The main action at the Sleeman Centre Friday night happened before the Guelph Storm even hit the ice.
Three hours before the Guelph faced off against the Peterborough Petes, the Storm announced they had traded star defenceman Ryan Merkley to the Petes in exchange for third-year winger Pavel Gogolev and five draft picks.
Both players sat out Friday’s game, won easily by the Storm 6-1.
Storm general manager/coach George Burnett said Merkley did not ask for a trade.
“There was no demands. I’d like to think that maybe it was a little bit mutual, but we talked about it and we felt that this was the right thing to do for us at this time,” Burnett said of the deal.
“First of all, we understands Ryan is a tremendous young talent and he’s been an elite player here for two and a half years. But I guess I look at it as maybe a different voice is helpful to him moving forward.”
Merkley, a first round NHL pick of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, had 39 points in 28 games this season with a plus/minus of plus-5.
Gogolev has seven goals and 19 points in 29 games this season with a tam-worst plus/minus of minus-13. The Russian winger scored 30 goals last season.
“This is something that’s been kicked around with Peterborough for three or four weeks at least,” said Storm general manager/coach George Burnett.
“We’ve kind of kicked around a couple of different ideas. We got away from it then we came back to it. Really over the last couple of days it’s gathered a little steam.
“It’s never fun doing something like this, least of all on a game day when you’ve got a busy weekend and you’re undermanned.”
In addition to Gogolev the Storm gets a second round pick in 2019, a third round pick in 2021 and three conditional picks, a second rounder in 2023, a third rounder in 2023 and a fourth rounder in 2022. Guelph gets those picks if Merkley plays in the OHL next season.
“We certainly wish Ryan well and we’re not going to replace him with one guy,” Burnett said, adding that the team is exploring other additions on defence. "We’ll continue to look throughout the league to bolster our back end a little bit.” he said.
Burnett said there were some other general discussions but that Peterborough “was the team that continued to come back to me and we went back and forth on a couple of different scenarios.”
Burnett was asked about rumours Tag Bertuzzi not being at the rink Friday.
“He’s out tonight. He’s been bothered by a nagging wrist (injury) and we’re going to leave it at that right now. I’m not going to speculate,” Burnett said of Bertuzzi's whereabouts.
Bertuzzi did not play Friday. Tuesday he did not play due to injury but was at the rink in Owen Sound.
Guelph fell behind 1-0 against Peterborough in the first period but responded with three goals in each of the second and third frames to cruise to victory.
Liam Hawel and Keegan Stevenson each scored twice, Nate Schnarr had a goal and three assists and Cedric Ralph had the other goal.
Guelph was missing five regulars and used call-ups Ben McFarlane, Steve Grant and Luca Profaca.
Isaac Ratcliffe should be back with the team Saturday after being released by Team Canada from the world junior tryout camp.
Dmitri Samorukov leaves Saturday for the Russian camp.
Guelph hosts the Mississauga Steelheads in the annual Teddy Bear Toss game Saturday at 2 p.m.
Sunday they wrap up the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule with a game in Oshawa.