Two of the Detroit Red Wings’ top defensive prosepcts, Jordan Sambrook and Vili Saarijarvi, are all set to square off in the Ontario Hockey League’s championship series on Thursday evening when the Erie Otters take on the Mississauga Steelheads.
Saarijarvi, who was drafted 73rd overall by Detroit in 2015, will represent Mississauga. Sambrook, drafted 137th overall in 2016, will represent Connor McDavid’s former junior squad, the Erie Otters.
The two blue-liners have posted both productive regular and post-seasons in 2016-17 with their respective clubs as they head into what should be an exciting and high-scoring battle. The Otters’ roster features a plethora of dynamic NHL prospects (Alex DeBrincat, Taylor Raddysh, Dylan Strome, Anthony Cirelli) while the Steelheads have only lost three post-season games during the 2016-17 playoffs.
Saarijarvi is currently ranked second out of all active OHL defenders in the 2017 playoffs with five goals and nine assists in 15 games played. During the regular season Vili finished 41st amongst all defencemen with 11 goals and 21 assists in 34 games played. He would have most likely finished with a much higher ranking but was sidelined early on the season while he recovered from surgery on an injured wrist. Despite the aforementioned injury, Saarijarvi was still nominated as one of the OHL’s most outstanding defencemen.
Sambrook sits in fifth place among all post-season blue-liners with five goals and five assists in 17 games played. During the regular-season Jordan finished in 23rd place out of all OHL defenders with 15 goals and 25 assists in 61 games played. Though not quite the offensive producer that Saarijarvi is, Sambrook is a solid stay-at-home player who can still chip in on the scoreboard, often at crucial/important times.
Even though both players are still young and developing, both Saarijarvi and Sambrook are prospects that fans of the Detroit Red Wings should be very excited about. I wouldn’t be surprised if Vili and Jordan find themselves teammates in Grand Rapids next season after they finish battling it out for the J. Ross Robertson Cup this May.
If you’re a Detroit hockey fan still needing a playoff hockey fix you can watch Sambrook and Saarijarvi battle it out online via the OHL Live service.
On a personal and biased note, I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania and owe a huge part of my hockey fandom to attending Otters’ games as a kid and teenager. I wish Saarijarvi and the Steelheads all the best, but I am “All In” with the rest of the Otters’ nation, go Otters!