It appears the Guelph Storm finds itself in a bit of a conundrum about how to proceed with the rest of its season.
Not necessarily a bad one, but a conundrum nonetheless.
With the OHL trade deadline just a month away, the Storm sits fifth overall in points in the league and second in the Western Conference.
They have proven that, at their best, they can beat any team, at least in the West, where no one – at least yet – has shown any indication of going ‘all-in’ for a run at the OHL title.
Add a couple of players and they might be right there with anyone come playoff time.
So what does the Storm do at the deadline? Are they contenders or pretenders?
Two months ago the plan in place seemed to be (1) develop the kids, building on two very solid drafts, (2) trade 19-year-old defenceman Daniil Chayka at the deadline for a prize 17 year old and draft picks and (3) determine if the Anaheim Ducks plan on placing Sasha Pastujov in the American Hockey League next season rather than return him to junior. If so, deal him too. The fact Pastujov wasn’t drafted out of the CHL gives Anaheim that option.
Ahh, but the best laid plans of mice, men and general managers ….
Now there appear to be so many questions.
But Guelph doesn’t necessarily have to be in full “buy” or “sell” mode. It can buy, but cautiously, without compromising the future.
With only one overager on its current roster, the team could improve significantly if it added two solid overage players. And the going price for overage players is usually a third-to-fifth round draft pick.
You become, possibly, much better without giving up much in return.
The argument could be made that not dealing Chayka sets the team back. But who’s to say that next year, or the year after, the Storm would be any closer to being a champion than they are this year?
Potentially, yes. For sure? Who knows. Lots of teams are looking at next year and the year after. London certainly is. Kitchener loses hardly anyone.
Given the quality and quantity of this team’s young players, not dealing Chayka wouldn’t set the Storm back to the extent that, say, not dealing Jason Dickinson and Tyler Bertuzzi did the year after the 2014 Memorial Cup run (don’t get me started!).
This team will be a very good one for the next two years no matter what it does. That's what good drafting does.
The Pastujov situation is a little more complex. You hope Anaheim would give you some direction, but not likely. They likely don’t know what their plans are yet. Depends on how he plays the rest of the season, how he plays at training camp, how many players they have under contract, how much playing time he might get if he were in the AHL, etc.
I say keep them both, add an overage winger to play on the top line and either an experienced defenceman or some secondary scoring, then see how far you can go.