It may take a little while for the Guelph Storm's new guys to fit in, but there's no doubt the team is a much better one than it was before the weekend.
With its three new players in the lineup the Storm fell 5-2 to the North Bay Battalion Sunday afternoon at the Sleeman Centre.
Saturday they made three separate trades that landed them three high-end OHL veterans: centre MacKenzie Entwistle from the Hamilton Bulldogs, defenceman Markus Phillips from the Owen Sound Attack and defenceman Fedor Gordeev from the Flint Firebirds.
Entwistle and Phillips both played for Team Canada at the World Juniors.
In return the Storm gave up 15 future draft picks, three of those conditional and 12 of them picks they had acquired from other teams over the past few years.
"It says that we're trying to improve our hockey club, make for some exciting (play) in the second half and have a long playoff run," said the man behind the wheeling and dealing, general manager George Burnett.
He said it was important not to have to give up any players off the current roster.
"We're still flush in the next two drafts and we're fine in the three, four and five drafts after that. We've got a couple of holes to fill, but nothing significant and I don't think it will be difficult to fill those holes," Burnett said.
Entwistle said it will take a short while for the new players to get used to their new surroundings.
"It's tough to come in to a new system and a new atmosphere and fit right in. It's going to take some time," the Chicago Blackhawks prospect said.
Entwistle and Phillips have both played their entire careers with their previous clubs.
"Obviously it's tough to leave Hamilton ... but that's part of the OHL cycle," he said. "I knew it was coming and I'm excited to be here now."
The playoff experience Phillips and Entwistle bring will be a big asset to the team, said Storm captain Isaac Ratcliffe.
"The three guys that we brought in were leaders on their previous teams and that's huge for us," Ratcliffe said.
He said the trades were a big boost to the dressing room as it shows how serious the club is about making a deep playoff run.
"Guys were even showing up a bit earlier than usual today just to meet the new guys," Ratcliffe said.
North Bay continued its improved play Sunday, winning for the eighth time in its past nine games.
Goaltender Christian Propp was the star of the show, making 46 save in the win.
Former Guelph Storm forward Mason Primeau had one of the Battalion's goals and linemate Brandon Coe scored twice in a game that saw the visitors score four unanswered goals in the second period to take a 4-1 lead into the third.
Zach Poirier and Isaac Ratcliffe scored for Guelph.
"I don't think we should look at today's hockey game in a real negative light. I didn't like our second period but I'm not worried about the three guys we added," said Burnett, adding that the players coming back from the World Juniors often have a bit of an emotional letdown when they first get back.
The Storm has a tough week coming up: at London Tuesday, at Niagara Thursday, at Kitchener Friday and home to Ottawa on Sunday. All but Kitchener are currently ranked in the Canadian Hockey League's top 10.
"This is maybe the toughest week of the season," Burnett said. "We'll only have two practices next week, but it is what it is."