The Vancouver Canucks have sent 20-year-old forward prospect Josh Bloom back to junior after stints in both the AHL and ECHL this year, but he’s guaranteed to play deep into the spring since he’s landed with the Memorial Cup national championship host Saginaw Spirit.
The Spirit are 23-10-0-1, which has them fourth in the OHL’s Western Conference currently. The four-team Memorial Cup (host plus league champions from WHL, OHL and QMJHL) runs May 24 to June 2 in Saginaw, and marks the first time since Spokane hosted in 1988 that it’s being played in the U.S.
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We have seen these type of moves before. Vancouver Giants’ fans will recall the Boston Bruins sent a 20-year-old Wacey Rabbit back to junior from the AHL in the Giants’ 2007 Memorial Cup host year. Vancouver landed Rabbit’s WHL rights in a trade with the Saskatoon Blades.
Bloom is a former Saginaw captain. He spent the first 2½ seasons of his junior career with the Spirit. He was traded last year to the North Bay Battalion and helped the Battalion get to the OHL Eastern Conference final.
Major junior teams are permitted three 20-year-olds. Saginaw traded 20-year-old winger Dean Loukus Friday to the Mississauga Steelheads for two OHL Draft selections to open up a spot for Bloom.
There’s been no announcement of another deal between North Bay and Saginaw, with a news release stating that Bloom signed on with Saginaw.
Bloom had 25 goals and 55 points in 49 regular season games with North Bay last season and then five goals and 12 points in 20 playoff games. He had 43 goals and 91 points in 140 games with Saginaw.
He was a third-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2021 and joined the Canucks system last February in the deal that sent defenceman Riley Stillman to the Sabres. Bloom started this season with the Vancouver’s AHL Abbotsford Canucks farm team. He played in 14 of their 21 games, getting healthy scratched for the others. He had one assist.
He was loaded to the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings and played eight games there. He recorded two assists.
“It’s so exciting to be able to bring Josh Bloom back to our team,” Spirit GM Dave Drinkill said in a release. “This is a very unique situation, and an opportunity to bring back a former captain is something we jumped at. Josh showcased his elite talents in a career season last year. Now, he has experience from the pro level to share with our group as well.”
Bloom said: “Playing pro was very big in my development and Abbotsford was fantastic in helping me grow my game. I am looking to take what I’ve learned and apply it at the junior level for one more chance at something special.”
Bloom is expected to make his return to Saginaw on Saturday night, as the Spirit battle the Peterborough Petes.
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