Tye Felhaber: Who he is and Why Rangers fans should care
Tye Felhaber is 20 years old. He currently plays for the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and he’s currently on pace to do something only John Tavares and Eric Lindros have done in their junior career. Felhaber recently scored 50 goals in 47 games, putting him on pace to be the first OHLer since Tavares and Lindros to have 70+ goals in a single season. Why should the Rangers and their fans care about this kid? Surely he’s been drafted right? Wrong. Felhaber is currently in his fifth OHL season, the overager year, and was passed over in multiple drafts. He’s a free agent, and with the Rangers currently in the midst of a rebuild, they should take a chance on him.
Felhaber – 6’0” and 190 pounds – hails from Pembroke, Ontario and played most of his minor midget career with the Ottawa Valley Titans where he put up some impressive scoring numbers. Felhaber, a forward, scored 29 goals his first season, 37 goals in his second and 38 goals in his final season. He also topped out at 72 points in his final season, and recorded 179 points over 84 career games for the Titans. After a strong minor midget career, Felhaber was selected 10th overall in the OHL’s Priority Selection draft by the Saginaw Spirit. He was highly touted coming out of minor midget and it was assumed he would have a huge impact on arrival. Things didn’t go as planned.
Felhaber played in 63 games for the Spirit in 2014-15 scoring 20 times and notching 17 assists for 37 points in his rookie season. For someone in their first season in one of the premier junior leagues in the world, that’s not bad. More was expected from Felhaber the following season and he followed up his rookie season with a mediocre 2015-16 where he only tallied 38 points in 64 games. He scored two less goals and had three more assists. Finally, in his third season in Saginaw, the team decided to move on. With Felhaber scoring eight points in 13 games during the 2016-17 season, the Spirit traded Felhaber to the Ottawa 67’s. In the next 35 games, Felhaber would put up 23 points giving him 32 points on the season. Not the real breakout the 67’s were hoping for, but their faith in Felhaber would be rewarded the following season.
The 2017-18 season, his fourth in the OHL, was when Felhaber seemed to get it all together. He scored 31 goals and added 39 assists for 70 points in 68 games. The 67’s couldn’t have been happier with him, but even with that season under his belt, NHL teams shied away in the draft once again. Felhaber would return to the OHL for a fifth season, his overage year in 2018-19 and he has blown the doors off this season. Currently he has 51 goals and 35 assists for 86 points in 49 games.
Those are insane numbers, but it’s extremely important to note that he is in his overage season. Is this who he is or is this a case of someone just dominating younger competition? That is something that NHL scouts and GMs need to figure out. He was passed over in the draft three times and the only taste of the big league he’s gotten is an amateur tryout with the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket, at the end of last season. He only stuck around for four games. Felhaber has increased his stock this season though as he has gotten some calls from NHL teams.
“A lot of teams have reached out and talked with me and my agent Andy Scott. … We’re just in the process of discussing the best option,” Felhaber said. “You appreciate the calls. It’s nice being a free agent where you get 20 teams’ perspective on you and you listen to what they say.”
With up to 20 teams in the mix according to Felhaber, he will have a nice selection to pick from once his OHL season ends. Is GM Jeff Gorton in the mix? Should he be in the mix? The answers to those two questions are, hopefully, yes! With the Rangers going through a rebuild, retool, or whatever you want to call it, having another young player in the system who can compete for a roster spot is never a bad thing. Felhaber could score 70 goals this season and even if it’s due to his being an overager this season, that’s extremely impressive and hey, some players are late bloomers. If the Rangers are serious about their youth movement, and for the most part this season they have been with some hiccups – let’s not discuss the Tony D situation or the botched Lias Andersson call up ok? – Felhaber should be brought in and given every chance to succeed.
At best, he becomes a productive winger in the NHL for the Rangers and at worst, he becomes a solid addition to an AHL team on the rise in the Hartford Wolf Pack. With up to 20 teams calling for his services, Felhaber will have a nice choice of where he wants to begin his NHL career and Gorton should seriously consider seeing what Felhaber could do in blue.