The 67's firesale has begun as leading goalscorer Tyler Graovac will join another ex-67 in Jake Cardwell with the Belleville Bulls after a trade Saturday morning.
Over the weekend, Head Coach and General Manager Chris Byrne was tight-lipped about any possible deals, simply stating "we're looking at a number of scenarios to help this team move forward."
That's exactly what he did, stocking the cupboard of draft picks with a 2014 second rounder and 2015 third rounder. The team also picks up RW Sergey Kuptsov, and a seventh round selection if Kuptsov doesn't return next season.
Kuptsov brings size and skill to a right wing position that has had left wingers Steven Janes, Brett Gustavsen and Ryan Van Stralen typically trying their hand at. In the pre-season, Ottawa tried Andrew Abou-Assaly and fellow rookie Dante Salituro on a line together, but size was the only issue. Kuptsov could join those two to make up Ottawa's second unit.
Graovac had an amazing start out of the gate and ended his time in Ottawa as the team's third leading scorer. He becomes Belleville's top scorer with this trade.
The center has Ottawa's last two goals; a shorthanded marker at the end of a 4-1 loss to the Soo Greyhounds and the game winner in the dying seconds of a 4-3 win over Kingston on New Year's Day. This came after Ottawa dropped the first half of their home-and-home with Kingston 7-5.
After having split their first two games of the new year, Ottawa sits in last place with an 11-26-0-3 record. Catching the eighth-place Sudbury Wolves, 16 points ahead in the standings, is a pipe dream and as such, Byrne is forced to make seller deals, even though he's adamant that he won't make deals for the sake of it. "I don't feel obligated to trade guys away. I will if the right offer comes across the table."
The Barberpoles head to the GTA this weekend for a two-game roadtrip in Barrie and Belleville. Kuptsov is expected to make his debut tonight in Barrie, the same arena where trade talks started circulating around the team when Byrne attended a December game between the Colts and Plymouth Whalers.
The team will also get Dante Salituro back in the lineup as he returns from the World Under-17 Championships in Quebec, where despite a few dominant performances, he and Team Ontario finished sixth place. Brett Gustavsen has started working out with the team, but isn't in game shape yet after aggravating his ankle.