This afternoon, a major trade was announced between the Mississauga Majors and Windsor Spitfires. The trade sees Justin Shugg and Marc Cantin heading to the GTA in exchange for three 2nd round picks (2013, 2015, 2016).
The reaction to the trade from Windsor Spitfires' fans seems to be that of throwing in the towel on a Memorial Cup three peat. Initially, it's easy to see how one could perceive that. On the surface, Windsor just traded two important pieces from last year's team in a year where it's expected they'll already be missing many other cogs from the past few years (Hall, Henrique, Nemisz, etc).
But let's dig deeper.
Even with the trade of Shugg, the Spits will be able to boast a solid top two lines, which could look like this...
Zack Kassian - Alex Khokhlachev - Kenny Ryan
Stephen Johnston - Tom Kuhnhackl - ?
And with the trade of Cantin, the defensive top four could still look like this (if Fowler and Ellis are returned)...
Ryan Ellis - Cam Fowler
Craig Duininck - Steven Trojanovic
Don't forget that Jack Campbell will be manning the net too.
Now if Ellis & Fowler are BOTH kept in the NHL, then things start getting pretty murky and you're left with a defensive unit in shambles. But what are the odds that BOTH are kept in the NHL? Nashville might have an opening on defense, but Ellis will have to beat out two prospects ahead of him on the development curve in Jon Blum and Alex Sulzer. While Fowler seems like the more likely candidate due to the wide open nature of Anaheim's blueline. But even he's no lock and could probably benefit of another season working on his defensive game and ability to run the point on the powerplay.
Would you say that the odds of guys like Eric Wellwood and Mark Cundari returning are equal to that of both Ellis AND Fowler making the NHL? I certainly would. I mean, who figured that many players would return to the Spits as overagers this year.
Along with the Phil Grubauer trade from earlier this offseason, the Spits have acquired 4 second round picks in the past few months.
Trading Shugg and Cantin at this time was simply strong asset management from Rychel and Co. If Ellis and Fowler return, and a forward like Wellwood returns, then those second round picks can be used to acquire assets for a run at another Memorial Cup. It allows some flexibility to assess the type of situation that the Spitfires are going to be in this season.
Let's be honest, even with this trade, do you truly believe that any of Sault Ste. Marie, Plymouth, Sarnia and Saginaw have a better team than Windsor on paper? There's no question that the Spits are no longer the runaway favourite for the division, but there's also no question that they still have the talent to compete for the division title and home ice advantage in the playoffs. That being said, are they better than Kitchener, London or Guelph in the Midwest?
On the flip side, this is a truly fantastic trade for Mississauga. I felt two things really held the team back last year. The lack of a premier goal scoring forward and the lack of a premier physical stay at home defenseman. With this trade, the Majors acquire both and are really starting to take the shape of a Memorial Cup host team.
What are your thoughts on this gigantic deal?