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'Got him...need him...': the OHL trade deadline looms

It's looking like a buyer's market as the Jan. 10 trade deadline approaches

Needing to add several players if they want to keep up with the Joneses, or at least keep residing in the same postal code, is not good news for the Guelph Storm.

What is good news is that as the Jan. 10 trade deadline nears, it appears to be a buyer’s market.

Several teams in rebuild mode should be making some very good players available and there are only two or three teams looking to add significantly, one of them being Guelph.

By the time you read this the Storm could already be a better team than when I started writing it. Or they could wait until just before the deadline in the hopes the asking price goes down.

The Ontario Hockey League’s holiday trade freeze for non-World Junior players ended at 9 a.m. Friday and trades started to trickle through early, with Owen Sound/North Bay and London/Barrie announcing deals involving some pretty decent talent.

As pointed out by Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press, the addition of Joey Keane means the London Knights now have five NHL drafted defencemen on the blueline. By comparison, Guelph was dressing three 16 year olds on occasion leading up to the break.

Guelph needed an experienced defenceman before Ryan Merkley was shipped off to Peterborough. Now the need is even greater.

It’s no secret that the team has several needs, namely: experience on the blueline, size on the wing, scoring depth, greater production from the overage slots. But they're also a good team and adding the right pieces, not necessarily a superstar, will keep the in the running.

There are eight or nine teams that are, or should be, in complete sell mode. Several of those teams have players Guelph could use.

There are a couple of other teams (Mississauga, Owen Sound) who have good squads but might be looking to sell at the deadline if they feel it’s in their best interests.

So let’s look at some of the names who should be catching the Storm’s interest on those rebuilding teams.

Up front it’s pretty much a buffet. All depends how much you want to pay. If Owen Sound gets into sell mode, then things get even crazier.

At the high end you’ve got  Mackenzie Entwistle and Matt Strome in Hamilton, two players drafted by George Burnett. Both 30-something goal scorers with Entwistle being the better skater and all-round player. But there will be plenty of interest in him from other teams and he could be out of the Storm’s price range.

On the overage front there’s Brandon Saigeon in Hamilton, Justin Brazeau in North Bay and Kyle Maksimovich in Erie. But several good teams, including London, Niagara and Ottawa, have overage spots available and the price might be more than a 30-50 game player is worth.

There are a number of very good players in the next tier of those likely being discussed.

I’ve always liked Sarnia’s Ryan McGregor, a point-a-game centre with size who is more playmaker than scorer. He’s bigger, slightly better version of Dom Commisso, who needs to prove he’s over his injury issues if the team is going to commit an OA spot to him.

Jake Durham is a 22 goal scorer on a terrible Flint team, but is likely overage material for next season with the Firebirds. Brad Chenier and Matt Struthers in North Bay are in the same category, excellent second liners but undrafted and potential overagers for the Battalion next year.

Overage defenceman Mitch Eliot in Sarnia would be a perfect fit for the Storm: A puck-moving defenceman with good size who could quarterback the Merkley-less power play. He would make the team more mobile, more experienced and bumps Daniil Chayka back to the type of minutes he should be realistically playing down the stretch.

Plenty likely available, including a number of unlikely players who might be asking for trades at this point.

The question is, what is the cost and will Guelph be willing to pay it? You don’t get top talent just for draft picks. Are you willing to part with a Daniil Chayka or Mark Woolley?


Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 20 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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