Feeding the Fire is a new series welcoming the newest arrivals to the 2013 Coventry Blaze and providing your very own scouting report on all new arrivals in Coventry the day they’re signed. Today, it’s the turn of the Blaze’s new sparkplug, ex-Elmira Jackal forward Kevin Harvey.
Kevin Harvey is a 28-year-old 6’2, 200lb left winger from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Kevin first came to the hockey world’s notice in the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League (OPJHL) with 146 games split between Kingston, Oakville and Georgetown, before moving up to the Ontario Hockey League with Kingston Frontenacs and Owen Sound Attack. He was drafted 270th by the Calgary Flames in 2003, 236 spots below his current Blaze captain Mike Egener, but never got close to the NHL-indeed taking a year away from hockey at the end of his junior career in 2005/06.
However, he returned to pro hockey with the Central Hockey Leagues New Mexico Scorpions in 2006/07, working his way up to the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch over the next few years via stops in the ECHL with Reading and back to the CHL with Rapid City. After a few games with the Springfield Falcons and a season with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye he spent last year with the Elmira Jackals in the same league, along with a brief stint in Europe’s top hockey league (the KHL) with Slovan Bratislava. This is his first full season in Europe.
One look at Kevin’s career statistics should give you a clue as to what type of player he is…he’s only dropped under 200 PiM’s in one pro regular season (last year, where he got 191) and has had a total of 154 fights in his career. However, he can also put the puck in the net where necessary…12 goals in the ECHL last season (his first double-digit pro season) and 30 in 42 with the Georgetown Raiders in his last junior season suggest that there is a scoring touch there…however, it’s clear that Harvey is either a large pest or a mid-sized power-forward, depending on who’s doing the classifying. He appears to me from reviews and watching him to be a very similar type of player to Belfast’s Adam Keefe-and we all know what effect Keefe has in Belfast.
Another thing that should tell you about Harvey’s temperament…despite two days of searching I can’t find a clip of him playing hockey on youtube apart from a missed penalty shot and a monumental hit…ironically shortly after a fight. But I can find a bunch of his 154 scraps.
Here’s a particularly impressive one, where the 6’2, 200lb Harvey knocks out Riley Emmerson, who is 6’8 and 250lbs. That whole “Brent Henley as toughest in the EIHL” thing isn’t looking so sure now:
And here’s that aforementioned “fight and hit” clip….Harvey takes on the (again bigger at 6’3, 212lb) Martin Baca of HK Nitra while playing for Slovan Bratislava, beats him, then in the next clip lands a monumental hit on the forecheck (on ex-Nottingham Panther/Braehead Clan dman Martin Tuma), leading to a goal. (fight stars at 26 seconds, the hit is at 2:26 but you see it best at 3:29 and 3:36:
He seems to be the kind of player who crowds enjoy watching as well…watch him after winning this scrap with Aaron Gagnon:
Certainly, he’s going to be the type of forward who will make d-men look over their shoulder in their own zone, and be expected to be one of the most physical players on the team, if not the EIHL.
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
Harvey hits like a train. Blaze haven’t had a forward who genuinely does that for several seasons.
He’s more than handy in a scrap…which means maybe Benn Olson won’t be expected to hold up the physical side of things this season-also allowing the D-unit not to be left one down due to scrapping penalties (necessary or not)
He adds some real bite to the forward lines-certainly up until now the top-six forward signings have focused on skill, scoring and/or two-way play…in Harvey we have a pit-bull that adds balance to the lineup and will be the battering ram that opens the door for the likes of Ryan Ginand and Ashley Tait to do their thing.
The guy can play-despite spending 200+ minutes in the penalty box he still got 31 points in 53 games last year. That speaks of a nasty sod who can score goals…which is the type of player Blaze have been crying out for ever since they lost Sylvain Cloutier and Danny Stewart.
He’s already seemingly nailed-on as a fan favourite-Blaze finally have their own version of Adam Keefe that they’ve needed the past two seasons.
FLIES IN THE OINTMENT
200 PiM’s a season is a lot…and when the coach of the team signing him says that “he’s a looney tune, but in a good way!” you do wonder whether there may be a little too much fighting and not playing. But at the same time, I’ve noticed some Blaze fans already focusing a little too much on this and not his ECHL numbers as mentioned above. Frankly, this is a small fly for me.
SO WHERE WILL HE FIT IN?
Take your pick. First line with the Henrichs to give Michael and Adam space to play, 2nd line to give Ginand and McMillin the same, or third line to provide some snarl and let Tait play, Harvey could legitimately be a great fit on all three Blaze lines. His signing gives Matty Soderstrom a ton of options, as well as a big body on both the powerplay and (more likely) the penalty kill. Harvey’s skillset means he could be dropped in on any line in any situation and asked to do several different jobs.
One thing we can expect is that if there’s a dirty glove-dropping job to be done next year, there’s a good chance Harvey will do it. And on the evidence of his fight card/role thus far, he’ll do it well.
Welcome to the Blaze for the “Hamilton Hellcat”. Watching him looks like it could be fun…