TOLEDO, OH – Toledo has continued to work toward a complete training camp roster with the addition of four more skaters: three forwards and one defenseman. Among the forwards are second-year pro Christian Hilbrich, a veteran skater and Michigan native Alex Foster, and returning for his fourth year as a Walleye veteran Kyle Bonis. The newest blue liner is also a second-year pro from Michigan, Ryan Obuchowski.
Obuchowski played in his first professional season of hockey last year with the Missouri Mavericks after four years of college hockey at Yale. In those four years with the Bulldogs, Ryan played in 134 games, earned 52 points with a plus/minus rating of plus-42. After completing his first professional year of hockey with the Mavericks, he entered the 2017 offseason with two goals, 14 assists, and a minus-5 rating in 69 games. It would seem that Obuchowski is similar to Beau Schmitz; he won’t dazzle you with a blinding offense but will get the job done in his own end. Look for further development of those skills in his sophomore year with Toledo.
Another second-year pro was announced Monday, one who Toledo acquired from a rival club no less. After an impressive first year with the Wheeling Nailers, Christian Hilbrich has signed with Toledo. The Cornell graduate was a producer for the Nailers last season, particularly against Walleye netminders, with 16 goals and 29 assists in 65 games. At 6-foot-7, he is by far the tallest Walleye and one of the heaviest as well at approximately 216 pounds. Coming in with a plus/minus rating of plus-21, expect Hilbrich to fill the role that the Spink twins played last season, with the added advantage of using his massive frame in front of the net, something Toledo has long needed.
Now here it gets interesting.
Prior to this wave of signings, Toledo had one more veteran spot available, but have signed two veterans in Alex Foster and Kyle Bonis. Coach Dan Watson has already stated there will be a competition in training camp for those spots. Bonis scored the fourth most points during the 2017 Kelly Cup Playoffs with 18 points in 17 games but has only played in 106 regular season contests the past three years with Toledo (due to call-ups). In those 106 games, Bonis has 95 points, so when he is in Toledo expect a show.
Alex Foster will be lacing up for Toledo after spending the last six seasons overseas and has an additional 312 games of AHL experience with the Toronto Marlies. In those 312 games, Foster was assessed 203 PIM and earned 150 points, so the former Marlies captain certainly seems to fill the power forward role well.
Inducing a competition among the veteran spots is an interesting approach from Watson. As of now Toledo’s five vets are Alden Hirschfeld, A.J. Jenks, Beau Schmitz, Kyle Bonis, and Alex Foster. Hirschfeld and Schmitz are most likely guaranteed a spot as the captain and veteran blue liner respectively, so the final two spots will go between the forwards: Jenks, Bonis, and Foster. Perhaps this is Watson’s way of lighting a fire under some players who are too comfortable? Time will tell.
Stay tuned for further updates on the latest signing across the ECHL with our 2017 ECHL Transactions page!
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