It’s been a long 66 days since the OHL trade freeze re-opened for Christmas break. The OHL Trade Deadline has come and gone and we are starting to see the positive and negative impacts of the 47 players and 87 picks exchanged since December 28 break.
One of the biggest surprises were the Kingston Frontenacs, arguably the biggest buyers of the deadline acquiring forward Cliff Pu, defenseman Sean Day, enforcer Max Jones and the very coveted Gabriel Vilardi who was sidelined all season due to an injury.
Gabriel Vilardi (LA Kings prospect) struggled with consistency out of the gate but has only found himself pointless in three of his last 18 games. He’s now the Frontenacs best scorer accumulating an average of 1.65 points per game. Vilardi comes over from the Windsor Spitfires who are coming off a 2017 Memorial Cup Champion hangover. Vilardi centred the second line with Linus Nyman and have seen different wing partners since. Nyman’s speed and timing complements the creative and dynamic puck skills and excellent shot that Vilardi has to offer. Vilardi becomes one of the go to players and has seen an increase in scoring – he averaged 0.40 fewer points per game with Windsor last season.
Cliff Pu (Buffalo Sabres prospect) is another player who has benefited from this trade. Pu comes over from the London Knights where he was their most prolific scorer this season with an average of 1.25 points per game. Trying to rebuild for the future, the Knights were big sellers at the deadline. Pu joined the Front and immediately got placed back on the top line centring Jason Robertson and a mixture of other wingers. He’s developed chemistry with Robertson down the stretch and has improved from 1.25 to 1.35 points per game with his new club. Pu is one of the best OHLers in the faceoff circle with a success rate of 61.5%. His ability to win key faceoffs is key. Robertson and Pu are both extremely smart players and have been able to feed off of each other.
While the Fronts added a lot of depth, they did not see an immediate positive impact. They lost four of their first 6 games since the deadline and besides a small recent slide have slowly worked their way to the top of the standings. The real question will be if they can take Kingston to the next level in the OHL playoffs, something Spencer Watson, Michael Dal Colle, Lawson Crouse, Warren Foegele, Stephen Desrocher and Lucas Peressini failed to do in the 2016 run.
Come back next month for another OHL Report courtesy of Kathryn Jean