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Kitchener pays Highway 7 premium to acquire Givani Smith from Guelph Storm

Burnett says more deals possible as Storm trades 19-year-old winger to Kitchener Rangers ahead of OHL trade deadline

Just call it the Highway 7 premium.

The Guelph Storm made what is believed to be the first trade in club history with its arch rival Sunday, sending 19-year-old winger Givani Smith to the Kitchener Rangers for three second round draft picks.

Storm general manager George Burnett said Kitchener had to pay a little more under the circumstances.

“We’ve been talking to a number of teams and Mike (McKenzie, the Rangers GM) called me and I just said that that obviously if we’re going to make a deal with Kitchener, there’s going to be a bit of a premium there,” Burnett said.

“I don’t think there’s been too many deals between Guelph and Kitchener in the past, if any,” he said.

The Storm did trade the rights to Robby Fabbri there a couple of years ago, but he never played for the Rangers.

“Just based on all the other things that were happening, or weren’t happening, that was the best return, and that’s what it boils down to,” the Storm GM said.

Other teams offered packages, some teams including a player, but they didn’t match up with what the Storm wanted.

The OHL trade deadline is Wednesday at noon. For overage players it’s Tuesday.

“The picture’s not fully painted at this time. We’ve still got a few things we’re trying to accomplish,” Burnett said.

Smith arrived at the rink following the Storm’s 7-3 loss to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Sunday to gather his gear and say goodbye to teammates.

While the trade might not have been a surprising, Smith said he was surprised about who he was traded to.

“Oh yeah, REALLY surprised,” said Smith.

“The whole Kitchener and Guelph rivalry has been going on a really long time. When I knew it was Kitchener I was really surprised, but I’m really happy with it.

“It’s done now and I’m happy to move on.”

Smith said he was feeling mixed emotions after telling his billet family he would be leaving.

“They’re really great people and I love Guelph,” Smith said.

“I’ve been here for a long time and I’ve seen guys grow and I’ve seen guys leave. It’s a really weird feeling,” he said.

Right now the second round picks the Storm receives are Mississauga’s second round pick in 2021, Windsor’s second round pick in 2024 and Kitchener’s second round pick in 2025. That last pick is expected to be changed to 2020 in the near future, Burnett said.

The Storm did not have its own second round pick in 2020 or 2021.

The Smith trade overshadowed Sunday’s game against the Hounds.

The visitors scored three times in the opening five minutes of the game to take a grip of things.

The Storm rallied to make it a 3-2 game, but that was as close as it got.

Alexy Toropchenko, Isaac Ratcliffe and Keegan Stevenson, with his first in the OHL, scored for Guelph.

“Givani was a big part of this team and we’ll miss him. Perhaps that had something to do with our start today, that lack of focus,” Burnett said. “But that’s hockey and that’s what you have to deal with.”

The Storm hits the road for three games this week, in Peterborough Thursday, Kingston Friday and Ottawa Sunday.

Next home game is Jan. 19 against Windsor.