We’ve reached the midway point of the OHL season which means the OHL Trade Deadline has recently come and gone. The Western Conference was busy with teams like the London Knights, Erie Otters and Windsor Spitfires stacking up. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be a dog fight until the end for the Western Conference Finals. I’ll take a look at some of the key NHL drafted players who were on the move earlier this month.
The most prominent team during the trade deadline would have to be the London Knights. The Knights, who were already among the top-3 in scoring, added three talented players who can find the back of the net.
Dante Salituro (Columbus Blue Jackets): He had a hard time finding a roster spot in the AHL and ECHL this season only playing 12 games prior to this trade. But Salituro has already proven his worth in the OHL leading his team in scoring for the last two seasons. While he doesn’t always make the right choices, Salituro is a great offensive threat and uses his speed to help generate chances. Salituro will be a great complimentary player with the Knights which I see similar to his chances to break it in to the NHL. Salituro will be a project player and playing with a team that could go deep in the playoffs will be a good experience but also a big test for him.
Mitchell Stephens (Tampa Bay Lightning): He is coming off a silver medal performance at the World Junior Hockey Championship. Stephens is the perfect addition to add depth to your team as he can provide it all. He can score and generate chances while also being responsible in his own end. Stephens fits the physical London mold well and won’t shy away from getting pucks out from the corner or in front of the net. Similar Salituro, Stephens experience with a team that has a chance to play deep into May will benefit him greatly. Stephens already has some key attributes (hands, shot) that make him ready for NHL action, but I suspect it will take him another year before he can crack the Lightning squad.
Mitchell Vande Sompel (New York Islanders): Another key player who can both defend and score goals. While some may feel he still needs some work in his own end to become a great two-way defenseman. Vande Sompel strength and endurance will be tested as he joins a team that doesn’t shy away from physical play. He’s a very smart player, great at bringing up the puck and like any offensive defenseman is comfortable joining the rush. One other big asset is his playoff experience. He had two deep runs with the Oshawa Generals including a Memorial Cup win in 2015. Vande Sompel still needs to gain some strength, he’s also at least a couple years away at making a solid run cracking a NHL lineup.
Warren Foegele (Carolina Hurricanes): Foegele is multi-dimensional player that can be inserted into any line and works hard. He was off to another good start with the Kingston Frontenacs sitting second in team scoring with more than a point a game. Foegele’s skating will match well with his new Erie Otters team as his strides are long/powerful and can reach good speed. His playmaking abilities are just as good as his scoring abilities though some wonder how high his offensive ceiling is at a higher level. Like my counterpart said, Foegele will likely start with the AHL next season, but I have a feeling he’ll get a good look come NHL main camp.
Anthony Cirelli (Tampa Bay Lightning): Cirelli was one of the most sought out players in this trade deadline. Cirelli just added winning a silver medal at the World Junior Championship to his already accomplished checklist. Cirelli is a slick skating pivot who’s hardworking attitude is contagious. He has a great 200-ft game which also makes him adaptable in different situations. Cirelli is no stranger to scoring that important goal and is always given those opportunities after earning the trust of his coaches. Cirelli’s offensive upside may not be high for the next level, but his ability to fit into different roles gives his team many options.
There we also a couple Toronto Maple Leafs prospects on the move (or not on the move in one case)…
Jeremy Bracco (Toronto Maple Leafs): Jeremy Bracco was likely the top commodity at the deadline. He goes to the 2017 Memorial Cup host Windsor Spitfires – so even if his team exits early, they will still be playing in May. The Spitfires lost a lot of man games due to injury and have been in need of help scoring. Bracco immediately becomes the Spitfires tops scorer with 1.89 points per game. Bracco is a very creative player who can use his speed create open spaces. His vision and puckhandling skills allows him to create chances. Bracco also adds a ton of experience from winning the gold medal with Team USA at the World Junior Hockey Championship.
Nikita Korostelev (Toronto Maple Leafs): Korostelev is coming off a bit of a disappointment for being left off the Team Russia roster for the third time. Korostelev goes to the Peterborough Petes who are making a run for the playoffs in a weaker Eastern Conference. Korostelev will be one of the go to guys for offense. He is very creative with the puck and can stickhandle around defenders. He has a knack for the net and plays a good physical game. Expect Korostelev offensive production to spike upwards as he will likely be playing on a line with Jonathan Ang (Florida Panthers) the rest of the season.
Stephen Desrocher (Toronto Maple Leafs): Stayed in Kingston. It has been reported that he requested not to be traded, likely so that he ca start in the AHL sooner than if he was sent to a contending team.
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