonight, although he did create/have a few opportunities.
Another area where he petered out was his faceoff prowess. He'd gotten plaudits early on from the Sportsnet crew for his strong work on the dot, but before tonight's game he was down to a 48% win percentage for the tournament. Maybe the other coaches figured him out in the preliminaries, maybe they did some good video work with their centres, but he lost his edge as the games wore on.
Tonight, he lost the faceoff cleanly on the play that led to Kelowna's only goal. He finished 9/23 for the game.
Oshawa head coach D.J. Smith had relied heavily on Cole Cassels and Michael throughout the playoff run and during the Memorial Cup games, and I wondered if our boy was getting worn out, fading as the games and tournament progressed.
It seems the coach adjusted, starting to rely a little more on Anthony Cirelli, who rewarded him by scoring his team's two goals, not a bad way to set himself up for the June draft.
It wasn't a bad outing for #55 though, just maybe not as clutch as we might have wanted to close out his CHL career, maybe a 3 or 4 on the Messier-Toews scale. He dished out 6 hits during the game, the most of any player.
Overall, this isn't alarming to me, it might actually work to tamp down expectations as he comes into camp next fall. There was talk early about Michael maybe being the solution we need for a big centre in our Top 6, there all along, right under our noses. His cooling off as the tourney progressed will cool our feverish imagination as well.
Michael has a future as an NHL right winger who can do some necessary work in the corners and in front of the net, maybe he can pitch in and take the occasional draw. He has a long road ahead of him to develop further in the AHL, and we need to be realistic and patient with this prospect, who can play a big role in the success of the team in the future.