Photo – (from left) Plymouth President, General Manager and Head Coach Mike Vellucci and Danny Vanderwiel. Credit – Von Vanderwiel.
Plymouth Whalers President, General Manager and Head Coach Mike Vellucci announced the signing of 16-year-old left wing Danny Vanderwiel, who was selected by the Whalers in the eighth round (144th overall) of the 2011 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
Vanderwiel – 5-foot-11 and 199 pounds from Island Lake, IL (northwest of Chicago) – scored 10 goals with 11 assists for 21 points and 87 PIM’s in 33 games for the Team Illinois U-16’s last season. He attended the Whalers Rookie Orientation at Compuware Arena in May.
Before coming to the Whalers Orientation Camp, Vanderwiel was invited to attend USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program Evaluation Camp last March, a camp featuring the top 1995-born players in the United States. Check out the roster.
“Our scouts have a history of finding good players later in the draft, and we really like what we’ve seen from Danny so far,” said Vellucci. “He’s strong on his skates and competes hard.”
“Danny’s a good skater who plays a physical game in all areas of the rink,” said Plymouth Assistant General Manager Brian Sommariva. “He provides grit and has a skill set that we like in all of our players.”
Vanderwiel is ready to start the next chapter of his hockey career.
“This is one of the most exciting things to be happening to me so far,” Vanderwiel said of his signing in a telephone interview. “The feeling of signing a contract and the team sending you a jersey after the draft makes you feel like a professional.”
Vanderwiel enjoyed his experience at the Whalers Rookie Orientation in May, where he scored a goal with two assists in two scrimmage games.
“I was able to meet some of my older teammates – Tom Wilson and Matt Mahalak – and we went to one of the Memorial Cup games (in Mississauga, ON),” Vanderwiel said. “They seem like good guys. (On the ice), I didn’t want to be nervous – I tried to play with confidence. I’m an honest grinder or power forward. I feel like Plymouth will be a good fit.”
Vanderwiel will attend school during the 2011-12 season at the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park.
Earlier this off-season, the Whalers signed 16-year-old goaltender Jake Patterson (7th round, 135th overall in 2010) and 15-year-old left wing Matthew Mistele (2nd round, 33rd overall, 2011).
Plymouth finished last season with a record of 36-26-2-4 and made the playoffs for the 20th consecutive season – a current OHL record. The Whalers bring back a full roster in 2011-12 and are expected to be in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race again.