1- Is it safe to say, that now with the Bulls trading Captain Brendan Gaunce that we can officially call this a rebuilding year for the Belleville Bulls ? I think so. I still believe that the Bulls are better then their 6-18-2-2 record says they are. A part of me, mostly the fan part says that the Bulls are a playoff team and they still could be with 40 games left on their schedule, its not totally out of the question. Right now the Bulls sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with 16 points, the Ottawa 67's hold the 8th and final playoff spot with 23 points.
Its wasn't a big surprise that General Manager George Burnett traded the Bulls Captain, with Belleville on the outside looking in at the playoffs, Burnett knows that his chances having a long playoff run this season, will involve a lot of luck. So since Gaunce has been a good solider why not move him to a contender and pick up some pieces to help moving forward.
The Bulls dealt Brendan Gaunce and Mississauga's 5th round pick in 2014 to the Erie Otters. In exchange, the Bulls receive 18 year-old winger Stephen Harper and a package of draft picks. Erie sends Ottawa's 2nd round pick in 2014, London's 2nd round pick in 2016, Kingston's 3rd round pick in 2015 and Erie's 3rd round pick in 2016 back to Belleville. This season Gaunce wasn't bad at all for the Bulls but there was something missing. In 22 games with the Bulls, Brendan had 10 goals and 16 assists.
Gaunce was the Bulls' first round, second overall pick in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection. The Markham native was a first round pick by the Vancouver Canucks in 2012 and had 82 goals and 108 assists in 215 games played with the Bulls. With the Bulls Brendan was voted the Top Defensive Forward in the OHL's Eastern Conference Coaches Poll last season.|
The Bulls are high on Stephen Harper. Burnett is quoted on the Bulls website as saying "Stephen brings a combination of great size, skating and skill to our program, having scored 46 goals to this point in his young OHL career. He is a versatile forward who can play both centre and the wing and is looking to have a breakout year. We're expecting him to make a significant contribution on the big ice and be a top line player for our program moving forward." Harper was also a OHL first round pick, the Otters selected him twelfth overall in 2012. Stephen Harper has played 152 games in the OHL. The Burlington native has 46 goals and 41 assists, including 4 goals and 10 assists in 22 games this season. A 6 foot 2, 205Ibs. left winger, Harper is a graduate of the Burlington Eagles AAA program.
2- Since we last talked the Bulls also dealt Luke Cairns to the Saginaw Spirit. In exchange, the Bulls received Sarnia's third round pick in 2016 and Saginaw's ninth round selection in 2016. Cairns had 6 goals and 8 assists in 19 games with Belleville. Burnett said it was because the Bulls had a surplus of forward and that the Bulls are "committed to the growth and development of our young players". And thats true but it was easy to see that Cairns wasn't fitting in for what ever reason, anytime a 19 year old in a healthy scratch, its a good sign that he has fallen out of flavour.
3- Two Bulls will represent Ontario at the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Justin Lemcke and Adam Laishram will be suiting up in the red and white from December 29th to January 4th as Ontario looks to win its first Gold Medal since 2011.
4- Belleville signed 2013 seventh round draft pick Connor Hicks. A 6 foot 3, 175Ibs. goaltender from Kanata, Hicks is currently playing with the Metcalfe Jets Jr. B club of the EOJHL. He was selected by the Bulls out of the Ottawa Jr. Senators Minor Midget program after recording a 1.63 goals against average a year ago.
5- The fans are still staying home. On Saturday night with the Kingston Frontenacs in town, only 2193 showed up. In three home games Vs the Fronts this season the Bulls averaging 2022 fans for those games, we wont dwell on it , but its not good enough.
6- The Bulls man advantage has continued to slide, on Saturday Vs Kingston in went 1/12, that included a 5 on 3 that was over 6 minutes. On the long 5 on 3 it looked like the Bulls shifted in to slow motion. Its disappointing that the Bulls power play is struggling but its not surprising, something that is surprising is the penalty kill. At 67.9%, its a good thing the Bulls are the least penalized team in the OHL.
7- A lot of people have been asking "is Jordan Subban the next to go ?" and my answer is , I don't think so. I say that because anyone can be traded but I believe for the Bulls to trade Jordan it would have to be a perfect situation for both parties. The Subban family have a long history with the Belleville Bulls, and I just don't see it happening.
8- Charlie Graham has missed five games and is still out with concussion symptoms, but is inching closer to returning. Niki Petti missed Saturdays game with an upper body injury and is week to week.
9- It doesn't get any easier for the Bulls this week they have a pair of home games, Wednesday Vs Oshawa, and Saturday Vs Barrie and then travel Canada's Motor City on Sunday to face the first place Generals again.