Sunday, January 17, 2010
Sunday Top 10 - Winners and Losers of the Trade Deadline
Obviously, the difficulty of this week's Top 10 entry is that we don't TRULY know the winners and the losers of this past week's trade deadline quite yet. The ultimate winner will be that team who ends up being the OHL representative at this year's Memorial Cup. So I've put on my future predictions hat in a way in order to come up with five teams who I'd consider winners and five teams I'd consider losers of this years trade deadline.
There seems to be a lot of mixed opinion on the subject of how well the Dogs did at the deadline, especially with the trade of Alex Pietrangelo. But let's get something straight. Pietrangelo was not expected to be back with the Dogs. He didn't play a single game for them this season. General Manager Dave Brown turned a ghost into one of the league's top 1993 born forwards and two future 2nd round draft picks. The Dogs are building quite the future stable of young talent, and Ryan Strome really adds to that. On top of Strome, the Dogs already have 2 picks inside the top 10 of the 2010 OHL Priority Draft, in addition to 2 second rounders. Sure, those second rounders acquired (and the 3rd rounder for Chris DeSousa) are way in the future, but they are going to be used as trade chips to help the Dogs load up for a Championship run in the next 2 seasons (in particular the 2011-2012 season). And while a lot of people see the DeSousa trade as a bit of a sore spot, considering the Colts went and flipped him for a very valuable player in Zac Rinaldo, let's not forget that Simon Gronvaldt has played excellent for Niagara so far. Overall, a job well done by a General Manager who clearly has a plan in place, which is more than what I was saying earlier this season when things weren't looking so good in Niagara.
Again, this is another one I'm confused about. All I'm hearing is how the Kassian trade was a bad trade for Peterborough, especially from the OHL media. But on the contrary, I think the Petes made out very well. Kassian has not had a very good season for the Petes, who still have big hopes in winning the East Division. By trading him, they get back Austin Watson and two future 2nd round picks. Austin Watson is already nearly as good as Kassian IMO. People seem to be talking about him as a throw in, except for the fact that they forget he could be a Top 15 pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He has the potential to be every bit as much of a physical threat as Kassian, as well as being a more consistent offensive producer. And he's already a year younger and better defensively. Those two second rounders can either be used by Peterborough in the future to draft, or to trade as they (like Niagara) prepare for a run in the next two seasons. A great return for a player (Kassian) who wasn't meeting expectations.
Alex Pietrangelo, Zac Rinaldo, and Mavric Parks. Pretty quality day at the office I'd say. In three foul swoops, the Colts managed to address three areas of need for their team. They added quite possibly the best defenseman in the league (even though he hadn't played yet this year), to a defense that needed another A quality defender. They added Rinaldo to their 4th line in order to increase the defensive and physical proficiency of the line. And they added Mavric Parks to push Peter Di Salvo in net to ensure that the team has at least one netminder at the top of their game. And as Wednesday night's match against Windsor proved, I actually think the Colts are the team to beat from the OHL right now. And that was their goal with these trades.
While Phil McRae and James Livingston haven't exactly had the seasons that were expected of them, they are still quality Top 6 forwards in this league who have the potential to give you much more than they already have. In return, the Whalers gave up two players who seemed to be falling out of favor with the coaching staff and a bunch of mid round draft picks. The Whalers are building quite the big and mean forward unit in order to try and go up against Spitfires in the West. It's clear that Whalers G.M. Mike Vellucci doesn't have much faith in the Spits ability to play through size and physicality as he's built his team this year in order to try and push them around. With Matt Hackett in net (for my money the best goalie in the league), the Whalers truly can give Windsor a run for their money IMO.
Perhaps the most underrated move at the deadline was the Otters' acquisition of Adam Courchaine. With the Otters playing some tremendous hockey as of late, lead by overager Zach Torquato (who has 25 points in his last 11 games), the pressure was on for Sherry Bassin to go out and improve the team's goaltending situation. Erie was left in a tough spot when Jaroslav Janus bolted back to the AHL and I think a lot of people expected them to pack it in and become sellers. Instead, they made a quality small move in order to put themselves back on the contenders map. The team is playing some tremendous hockey and Courchaine is a quality goaltender who has the potential to completely shut down the opposition. With Courchaine and Sadikov in net, one of the two should be able to give Erie quality goaltending down the stretch as they strive for home ice advantage in the first round.
I'm just a bit confused by the direction of the Rangers with their action at the deadline. The whole Mavric Parks and Barrie disaster I think sums up what Spott and Kitchener were able to accomplish at the deadline. With the Midwest Division slowly slipping away from Kitchener, they go out and trade their most successful goaltender in exchange for a couple of mid level draft picks. Now I admit, it sounds like Spott got a bit of a screw job with Barrie, but why make that trade then? Why not just say, you know what, we're keeping Parks and we'll deal him in the offseason. I really find it hard to believe that the Rangers wouldn't be able to get that 3rd and 5th for Parks as an overager to start next season? Why the motivation to deal a large part of their success for average draft picks? Especially as a contending team. And if you're dealing Parks for draft picks because you believe your team might not have what it takes to defeat some of the Western powers this year, why not just continue the retool by dealing a few other guys for young talent (players or picks). A guy like John Moore, who will most certainly be playing outside of the OHL next season, could have likely fetched a pretty solid return. I think the Rangers missed out on a chance to really improve their team for next season.
Another team I'm slightly confused about the direction of. As much as I like Phil Grubauer and think he's a quality goaltender, why go out and give up as much as you did for a goalie who'll be around for another two seasons and who could very well be your back up next season when Jack Campbell arrives. And even then, as much as I like Grubauer as an NHL prospect, let's not forget his inexperience in this league. Was he the best option for this team, a team looking for a goalie to back stop them to the Memorial Cup? And that brings me to the Zack Kassian trade. Well that one looks great now that Kassian could be suspended for a good chunk of time thanks to his hit on Barrie's Matt Kennedy. While I think adding some physicality to the teams top 6 was a smart move, was giving up Austin Watson really all that smart? Not to mention the other 2 high draft selections given up for at best a minor upgrade. You have to look at it like this...or break it down like this I should say. Windsor gives up Richard Panik, Austin Watson, Paul Bezzo, and Austen Brassard (of current roster players) and they received Philip Grubauer, Zack Kassian, Marc Cantin and Stephen Johnston. Did they really get better? I think it's actually pretty questionable.
What are they thinking up in Sudbury? Does Mike Foligno truly believe this team to be a playoff contender? Certainly didn't look like it today in an 8-3 drubbing at the hands of Guelph. This team has no direction. Few talented younger players, mixed with a group of quality OHL veterans who just aren't gelling or coming together as a team. All signs pointed to what should have been a seller, yet the Wolves go out and give up 2 2nd round picks (and overager Van Laren) for Ben Chiarot. Yeah Chiarot will be around next year, but Eric O'Dell, John Kurtz, Steve Reese, Jared Staal, and Andrew Loverock won't be. And the Wolves really have little in the wake of replacements for them. This trade deadline would have been a perfect opportunity for the Wolves to go out and trade a few of their veteran players in exchange for some younger talent to surround John McFarland and Justin Sefton with in the future.
Mississauga St. Michael's Majors
I'm not surprised that the Majors didn't do anything, however I'm a little bit disappointed. A lot of people are saying, watch out for this team next season, look at all the quality 1991's and 1992's they have. But I point to the fact that this team will lose Cameron Gaunce, Blake Parlett, and Chris Carrozzi (likely) next season. These are three of the most important players in the teams defensive strategy that has worked so well this season. While the forwards will be better next season, I don't see the team having as much success in their defensive/shutdown role in 2010-2011. And that to me is a large reason this team could beat any team in the league right now. By not going out and getting another quality offensive player, I think this team misses the boat a bit. I just don't see them being as good next season and I think they're missing on a chance to make a run in the Eastern Conference based on their strengths which will not be as strong next season.
Brian Kilrea has never been one for the big acquisition at the trade deadline. And quite frankly, I think adding the 67's as a deadline loser is a bit of a stretch. But I had trouble deciding on a 5th losing team, so I went with Ottawa. Here's why. The 67's find themselves in a position to take the East Division, since really...Peterborough isn't that strong of a team. They get Corey Cowick back which is a huge boost to their offense, but their defense just hasn't been as good as advertised. This in combination with the fact that the goaltending has been very inconsistent makes the 67's a pretty likely bet to be a first round casualty of the OHL playoffs again. By adding another top 4 defender to take some pressure off of Tyler Cuma, Julien Demers, and Travis Gibbons, the 67's might have been able to make themselves that much better right now AND in the future. A guy like Ben Chiarot would have been perfect in Ottawa, as a 1991 who could help this team now and next year when they lose Cuma and Demers. I just think they really missed a chance to lock up the division with a small move.
Another Sunday Top 10 in the books. Your thoughts on the trade deadline's winners and losers?