A new Castle in Niagara
Aidan Castle had one team in mind when he decided not to report to the Oshawa Generals.
The 17-year-old Mississauga native was selected by the Generals in the first round (13th overall) of the 2020 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, but felt the Niagara IceDogs were a better fit.
“The IceDogs are a great organization,” Castle said Monday before practising with his new teammates for the first time. “I know a lot of the guys here, former teammates and just people I played against in general.
“I love the Burkes and everything about the organization so this was definitely my No. 1 option. It’s a great team and I’m looking forward to the year.”
The IceDogs acquired the rights to Castle last week, dealing Peterborough’s second pick in 2022, their own choices in the third and fourth rounds in 2022, and Peterborough’s fourth-round selection in 2024 to the Gens for the speedy forward.
“I was just hoping I would be here as soon as possible. For the past couple of days they were trying to get the trade going and it finally happened,” Castle said. “It’s awesome. I’m really happy to be here.”
Castle said there was nothing specific about the Generals that pushed him to holdout.
“Oshawa is a great city and organization as well. I just didn’t think it was the right fit at the time. I’m just looking forward to this,” he said.
IceDogs coach Billy Burke is eager to add Castle to an already deep roster of young forwards.
“We were looking great with the guys we had here but to be able to add a player of Aiden’s skill and his ceiling, his age, everything he does so well, it fits us perfectly,” Burke said. “It’s very exciting. I know (general manager) Joey (Burke) worked very hard to get this done and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be welcoming Aidan in.”
Castle played minor hockey with 2021 IceDogs draft picks Pamo Fimis and Brice Cooke with the Toronto Jr. Canadians.
“We’ve played together for the past three or four years, even before that in spring hockey,” Castle said. “They’re great players and I know they’ll have great years. I’m really excited to see what we can do this year.”
Billy Burke said at some point the three could find themselves on a line together.
“We’ll see” he said. “It’s good to have those relationships entering a new team confidence-wise and they might play together at some point. We’ll see how the chips fall. To have that previous chemistry is intriguing and something we’ll keep in the back of our minds.”
Castle is confident he will be able to make the jump to the OHL.
“I haven’t played in about a year-and-half so I’m just looking forward to playing games,” he said. I think with my speed and my abilities I can definitely make a big impact here in Niagara.
“I think it will be a little bit difficult at first but even with the practices this week coming up and getting used to the pace, I should be 100 per cent ready to play at the OHL level come the regular season.”
The IceDogs will continue to practice in preparation for their first two exhibition games, Friday, Sept. 17 at Oshawa and Saturday, Sept. 18 at home to the Generals.
Ice cubes: Jake Uberti, Cam Butler and Landon Cato are away at NHL development camps . . . Import defeneman Rodwin Dionicio has arrived and is practising with the team . . . Defencemen Sami Douglas-Najem, who was signed as a free agent after spending last season with the Quinte Red Devils, will be working out with the team this week. The 17-year-old Belleville native is expected to spend the season developing in Trenton of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
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