The 2016 OHL Trade deadline is set for January 8 and 11. January 8th is the deadline for overage players to be dealt. January 11th is the deadline for all other deals.
We've already had several high profile players move, but I think we're far from done. The Eastern Conference is completely wide open. Barrie, Niagara, Kingston, Ottawa, Peterborough, and Mississauga are all in the running and should be looking to make the upgrades necessary to take home the Conference. In the West, there isn't quite as much parity, but we've still got a few teams who surely believe that this year is their year. More importantly, we've got a lot of teams who will look to sell to recoup assets in non competitive years.
To sum it up, I expect this to be a very busy deadline.
I present to you a look at some of the high profile players who could be (and likely will be) trading places before the 8th/11th. I've also tried my hand at predicting the most logical destination for said players.
Connor Chatham - Flint Firebirds
New Jersey Devils draft pick who was sent back for his overage season in Flint. Chatham has had a decent season and would be a great depth add for a competitive team looking for more physicality from their 2nd or 3rd line. If paired with a great playmaking center, I could see Chatham doing even better offensively too. In terms of possibilities, London (if they move Hidi/Burke), Mississauga, Niagara, Sarnia, and Windsor (if they move Soberg/Hughson) would be the only realistic destinations for overage players (competitive teams with openings). There's no certainty that the Firebirds do look to make moves, but I think it makes sense. I really could see him in London (perfect Knights player) or Niagara/Mississauga. He was already rumoured to be part of that Niagara deal, but since that didn't happen, I doubt he goes there.
Prediction: Chatham goes to the London Knights for 3rd rounders in 2017 and 2018 (then London waives Jack Hidi).
Alex Peters - Flint Firebirds
In his return from a serious knee injury, Peters hasn't had the type of season Flint was expecting of him this year. While he is currently their captain, Peters' offensive game just hasn't progressed to make him a dominant defender at both ends. A high end NHL draft pick, Peters could certainly use a fresh start to convince the Dallas Stars to sign him by June 1st. Combine the Firebirds opportunity to rebuild, with (perhaps) pressure from the Stars organization, and I think Peters is definitely a candidate to move. His size and physical ability could make him a valuable asset to a contender looking to upgrade their top 4 and PK before the deadline. I could see Barrie and Ottawa really looking at him. Of course, the Firebirds could also choose to not deal their captain in a season that has had some interesting ups and downs.
Prediction: Peters goes to Barrie in exchange for Justin Murray and draft picks (3rds in 2016 and 2017).
C.J. Garcia - Guelph Storm
This is an interesting one. Garcia is a terrific defender and currently the captain in Guelph. They need his leadership in an incredibly tough season for young players. He's also a guarantee to return for his OA season next year. However, here's something to consider. Guelph isn't likely to be much better next year. If Garcia's value is at it's highest (before being an OA), would it be smart to deal him now and really capitalize on a great return? There's no question that teams would be lining up to add him. In particular, I could see London and Mississauga being very interested. Definitely a conundrum.
Prediction: Garcia goes to London in exchange for Nicolas Mattinen, Eric Henderson, and a 3rd in 2016.
Justin Nichols - Guelph Storm
If there is one player who is guaranteed to go at the deadline it's Nichols. The Storm are currently carrying 4 overagers, one of which is Michael Giugovaz. Nichols wants to finish his OA season competing for an OHL championship and his vast experience in the league should make him the top goaltender available behind Alex Nedeljkovic (who has already been dealt). I definitely think Sarnia is the top contender based on the fact that they have an OA spot available and are definitely looking for an upgrade in net. London, and Windsor could also be candidates.
Prediction: Nichols goes to Sarnia in exchange for 2nds in 2016 and 2017.
Stephen Harper - Hamilton Bulldogs
I see Harper being one of the most coveted players at the deadline, despite being an overager. He's having a fantastic season and his size down the middle is often a necessity for team's vying for a Championship. As mentioned above, London, Windsor, Mississauga, Niagara, and Sarnia all make the most sense right now for OA players. In particular, Mississauga could really use the size down the middle behind that fantastic McLeod, Nylander, Bastian line.
Prediction: Harper goes to Mississauga for Brendan Harrogate, a 2nd in 2016 and a 2nd in 2019
Mason Marchment - Hamilton Bulldogs
Marchment is having a very good season as an overager. He brings grit and skill on the wing and could be a great depth add who also has playoff experience with Erie. Problem is, is there a team out there with OA room that would be willing to add Marchment over some of the other players out there? London could certainly upgrade their top 9 by acquiring Marchment and management would be very familiar with him. Windsor is also a possibility. As is Niagara, where his size and physicality would look great on their 2nd line.
Prediction: Marchment goes to Niagara in exchange for a 3rd rounder in 2017 and a 4th in 2016.
Charlie Graham - Hamilton Bulldogs
Make no mistake, Charlie Graham is a terrific netminder. Unfortunately, he's never really had top notch support in front of him during his OHL career. Finally an overager, Graham could certainly be secretly hoping a contender wants his services for the stretch run. Sarnia, Windsor, and London could all be candidates if they view Graham as an upgrade over what they currently have. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that ends up happening. Justin Nichols is most certainly going to be the highly coveted OA goaltender and Jake Smith is probably 2nd. Just isn't enough open spaces around the league for him. But you never know.
Prediction: Graham stays in Hamilton.
Mike Amadio - North Bay Battalion
North Bay has already lost Zach Bratina (retirement) and Miles Liberati (trade) which points to them trying to recoup some of the assets that they traded away last year. Amadio is one of the league's most underrated stars. He's having a fantastic season and would be able to jump into any team's top line or provide elite secondary scoring on the 2nd. He's also a tremendous penalty killer. He has 4 goals and 4 assists on the penalty kill this year (which is insane). I could see Peterborough, Kingston and Erie really going hard after him. Only issue is that I don't know if Erie would have the assets to get it done (and I can't see them wanting to trade Lodnia which it would likely take).
Prediction: Amadio goes to Peterborough for Zach Gallant, and three 2nd's (in 2016 and 2017).
Mathew Santos - North Bay Battalion
An incredibly hard working overage winger who would be a valuable addition to a competitive team's 3rd line. Question is, is there a market for him? So few teams have the OA room. In reality, if the Battalion do trade Amadio, they would need a new captain and Santos would be the ideal candidate for that. After all, the Battalion will likely still be a playoff team after any trades they make.
Prediction: Santos stays in North Bay
Kyle Wood - North Bay Battalion
Wood missed the start of the season with an injury but has since returned. He's got great size, but is actually more of an offensive defender who could really elevate a team's powerplay unit. A team like Ottawa would be a great fit, as he would fit very nicely into their lineup. Ditto for a team like Mississauga, Erie, or Barrie. North Bay has the depth on defence to deal him and still survive (just as they did at the beginning of the year).
Prediction: Wood goes to Ottawa in exchange for Ben Fanjoy, 2nds in 2016 and 2018.
Jake Smith - North Bay Battalion
As I've mentioned a bunch of times already, the OA market isn't great this year. Especially when we're talking about a goaltender. Smith is a great one though and has a ton of playoff experience. The question is, which player would a team like Sarnia want, Smith or Nichols? At the end, I see Smith finishing out his OHL career in North Bay, helping the Battalion try to upset someone in the opening round.
Prediction: Smith stays in North Bay.
Michael Dal Colle - Oshawa Generals
At this point, I think it's inevitable that Dal Colle moves. Oshawa has committed to the sell now mode and Dal Colle is a piece that they need to use to regain the assets that they've traded away in recent seasons. The interest is no doubt going to be massive. Regardless of need, any team in the league could use his services (even if he's not having the best of seasons by his standards). Kitchener and London seem to be generating the most rumours. Then there's the rumour out there that he'd only accept a deal to London, Barrie, or Erie. I think Erie could use him the most, but they just don't have the assets (again unless they move Lodnia). It goes without saying that anyone trading for Dal Colle is going to have to give up a top quality '98 or their first rounder from this previous priority selection (a top '99). Don't sleep on Peterborough jumping into the conversation. They've got the assets (guys like Gallant, Ang, and TONS of draft picks). I guess we'll see.
Prediction: Dal Colle goes to Kitchener for Connor Bunnaman, and 4 seconds (2016 and 2017).
Jacob Graves - Oshawa Generals
Veteran overage defender is tough as nails and could provide great depth to a contending team looking to upgrade in that department. Problem is, I'm not sure I see any of the competitive teams, currently with OA spots open, looking to add in that department. Of course, we could always see a team surprise by moving a forward OA out in order to shore up their defence (say maybe a Sarnia with Davis Brown, or Kingston with Conor McGlynn), but I don't see it happening.
Prediction: Graves stays in Oshawa
Anthony Cirelli - Oshawa Generals
Perhaps a surprising name for people to see here. But a few things to ponder. One, Cirelli is one of the only non overage centres who could be available outside of Mike Amadio, which means he'd have a ton of value. Oshawa seems pretty committed to the rebuild and Cirelli isn't likely to be around for that (as Oshawa should be even worse next year). By the same logic, Mitchell Vande Sompel could be available (although I see him moving next year). There are a few teams who could really use some help down the middle, in particular Kingston, Peterborough, Erie, and Sarnia. Kingston looks like a great suitor for Cirelli, as they'd love to add his grit and playoff experience to their lineup as they look to lock down the East.
Prediction: Cirelli goes to Kingston in exchange for Robbie Burt, and 2nd's in 2017 and 2019.
Thomas Schemitsch - Owen Sound Attack
Owen Sound is still in the loop to finish 6th in Conference and they've got the talent to do so. However, there's no question that they lack the offence to compete with the big boys in the West. So does that mean that they retool and sell off a couple of big assets? Schemitsch isn't likely to be around next year and there's no question that he would fetch a ton in a trade. A team like Sarnia, Kitchener, or Kingston could make a huge splash by going to get a player of his ilk. The Peterborough Petes are another team who could target Schemitsch to help their struggling powerplay. I could definitely see him staying, however I'm going to operate under the assumption that someone out that makes an aggressive offer for him.
Prediction: Schemitsch goes to Peterborough in exchange for Matthew Timms, a 2nd in 2016 and a 3rd in 2017.
Jaden Lindo - Owen Sound Attack
Like Schemitsch, Lindo is an integral part of the Attack, a team currently battling for 6th in the Conference. His grit and scoring ability are crucial to Owen Sound's already thin offensive attack. If a contending team came knocking, I could see them moving him. However, I also think he could be a candidate to return for his OA year (to continue to grow his offensive game). As such, I think Owen Sound hangs on to him.
Prediction: Lindo stays in Owen Sound
Damir Sharipzyanov - Owen Sound Attack
Sharipzyanov hasn't had a terrific year after signing his NHL contract with Los Angeles this summer. The rugged Russian defender can impact the game at both ends, but hasn't found his groove yet this year. But he'd be a great add for any contending team, where he could quarterback a secondary powerplay unit, provide physicality and solidify a top four. As an Import, his list of possible destinations is obviously short. Sarnia and Peterborough are two contenders with Import spots open who could look to improve their backend.
Prediction: Sharipzyanov goes to Sarnia for a 2nd in 2016 and a 3rd in 2017.
Dylan Sadowy - Saginaw Spirit
Things haven't gone quite according to plan in Saginaw this year. Many people expected them to be among the best in the Conference this year and the probable division winner. Yet, their young stars just haven't taken that next step. Still with a young core, the Spirit should contend next year. That means that they'd be smart to deal off a few veteran players to get players who can help next year, and/or draft picks which they can use to add next year and beyond. Sadowy is one of the core players in Saginaw, however he hasn't had the best of years (after last year's breakout). He's a hard nosed guy who can play in all situations and he'd be a great add to any roster. In particular, I could really see whoever loves the Dal Colle sweepstakes targeting him as a cheaper option. Erie, in particular, would be a great fit. A winger with some size and grit who could help to strengthen the 2nd line.
Prediction: Sadowy goes to Erie in exchange for Jordan Sambrook and draft picks (2nd in 2016, 3rd in 2016).
Will Petschenig - Saginaw Spirit
Like Jacob Graves (mentioned earlier), Petschenig is a veteran OA defender who is tough as nails and would be a fantastic add for any team hoping to make a Cup run. The advantage he has over Graves is his playoff experience gained with Oshawa. As mentioned, a team like Kingston or Sarnia could look to bring him in and move out another overager. But, again, I just don't see it. And, of course, one of the competitive teams with overage room (London, Niagara, Mississauga) could look to bring him in and use that spot on defence. But, again, I don't see it. I see him finishing out as a Spirit, helping some young defenders there improve.
Prediction: Petschenig stays in Saginaw
Gabe Guertler - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
The Greyhounds are certainly not a bad team. But they're a young one who's inconsistencies have prevented them from gaining ground in the standings. I don't see them making many moves, but I could see them trading away overage scoring forward Gabe Guertler. If they can get a couple decent draft picks for him, that would help them restock for future runs (which could include next season). I've mentioned at length the teams that have serious OA room. And it's likely his destination is one of those spots. Windsor would make a ton of sense IMO (if they jettisoned Soberg), but I just don't see them making many moves. Cost for Guertler would probably be a quality draft pick and I don't see Windsor doing that. Sarnia would also make a lot of sense. His speed and playmaking ability would really elevate their secondary scoring unit. He could be a great candidate to upgrade the production of the likes of Mistele or Korostelev.
Prediction: Guertler goes to Sarnia in exchange for a 2nd in 2018 and a 4th in 2017 (Sarnia then waivers Davis Brown).
Tyler Hore - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Like Graves and Petschenig, Hore is an overage defender who could really elevate someone's defensive group. But, the spots for OA's are few and far between. As such, I see him staying put where he can mentor some of the Soo's great young defenders (like Colton White).
Prediction: Hore stays in the Soo.
Brandon Halverson - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Halverson is a real wild card that not many people are talking about. The Greyhounds could look to retool and Halverson could be highly coveted. SSM has Joseph Raaymakers already waiting in the wings and I don't think there is any doubt that they would have no issue handing the reigns off to him. Of course, the problem is that Halverson hasn't played incredibly well this year. Would a contending team be willing to pay top price for him considering that he may not actually be much of an upgrade over what they currently have? While he could move, I don't think he will. His play this year just hasn't been strong enough, which is a real shame for the Hounds.
Prediction: Halverson stays in the Soo.
Matt Schmalz - Sudbury Wolves
Schmalz is a hulking forward who I definitely see moving before the deadline. Big body who can drive the net and score goals. He's certainly not a playmaker and his play away from the puck remains inconsistent, but with the right linemates, he could really flourish. London is a team that could really use his size in their top 9, filling a role that big Mike McCarron did last year before the trade to Oshawa. They've lacked that dimension since he departed. Barrie is another strong candidate for his services.
Prediction: Schmalz goes to London in exchange for a 2nd in 2017 and a 3rd in 2018.
Patrick Murphy - Sudbury Wolves
The overage defender has been great for Sudbury this year, producing at a great clip offensively. I don't think he's got a ton of value, so he could be a great buy low candidate for a team looking to add a bit of veteran leadership to the backend. One team who could really use him is Windsor. He'd be able to fill the role that they thought Trevor Murphy was going to do this year and he wouldn't cost them a lot (which is important because they're building for next year).
Prediction: Murphy goes to Windsor for a 4th in 2017 and a 4th in 2018 (then Windsor waives Markus Soberg).
Troy Timpano - Sudbury Wolves
Once thought to be the goaltender of the future in Sudbury, things appear to have changed. Timpano wasn't playing well, then got injured. As a result, the Wolves brought in Zack Bowman, who has been fantastic. They also have Matthew Menna, and Jake McGrath (both of whom have shown potential this year, although McGrath has been in Tier 2). This could make Timpano a trade candidate. I see a team like Mississauga inquiring about him, since they don't really have much in the way of a future starting netminder. I could actually see Guelph being interested in him too.
Prediction: Timpano goes to Mississauga for a 2nd in 2018.
Nevin Guy, Evan De Haan, Nathan Todd - Ottawa 67's
Another one of those inevitable deals. Problem is, which one goes? The 67's are currently operating with 4 overagers and we know what that means. Sam Studnicka is going nowhere. That means it's between Guy, De Haan, and Todd. Quite frankly, I can't see Todd being the odd man out because he's got good chemistry with some of Ottawa's forwards and can be used in all situations. And the 67's just don't have the depth up front. That leaves us with De Haan and Guy. Flip a coin. I think Guy has been a bit better this year, so I see De Haan being the odd man out.
Prediction: The Oshawa Generals pick up De Haan off waivers from Ottawa.
Would love to hear your predictions in the comments section.