Friday, August 27, 2010

Does a Major Trade Spell the End for a Spitfires Three Peat?

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?


Anonymous said...

This looks like a deal to get the picks to get Ruchel's son from Barrie. Is he really that good or is this the Windsor version of London and the Hunters?

Anonymous said...

Hey Brock,

First, you have 3 3rd's instead of 3 2nd's in the opening paragraph. You have it right further along: "... the Spits have acquired 4 second round picks in the past few months."

Second, speaking of Grubauer, don't you think they would have held on to him a little longer, ie. to be certain of Campbell's skill level against O competition? Besides, now it's looking like Campbell could be moved to the A or E (if Dallas so desires) just as Morin can.

Third, I rarely disagree with any of your blogs but with the Shugg/Cantin trade and its timing, it's fairly obvious Rychel is headed in a different direction than you are suggesting.

Lastly, it's extremely unlikely Cundari will be back. He was actually signed 2 years ago. He has very little to gain from another OHL season. This makes as much sense as saying Clifford could play another 2 years in the O. I know you were 'just saying' for discussion purposes, but if a 20 year old is physcially ready, like Cundari is, then for their continued development they need to be challenged beyond the O.

I suspect Anaheim informed Rychel that Fowler has very good chance to stick, in addition to starting the season with them.

Yeah, I haven't forgotten what St. Louis did with Petro, indeed the Carlson gold medal goal is stuck in my craw like a cinder block, however Fowler maybe the Duck's Doughty response.

Give it up Brock; you were reaching with this one ... which depending on the number of comments this blog gets was likely your goal.

Anonymous said...

ooops ... the Ducks' Doughty response.

Brock Otten said...

First Anonymous...

I think you can most certainly bet this was a deal that can help them secure the rights to Kerby Rychel.

However, I'd be surprised (and horrified) if all three of those 2nd rounders are traded for Rychel's rights.

He's certainly projected to be a good OHL player. A sandpaper guy probably not that much different from his father when he played. Sure the Colts reached on him in the first (according to everything I've seen), but it's not like he's a scrub. Most rankings (and from people I've talked to), suggested he was worthy of the mid 2nd-early 3rd.

Second Anonymous...

Thanks for the quick correction.

Regarding Grubauer, he had to be traded if the Spits wanted to select another player in the import draft (aka Khokhlachev). You can only hold on to the rights of two Import players and with Grubauer and Kuhnhackl, someone had to go. Obviously with Campbell coming in, it was going to be Grubauer.

I respect your opinion, but I just can't see the Spits laying down and playing dead, not when their division is as wide open as it is.

Check out this quote fro Rychel after the trade...

"It's a deal for the future," said Windsor general manager Warren Rychel, who hinted he wasn't done reconstructing his roster. These picks will help secure us for the future, but we're still going to have a very good hockey team. You can always move them to help get other players, Rychel said. It's ammunition for the future."

If Ellis and Fowler BOTH crack the NHL, then we could see a further dismantling, but until that happens I really don't see Rychel going for a full out rebuild.

Thomas said...

The Spits have already signed their four 2010 draftees. So if they acquire Rychel or Ebert (as has been "rumored"), they couldn't sign them this season.

Anonymous said...

Thomas, the Spits have actually already signed 6 94's. There's no rule preventing them from signing all 15 of their 94's - except that it makes little sense. Getting back to the rule, 4 can play (if they're capable) then the others can be affiliated players for a max of 10 games.

The rumour has Rychel coming to the Spits via the St. Mike's Majors at the trade deadline. They would also get Ebert at the deadline presumably for Ellis and/or Fowler if they are returned from Nashville or Anaheim respectively.

The point is that they would be signed to St. Mike's cards, so technically the Spits could carry all 6. Niagara, with Strome from Barrie, and Belleville, with Brassard from Windsor, each carried 5 16 year olds last year.

Hey Brock, point well taken regarding Grubauer, however I can't see just 1 of Fowler or Ellis making the defense the defensive & offensive force it was without Young, Cundari and Cantin, and 1 of Ellis or Fowler.

The 2 forward lines you mention are a pale shadow of the Spits juggernaut. They have lost way too much fire power and depth up front. Besides, what's the over/under on how many games Kassian will be lost to suspension? j/k, but he's a speer of a wild card, lol! Perhaps Wellwood will be back, but without Hall, Henrique, Nemisz, Shugg, Timmins, Mitchell etc. this team will be hard pressed to contend in the division much less against Kitchener for the conference.

Com'on Brock, you can say it: "time to rebuild for 2014".