The 2017 OHL Trade Deadline is set for January 9th (for overage players), and January 10th (for all other players) [edit as per official OHL release].
This is a very interesting year in the OHL for a variety of reasons. And a lot of those reasons could have major bearing on the activity level of this year's deadline. Firstly, the OHL (and Windsor Spitfires) is hosting the Memorial Cup this year, which means that if the Spits end up winning the Western Conference, whoever wins the East also guarantees themselves a trip to the Memorial Cup. Secondly, the race for playoff spots in each Conference is still incredibly wide open. Can any team truly say that they're out of it? A hot streak and you're right back in it. Look no further than the way the Saginaw Spirit have been playing of late. Thirdly, quite a few teams (more than usual) have flexibility with their overage spots.
So what does it all mean? Well, we could see teams in the Eastern Conference loading up because winning the Conference could get you a trip to the Memorial Cup. We could also see teams really bleeding a few teams (the ones willing to rebuild) dry of assets. On the other hand, we could see very little movement due to teams wanting to make the playoffs. And because of so few teams looking to move players, the asking price could be driven too high for certain teams to pay. A team like the Erie Otters just doesn't have a ton of assets left (unless they want to move young roster players) to move after several years of "going for it."
If I was a betting man, I'd put my money on it being a relatively quiet deadline (outside of some OA movement, and a few minor depth deals). But we'll see. I do have quite a few predictions in terms of deals, so I suppose that's a contradiction in itself. At least it makes for more interesting reading material than me saying "everyone is staying put."
Warren Foegele - Kingston Frontenacs
The Frontenacs got a major boost when Foegele was returned for his overage season by the Hurricanes, but it hasn't been enough to make them a threat to take the East. As such, it would be smart of them to capitalize on this opportunity and deal Foegele to recoup some assets to help their rebuild, or at least "retool." Foegele is a premier two-way forward who can slot anywhere in your lineup. As an OA, his possible destination list isn't huge. Erie, Hamilton, Sault Ste. Marie, and Owen Sound are the competitive teams who'd likely look at him. All four could be very likely destinations with all four possibly needing some veteran help down the middle for the stretch run. Ultimately, I see Erie as the best fit. They don't have the resources to go after a big fish like Mitchell Stephens, so with Foegele being an OA, his value would be a tad lower.
Prediction: Foegele goes to Erie (along with Liam Murray) for Brett Neumann, Josh Wainman, Jake Lawr, a 4th in 2017 and 3rds in 2019 and 2021.
Liam Murray - Kingston Frontenacs
Murray isn't the type of guy whose value is shown on the score sheet. But he's a hard-nosed, physical defender who could be a very valuable addition to the 3rd pairing of a team with Championship aspirations. The first team that really jumps out is the Erie Otters who've been relying on some rookies on the back-end probably more than they would have liked. A team like London could look at him hard too, to add a bit more physicality to their blueline. Really, the vast majority of teams in the league could use a guy like Murray for the stretch drive, if the price isn't extraordinary.
Prediction: Murray goes to Erie (along with Warren Foegele) for Brett Neumann, Josh Wainman, Jake Lawr, a 4th in 2017 and 3rds in 2019 and 2021.
Stephen Desrocher - Kingston Frontenacs
This is a guy whose name has come up a lot in trade rumours the last little while. And with reason. His experience in the league (42 playoff games) and his booming shot from the point make him a very desired commodity. Obviously, as an OA, the list of teams vying for his services won't be long. The Hamilton Bulldogs are a team he's been linked to and they could certainly use a guy like him to help their powerplay and to provide more stability to their defense. Erie or Owen Sound could bring him into the fold too. But I think the Soo Greyhounds are a very logical destination. His experience would go a long way to helping a "youngish" blueline and his point shot on the powerplay would be a great weapon to go with all of the high tempo forwards they've got at their disposal.
Prediction: Desrocher goes to SSM in exchange for Anthony DeMeo, 3rds in 2018, 2019, and a 4th in 2017.
Jeremy Helvig - Kingston Frontenacs
If the Fronts are going to retool, Helvig is obviously a guy who they should look at moving. Problem is, there really isn't a market for a quality netminder right now. None of the truly competitive teams appear to be looking for an upgrade. If Kitchener decided they wanted to go for it, I could see them maybe being interested, but that's a stretch. Helvig could turn pro next year, but I think it seems more likely that Carolina returns him to the OHL for another year (especially as a 2016 draft pick not needing to be signed until 2018). As such, Kingston should wait until the offseason when there's bound to be a team needing an upgrade that they could move him to.
Prediction: Helvig stays in Kingston.
Ben Fanjoy - Ottawa 67's
Fanjoy had asked for a trade this offseason and didn't receive one. He came to camp anyway and had started the year with the 67's. But he has apparently left the team now, which could mean he's thinking about schooling options, or he's looking for a trade. Fanjoy is a solid OHL player who could be a good depth piece for a competitive team because he can play any forward position and kill penalties. A few teams in the East with some younger forward groups like Mississauga or Oshawa could likely use a guy like this, especially if the asking price isn't exceptionally high. The Steelheads, in particular, could really use a guy like Fanjoy to help round out their top 9 and give them a boost on the PK.
Prediction: Fanjoy goes to Mississauga for a 3rd in 2019.
Jared Steege - Ottawa 67's
The market for an OA like Steege probably isn't incredibly large. He's a solid glue guy who can chip in a bit offensively, play physical, and be relied upon in different situations. There are a few teams like Sudbury and Guelph, who might find use for Steege to help their young rosters try to get into the playoffs. And the cost would most certainly not be high. IMO, Steege would be a perfect fit for the Wolves, taking a bit of pressure off their very young 3rd/4th lines.
Prediction: Steege goes to Sudbury for a 4th in 2017.
Patrick White - Ottawa 67's
With the firesale looking to be on in Ottawa, overager Patrick White is a name that could definitely come up in trade talks. The alternate captain in Ottawa is a solid secondary scoring option that wouldn't likely cost as much as the likes of Warren Foegele. That said, Ottawa could still make the playoffs and I think they'd like to keep some of their leadership group around, especially if all they could get for White is a 3rd or 4th round pick.
Prediction: White stays in Ottawa.
Ryan Orban - Ottawa 67's
See Patrick White. Orban could be a solid third pairing guy for an experienced team, but I'm not entirely sure his value would be high. There are likely several teams who could use him to solidify a 3rd pairing (Erie, Oshawa, Owen Sound, etc). Like White, he's part of Ottawa's leadership group and could be more valuable there helping a young defense than the 3rd that they'd get for him.
Prediction: Orban stays in Ottawa
Trent Fox - Hamilton Bulldogs
Might be an oddity to see his name here, but this is a guy I feel could use a change of scenery. His production has dropped off pretty significantly this year because his ice time has also dropped. The Bulldogs could trade him to a team looking for secondary scoring depth and get some assets that they could then use to improve their defense. Or they could dangle Fox as part of a package to bring in said defender. A team like Mississauga could no doubt be interested. However, so could a young team like Niagara, who could be looking to next year where Fox could play a huge role as an overager.
Prediction: Fox goes to Niagara as part of a deal for Ryan Mantha.
Damian Bourne - Mississauga Steelheads
Bourne would appear to be the odd man out in Mississauga (already been sat since Spencer Watson returned). The question is...would he be able to find a home with someone else in the OHL or is his OHL career over? I'd be surprised if a young team out there wouldn't want his services to end the year, to help with a playoff push, to provide leadership to the inexperienced, and to add size/truculence in order to protect some younger players. Niagara will have some OA room and they'd be a perfect fit for him IMO. Can play a depth role, protect some of their talented younger forwards, and help them try to squeak into the playoffs. Guelph could take him on for the same reason.
Prediction: Bourne goes to Niagara via waivers (or for a late round draft pick).
Ryan Mantha - Niagara IceDogs
Mantha is definitely one of the biggest fish on the market right now. At least one would assume that the IceDogs will try to move him. They could get some valuable assets in exchange for the overager thanks to his breakout season. At 6'5, he adds size, and with 131 shots on net (and a top 5 ppg average for defenders), he also adds an offensive element to the blueline of a team with Championship aspirations. Of course, like others mentioned, being an overager makes the situation more complicated. But I think Hamilton, and SSM use their final OA spot on a big time defender, so they could get a good deal from them. Considering Mantha already was traded from the Soo before he entered the league, I don't see him accepting a trade there. That leaves Hamilton, which would be a perfect fit for him. They need exactly what he brings.
Prediction: Mantha goes to Hamilton in exchange for Trent Fox, Reilly Webb, and 3rds in 2019, and 2020.
Aaron Haydon -Niagara IceDogs
The former defender has been playing on the wing this year, a conversion I haven't really understood. But what do I know? Regardless, the overage forward/defender could be in demand for teams looking for some more size for the playoff push. But Niagara, too, is embroiled in a playoff battle so I don't see them trading anyone besides Mantha (who would have the most value by far). They already got great value for Graham Knott. Haydon's size and veteran leadership likely stays in Niagara. Otherwise, I could see a team like Sudbury looking at him closely (more for the backend).
Prediction: Haydon stays in Niagara.
Anthony Stefano -Barrie Colts
Has been a very productive OHL player over the course of his career, and he continues to be as an overager for the Colts. That said, the teams that have OA spots available...I'm just not sure he's the best fit for them and I see them looking elsewhere to try to improve their teams. Erie could be a candidate. Ditto for Sudbury. And if Hamilton is able to pick up a quality defender who's not an OA, they could use his services for sure. That said, I think he stays in Barrie and finishes out his career mentoring some young forwards.
Prediction: Stefano stays in Barrie
Roy Radke -Barrie Colts
I think if he had been healthy, he'd generate a fair amount on the trade market. But he hasn't played since late October because of a high ankle sprain. With a few very solid OA's available on the market, I think teams look in other directions to get a player that they don't have to gamble on being healthy or not. Radke's size could definitely be an asset for a team like Erie or Owen Sound though.
Prediction: Radke stays in Barrie
Cordell James - Barrie Colts
This is the one Colt that I do expect to move. James likely would come the cheapest of the three overagers, but he has a lot of value as a two-way player with playoff experience. He's having a solid offensive season, but he'd look great centering the 3rd line for a contender. I think the best fit among teams with OA space is in Owen Sound. He's an Attack kind of player and he gives them experience down the middle, something they lack a bit. Erie could most certainly be a fit too.
Prediction: James goes to Owen Sound in exchange for a 4th in 2018 and a 2nd in 2019.
Noah Carroll - Guelph Storm
What the Guelph Storm do is extremely intriguing to me. They're on the upswing after a rebuild, and they're clearly hoping to snag one of those final playoff spots to give their young players experience. That said, if they could get a king's ransom for some of their players, I wonder if they do it. Carroll is a '97 with NHL ties, so this could be his final year in the league. However, he doesn't have to be signed until 2018 (2016 selection), so I think he's a safe bet to return as an overager next year. Where the Storm would expect him to be a leader of their defense. As such, I don't think they deal him, although I'm sure they take calls.
Prediction: Carroll stays with Guelph.
Garrett McFadden - Guelph Storm
Remember what I said about Noah Carroll? The same applies to Garrett McFadden. As a '97 without an NHL affiliation, he'll most surely return to Guelph next year as an OA. That said, what if an offer knocked their socks off? With a guy like Ryan Merkley in the fold, McFadden isn't needed quite as much and he could likely fetch quite the pretty penny. There are a host of teams in the league who could use a puck mover like McFadden. One team who I could really see targeting McFadden is the Owen Sound Attack. They could really use another slick skating distributor from the back end to take some pressure off of guys like Markus Phillips and Jacob Friend. The Attack have a TON of assets at their disposal and I really think they'll be the team that makes a big splash.
Prediction: McFadden goes to Owen Sound (with James McEwan) in exchange for Aidan Dudas, Sean Durzi, 2nds in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
James McEwan - Guelph Storm
See above with McFadden. McEwan hasn't been nearly as an integral part of Guelph's offense this year, but he remains a very talented player and would most definitely play a pivotal role next year as an OA. However, like I said, I could see the Storm moving him if the right offer came along. And as I've already mentioned, the Attack are a team who I could see putting together a big package for both of he and McFadden. McEwan would add some much needed secondary scoring, in addition to being a guy who can kill penalties and get in on the forecheck as is required of all Attack forwards. A team like Windsor, Mississauga, or London could also sneak in with an offer if word gets around that he's available.
Prediction: McEwan goes to Owen Sound (with Garrett McFadden) in exchange for Aidan Dudas, Sean Durzi, 2nds in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Alex Peters - Flint Firebirds
It´s easy to see the Flint Firebirds selling. They´re a long shot to make any noise in the playoffs and they´re in the middle of a rebuild. That said, the team has performed well this year given expectations, so I do wonder if they will be willing to give up on the playoffs and the experience it would bring their young team. Peters, the captain of the Firebirds, would be an attractive veteran option on the backend for a few teams with OA wiggle room. But would the value of dealing him be worth more than the value of keeping him around a young team that has already been through a lot the past year? I don´t think he moves.
Prediction: Peters stays in Flint
Jalen Smereck - Flint Firebirds
Signed as a free agent by the Arizona Coyotes this year, Smereck could be the player that holds the most value for Flint in a deal. He is a 97 and could turn pro next year, but he could also return as an OA, where he would be an impact player. A deal for him could involve conditional picks upon him returning next year. That said, he has played well this year and was only recently acquired by the team (for a pair of 4ths and a 2nd). Would they get that back? Probably. But it´s no guarantee. Could definitely see a team like Erie, London, or even his old team, Oshawa, looking at him. At the end of the day, I think he holds more value to Flint than he does in a deal.
Prediction: Smereck stays in Flint
Mathieu Henderson - Flint Firebirds
Henderson is the one player I could see moving. He is currently the leading scorer among defenders in the OHL, but as an OA, his value and potential destination is limited. There are some quality OA defenders available (like Desrocher and Mantha) who bring similar things to the table, but have a bit more size and ability in the defensive end. Would they be more preferable to teams like Owen Sound, Hamilton, and the Soo? That´s the million dollar question. It is certainly possible. But, there are only so many spots available so someone is going to have to stay put. And my money is on Henderson.
Prediction: Henderson stays in Flint.
Robert Proner - Saginaw Spirit
Proner, a very talented young defender, has left the Spirit and is seeking a trade. The 99´ born, 6´2 blueliner was playing in his first year, after being a 2nd round pick two years ago. He has a lot of potential at both ends and should generate a lot of interest around the league. Teams like Guelph, Ottawa, Barrie, etc, who are beginning a rebuild, would likely be the best suitors. In the end, I am putting my money on Guelph, who has some extra picks to spend and who could use Proner¨s size on the backend.
Prediction: Proner goes to Guelph for 2nds in 2018 and 2019.
Kris Bennett - Saginaw Spirit
Bennett is a very underrated player in this league. He¨s the type who could fill any role for a team that he¨s on, working hard at both ends of the ice. But he is an overager and with the amount of valuable players on the market, I¨m just not sure there would be a place for him on another team. Someone like Erie or Owen Sound could be very interested, depending on what route they go with their other spot. But...that¨s assuming Saginaw wants to move him in the first place. The team is playing exceptionally well of late and is trending in the right direction. Bennett is a valuable leader for the team and might have value staying put.
Prediction: Bennett stays in Saginaw.
Mitchell Stephens - Saginaw Spirit
The ¨big fish¨ of the trade deadline this year, I´m actually not 100% sold on Stephens moving. Like I said, Saginaw is playing very well of late and I wonder if they see more value in a playoff push with a roster that´s already not getting any younger. However, I do think that Saginaw would be silly not to cash in by dealing him. His value will be astronomical because the market is generally void of high impact forwards. You can bet that London and Windsor will be interested. So will Mississauga. And then a few under the radar teams like Owen Sound and Sault Ste. Marie. Mississauga would be a great fit, but I don¨t think they have the assets (in particular, a quality ´99 or 2000). No doubt Saginaw would want that if they deal Stephens. Quite frankly, I see Owen Sound (dangling Dudas) or Sault Ste. Marie (dangling Hayton) as very real possibilities. Both could use more experience down the middle (even if they have talent) in order to really go deep in the playoffs.
Prediction: Stephens goes to Sault Ste. Marie in exchange for Barrett Hayton, a 3rd in 2020, and two 2nds in 2021.
Hayden Hodgson - Saginaw Spirit
Hodgson has been on fire lately and has been a big reason for the Spirit playing so well lately. His size and goal scoring ability would be coveted by teams...if he wasn¨t an OA. As I said with Bennett, I am just not sure the market is there for a guy like Hodgson right now. He probably has more value to the Spirit to help them get to the playoffs and carry their hot streak into the 2nd half.
Prediction: Hodgson stays in Saginaw.
CJ Garcia - Saginaw Spirit
I like Garcia as a defender. I think he´s a very underrated player. That said, as an overager, there are simply better options available. The Spirit gave up three quality picks to get him in the offseason and I don´t think there is any chance that they recoup those picks if they deal him now. As such, he would have more value staying in Saginaw and helping them push towards the playoffs.
Prediction: Garcia stays in Saginaw.
Marcus Crawford - Saginaw Spirit
Outside of Stephens, this is the one player I really could see Saginaw dealing. Right now, Crawford has fallen a bit down the pecking order thanks to the arrival of Hronek. And as a '97 who is all but certain to return as an OA, his value may never be higher on the trade market. But I'm sure Saginaw will want a fair amount for him, considering he's one of the few '97 defenders on the block who could step into a team's top four. Will team's be willing to pay that price? Will Saginaw see value in Crawford returning as an OA (when the team's defense should be better)? I could see teams like Owen Sound and Sault Ste. Marie being interested. In the end, I think he ends up staying because Saginaw doesn't get what they want and they hope he plays a big role in the playoff push.
Prediction: Crawford stays in Saginaw.
Evan Cormier - Saginaw Spirit
This is an interesting one. Cormier is in the same boat as Jeremy Helvig (who I mentioned earlier). Problem is, I'm just not sure there's a market for goalies right now. And Saginaw may see Cormier as a candidate to return as an OA (as a 2016 selection in the NHL). As I said with Helvig, Kitchener is the only team I could see adding a goaltender, as long as they intend to compete and not rebuild.
Prediction: Cormier stays in Saginaw.
Nikita Korostelev - Sarnia Sting
Is he truly on the block? Hard to say. Sarnia is right in the thick of the playoff race in the West, but there's no doubting that they are not likely deep enough to outlast the likes of London, Windsor, etc. The smart thing might be to move him. You have to think a team like Windsor, or Hamilton would love to add Korostelev into the fold. Ditto the Oshawa Generals who could use a real sniper on the wing. And the Sting could get a young player who could help the team next year when they should be better. That said, I don't think Sarnia rebuilds. I see Korostelev saying, with Sarnia hoping to make some noise down the stretch.
Prediction: Korostelev says in Sarnia.
Jeremy Bracco -Kitchener Rangers
Like Korostelev, is Bracco available? Will the Rangers rebuild? I've seen a lot of chatter about those very questions of late and I've done a lot of thinking about it. I do think Kitchener ends up dealing Bracco. The thing is, I think they could deal Bracco and still be competitive in the West, while also building for the future. No doubt, that the big players like London, Windsor, Hamilton, SSM, or even a team like Oshawa, would be all over Bracco. His offensive ability is truly remarkable (even if his play without the puck could still use work). London has so many assets at their disposal, I see them being the front runners. And I think they could use him the most, giving them the talented playmaker that they lost when Mitch Marner didn't return this year.
Prediction: Bracco goes to London in exchange for Liam Foudy, and 2nds in 2018, and 2019.
Jake Henderson - Kitchener Rangers
If Kitchener is going to move a few players, Henderson is another guy that they could afford to move and still stay competitive. He's a solid role player who brings size, physicality and the ability to play a variety of roles to any team. I see him being a target of a team like the Mississauga Steelheads, who could really use some help on their 3rd line and on their PK. The cost likely wouldn't be too high (and it couldn't be with Mississauga's lack of resources).
Prediction: Henderson goes to Mississauga for a 2nd in 2018.
Luke Opilka - Kitchener Rangers
Another guy on this list who could really use a change of scenery. Opilka was great last year for the Rangers until he got sick. He just hasn't been right since and has really struggled in the limited starts he's received this year. The Rangers have a bit of a logjam in net, so giving Opilka a fresh start might make sense. There are a few teams who could use depth at the goaltending position who may want to give Opilka a shot. One such team is the North Bay Battalion. Brent Moran's had shoulder issues all year and is out for the foreseeable future. The Battalion still have aspirations to take the division but they might not be able to hang in there with a bevy of rookies making spot starts.
Prediction: Opilka goes to North Bay in exchange for a 3rd in 2019.
Dylan Di Perna - Kitchener Rangers
If the Rangers do decide to go full rebuild, Di Perna is obviously a guy who could generate a lot of interest, even as an overager. He brings a lot of different things to the table (size, skill, play in both ends) and would most definitely be a candidate to fill the final OA spot of teams like Hamilton, SSM, Erie, etc. That said, as I've mentioned earlier, I think those teams may go for more offensively oriented players. And I also don't see Kitchener going full rebuild. I think they still compete even without Bracco and a depth guy like Henderson. Di Perna gives them the veteran leadership they need on the backend in the face of some injuries.
Prediction: Di Perna stays in Kitchener.
Patrick Sanvido - Windsor Spitfires
Windsor (like Kingston) is still with 4 overagers. Someone has to go. Seems more and more likely that Sanvido is that player, considering the strong performances of DiGiacinto, Addison, and Chatfield. But Sanvido is certainly still worthy of being in this league. His skating never really improved to make him a high impact defender, but his size is an asset in the defensive end. Teams like Ottawa, Sudbury, or Guelph would likely be interested in adding Sanvido's experience and size to a relatively small and young defensive unit. Ottawa, in particular, seems like a great fit.
Prediction: Sanvido goes to Ottawa in exchange for mid/late round pick or on waivers.
So what do you think? Who's going where?