The Belleville Bulls Continue To Make Changes.
So the rebuild continues in Belleville, for the 2nd time in three weeks the Bulls have traded away their leading scorer. On November 27th it was Brendan Gaunce going to the Erie Otters for Stephen Harper and for two 2nd round picks and two 3rd round picks. This week it was Garrett Hooey and a 5th round pick in 2016 being sent to the Barrie Colts in exchange for Alex Yuill.
Hooey joins a Barrie club that is battling with the Sudbury Wolves for 1st in the Central Division. The Colts have scored 120 goals this season and Hooey will fit in nicely, his 16 goals on the season will be tops on the Colts . Garrett has played in 165 games as a Bull, registering 37 goals and 38 assists. He played his rookie season with the Sarnia Sting.
Alex Yuill is a Wellington native and is a former star in Minor Midget with the Quinte Red Devils. Alex was a 1st round (22nd overall) selection by Barrie in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection. Bulls General Manager George Burnett had lots of prasie for Alex Yuill, mentioning on the Bulls website that " "We've appreciated Alex's talents dating back to his Minor Midget days with the Quinte Red Devils". Burnett also went on to point out the experience the Yuill has gained playing on a strong Barrie team over the last two seasons, saying they "took notice of Alex's play during the Eastern Conference Finals last season when he played a key role for the Colts,". Belleville has wanted/needed to add an experienced puck moving defenceman, something Coach Burnett said "has been evident in our game throughout the first half of the season." Alex is a very strong skater, he brings experience and the ability move the puck at both ends of the ice.
To be honest the buzz after Gaunce was traded was not that bad, I think most already knew in their mind that Brendan wasn't going to finish the season with the Bulls. But Hooey leaving town seems to have hit the fans a little harder. Garrett was a great worker and was one of those players that everyone seemed to like, and this season with him coming in to his own, its a bitter sweet move.
So far this season Burnett has moved five players from his opening day roster and replaced them with five different players, not all of the moves involved players going back and forth but thats how it has worked out. And if you included Carter Sandlak and Michael Curtis, that's seven players who ended last season with the Bulls that are stilling playing in the OHL.
Some fans believe that all these moves are bad and are disappointed with the trades. One fan tweeted " They complain about fan support, then trade all the best players. Obviously relocation tactic". I don't think that's the case, teams rebuild, this group wasn't the strongest group, you can look to Daniil Zharkov not coming back as something that started the rebuild. The belief in conspiracy corner is that Zharkov would have scored 40 goals this season, and then as much as the Bulls are happy that Alan Quine was signed by the NYI, the plan was he would return to Belleville for his OA year. I can tell you we like the moves, Burnett has said on a number of occasions that he is committed to his sophomores going forward and we think with the additions he has made and the strong play of the rookies that the rebuild phase will be excellerated. Every year there is turn over and we don't even know for sure if the Bulls are done changing their roster this season, but as of right now there are 21 players that could return next season, at that time only Adam Bignell would be an OA. Thats a big number coming back. We know there will be others but the only players that won't be back for sure are overage players Scott Simmonds, Cameron Brace and Jake Worrad.
All of this leads us to believe that Adam Bignell will be the Bulls next Captain. He's our pick for sure. Adam doesn't score a lot of goals, in fact he hasn't scored at all in his OHL career (197GP), something that will change this season with Burnett using Adam on the power play right ? Bignell does a lot of things on this team that other can't or don't want to do, he leads by example and the fans love him. He's a great example to younger players when it comes to hard work and how to sacrifice for the good of the club.
The Bulls have always been strong in the community and this year it seems like they have really amped it up, every week these young men are helping the City of Belleville. Big Brother and Big Sisters, The United Way, The Downtown Business Association, The Toy Drive, The Salvation Army, Movember, Gleaners Food Bank, The Quinte Children's Foundation and the Ontario Lung Associatiion have all benefited from a partnership with the Bulls this season. Bottom line the Bulls support our community, its our job to support the Bulls.
Former Bulls in the OHL 2013-2014. Stats as of Thursday December 12th 2013
Barrie Colts : Garrett Hooey 16G-11A (Hooey didn't register any points in his Colts debut), Dylan Corson 3G-10A
Erie Otters : Michael Curtis 14G-13A, Brendan Gaunce 16G-21A (22GP-10G-16A with Belleville)
Kingston Frontenacs : Mack Lemmon 3G-2A (started the year with Niagara)
Kitchener Rangers : Tyson Teichmann (played 9 games before joining the Wellington Dukes-OJHL)
London Knights : Brady Austin 4G-11A (7GP-1G-4A with Belleville), Alex Basso 5G-13A
Plymouth Whalers : Carter Sandlak 17G-8A
Saginaw Spirit : Luke Cairns 9G-14A (19GP-6G-8A with Belleville), Daniel De Sousa 1G-6A (4GP-0G-1A with Belleville)
Sarnia Sting : Alex Carnevale 0G-2A.
Alumni : Former Bulls Cory Tanaka and Anthony Peters, both currently playing at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia will play for Canada at the 26th Winter Universiade in Terentino, Italy over the next two weeks. Tanaka will be wearing an "A" on the team. The OHL's All-Time games played leader is in his fifth and final season with the Saint Mary's Huskies after helping lead them to the first University Cup title in team history in 2010. Peters is in his third season at Saint Mary's after an OHL career spent with five different teams, including a 17 game stint in Belleville.
Philipp Grubauer picked up his 1st NHL victory last week.
This week the Bulls play in Ottawa on Friday night and host Niagara on Saturday, both of these games are must win, if the Bulls want to get back in the playoff picture.