Former Erie Otters reunite in the NHL


Bella Lee, Sydney Dietz, Staff writer,Sports editor

Erie is known for a variety of things, from being the only coastal city in the entire state to the copious amounts of fish and frog statues scattered throughout the city. However, one other notable piece of Erie is the sports. Along with the Erie Otters, part of the Ontario Hockey League, or OHL, Erie is home to a minor league baseball and hockey team, as well as the former home of a minor league basketball team (Erie Bay-Hawks).

Ever since the Otters moved to Erie in 1996, there’s been a grand total of 48 Otters alumni that have made their way to the NHL.Perhaps none of them are more notable, however, than Connor McDavid.

A member of the Edmonton Oilers, McDavid is so far the only Otter alum to have been selected first overall, being selected in 2015 by the Oilers. Just a year later, McDavid would become captain of the Oilers at the grand old age of 19 years and 266 days, the youngest permanent NHL captain in history. McDavid is easily the most successful Otter alum in the NHL, with four seasons where he scored more than 100 points and 97 points this season so far, he is easily heading for a fifth season with over 100.

McDavid is now joined by former Erie Otter Warren Foegele. Foegele started his NHL career with the Carolina Hurricanes, but later got traded to the Oilers making him teammates with McDavid.

Another prominent Otter alum is Alex DeBrincat, selected by the Chicago Blackhawks as the 39th overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft. He played for the Otters for three seasons, including his draft year, and has been playing with the Blackhawks for five seasons now. He was named as an alternate captain for the Blackhawks for the 2021-22 season, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

DeBrincat is not the only former Otter to play for the Blackhawks, he is also accompanied by 2015 first round draft pick and former Erie Otter captain Dylan Strome and now the newest Blackhawk member Taylor Raddysh. Raddysh was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2016. However, he did not make his NHL debut until 2021. He started his NHL career in Tampa Bay while playing alongside former Erie Otter defenseman Erik Cernak and center Anthony Cirelli.

Despite playing many games with the Tampa Bay Lightning and scoring his first NHL goal while on the team, he recently got traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. Raddysh now is reunited with both DeBrincat and Strome. Ever since Raddysh made the move, the three players have been clicking and Raddysh has scored three goals as a Blackhawk.

There have even been a few Otters alumni that have gone on to become Stanley Cup Champions. One of them, Andre Burakovsky, was selected by the Washington Capitals in the 2013 draft, the first round, 23rd overall pick. He went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Capitals, the team’s first ever, in 2018. Burakovsky has been with the Colorado Avalanche since the 2019-20 season, but is as strong of a player as ever, recording 18 goals and 28 assists for a total of 46 points as of this writing.

Along with Burakovsky, Cernak and Cirelli have also been Stanley Cup champions. However, they were lucky enough to get their name on the cup twice due to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s back to back Stanley Cup championship. Raddysh also won a Stanley Cup Championship in 2021 while he was playing for the Lightning.

The Erie Otters themselves are impressive in their own right. As one of only three American teams in the OHL, they have been proving themselves lately. They have been Midwest Division Champions seven times, first place in the regular season three times, Western Conference Champions three times and OHL Champions twice, in the 2001-02 and 2016-17 seasons.

Mercyhurst students have the opportunity to attend Otters games for a discounted price of $10 on Friday nights if a student ID is shown at the Erie Insurance Arena, so don’t let this opportunity go to waste. Go Otters!