The Ontario Hockey League trade deadline has come and gone. On January 9th and 10th, there were 17 total trades. Here is a look at how the top of the Western Conference stacks up after the falling of the chips and the settling of the dust.
Acquired: Mitch Vande Sompel
The Knights made it very clear in their moves at the deadline that they are trying to win another Memorial Cup and the players they added will come in bent on helping them try to repeat.
Vande Sompel has a Memorial Cup ring that he won with the Oshawa Generals in 2015 and he is now getting a chance to play in his hometown. He came up through the London Jr. Knights organization.
Salituro is leaving the professional ranks where he has split his season between the Cleveland Monsters, the Cincinnati Cyclones and the Norfolk Admirals. After being a go-to guy in Ottawa and playing in only two playoff series in four seasons (both first-round losses to Niagara), he gets a chance to try to help a team make a long run.
Stephens is everything you expect in a hockey player born in Canada. You name it, he does it. He can score, he can defend, he plays both special teams, he blocks shots and he has a knack for coming through with a big play when his team needs it most.
Outlook: The Knights are a very deep and balanced team loaded with players who know what it takes to play in big games and maybe more importantly, what it takes to win those games. With Tyler Parsons in goal and players who have back-to-back championships on their mind, they are a big-time contender.
Acquired: Anthony Cirelli
Don’t let quantity trump quality in terms of the Otters’ moves. They have a scary lineup. Cirelli joins Team Canada teammates, Dylan Strome and Taylor Raddysh who can’t help but feel they have unfinished business after coming so close at the World Juniors. Should Erie and London meet yet again, seeing Tyler Parsons in the opposing net would only act to heighten that feeling. Lizotte is a defenceman who needed to play 20 years ago. He has as big a nasty streak as anyone who patrols a blue line in junior hockey. Then there’s the rest of the team. Alex DeBrincat has something left to prove after being cut from Team USA, Darren Raddysh is having a monster offensive season on defence and Troy Timpano was acquired in the summer to be the number one goalie.
Outlook: The moves at the deadline and the return of Strome in November mean it is going to be difficult to get the puck when you are playing Erie. Their power play will be dynamite. Lizotte gives them toughness on the back end. They have an excellent lineup and incentive to win. Those are two deadly ingredients.
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Acquired: Noah Carroll
The Greyhounds actually traded away more players than they picked up at this year’s deadline. They dealt Liam Hawel to Guelph in the Carroll deal and Theo Calvas to Sarnia for a draft pick. Sault Ste. Marie is a bit of a surprise this year. Hitting number one overall, like they did in December was unexpected. They were likely hoping to do enough to stay with the front-runners without mortgaging next year and if that is the case, then: Mission Accomplished. Carroll is a solid defenceman and will fit right in to the ‘Hounds style.
Outlook: They play a fast game and their defence is very active. You feel as though you are defending four forwards all game. The Greyhounds do a very good job of playing a full 60 minutes. They won’t make anything easy on their opponents and they will tire them out with their skating ability in the process. “Did they do enough?” will continue to be the question they are asked if they don’t get all the way to the top of the mountain.
Acquired: Jeremy Bracco
As the hosts of the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament, the Spitfires have been building their team for awhile, so they should not be judged upon their lone deadline move. They did not have the resources to use that some other teams did. Their work began in the aquistion of players like Julius Nattinen and Sean Day much earlier than now. Bracco is going to send an already deadly power play off the charts. He is a playmaker. Maybe the best one in the league. He also has big game experience and a gold medal from the World Juniors.
Outlook: Windsor is big. Windsor is skilled. They have the kind of team that you don’t look forward to playing in a seven game series. As much as people will want to question the fact that they have a 17-year old goalie in net, Michael DiPietro has been playing better than just about anyone who the Spitfires could have acquired. Ask 105-year old marathon runner, Fauja Singh, age isn’t everything. Windsor has a berth in the Memorial Cup already, but you can’t flip a switch there and be competitive. Going through a long and hard road in the Western Conference will be necessary to have a shot at winning it.
Owen Sound Attack
Acquired: Cordell James
As the trade deadline arrived, the Attack had put together a double-digit winning streak and had climbed into the conversation about contenders in the loaded Western Conference. They added one player, but he brings leadership, toughness, skill and more secondary scoring to their lineup. James is the player you would rather be playing with than against and in the cramped confines of the J.D. MacArthur Arena, he game should thrive.
Outlook: When you have the goaltending that Michael McNiven provides, you have a chance to win every night. When you play a style that takes away time and space from your opponent and you have the ability to score timely goals, you are a tough team to beat. The knock against the Attack at the start of the year was their lack of secondary scoring. That has materialized. They may not have the depth of some of their Western Conference opponents, but you would find every one of those teams signing up for a sun staring contest before they would choose a seven game series against Owen Sound.