While there was plenty of interest from other teams in the Guelph Storm’s big guns at the OHL trade deadline, at the end of the day the team decided they liked them best in Storm jerseys.
The OHL trade deadline came and went Friday at noon, with the Storm having made three deals: moving a third string goalie (Tanner Wickware) and an asset that hasn’t played all year (Markus Phillips) for draft picks while picking up a nice piece in 18-year old defenceman Martin Haš for a couple of third rounders.
Still wearing Storm jerseys tonight in Ottawa will be the big three: Nico Daws, Pavel Gogolev and Cam Hillis.
All 19. All possibly turning pro next year.
But Storm general manager George Burnett said the organization made a decision that it wasn’t going to trade those players.
“There was,” Burnett said when asked if there was lots of interest from other teams in the trio.
“We made a decision that we were going to keep them. They’ve worked hard, the group was excited to stay together. I think if we had made the decision to move one of them, to be fair we probably would have had to move two, three or four guys and that’s not something we were prepared to do.”
In fact it appears the team was more buyer than seller at the deadline. But other than Haš they couldn’t get a deal done.
“We were certainly looking to add an older forward for some depth. A guy with some experience to solidify some things, but there weren't a lot of people available and if there was the ask was not something we were prepared to consider.”
He said the team listened to a lot of different things but nothing made sense.
“We’ve listened for three months about potential moves and things to do. We’ve seen where we’re at and we’re excited with the way things have gone.”
If the team stays healthy and consistent, they’re still right there in a conference that has a lot of parity this year.
The lay of the land might have had something to do with the team’s thinking.
Several teams in the Western Conference added players, but no one made the monster deal that categorically made them the team to beat. Essentially, no one did what Guelph did last year when they said ‘damn the torpedoes’ and went all in with several big deals for top players.
That means Guelph, the top team in the west most of the first half, is still a contender by default.
Other teams adding one or two players doesn’t create any kind of haves-and-have-nots situation in the west.
There will be a lot of even money series after the first round of the playoffs and Guelph could still beat any team in the west in a seven game series.
“There’s little things that will be the difference now. It’s who stays healthy and who gets those big performances in the second half that we had in the first half,” Burnett said.
Bottom line is they stayed competitive, got better with the addition of Haš and could still have one, two or all of the big three return next year.
At least they didn’t sell short, just because it was the best offer.
Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.