As with any off-season in the OHL, teams usually aren’t shy to pull the trigger on big trades. Whether it’s the rebuilding team trying to stockpile talent, or the contender looking for that missing piece, one summer can alter the landscape of the league. Here’s a look at some of the bigger names that have switched their jerseys.
Julius Naatinen and Jeremiah Addison
The trade(s): Barrie trades Julius Naatinen and a 2017 12th round pick to Windsor for Kyle Auger, a 2017 2nd round pick (GUE) and 4th round pick (FLNT), Ottawa trades Jeremiah Addison and a 2018 15th round pick to Windsor for a 2018 15th round pick, a conditional 2019 2nd round pick (NIA) and a conditional 2022 2nd round pick.
With Windsor already boasting forward talent like Logan Brown and Christian Fischer, the Spits made a large push to acquire two proven scorers in their quest to win the Memorial Cup. Naatinen gives the Spits a centreman who makes their second line that much scarier to contend with, after scoring 71 points in 52 games in a similar role for the Barrie Colts last season. Naatinen also played for the Finnish team that won gold at the last World Jrs. Addison is a gritty, physical forward who should combine with Christiano DiGiacinto to scare any defenders who would go into corners with them. Addison has a nose for the net too, adding a career high 27 goals last season.
The trade: Flint trades Will Bitten and a 2017 12th round pick to Hamilton for Connor Hicks, Fedor Gordeev, a 2019 2nd round pick (OS) and a 2020 2nd round pick (NIA)
Hamilton managed to snag one of the best players available in getting Bitten. A 3rd round pick of the Canadiens, Bitten goes from being the main, and often only, source of offence for Flint, to being the catalyst of a Hamilton attack that has been dynamic in the early part of the season. After scoring at a point per game clip last season, and with an NHL rookie camp under his belt, look for Bitten’s numbers to jump alongside players like Matt Luff and Matthew Strome. Also, as a bonus, he gets to play for his old coach, John Gruden.
Matt Mancina and Vili Saarijarvi
The trade(s): Peterborough trades Matt Mancina to Mississauga for a 2017 3rd round pick (ER), Flint trades Vili Saarijarvi to Mississauga for Everett Clark, a 2017 4th round pick, 2018 2nd round pick, 2019 5th round pick and a conditional 2023 2nd round pick
With Mississauga viewing themselves as contenders for the upcoming season, the Steelheads moved to check off two missing pieces from their roster: a puck-moving defenceman, and a starting goalie. Mancina was an excellent pickup, often carrying a Peterborough team that was prone to defensive lapses. The veteran was one of the few proven goalies on the market and provides a stabilizing presence. As for Saarijarvi, he’ll give the Steelheads a dynamic player on the back-end. He scored 43 points on a struggling Flint team last season. Unfortunately, Mississauga will have to wait until Saarijarvi returns from wrist surgery to see him on the ice.
The trade: Flint trades Brent Moran to North Bay for Garrett Forrest and a 2017 4th round pick (WSR)
Moran has struggled to live up to his own pedigree so far in his OHL career. After being a 2nd round pick of the IceDogs, he showed enough potential early to convince the Dallas Stars to spend a 4th round pick on him in 2014. Unfortunately, his numbers failed to improve. Niagara moved on from him, and the Stars left him unsigned. In North Bay, a team known for their defensive style of play, Moran finally gets a shot to play behind a team focused on keeping pucks out of the net, and could flourish. With an eye towards the playoffs, that’s the gamble the Battalion made when they pegged Moran to be the replacement for long time starter Jake Smith, and the move could pay dividends for both player and team.
The trade: Ottawa trades Liam Herbst to Guelph for a 2017 4th round pick
Like Moran, you can file Herbst under the “huge if it works” category. After splitting time with Leo Lazarev in Ottawa, he landed in Guelph with a chance to finally lock down a job as a full-time starting goalie. There are of course risks, as Herbst’s numbers were far from stellar last season, but if the trade works out, Guelph gets a legitimate stater for a rather cheap rate. The early returns are promising, with Herbst sporting a 0.974 save percentage after Guelph’s first two games.