After winning an Ontario Hockey League title last season, overage forward Brandon Saigeon was playing a leadership role on a young Hamilton Bulldogs club this year.
But when the OHL trade deadline arrived in early-January, Saigeon found himself with an opportunity to potentially take another run at a title.
On Jan. 8, the Bulldogs sent the veteran forward to the Oshawa Generals in exchange for a pair of second-round draft picks and a third-round pick. The adjustment to joining Oshawa was an easy one after leaving the only organization he had played for in junior hockey.
"The coaches have been great, and the other players have been great," Saigeon said. "They’ve made the transition pretty easy for me."
Saigeon had spent his entire OHL career with the Bulldogs organization prior to the Jan. 8 deal that sent him to Oshawa.
"The biggest thing (after the trade) is just getting comfortable," Saigeon said. "Settling in with your billets and just feeling comfortable with your new teammates. Now that I’ve gotten comfortable, it’s just a matter of playing hockey and hopefully ending my junior career on a high note."
His coach with the Generals had high praise for the 20-year-old forward.
"Brandon Saigeon is a class-act," Walters said. "He’s so mature and he’s brought a great mentality into our room.
"You can tell when he walks into our room that the guys have respect for him and what he says," Walters added. "He comes from a championship team and that’s how he goes about his business every day."
In addition to his qualities off the ice, the Colorado Avalanche prospect has added a lot to the Generals on the ice as well.
"He’s got an NHL-shot. He’s got a very quick release," Walters said. "I’d like to see him shoot more. He’s a goal-scorer first but he sees the ice (well). On the power play, he’s deadly."
The Generals overage situation, which includes Saigeon along with defenceman Nicolas Mattinen and forward Anthony Salinitri, is one that a lot of teams look to as an example of just what they want their overage situation to look like with three impact players.
Mattinen, who also played with Saigeon in Hamilton last season, has earned high praise from his coach.
"When we brought in Mattinen, he’s just a wonderful kid and a leader," Walters said. "He’s a big body with a great skillset. He’s putting up points. He’s playing with Will Ennis, our best shutdown defenceman, and they’ve been great together. (Mattinen) makes plays under pressure and he’s been great on the power play. He’s been especially great in the room. He’s a great character kid."
Salinitri has brought added scoring and has had a major impact since joining the Generals in late-November from the Sarnia Sting.
"Salinitri has been off the charts for us," Walters said. "He competes. He’s a hard-working kid during the games. And he’s a natural goal-scorer. If you give him a chance, he’s going to bury it."
For Saigeon, the overage trio bring a lot of different things to the table and have been able to help the young Generals along.
"The biggest thing is bringing our leadership in from the past," Saigeon said. "We’ve got a lot of experience in the league. Mattinen played with a couple of different teams and the championship run last year (in Hamilton). Salinitri has been doing well since the trade from Sarnia. For me, I try to lead by example. You don’t have to be all gung-ho. The biggest thing is to quietly put in the work and do the right thing every day and hopefully that rubs off."
An interesting note on Saigeon is that he is one of two players remaining in the league that played for the Bulldogs organization during its final season in Belleville before moving to Hamilton in 2015.
Saigeon and Guelph Storm defenceman Jack Hanley were rookies on the 2014-15 Bulls team during the organization’s final season in South Central Ontario.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is mourning the loss of one of its own this week. On Sunday morning, Alec Reid, an 18-year-old with the Blaineville-Boisbriand Armada, died.
Reid was being followed by doctors to treat epilepsy and had not played since Feb. 19 as a result.
“Alec was part of the Armada family and the entire organization is in mourning,” Armada president Mario Marois said in a statement. “All the players, and the hockey, training and administrative personnel are united in offering their most sincere condolences to the members of his family as well as his friends.”
As teams around the Western Hockey League continue to seal playoff spots, the Everett Silvertips continue to roll on in the U.S. Division.
By way of a loss by the Portland Winterhawks on Sunday night in Kelowna, the Silvertips clinched top spot in the WHL’s U.S. Division and will head into the playoffs as the division champs for the third straight season.
2018-19 also marks the third straight season of 40 wins for the Silvertips as the team currently holds a record of 44-14-2-2.