On Tuesday morning, the Mississauga Steelheads announced the acquisition of defenceman Liam Ham from the Niagara IceDogs in exchange for a second round pick in 2020, a second round pick in 2022, and a third round pick in 2023.
Ham comes to the Steelheads after two and a half seasons with the Niagara IceDogs. In a press release from the team, General Manager Joey Burke stated, “Liam asked to be moved closer to home to be with his family during a difficult time.”
Ham is originally from Newmarket, which makes the Steelheads the closest OHL market in proximity. Ham played in minor hockey close to home as well, serving as the captain of the York Simcoe Express in 2014-15 where he was then drafted by Niagara 112th overall in the OHL Priority Selection.
Just months after committing to Clarkson of the NCAA, Ham decided to stay north of the border and committed to the IceDogs for the 2016-17 season. Since then, he’s gone on to play 130 games with the organization, scoring nine goals and registering 46 points. Ham has only played 12 games this season after sitting out of the lineup until October 18th.
Ham now joins the Steelheads who are positioned fifth in the east, tied with Niagara at 30 points. Ham joins Ryan Wells and Nikita Zuyev as fellow ’99-born defencemen on Mississauga.
This one would’ve be a bit of a head scratcher had the IceDogs not cleared up the fact that personal reasons play a role in this trade. In fact, Ham is the second defenceman the IceDogs have shipped off as per player request. Willy Lochead was traded to London so he continue to study at Western and still play his overage season. After not receiving much of anything for Lochead, the IceDogs manage to bring back a solid return for Ham. Two second round draft picks and a third are merely a dent compared to what they shipped out for Jason Robertson and Jacob Paquette, but it’s still something. However, after trading away Billy Constantinou, the IceDogs end up losing a little more in terms of puck-moving from the backend than they originally anticipated.
Although Mississauga pay a pretty hefty price for Ham, they help address a need for defencemen. After squaring off against London on Thursday, it looks evident that if Mississauga is going to be a real contender this year, they need to get better in their own zone. Ham is a two-way defender, but the less time the puck spends in Mississauga’s end, the better. If Ham comes over and is able to play to a level reminiscent of what he did with Niagara, he’s going to be a solid upgrade in their top four. The Steelheads have the gunslingers up front to be dangerous against any team, and they’ve got a goaltender that can keep them in any game. Now they’re attempting to solidify a holy trinity for a winning combo with a stronger defensive group.