OHL fans can breath easier this week as another trade deadline has come and gone.
This year saw 24 trades involving 35 players and 73 draft picks from the time the post-Christmas freeze lifted until the deadline last Friday.
Here’s some thoughts I had on the deadline, and some of the biggest names to swap teams. In short, things don’t look much clearer than they did before Christmas, with several teams in both conferences poised for potential runs.
Hope you’re hungry, here’s the weekly Jaker’s Dozen:
Philip Tomasino – Tomasino wasted no time getting settled with his new team, scoring a pair of goals in each of his first three games with the Oshawa Generals, earning OHL player of the week honours. The Generals parted ways with nine draft picks, including six second rounders, to land Tomasino, but will be well worth it if he continues to produce. He’s also expected to be back in the OHL next season which added to his price tag, but also adds a major value for the Gens.
Akil Thomas – The Petes parted ways with sophomore forward Cameron Butler to land world junior hero Akil Thomas. In a touching video, Thomas reached out to the family of Steve Montador to ask for permission to wear the number 44, which was last worn by Steve, who died in 2015.
Ryan Suzuki – Suzuki is another addition that will be beneficial for longer than just this season. The first overall pick in the 2017 draft has missed a chunk of the season with an eye injury, but returned for Barrie’s final game before Christmas. Saginaw is starting to pick up steam around the same time they did last year and look poised for another long run in the west.
Serron Noel – Noel’s departure allowed Oshawa to bring in Tomasino, it also allowed Kitchener to add a very valuable piece up from. The Florida Panthers prospect is one of the tougher forwards to handle, especially down low. His 13 goals through 31 games is far off his pace from the last two seasons, so the Rangers will be hoping he can find that scoring touch in the second half. The second straight season Oshawa GM Roger Hunt has seemingly went for it, and looked to rebuild at the same time.
Matej Pekar – One of three trades at the deadline involving an import player as Pekar moved among Central Division foes. The Buffalo Sabres prospect represented the Czech Republic at the World Juniors, and had 16 goals and 29 points in 26 games in Barrie before the trade. He’s formed an early chemistry with Quinton Byfield, the pair combined for 13 points in three games since the trade.
Markus Phillips – When Phillips returned to Guelph from the pro ranks, the Storm had too many overagers. They were able to snag some picks from London in exchange for the Dman, who will now play in his fifth OHL season. A quieter deadline for the Knights than past years, but anytime you can add an OHL Champion to your blue line you will take it.
Tyler Tucker – Flint parted ways with their second overall pick in 2018 Evan Vierling in the deal that saw them land Tucker and Riley Piercey from Barrie. Piercey scored twice in his Firebirds debut, and Tucker adds a combination of offense and toughness to the team’s blue line.
Martin Has – This move flew under the radar for most but definitely caught my attention. Has played only one game with North Bay after committing to the Battalion, and was dealt to Guelph for a very reasonable asking price. The Washington Capitals pick can also return to Guelph next year for his 19-year-old season.
Jordan Kooy – It’s been a tough season for Jordan Kooy, starting in London, moving to Sarnia, and finishing in Oshawa. He never really got comfortable in a crowded Sting crease, and battled through some injuries. He’ll get a very good opportunity with an Oshawa team expected to compete this year and next.
Kyen Sopa – Erie is one of a handful teams in the western conference, where I don’t see them contending for an OHL championship, but I still see them as a formidable first round foe. With the parity in the west this season, I think the Otters saw an opportunity and jumped at it with this deal. The Swiss-born forward has a pair of goals through his first two games, and represented Switzerland at the World Juniors.
Jacob Ingham – Now this seal happened seven months before the trade deadline but I feel like it is worthy of our attention. The team sent four draft picks to Mississauga in exchange for the Los Angeles Kings prospect, a price that would be much steeper had he moved at the deadline. The summer discount allowed Kitchener the opportunity to add Noel last week, and gave them one of the league’s top goalies in a season where elite goaltending is hard to come by.
2001’s on the move – Most years the focus in 19-year-old NHL prospects swapping teams before they finish their career and move on to the pro ranks. But this year we saw some younger players in the mix as well. Tomasino went from Niagara to Oshawa, and Suzuki moved from Barrie to Saginaw. Both players were first round picks in 2019, and both are expected to be among the OHL’s top scored next season as well.
Playing against the former team – It’s not exactly a unique story in junior hockey, a player changes teams only to suit up against his former teammates just days later. Matej Pekar’s first game with the Sudbury Wovles was against the Barrie Colts, he registered an assist in the game. Also with the Wolves, they sent co-captain Shane Bulitka to North Bay in exchange for their captain Brad Chenier. Low and behold, the two teams faces each other the next day. Sudbury even help a pre-game jersey ceremony for Bulitka, who spent three plus seasons with the team. Further to that, Barrie and London swapped overagers Jason Willms and Josh Nelson on Thursday and played against each other Friday.