In this week’s edition of the OHL hot-stove the panel will examine which team made the best trades to better their team at and leading up to the trade deadline.
Joining my in this week’s hot-stove is Phil Phillips and Dominic Tiano.
I really like what the Owen Sound Attack did leading up to and at the trade deadline. They acquired one of the best defenseman in the OHL in getting Cody Ceci from the Ottawa 67’s. New Jersey Devils prospect Artur Gavrus returned to the team after spending the entire season up to this point playing in Belarus. They also got Daniel Milne to leave Michigan to join the Attack. While they traded away a couple good players, such as Jacob Dutchin to the Barrie Colts, I really believe that the Attack will benefit greatly from what they did at the deadline.
For me the Belleville Bulls are the early winner. The results have been felt immediately. First it was Tyler Graovac coming over from the Ottawa 67's. Right away his impact is felt as he helps pace the Bulls to a 6-2 win over the Greyhounds. Graovac (1G 3A) had 4 points as did his line mates Brendan Gaunce (2G 2A) and Austen Brassard (1G 3A). This trade had the "Friendly City" buzzing, news that the trade was a done deal surfaced Saturday morning and that night a season high crowd of 3300 fans came out to see what the fuss was about and they were not disappointed at all.
The Bulls 2nd Deadline transaction was really at the deadline and was completed with less then a hour until the 12:00 PM deadline. Alan Quine arrived from the Peterborough Petes motivated and familiar with the Coaching staff, having played for both Head Coach George Burnett and Assistant Coach Jake Grimes in the Program of Excellence. Quine showed instant chemistry with line mates Joseph Cramarossa and Daniil Zharkov. The 3 of them combined for 13 points in Friday nights 8-2 win in Kingston, Alan had 1G and 4A.
Belleville has gone 3-0 since these trades, they scored 18 goals and are no longer the lowest scoring team in the OHL. The Bulls are a good club, even before the trades but these moves addressed their weakness. Both help the power play, its been ranked 20th almost since Week one, but since Graovac and Quine joined the club the power play has gone 4/9. Both are good in the face off dot. that alone will help the power play because we all know its a lot easier to set up when you have the puck. How much better can the penalty killing be ? Belleville is already a top PK and defencive team, being more efficient at the draw will make that aspect of the team even stronger. Adding these two NHL drafted players gives the Bulls 9 players in the line up that have been drafted to the NHL. It also gives Belleville 2 bona fide scoring lines and plenty of options for Coach Burnett. In the few games that Graovac (3) and Quine (2) have played, right away you notice the speed they bring to the line up, the Bulls team speed seems to have hit a new gear.
Picking a winner on trade deadline isn’t the easiest thing to do until the results are in.
That said, I like what the Windsor Spitfires have done. Adding Alex Aleardi and Slater Koekkoek in deals and the return of Alex Khokhlachev from the KHL is huge for the Spitfires and will pay immediate dividends. But Khokhlachev didn’t come via the trade route so we can’t really include him or the Spitfires.
So that brings me to option number two: The Belleville Bulls. The Bulls are already a staunch defensive team having allowed the fewest goals in the Ontario Hockey League. Their goaltending is rock solid and their defence is more than capable and they play a sound team defensive game.
What they lacked was on the offensive side of the game and the Bulls, more than any other team did the most to rectify any areas of weakness. Adding Tyler Graovac and Alan Quine and losing only under achieving Sergey Kuptsov off their roster added to an area of weakness without taking away from an area of strength.
Graovac came over from the Ottawa 67’s for picks after posting 39 points in just 31 games – 22 goals, 17 assists – and paid immediate dividends in his first game with the Bulls scoring once and adding 3 assists. Quine came over from the Peterborough Petes for Kuptsov and picks. He brings with him 26 points in 26 games on 9 goals and 17 assists. Not to be outdone by Graovac, Quine had 1 goal and 4 assists in his debut for the Bulls. Both bring a very good faceoff resume, an area that the Bulls lacked in as well but will see major improvements.
Both are also the types of players that will buy into George Burnett’s system. But most importantly, it will take the pressure off of Brendan Gaunce and Danill Zharkov as the Bulls will have two legitimate scoring lines. It also takes some of the pressure off of Jordan Subban, who up until the trades was the only defenseman to lead his team in scoring in the OHL.
Of course, depending on what happens to players heading to NHL camps, if Belleville wasn’t on anyone’s list as one of the favorites from the East, they should be now. In fact, depending on those NHL camps, Belleville should be THE favorite from the East after these two deals.
And that makes them the winner at trade deadline.