NORTH BAY, Ont. — Matthew Struthers is heading back to the Owen Sound Attack, his original Ontario Hockey League club.
The North Bay Battalion has traded the overage centre to Owen Sound for three OHL Priority Selection picks, the Battalion announced Monday.
North Bay got a second-rounder in 2022, a third-rounder in 2023 and a sixth-rounder in 2024, all Owen Sound’s own selections.
The Battalion acquired Struthers from the Attack on Jan. 3, 2018, with a 14th-round pick in 2018 and a second-rounder in 2020 for overage centre Brett McKenzie. The Troops used the 14th-rounder to select left winger Carson Bantle from Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a prep school in Faribault, Minn.
“We’re in a rebuilding year, and we felt this would give some of our younger players even more of a chance to play,” said Stan Butler, director of hockey operations and head coach.
“We didn’t have a second-rounder in 2022, so we get that back, and it gives Matthew a chance to play somewhere else.”
In 116 games with North Bay, Struthers scored 56 goals and earned 73 assists for 129 points with 65 penalty minutes. In 25 games this season, he had 11 goals, 10 assists, 21 points and 14 PiM. His OHL totals are 80 goals, 99 assists, 179 points and 99 PiM in 261 games.
Playing primarily on a line with right winger Justin Brazeau last season, Struthers scored 31 goals and added 50 assists for 81 points with 39 PiM as overager Brazeau set a single-season franchise record with 61 goals.
After the Battalion’s season ended, Struthers played five games with the Laval Rocket, the American Hockey League affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens. A free agent, he has yet to sign a professional contract.
Struthers’s departure leaves the Battalion roster at 21, numbering 12 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders.
The Troops, permitted to dress three overagers for a game, now have only two, in left winger Brad Chenier and defenceman Nick Grima, and could add one.
“There are no plans to do that at this time,” said Butler.
A six-foot-two, 205-pound resident of Milton, Ont., who turns 20 on Dec. 26, Struthers was a 2015 third-round pick by Owen Sound from the Halton Hurricanes minor midgets.
Struthers should make “an immediate impact in our room,” general manager Dale DeGray of the Attack said on the club’s website.
“We have a young group of guys, and he’s really going to show them what it means to come to the rink every day and perform. He’s going to be huge on the ice as well. Matt’s only grown since we sent him to North Bay two years ago, and he’s going to come back and make a difference for us.”