When Malcolm Spence and Michael Misa hopped over the boards this season for the GTHL’s Mississauga Senators, the linemates instilled fear in opponents. Their speed and offensive capabilities haunted defenders and netminders.
Spence was named the GTHL Player of the Year, an award previously won by Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome, Jamie Drysdale, and Shane Wright. Misa became only the sixth player in Ontario Hockey League history to be granted exceptional player status to enter the OHL a year early. He joined the likes of McDavid, Wright, John Tavares, and Aaron Ekblad.
The OHL draft begins Friday, with Misa going first overall to the Saginaw Spirit, and Spence expected to go second to the Erie Otters.
While it is Misa who has dominated the headlines, the pair were born only four months apart, and due to Spence’s late birthday, both will be eligible for the 2025 NHL draft.
Now, they’ll move from longtime teammates, a pair that dominated en route to capturing an OHL Cup this year, to opponents in the OHL. They will be Western Conference rivals, and from being touted together, Spence and Misa will now be compared under the watchful eyes of scouts and media as they progress through their OHL careers.
The move from teammates to opponents was not lost on Spence, who will miss his linemate but is also thrilled for Misa’s success.
“For sure it’s going to be weird seeing him in a different jersey for the first time, not being on my team, not having him on my line,” Spence said of playing against Misa in the OHL. “I’m so proud of him, he deserves it, he deserves all of the praise he’s getting. I’ve known for a while he’s a special player.”
Had Misa not gained exceptional status, Spence would have been the number one pick. Both hope to enter the OHL season with a growth mindset, looking to improve, and show the world that they belong among the top NHL prospects for 2025.
“A personal goal I have is to take in as much as I can, to be a sponge, and to be open to development,” said Spence. “I’m going to listen to what my coaches have to say so I can have a smooth transition.”
It’s a sentiment that was echoed by Misa.
“I just want to learn and be known as a coachable player. I’m going to take all of the feedback from my coaches and older players that I can get,” Misa told the Globe and Mail. “The OHL is all about development, and I hope to just improve as a player on the ice, and a person off the ice.”
Misa and Spence are elite, not only due to natural talent but because despite being atop their draft class for the OHL, their focus is on development and getting better; neither player is content.
When the puck drops on the 2022-2023 OHL season, Michael Misa and Malcolm Spence will be two of the league’s top young players. From teammates and linemates, and now to opponents, the duo is ready to take on the league. Who will be the top prospect of the pair for the 2025 NHL Draft? Only time will tell.