Windsor loads up at trade deadline for run at third consecutive Memorial Cup

By Jason Menard

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, the OHL‘s trading deadline was a tale of two conferences. And while teams in the west may feel that it’s the best of times — at least when it comes to making a run at the Memorial Cup; Eastern Conference squads not based in Mississauga proved by their relative lack of activity that it’s the worst of times to be a contender.

The OHL trading deadline passed yesterday at noon and a flurry of deals provided a clear indication about which teams felt that their opportunity to contend was now — at least in the league’s Western Conference.

In fact, a number western teams decided to load up, including the two-time defending Memorial Cup champions. While the Windsor Spitfires loaded up for the present today, the club kicked off the trade deadline season earlier by engaged in a little future prospecting — with a side order of nepotism.

Windsor obtained general manager Warren Rychel’s son Kerby, a promising young talent, on Jan. 5, 2011, in a trade with the Memorial-Cup-bound Mississauga St. Mike’s Majors that saw both teams reclaim previously peddled draft picks.

The Spitfires, currently tied for fourth in the Western Conference with the Plymouth Whalers, albeit with a pair of games in hand, had two of the most-attractive assets on the market in two-time Memorial Cup-winner, and three-time World Junior medallist Ryan Ellis (NAS) and Buffalo Sabres‘ first-rounder Zach Kassian. And while the talk leading up to the deadline was that one or both would be sent packing, instead of peddling these players for the future, Rychel went the other way and loaded up, acquiring Taylor Carnevale and Jake Carrick,.

The price for Carnevale was high, though, as highly regarded Eric Locke went the other way to the Barrie Colts. However, Carnivale’s 24 goals and 44 points will be a welcome addition to the Spits as they make a run at their third straight Memorial Cup. The overage Carrick was obtained from the Soo in return for overage blueliner Brent Sullivan and a quartet of draft picks and should add some welcome grit combined with a proven ability to score goals.

Currently sitting atop the Western Conference standings, the Saginaw Spirit were anything but complacent, fortifying their defensive corps by bringing in elite blueliners Dalton Prout (CLB) Sunday and following that by acquiring Brandon Archibald (CLB) Monday, which could provide Saginaw with the league’s top defensive corps. When you factor in a Dec. 9th trade that brought John McFarland (FLA) and Ben Chiarot (ATL) into the fold, it’s clear that the Spirit believe this is their year.

The sixth-place Erie Otters were a surprise player in today’s trading frenzy, obtaining Brett Thompson from the Soo Greyhounds, along with a second-round import draft selection in 2011 in return for David Broll, and a trio of picks, including their first-round import draft selection in 2011. The former 42-goal scorer already has 25 on the season and will solidify Erie’s offensive production.

The Guelph Storm showed that they believe they can contend in a wide-open west when they kicked off the London Knights’ youth movement by paying a premium for diminutive spark plug Daniel Erlich on Saturday. They also added Stephen Gaskin yesterday in a trade that saw the Storm return the Barrie Colts’ 2012 second-round selection, along with tossing in their own fourth-rounder in that draft.

For the first time in years, the London Knights appear to be in a rebuilding mode. And they did so in dramatic fashion, shipping out a pair of older players, including their captain Michael D’Orazio, and receiving a boatload of picks in return. The Knights completed a pair of transactions with the Memorial Cup-bound Mississauga Majors that saw Chris DeSousa and D’Orazio head east. These trades followed on the heels of London’s Saturday trade of Daniel Erlich to Guelph.

In total, the Knights obtained five future second-round selections, including Mississauga’s selections in that round for 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017. They also received Guelph’s 2012 second-rounder. They picked up a pair of 2011 picks (Brampton’s 5th and Kingston’s 8th), two 2012s (Kingston’s 4th and Niagara’s 8th), and two more 2013’s (Mississauga’s 4th and Guelph’s 5th).

But the Knights’ impressive restocking of the draft cupboard was nothing in comparison to the Soo. They obtained 13 picks in four transactions. Brandon Archibald headed south of the border to Saginaw in return for Michael Kantor, and the Spirits’ 2012 4th rounder, a 2013 6th-round selection, and its 2014 second-round pick. Prior to that, they parlayed Jack Carrick into Brent Sullivan from Windsor, along with four more picks (including the Spitfires’ 2015 second-round selection). Soo started their day by sending Brett Thompson and its second-round 2011 import pick to Erie, in return for David Broll, the Otters’ first-round 2011 import pick, and a third and fourth rounder in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

While the Whalers made some moves, they chose to go younger instead of overpaying to keep pace with the Spitfires. However, they picked up a trio of talented 17-year-olds in obtaining Cory Czarnik, Michael Whaley, and Curtis Crombeen (selected ninth overall in the 2009 OHL draft) from Barrie, Windsor, and Owen Sound respectively. Czarnik is currently playing in Tier 1, while Crombeen has been injured much of this year. But both have solid potential long-term.

In the East, it appeared that most teams have conceded the Memorial Cup berth to the Majors. Mississauga, however, was taking nothing for granted, paying a huge price to the Knights to fortify their lineup. D’Orazio should be a solid addition to both the club’s blue line and dressing room, and DeSousa will provide the club with a nice bit of additional depth.

The Majors had already made a significant move earlier in the week, adding their second selection in the import draft, Russian Maxim Kitsyn (LA), to the roster. Kitsyn shined at the WJCs and should provide an instant boost of offense to a team that has been dominant defensively all year long. They also obtained Justin Shugg (CAR) earlier from Windsor in a deal where they obtained a conditional second-round selection in 2014 — conditional upon Shugg playing in the OHL next year.

While in a normal year, teams like the Niagara Ice Dogs, the Oshawa Generals, and the Ottawa 67s would be tempted to mortgage their future for a run this year, Mississauga’s dominance caused them to stand largely pat. Niagara did make a solid depth move in obtaining London’s Victor Terreri at the deadline for Brampton’s fifth-round selection this year and an eighth in 2012.

Below is a complete list of all the assets acquired by the various OHL teams since the New Year.

BARRIE
IN: Matt Ashman, Alex Lepkowski, Eric Locke, Josh Malecki, Jordan Coccimiglio (waivers), 2011 12th round (PLYMOUTH); 2012 2nd round (GUELPH orig. BARRIE), 4th round (GUELPH); 2013 3rd round (SAGINAW orig. KITCHENER); 2014 3rd round (SAGINAW)

OUT: Dalton Prout, Corey Czarnik, Taylor Carnevale, Stephen Gaskin

BELLEVILLE
IN: 2012 7th round pick (LONDON)

OUT: Kyle DeCoste

ERIE
IN: Brett Thompson, 2011 5TH round (PETERBOROUGH), 2nd round Import (SOO)

OUT: David Broll, Jeremy Gottzmann, Mikael Audette (waivers), 2011 1st round Import, 2013 3rd round, 2014 4th round

GUELPH
IN: Stephen Gaskin, Daniel Erlich

OUT: 2012 2nd round, 2nd round (orig. BARRIE), 4th round; 2013 5th round

KINGSTON

IN: Tyler Brown

OUT: 2011 8th round, 2012 4th round

LONDON
IN: Kyle DeCoste, 2011 5th round (NIAGARA orig. BRAMPTON), 8th round (KINGSTON); 2012 2nd round (GUELPH), 4th round (KINGSTON), 8th round (NIAGARA); 2013 2nd round (MISSISSAUGA), 4TH round (MISSISSAUGA), 5th round (GUELPH); 2015 2nd round (MISSISSAUGA); 2016 2nd round (MISSISSAUGA); 2017 2nd round (MISSISSAUGA)

OUT: 2012 7th round pick, Victor Terreri, Chris DeSousa, Tyler Brown, Michael D’Orazio, Daniel Erlich

MISSISSAUGA
IN: Chris DeSousa, Michael D’Orazio, Mikael Audette

OUT: 2011 2nd round (orig. BRAMPTON); 2013 2nd round, 4th round; 2015 2nd round; 2016 second round; 2017 second round; Future Considerations

NIAGARA
IN: Victor Terreri

OUT: 2011 5th round (from NIAGARA), 2012 8th round

OWEN SOUND
IN: Jay Gilbert

OUT: Curtis Crombeen, 2012 2nd round (SAGINAW from), 13th round; 2012 3rd round

PETERBOROUGH
IN: Jeremy Gottzmann, Nick Trepacelli (waivers), Steven Trojanovic

OUT: Adrian Robertson, 2011 5TH round; 2014 2nd round

PLYMOUTH

IN: Corey Czarnik, Michael Whaley, Curtis Crombeen, 2012 2nd round (OWEN SOUND orig. SAGINAW), 2013 3rd round (OWEN SOUND)

OUT: Jay Gilbert, 2011 12th round pick, 2012 13th round

SAGINAW
IN: Brandon Archibald, Dalton Prout

OUT: Alex Lepkowski, Matt Ashman, Michael Kantor, 2012 4th round, 2013 3rd round (orig. KITCHENER), 6th round; 2014 2nd round, 3rd round

SARNIA

IN: Troy Passingham, 2011 8th round (WINDSOR)

OUT: John Cullen, Brent Sullivan

SAULT STE. MARIE
IN: David Broll, Michael Kantor, Brent Sullivan, 2011 1st round Import (ERIE), 2nd round (MISSISSAUGA orig. BRAMPTON); 2012 4th round (SAGINAW), 4th round (WINDSOR); 2013 3rd round (ERIE), 3rd round (WINDSOR), 2013 6th round (SAGINAW); 2014 2nd round (SAGINAW), 4th round (ERIE), 10th round (WINDSOR); 2015 2nd round (WINDSOR); Future Considerations (MISSISSAUGA)

OUT: Brandon Archibald, Mikael Audette, Jake Carrick, Brett Thompson, 2011 2nd round Import

SUDBURY
IN: None

OUT: Nick Trepacelli (waivers)

WINDSOR
IN: Jake Carrick, Taylor Carnevale, John Cullen, Adrian Robertson, Brent Sullivan, Kerby Rychel, 2013 12th round (PLYMOUTH); 2014 2nd round (PETERBOROUGH), 2016 2nd round (MISSISSAUGA orig. WINDSOR)

OUT: Eric Locke, Josh Malecki, Michael Whaley, Brent Sullivan, Steven Trojanovic, Troy Passingham, 2011 8th round; 2012 4th round, 2013 3rd round, 2014 10th round, 2015, 2nd round