CHL Notebook: Contenders load up for playoff runs at the trade deadline

Owen Tippett, traded to the OHL's Saginaw Spirit ahead of the trade deadline, skates with the puck for team Canada at the world juniors. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

As the trade deadlines passed in both the Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League late last week, the focus in both leagues was on teams that added prior to the deadline.

Whether it was the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit adding Ryan McLeod (Edmonton Oilers) and Owen Tippett (Florida Panthers) or the WHL’s Everett Silvertips adding a player with Memorial Cup experience in Robbie Holmes, teams that added are doing so because they feel it can push them over the edge going into the playoffs.

On the other side of the spectrum, teams like the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads made major moves with hopes that they will get to that point in the not-too-distant future.

The Steelheads moved two key players, McLeod and Tippett, in two separate deals with the Spirit that brought the team a pair of solid young players in Aidan Prueter and Duncan Penman along with a total of 11 draft picks.

Steelheads general manager James Richmond said over the weekend the deals made sense because they were what was best for the organization moving forward.

"We got them both back in those trades plus 10 picks, so it was something we had to do for the organization," Richmond said. "No coach wants to do it but I’m wearing the GM hat too and it’s what was right for the organization."

With over-age forward Cole Carter leading the way at 26 goals, Richmond said having some veteran players like Carter, along with Alan Lyszczarczyk and Nick McHugh, will be key for the young players going forward.

"It’s going to be a learning experience for a lot of our ’01 and ’02 (birth years)," Richmond said. "It’s up to the older guys like Carter, Alan, and McHugh to show them the way."

An over-age forward as well, Lyszczarczyk was brought in by the Steelheads from the Owen Sound Attack in late-October while McHugh was acquired from Kitchener at the deadline.

The McHugh deal was one of a number of deals in the OHL in the days and hours leading up to the deadline.

Among them was a major deal between division rivals, as Owen Sound dealt Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki, over-age defenceman Sean Durzi (Toronto Maple Leafs), and Zachary Roberts to the Guelph Storm for over-age forward Zach Poirier along with Barret Kirwin and Mark Woolley and three draft picks.

The Ottawa 67’s added a solid veteran presence in over-age forward Lucas Chiodo from the Barrie Colts in exchange for Shaw Boomhower and a pair of picks while sending a prospect and picks to the Erie Otters for Kyle Maksimovich as well.

The Niagara IceDogs, considered to be the top competition in the OHL’s Eastern Conference for the 67’s, added ahead of the deadline as well by bringing in Matt Brassard and Jack Studnicka (Boston Bruins) from Oshawa in exchange for Lleyton Moore and six draft picks (three second round picks and three third round picks).

Meanwhile, the Generals added over-age forward and Colorado Avalanche prospect Brandon Saigeon from the Hamilton Bulldogs for a pair of second round picks and a third rounder.

In the WHL, the league-leading Prince Albert Raiders made a trio of deals ahead of the deadline by bringing in Bryce Bader from the Calgary Hitmen along with a conditional sixth round pick in exchange for Quinn Olson and a conditional sixth rounder.

The Raiders made a pair of other moves, acquiring Loeden Schaufler from the Seattle Thunderbirds and Boston Bilous from the Edmonton Oil Kings, both for draft picks.

The Portland Winterhawks, in the midst of a battle with Everett atop the U.S. Division standings, also added some Memorial Cup experience by acquiring goaltender Joel Hofer from the Swift Current Broncos. The price wasn’t cheap as the Winterhawks sent six draft picks, including a pair of first rounders, to Swift Current in the deal.

In the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, defenceman Noah Dobson, a New York Islanders first rounder who was acquired from the Acadie-Bathurst Titan prior to the league trade deadline earlier this month, has fit in nicely with his new team, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

After scoring nine goals and 16 points in 28 games with the Titan to start the year, Dobson has four assists through three games with the Huskies.

Dobson was a key piece to Acadie-Bathurst’s run to a Memorial Cup title in 2017-18.

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