Two more players have joined the Elmira Sugar Kings for the upcoming season and one former player was picked up in the NHL Entry Draft last weekend.
Elmira’s newest additions are defenseman Anthony Azzano and forward Josh Slegers.
Azzano played for the Whitby Wildcats Midget AAA team last season. The 16-year-old also skated at the Kitchener Rangers’ rookie camp in May.
Director of hockey operations Jeff Snyder says they pursued him hard and are glad he decided to come to Elmira.
“He’s a really good skater, good puck mover, has some aggressiveness to his game, which we like. He’s a ‘99, so he’s young, but we really think his future’s bright. We watched him a number of times last year, then in the playoffs we watched him, he played for Whitby. We watched him in Waterloo when they were a qualifier there and then watched him play at the Rangers rookie camp this year and he played really well,” Snyder said.
The Kings traded goalie Liam Devine to the Waterloo Siskins for Josh Slegers.
Snyder says they wanted to give Liam Devine a chance to be a number one goalie and he wasn’t going to get that with the Kings since Jon Reinhart is coming back.
Originally from Simcoe, 19-year-old Slegers spent last season with the Siskins, after two seasons with the St. Thomas Stars. His first year of Junior B was spent with the Norfolk Rebels in the Southern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“Josh Slegers can play forward or defense. About halfway through the year they moved him up to forward last year in Waterloo and he played really well in their top line. He’s a big strong guy, good speed, really good at winning battles in the corners. We think he can help us be a more physical team, but he’ll also help us offensively as well. Our plan right now would be to play him on forward, but it’s nice to have that option, we can move him back to defense if we want as well,” Snyder said.
The Kings are still working on adding a second goalie and a couple more players. Earlier this month they added Keanan Stewart, Tyler McBay, Zack Cameron, Mason Sinkeldam, Jake Brown, Blair Butchart, and Matt Murray.
Returning from last season’s team are Jon Reinhart, Klayton Hoelscher, Ty Biles, Dawson Shackelton, Kyle Soper, Jeff Jordan and Quinten Bruce.
The Sugar Kings management can also pat themselves on the back as former Sugar King D-man Connor Hall was picked up by this year’s Stanley Cup winners, the Pittsburg Penguins, in the NHL Entry Draft last weekend. He was drafted 77th overall.
“I think that’s awesome for Connor. He really improved last year with the Rangers. He wasn’t even rated in the draft at Christmastime, so really came on in the second half. I’m really happy for him. I just texted him on the weekend and congratulated him, he was really excited,” Snyder said.
Hall played two years of Minor Midget AAA with the Cambridge Hawks from 2012-2014, before making the jump up to the Sugar Kings for the 2014-15 season. He played eight games for the Kitchener Rangers that season.
He returned to the Sugar Kings for the 2015-16 season, but was called up to the Rangers again, only playing three games for Elmira, and 39 for the Rangers in the regular season. He also played in the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship for Canada.
“We thought he was a real good player for us and it’s just nice to have another guy come through our organization that’s advanced to the next level, to the OHL, and now has the chance to advance to the NHL,” Snyder said.