Many in the hockey world expected the name Billy Constantinou to be one of the 217 names called out at this past summer’s National Hockey League Draft from Vancouver British Columbia. While no one expected it to be from the podium on Friday June 21, it was expected to come from one of the 31 tables set up on the Rogers Arena floor the next day.
But when the Stanley Cup Champion St Louis Blues announced that they were selecting Jeremy Michel with the 217th and final pick of the draft, Constantinou’s name had not been called and many were left wondering what happened.
All was not lost for the young and talented defenceman (as it shouldn’t be). He received an invitation to the Los Angeles Kings’ development camp in the summer and again to their training camp in September where, by most accounts, he impressed the Kings’ brass.
The Kings will certainly be keeping an eye on Constantinou as he strives to hear his name called next summer as he re-enters the NHL Draft and it shouldn’t come as a surprise if it is the Kings that call out his name in Montreal in 2020.
It’s not something new for the Kings. Back in 2011 they invited undrafted defenceman and Soo Greyhound Colin Miller to development camp and followed him closely during the 2011-2012 season. And they called out Miller’s name in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Draft.
So why the pass on draft day?
Your guess is as good as anyone’s. Constantinou is a talented defenceman with great mobility. He can elude the forecheck and at times makes it look so easy. He is very good at creating offence. He needs some work on defending, but you can say that about any defencemen at this level.
Things started out promising for Constantinou during the 2018-2019 season, that being his draft season. He amassed 4 goals and 11 assists in 22 games playing for the mighty Niagara IceDogs. Then came a trade to the lowly Kingston Frontenacs.
At the time of the trade, Constantinou was neck-and-neck with Dallas Stars first round pick, 18th overall, Thomas Harley in scoring among draft eligible defencemen. He was fifth among all draft eligible skaters in helpers to that point.
Once with the Frontenacs, his numbers dropped. In 44 contests with the Fronts, Constantinou scored 6 times while accumulating 12 helpers. Those aren’t bad numbers, but he ended up a minus-58 patrolling the Fronts blueline. And that, in my opinion, is indicative of a young and rebuilding Kingston organization.
That leads us to some questions that need to be asked. Was Constantinou a beneficiary of playing on a stacked Niagara squad? Does he possess the hockey IQ to play with a more talented roster? Is he more what we saw in Kingston, or is he somewhere in between?
This season should provide some answer to those questions. Through 8 games with the Fronts, Constantinou had a goal with 5 helpers. Pretty good numbers to say the least. But he was again in the minus column at minus-7. That is indicative of the type of season it was going to be as Kingston continued on its rebuilding path.
But on October 15th, 2019 the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds came calling and acquired Constantinou for the low price of a 4th round pick in 2020, a 4th round pick in 2021 and a 3rd round pick in 224.
It’s a small sample size, just 3 games into his Greyhounds career, but Constantinou has a goal and 2 assists for the Greyhounds. And for the first time since he tied on the skates with Niagara, he’s on the positive side of the ledger with a plus-3.
Now, we’ll get to see whether he can keep up with a more talented roster.