OHL players can now sleep easy as the 2015 OHL trade deadline has come and gone. Many players have said goodbyes. In January alone, 46 OHL players traded places. But with a new team often comes new and rewarding challenges. Many of these players will get the chance to play deeper into the playoffs and perhaps win an OHL championship. While others will receive increased responsibility and ice time in hopes of catching the eye of NHL scouts.
Many of the teams in the league were active in the past month. Several teams (Erie, SSM, Oshawa, North Bay) loaded up for deep playoff runs. Other teams (Kitchener, Owen Sound, Peterborough, etc) made moves to help solidify a playoff spot and give their younger players much needed playoff experience.
For this article, I'm cutting off trades at Christmas. So any trades made before Christmas won't be factored into a teams grade. No sense assessing a team's ability to trade over the course of the season.
Let's do some grading!
In: Stephen Nosad, Ben Harpur, Chadd Bauman
Out: Draft picks (2, 2, 5, 10, 10), Givani Smith, CJ Garcia
Report: Quite frankly, I'm a bit surprised that the Colts didn't do more. They're playing such good hockey lately, I figured that they'd really go for it in the Eastern Conference. Mackenzie Blackwood is playing as good as any goalie in the league right now and on any given night, they've got a chance to win. They did do a good job of bringing more size to their blue line with Harpur and Bauman (if he sticks on the blue line) and they realize that, that will be necessary to beat the likes of Oshawa and North Bay (who got much bigger up front). That said, I wasn't crazy about the price they paid. Barrie has traded away their first rounder nine times in the last twelve years. In that time frame they've got 2 Eastern Conference titles, but zero OHL Championships to their name. With many of their top players set to move on next year (Blandisi, Laser, Hooey, Harpur, and possibly Lebanc), I thought that they'd do more if they traded away one of, or both of their former firsts (Smith and Kreis)
In: Trent Fox, Jesse Saban, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 6)
Out: Remi Elie, Jake Marchment
Report: The Bulls only made one deal but boy was it a big one. They sent out their former captain (was expected) and their offensive leader and got a massive return. The Bulls are right in the middle of the Eastern Conference right now so I'm sure there are questions as to why they would make this type of move. But I'm sure they realize that they're not going to beat one of the top teams in the East this year and they've got a solid group of '96's and '97's to build on moving forward. For Elie and Marchment, they got back just that. Two quality 97's in Fox and Saban who fit right in with their core. They've got some young players like Laishram, Saigeon, and Luff, who are ready for increased responsibility and should be able to fill in adequately. The Bulls will likely still make the playoffs this year, all the while building for the future. Definitely a WIN.
In: Draft picks (2, 2, 3, 4, 5), Cody Caron, Jared Steege, Nathan Billitier
Out: Reagan O'Grady, Draft picks (6, 6), Ryan Kujawinski
Report: Not very often you see a team fighting for the playoffs move their recent first rounder (O'Grady), but he had asked for a trade so Gilmour's hands were tied. They ultimately got a decent return for the former captain of the OHL Cup champion Toronto Marlboros. The quality of the return for Ryan Kujawinski remains a bit of a mystery. Nathan Billitier is the key to this, as the former U.S. Development team member left Notre Dame for the Fronts. He's a '96 and has several years left in the league. If he can develop into a top four defender for Kingston, this trade is a win for the Fronts. Ultimately, I do think that Kingston should have moved Evan McEneny as they're not going to be much a playoff team this year (even if Sam Bennett makes a miraculous recovery) and their roster is built for a run next year and the year after.
In: Jacob Brennan (off waivers from the Q), Draft pick (6)
Out: Lucas Venuto
Report: I don't quite get this one. Earlier this year the Steelheads went all in, giving up a boatload of draft picks (and a quality younger player in Barwell) for Jimmy Lodge and Brandon Devlin. Then they do nothing at the deadline and settle for mediocrity (at best). Sure, it was AWFUL luck losing Spencer Martin. But after you've already dealt prime assets for 1 and done players (in their final year in the league, at least likely in Lodge's case), you can't throw in the towel. I'm sure Jacob Brennan will supply the team with some stability in net and he at least has playoff experience in the Q. But, who is going to play goal next year? The team missed the opportunity to acquire a '95 like Alex Fotinos, who not only could provide decent goaltending this year, but could also tend the net next year as an overager. They could have then used their other overage spot on a quality blue liner like Jeff Corbett from Sudbury, who could help to stabilize a very inconsistent (and somewhat soft) defensive unit? This Steelheads team is no guarantee to make the playoffs this year and even if they do, they're going to set themselves up to face a team they can't beat in the first round. By making some subtle moves, they could have given themselves the edge for the 4th spot in the East and at least had the opportunity to get into the 2nd round.
In: Draft pick (6)
Out: Cody Caron
Report: The Dogs made most of their moves earlier this year when they acquired Josh Ho-Sang and Brandon Hope. And don't look now but Niagara has 7 wins in their last 10 (including 4 in a row). With the return of Brendan Perlini, the Dogs look much more dangerous and are poised to make a run up the Eastern Conference standings. In fact, I'd be surprised if they don't end up in the top 6 of the Conference by the end of the season. That said, this is a trade deadline review and the Dogs remained relatively silent. The team still lacks the depth and size up front to battle with the big boys of the East right now. I'm surprised that Marty Williamson didn't acquire another top 9 forward with size who could help the team make that playoff push. The team has a defensive surplus and could have used that to improve their team. A guy like Ryan Kujawinski, for example, would have looked great in an IceDogs uniform. The good news is, that the majority of the team will remain intact next year when they'll have another go at taking the East.
North Bay Battalion
In: Ryan Kujawinski, Nick Moutrey, Draft pick (6)
Out: Evan Cormier, Jared Steege, Nathan Billiiter, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4)
Report: The Battalion went into this trade deadline with really only one need. Adding depth and skill to their top 6. And they accomplished that…and then some. Nick Moutrey was one of the most improved players in the league this year. His size, speed, and two way play make him the perfect Stan Butler player. And Kujawinski has that same potential, which he was never really able to fully realize in Kingston. Last year, North Bay was able to capture the East with the same formula that they're employing this year. None of their top 6 forwards are under 6'1 and they're going to battle you to the end. And while the package for Moutrey was insane…the team really didn't give up a ton for Kujawinski. Steege was a role player for the team and Nathan Billitier was an NCAA player with no intent to suit up for North Bay. It was definitely a terrific deadline for Stan Butler and co.
In: Matt Mistele, Jason DaSilva, Michael McCarron, Dakota Mermis, Brent Pedersen
Out: Cliff Pu, Josh Sterk, Chase Pearson, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4 6, 10)
Report: Talk about loading up. Wow. I don't think I've ever seen a team give up so many draft picks in one small time frame. But the talent they brought in is legitimate. All three of Mistele, McCarron, and Pedersen have been better this year and represent massive bodies who can also create offence. I wasn't crazy about the package they gave up for Pedersen, but he's a likely candidate to return as an overager so that will help ease some of the pain. Between the likes of Mistele, McCarron, Dal Colle, and Hunter Smith, the Generals have four massive wingers who will be hard to contain down low. And Mermis definitely helps to solidify the back end, a unit which was talented, but also relatively inexperienced. This team is going to be a monster to battle with in the playoffs. Look out Eastern Conference. On the downside, what are the Generals' scouts going to do in the next 3 years?
In: Curtis Meighan, Draft picks (2, 3), Adam Craievich
Out: Draft picks (8, 8), Erik Bradford, Tyler Hill
Report: Quite frankly, I'm surprised that the 67's moved Bradford. The 67's have been playing some good hockey of late and seem to have the inside track on the 4th spot in the East. That said, I don't mind them doing it. There's no way that the team will be able to beat one of the beasts of the East in the playoffs, so why not pick up some assets for players who won't be around next year, when the team has a chance to capture the East? The acquisition of Craievich is definitely an astute one. He continues to show flashes of developing into a quality OHL player, but his ice time and development in Guelph seemed to have stalled. He could be a big time player down the road if a new team really lights a fire under him (improving skating is the key).
In: Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 10), Nathan Pancel, Kyle Jenkins
Out: Nick Ritchie, Anthony Stefano, Connor Boland, Jason DaSilva, Stephen Nosad, Draft pick (2, 2, 3)
Report: I actually kind of like what Peterborough did. Here's the question you have to ask yourself. Did Peterborough really get worse by adding Jenkins and Pancel, while trading all the players they did? I don't think so. Jenkins is a quality OHL defender who'll be around for another year and Pancel replaces the goal scoring ability of Ritchie. Yet, they acquired a boat load of draft picks which they can use to either acquire pieces next year, or draft players in the future (the one 2nd they picked up will likely be one of the first of the round). I was a bit disappointed in the Ritchie return (considering what Nick Moutrey brought back), but that's nitpicking. Bottom line is that the Petes picked up a ton of youth (a couple of seconds), made their team better next year (with Jenkins), and really didn't get much worse this year. They've got a chance to squeak into the playoffs to give their young (but talented) defence some experience.
In: Charley Graaskamp, Draft picks (2, 3), Reagan O'Grady
Out: Draft picks (2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5), Nathan Pancel
Report: Sort of an odd deadline for the Wolves. As a rebuilding team, they actually traded out draft picks and acquired more players than they sent packing. That said, it's not like they went and picked up overages. They took a chance on a couple of young players looking for a fresh start. Graaskamp has the potential to be a top 6 player eventually and was a good low buy. O'Grady was Kingston's first rounder and they got him without giving up a really early pick (the 2nd they gave up is Plymouth's in 2017 and isn't likely to be an early one in the round IMO). Considering that the team's weakest area is on defence, it's a solid gamble. And they got those picks back in the Pancel trade. So it's almost like exchanging Pancel for O'Grady. Not bad. I do think that they messed up by not dealing Jeff Corbett, even if it was just for a 3rd (not sure how large the market was for him).
In: Remi Elie, Jake Marchment, Draft pick (12)
Out: Joel Wigle, Trent Fox, Jesse Saban, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 6)
Report: Really like the forwards that Erie brought in (especially when you consider the Baptiste acquisition earlier in the year). The Otters knew that they had to get bigger and more skilled on the wing and they did that. Guys like Elie, Marchment, and Baptiste are going to help to clear space for McDavid, Strome, Debrincat, etc. In the playoffs, that's going to go a long way to helping Erie get to the Western finals. Their defence is fine and didn't need upgrades, but I know most people were expecting the Otters to go after a goaltender. Devin Williams hasn't been consistently sharp this year, at least not to the level that he played last year. Hopefully he's able to turn his game around by the time March rolls around. Meanwhile, Remi Elie may finally get the respect he deserves as an NHL prospect, while playing with a more talented playmaker (he's lining up beside Dylan Strome right now).
In: CJ Garcia, Givani Smith, Tyler Hill, Ryan Foss, Draft pick (2, 2, 5, 8, 10)
Out: Ben Harpur, Chadd Bauman, Adam Craievich, Draft pick (5)
Report: I like what the Storm did this year at the deadline. They saw no reason to jump into the arms race with the other teams in the West, so they capitalized on a sellers market and got great value for Harpur and Bauman. Garcia has improved this year and will be a top 4 defender in the OHL for the next couple of years. And Smith, if he can develop into something similar to his brother, he'll be an incredibly valuable asset for Guelph. Add in Tyler Hill and Ryan Foss, and you help with the team's lack of depth at forward (which I think has been an issue this year). They're still a strong enough team to compete for 3rd in the Western Conference and should still have a good chance of making it into the 2nd round of the OHL playoffs.
In: Jake Paterson, David Miller, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 8)
Out: Curtis Meighan, Justin Bailey, Brent Pedersen, Draft picks (2, 3)
Report: The Rangers have taken a lot of flak for their moves at the deadline (or non moves) and I don't agree with it. Look at it this way…would you trade Brent Pedersen for Jake Paterson, a 2nd, and conditional 3rd and 4th? I sure as hell would. The 3rd spot in the Western Conference is still completely up for grabs and the Rangers goaltending just has not been getting it done. By bringing in Paterson, the Rangers give themselves a chance to grab that spot and maybe even get themselves into the 2nd round of the playoffs. If you intend to make noise next year (which I'm sure the Rangers intend to do with a solid group of '96's), you want guys like Ryan MacInnis, Nick Magyar, Gus Franzen, Adam Mascherin, etc, to get playoff experience. Was I surprised that the Rangers were the eventual destination of Paterson? Big time. Do I disagree with management's intent? Not at all. The same reason they acquired Paterson is the same reason that they didn't deal Max Iafrate. And not only did the Rangers do amazon in the Pedersen deal, but I thought they did great in the Bailey deal too. I'm a big fan of David Miller and I think he's going to flourish with increased ice time.
In: Josh Sterk, Cliff Pu, Joel Wigle, Draft picks (2, 2, 3, 7)
Out: Mike McCarron, Dakota Mermis, Josh DeFarias, Draft pick (12)
Report: The Knights made some small moves surrounded by the big one that sent McCarron and Mermis to Oshawa. If I'm being quite frank, I was slightly disappointed by the return that the Knights received in the deal. That's not saying that Sterk and Pu are bad players. Sterk is a great pick up because he's a likely overage candidate in a few years and will continue to be a top 6 player. And Pu is a former first rounder. But when you look at the amount of picks guys like Bailey and Moutrey brought back (on top of including young players in the deals), I don't think the Knights did quite as well. And while Wigle is a very sound and cheap pick up (to hopefully replicate McCarron's success on a scoring line), I do think that their overage spot would have been better spent on a defenseman who could help shore up their inexperienced blue line. The Knights do have one of the best farm systems in the league right now, but I'm not sure they maximized their ability to rebuild a bit. Meanwhile, they're going to have to really play well to keep home ice advantage, especially since their a worse team after the deadline and others stayed the same or got better. I know that it's not about this year for London (who have already overachieved over what people expected them to), and Sterk and Pu are good players, so maybe it's just nitpicking too.
Owen Sound Attack
In: Erik Bradford, Liam Dunda
Out: Draft picks (2, 3, 3, 4)
Report: Two subtle pick ups by the Attack, but I absolutely love them. Bradford gives the Attack another top 6 forward, especially while Holden Cook heals. He has tons of playoff experience and is a very responsible two-way player. And Dunda, a late '97 (eligible for next year's draft) is a big kid who has a ton of potential. He's a little awkward right now, but could develop into a top 6 power forward given the right nudge. For what they gave up for him, it was a worthy gamble. I think at this point, I expect Owen Sound to surge in the second half, possibly even gaining the 3rd spot in the West. This is a team that has good goaltending, and a lot of size and tenacity up front and on the blue line. In a lot of ways, they remind me of North Bay last year. I wouldn't want to play them in the playoffs.
In: Ryan Moore, Draft picks (2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 6)
Out: Liam Dunda, Matt Mistele
Report: It's been quite the year for Plymouth…and I mean that in the worst possible way. Just about nothing has gone right for them this year. The season ending injury to Alex Peters. The constant injury problems. The inconsistent play from Alex Nedeljkovic. This was supposed to be one of the best teams in the Western conference and instead they may finish dead last. So what do they do? Sell off prime assets and build for the future? Pick up a few pieces in hopes that when people return to health, the team plays better? Quite the crossroads. The Whalers didn't really do either. I'm underwhelmed by the return on Mistele, who is the same calibre of player as Moutrey and Bailey. He actually has a chance to return as an overager too. And dealing Dunda was a mistake IMO. Now, I do expect Plymouth to play better in the second half. In fact I wouldn't even be surprised if they slipped into the playoffs. But they won't be beating Erie or Sault Ste. Marie in the first round. I think they would have been better off dealing a few other guys like Chatham, Curcuruto, Jones, Campagna, and even Milano (who I could see in the AHL next year ala JT Miller). The only thing I agreed with was not dealing Alex Nedeljkovic, as I think they could get way more for him in the offseason when more teams will need a goaltending upgrade. Just a lost season for Plymouth.
In: Vladislav Kodola, Evan Cormier, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4)
Out: Jake Paterson, Nick Moutrey, Draft pick (5)
Report: If you're going to rebuild, you should probably do it right. The Saginaw Spirit did that this year. They fully committed to the rebuild, traded all valuable veterans, and set themselves up well for the foreseeable future. The haul for Moutrey was legendary. Evan Cormier is a great young goaltender who should blossom with more responsibility in Saginaw. He definitely has the potential to be the team's future starter. And while I'm not supposed to talk about previous trades, it should be noted that the Spirit did exceptionally well in the Jimmy Lodge deal too. The Spirit may not be very good for the rest of the year, but they've set themselves up to be VERY good in a couple of years. And isn't that what a rebuild is all about. If you're going to do something right, you've got to fully commit to it. The only thing worth mentioning is that I was a bit underwhelmed by the Paterson return. But the market just wasn't huge for him (as an overage goaltender) and they probably did well under the circumstances.
In: Anthony Salinitri, Josh DeFarias, Draft picks (2, 2, 4, 5)
Out: Anthony DeAngelo, Vladislav Kodola, Draft pick (7)
Report: Similar to Guelph, the Sting realized that their young line up just wouldn't be ready to battle the cream of the Conference. They may be a playoff team, but that doesn't mean they are serious contenders to go far in the playoffs. It's the notion of one step back, but two steps forward. Dealing DeAngelo made sense for Sarnia, given that nearly everyone in their line up (save Taylor Dupuis and Josh Chapman) is set to return next year. In return, they get Salinitri, a quality young center who gives the Sting two quality '98 centres to built around (along with Kyrou).
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
In: Anthony DeAngelo, Nick Ritchie, Connor Boland, Justin Bailey, Draft picks (4, 4)
Out: David Miller, Anthony Salinitri, Kyle Jenkins, Charley Graaskamp, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4)
Report: You have to applaud first year GM Kyle Raftis. He showed some serious cajones by going all in, in his first year as GM. Hopefully it goes better than Dubas' first big deal (Jack Campbell). That said, I do love what the Greyhounds did. The biggest weakness of the Hounds was their lack of size up front and Raftis addressed that with Ritchie and Bailey. This will definitely help to clear room for Tolchinsky, Speers, McCann, Guertler, etc. I think both players will fit in extremely well. Their defence was already fantastic, but adding DeAngelo and Boland makes them incredible. DeAngelo gives the Hounds another puck mover to take some of the pressure off of Darnell Nurse and first year player Gustaf Bouramman. And Boland gives them a veteran presence and more leadership. He will continue to help the PK too. All in all, a great deadline on paper for the Hounds. Now that just leaves Hounds management with the challenge of continuing to find diamonds in the rough in the draft.
In: Chase Pearson, Anthony Stefano, Lucas Venuto, Draft picks (2, 2, 3, 5)
Out: Ryan Moore, Ryan Foss, Draft picks (2, 2, 4, 4, 6, 8)
Report: The draft picks are nearly a wash, so you have to think about it as, would you rather have Anthony Stefano and potentially Chase Pearson, or Ryan Moore and Ryan Foss? Pearson is obviously the big coup here. If the Spits can get him to report (he currently plays for Youngstown of the USHL), he could be a big part of Windsor's future. The big center was a "C" rated prospect in November's Central Scouting rankings and looks like a potential mid round pick in June. The Spits could have went further into the rebuild, but some of the 95's they have (Murphy, Fotinos) figure to play big roles for the team next year as overagers. So I'm fine with the team standing pat in that regard. Let's just see how these new younger players fit into the line up and whether their development goes better than Foss' or Moore's.
How do you think your team did at this year's deadline?