Sault Ste. Marie product Nick Porco, who played four full seasons in the Ontario Hockey League as a speedy winger, has signed with Asiago HC of the International Central European Hockey League.
The 21-year-old Porco, who has good size at 6-foot, 180-pounds to go with his blazing speed, has inked a four-year contract with Asiago, who is also a member of the Italian Hockey League Serie A as well as the ICE HL.
Originally a first-round pick by the Saginaw Spirit at the 2017 OHL priority selections draft, Porco also suited up for the Barrie Colts and Owen Sound Attack.
Over the course of his four-year OHL career, Porco netted 59 goals, 56 assists, 115 points while playing for six different head coaches. His most productive season in the OHL was the 2021-2022 term when, divided between Barrie and Owen Sound, Porco clicked for 25 goals, 20 assists, 45 points. It was in Owen Sound under coach Greg Walters that Porco became more of a complete, all around player.
A fifth-round pick by the Dallas Stars at the 2019 National Hockey League draft, Porco played four games with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League. Now, he gets to continue his pro career in a top level of European hockey for Asiago, which is coached by former star NHL goalie Tom Barrasso.
In signing with Asiago, Porco will be the youngest player on a team that also includes several former OHL standouts, notably 24-year-old forwards Anthony Salinitri and Adam Mascharin, 22-year-old defenseman Giovanni Vallati and 25-year-old goalie Justin Fazio.
Salinitri (Soo Greyhounds), Mascharin (Kitchener Rangers) and Vallati (Kitchener) were, like Porco, all first-round picks to the OHL. Fazio, meanwhile, was a top OHL goalie for four years as a member of the Sarnia Sting. Salanitri (Philadelphia Flyers), Mascharin (Dallas Stars) and Vallati (Winnipeg Jets) were, like Porco, all NHL draft picks as well.
LOCAL LAD GETS NHL LOOK
Sault Ste. Marie product Ty Dunbar has been invited to the National Hockey League summer development camp of the Colorado Avalanche.
A 6-foot-1, 190-pound defenseman who will not turn 19 until Dec. 18 of this year, Dunbar played for the Soo Jr. Greyhounds of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League and the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and became a third-round pick of the Flint Firebirds at the 2019 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft.
He opted not to sign with Flint to retain his National Collegiate Athletic Association eligibility and has been playing with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League. Dunbar originally hails from Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
RED WINGS ARE ROUSING
After missing the playoffs the past six seasons, my favorite NHL team appears ready to climb the ladder of the standings via recent free agent moves made by Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman.
Yzerman had been saying that his free agency approach would be to add players who could fill roster needs on contracts that made sense.
And Yzerman certainly seems to have fulfilled his plan with a flurry of signings that have fortified the Red Wings lineup and depth chart for the foreseeable future.
The Red Wings officially signed center and Ann Arbor, Mich., native Andrew Copp, defenseman Ben Chiarot, left wingers Dom Kubalik and David Perron, right winger Matt Luff and center and homegrown Detroit product, Austin Czarnik.
For Copp, signing with the NHL team he “was a huge fan of” growing up is very special.
“It’s cool to be coming back home and trying to recreate the magic a little bit,” Copp said after signing a five-year deal with Detroit. “Getting to play for your hometown team is really rare in this league. I’m just fortunate enough to be able to be one of those guys who gets to do it for a few years here, and enjoy being around friends and family the whole year instead of just a few months in the summer.”
After setting career-highs last season in goals with 21, assists with 32 points with 53 and average in 72 games with the New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets in 2021-2022 Copp is anxious to be back in Hockeytown.
“There are a lot of really good pieces on this Red Wings team,” Copp said. “And I think, with a bunch of the additions, it’s an exciting time. I am ready to take the team to the next level.”
Copp said he is also jacked to reunite with his former Michigan Wolverines teammate and current Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin.
“He’s always kind of hinted at getting me to come back home,” Copp said about Larkin. “We’ve talked and talked about the additions. I think both of us are really excited for where this team is headed. It’s kind of funny to me being his captain of him at Michigan and now he’ll be mine in Detroit. It’s pretty cool.”
Meanwhile, the Red Wings bolstered their blue line brigade by signing Chiarot on a four-year deal.
Chiarot played for both the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens in 2021-2022 and netted career-high offensive numbers of nine goals, 17 assists, 26 points.
In addition to looking ahead to be playing with ’21-’22 NHL rookie of the year Moritz Seider on the Red Wings blue line in 2022-2023, Chiarot said he is excited to bring his physical style of play to the Motor City.
“That has been my identity in the league since I came in — a guy who is hard to play against and makes life difficult for opposing forwards,” Chiarot said. “That’s what I’ve been since I came into the league and why I think the Red Wings are bringing me in.”
Not done yet, Yzerman continued to solidify the Red Wings roster by signing aging veteran Perron to a two-year pact. Showing no signs of letting up, Perron potted 27 goals, 30 assists, 57 points for the St. Louis Blues in ’21-’22.
Notably, Perron said several teams were interested in him, but Detroit represented an opportunity that he did not want to pass up.
“I had several options I was bouncing around in my head with my agent and my family and everyone,” Perron said. “But I think the Red Wings are a team, and obviously with some of the signings, I think they’re ready to take the next step in their evolution as a team and I want to be part of that.”
Then there are those other signings mentioned above. Yep, the Red Wings booster in local fans like me and Dave St. Germain are getting pumped.