December 28, 2014

Ottawa 67's 2015 Trade Deadline Preview

For the first time in three years, the OHL’s trade deadline is an interesting one for fans in the Nation’s Capital by way of the local squad potentially being buyers. 

The Ottawa 67’s won’t be heavy into the buyer market, but for a team that’s three points away from home ice advantage in the East (with two games in hand), a piece or two could be added to bolster the team.

Nobody is expected to give Oshawa a run for their money come the Eastern Conference playoffs, but adding a forward and trying to win a round or two wouldn’t hurt.  December 28 to January 9 will be a fun time to watch for small moves in Ottawa.

Between the pipes

Ottawa’s status in net is a microcosm of their team; definitely an upgrade on the editions from the two year’s past, but still not fully in their prime.

Liam Herbst has slight imperfections in his game but he’s one of the best third-period goalies in the OHL, and he has at least another year to establish himself as one of the league’s elite.

Leo Lazarev, a year younger, is filling in admirably during Herbst’ recent injury. 

Despite an erratic style that sees him come out too far to challenge shooters, his skillset mirrors that of Petr Mrazek, offering a promising glimpse into the future of Ottawa’s goaltending position.

Bold move that probably won’t happen:  
Acquire Jake Paterson from Saginaw, trade Herbst back to London to re-coup the picks

If Ottawa, for whatever reason, decided they wanted to go for it and the East and needed a go-to netminder to do it, their favourite trade partner in Saginaw has an elite netminder for sale. 

Ottawa has an overage spot available.  The only variables missing from this potential trade are a win-now mentality and a need for goaltending stability.

Paterson is almost certainly London-bound, and Ottawa will stay the course in net

The Back End

There are plenty of bodies on Ottawa’s blueline, and their player-for-player deals earlier in the year to remove struggling defencemen didn’t help their cause.  But aside from straight up releasing a player, there’s not a whole lot Ottawa can do to tinker the defence.

Nevin Guy and Evan deHaan play similar styles, and although they’re both currently playing some of the best hockey in their OHL careers, neither are likely to have much trade value; you’d have to think that they’d be more valuable playing in Ottawa near their respective hometowns than anywhere else via trade.

Taylor Davis passed through waivers at the start of the season, a sign that Ottawa wouldn’t be able to find a dance partner to initiate a trade, and his stay-at-home role has progressively increased since the start of the year.  He isn’t going anywhere.

Ottawa has a lot of decisions to make with their defence in the off-season, but there isn’t anything earth-shattering that they need to do for now.

Bold move that probably won’t happen:  Alex Lintuniemi to Mississauga for picks

If there ever was a good time to put Alex Lintuniemi on the trade block, it would be after the Finland-USA U-20 opener in which he shadowed American phenom Jack Eichel.

Lintuniemi had actually been struggling on Ottawa’s top pairing before heading to the national junior championship, but this sort of exposure certainly can’t hurt his trade stock.

This trade would ensure Ottawa picks up assets moving forward for a defenceman who’s almost certainly going to play for Manchester in the AHL next season, but it also separates him from fellow Kings prospect Jake Middleton and leaves an irreplaceable hole on the 67's blueline.

Up Front

Ottawa has a couple of interesting logjams up front and a few interesting pieces that could be in play if they want to take a small step backwards for the better of the future.

The eight-game suspension to Sam Studnicka has put him on the dispensable list, not because the suspendable offence was egregious, but because Kevin Groulx has come in and filled Studnicka’s role admirably.

There’s no guarantee Ottawa moves on from their third-line winger, however.  He was brought in to be a defensive specialist and he joined Tyler Hill and Trent Mallette to make up one of the conference’s better checking units.

Hill isn’t a guarantee to stay on that third unit – or on the 67’s for that matter – past the deadline either.  Having been benched earlier in the year, Hill has re-gained his form as a two-way winger, and the Barberpoles might be getting a few calls about him.

On the buyer’s side, there’s no doubt Nate Pancel is being made available by the Wolves and overaged Joel Wigle is available for cheap.  Ottawa would certainly have to move out Studnicka to make room on the right side for one of the two, but it would be a step forward to becoming a top-four team in the East. 

The 67’s bank heavily on their older duo of Brendan Bell and Erik Bradford to play alongside Travis Konecny, but if they have to move one of them out to re-coup the picks and acquire a more dynamic offensive player, it wouldn’t be out of the question to trade one of them.

Bold move that probably won’t happen
Travis Konecny to Guelph for Adam Craievich, Matt Hotchkiss and high picks

For the defending champion Storm, there’s a gaping hole on the right side that needs to be filled, and a trade chip in Ottawa that could garner a huge return.

Realistically, though, a much lower-key deal to pick up Wigle would be higher on their agenda than to sell the farm for a superstar.

As the 67’s head into their stage of trying to win back fans, trading their most marketable product isn’t in their best interest.  But as strictly a hockey move, they do have a huge trade chip in their back pocket.

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