December 29, 2015

67's season resumes as trade deadline approaches fast

Trade deadline is just around the corner and Ottawa 67’s have been quiet on the trade front.  Jeff Brown, who is in his first season as General Manager, has some big decisions to make.

The 2015-16 OHL season has been anything but perfect for this Ottawa squad. The 67’s kicked off their season with 3 straight losses where Coach Brown called out his team out for having a lack of identity and a lack of passion. That conversation lit a spark underneath the team and they won the next 5 straight.

The 67’s continued to play their best hockey October and November. The proof was in the standings as they battled between first and third in the conference. Despite posting a favourable record of 16-6-1-0 through the two months, the team did not look consistent and sometimes seemed far out of the game. The wins kept coming, but it wasn’t sustainable.

This is where the 67’s stand now. Breakdowns, mental lapses and bad judgements have plagued the team in December. The little things they weren’t doing right were no longer being overshadowed by wins. They’re record in December is a staggering 1-7-0-0 and now find themselves sitting in 7th place in the Eastern Conference just struggling to stay above .500.

The Don Campbell of the Ottawa Citizen spoke with Jeff Brown on Sunday. Brown made it clear that he doesn’t want to be just a mediocre team. If they are buyers, they want to go for the championship. But following in the footsteps of Brian Kilrea, Brown isn’t set to overpay.

“We’re a .500 hockey team and we don’t want to be a perennial .500 team,” said Brown. “We want a chance to win so we’re trying (to make a deal) … we’re really trying.”

Brown has the tough decision to decide if his team is going to be a buyer or a seller in the next couple of weeks. The 67’s season resumes tonight and pending any injuries or illnesses, it appears Brown could be leaning towards the latter.

At least three players have been called up from junior B prior to tonight’s game including goaltender Olivier Lafrenière, centre Nolan Gardiner, and defenseman Ryan Barbosa. This could very well mean that one goaltender will be traded and maybe one of the two OA defenseman like Evan de Haan or Nevin Guy. It’s also important to keep in mind that Brown may want to take extra look at these three players without if affecting their OHL card total.


Olivier Lafrenière – G, Wellington Dukes (OJHL)
Drafted 3rd round, 57th overall, by Ottawa in 2014

Leo Lazarev is the clear number one but if Brown is ‘throwing in the towel’, Lazarev will get more bang for your buck as Herbst has struggled this season. Lafrenière had a great camp and is in good shape to be in the lineup full time next season. With both Leo Lazarev and Liam Herbst being able to return, this causes some overcrowding in nets.

Here’s a look at Lafrenière’s numbers this season:

Nolan Gardiner – C, LaSalle Vipers (GOJHL)
Drafted 11th round, 203rd overall, by Ottawa in 2014

The 67’s were never strong with their depth down the middle. Brown addressed that early in the season by acquiring Drake Rymsha from London. Unfortunately, Rymsha sustained an injury earlier in the season and is not expected to return until before the playoffs. Sam Studnicka has been the 67’s best faceoff man and has stepped up to fill in even more. Gardiner could be another great faceoff guy and a depth move.

Here are Gardiner’s numbers so far this season:

Ryan Barbosa – D, Orangeville Flyers (OJHL)
Drafted 10th round, 183rd overall, by Ottawa in 2014

The 67’s weakest area is arguably their defense and will need to be addressed before they can gun for a Memorial Cup run. The odd man out could be one of the two overage defensemen. Despite having a bad season, Evan de Haan may bring in more potential buyers. Nevin Guy could be more attractive to other depending on what they are looking for. Both players contribute to the game different differently. Guy is going to get you more points, but de Haan is going to stop the other team get those other points.

Here’s a look at Ryan Barbosa’s stats:

Based on Brown’s conversations with the Ottawa Citizen, he has had many trade talks but a lot of trades are being delayed until the bigger names get claimed.

“There are a lot of big names on the board. But the (other GMs) want to make those deals before we all get around to secondary deals, and that’s more likely where we are,” said Brown. “I feel like we have a lot of pieces in the locker-room. We have a chance to win every night when we come out and work hard. We just don’t have a ton of stuff in the cupboard to deal.”

The next couple weeks will be very interesting to watch. To add another factor to the mix, the 67’s are likely applying to host the Memorial Cup next year. You must have a strong team to be considered and this could affect future decisions.

  • The holiday trade freeze has now been lifted.
  • Overage deadline (narrow down to 3 max) is January 8th at 12pm (noon)
  • Deadline for everyone else is Jannuary 11th at 12pm (noon)

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