With the trade deadline in the rear view mirror, we’ve begun to see how these moves are fitting in with their new teams and paying off in the standings.
So, in this week’s CHL Power Rankings, we look at 10 of the most impactful moves so far.
10. Nikita Korostelev (Peterborough): The Petes need a long playoff run and the East is there for the taking this season. GM Mike Oke acquired Korestelev for his dynamic goal-scoring ability and he’s not disappointed. All 10 of his goals have been scored at even strength, while maintaining 16 per cent shooting. Since Korostelev, a Maple Leafs pick, has joined the Petes they are 12-4-0-1.
9. Zak Zborosky (Lethbridge): It’s no mirage what Peter Anholt and Brent Kisio have done in Lethbridge over the past year and half. An early exit in the 2016 playoffs showed some of the Canes’ vulnerabilities. Addressing that, GM Anholt went and acquired Matt Alfaro and Zak Zborosky from Kootenay, the latter of which has performed well and taken some of the scoring heat away from Tyler Wong and Giorgio Estephan. It’s no coincidence Lethbridge has taken off since their arrivals.
8. Francois Beauchemin (Charlottetown): An easy team to pick for this article, as the Islanders re-made their roster over the course of the trading period. The most notable pick-up was that of Francois Beauchemin, who was already amongst the league’s leading scorers with Val d’Or when he was acquired on Jan 6. Beauchemin plays hard, physically and has vast playoff and Mastercard Memorial Cup experience. Ninety per cent of his points have come at even strength.
7. Josh Mahura (Regina): As if the Pats needed any more offence from the back end. Mahura was still on the comeback trail with Red Deer during the 2016 Mastercard Memorial Cup. He looks much more like the player he was projected to be as a second round bantam pick in 2013. Mahura skates well, has the ability to get shots through and fits in perfectly with the Pats’ go-go style of play.
6. Warren Foegele (Erie): Like Mitchell Stephens in London, it’s no surprise what WJC standout Anthony Cirelli is doing in Erie. But the more subtle move made by GM Dave Brown was the acquisition of Carolina prospect Foegele. He is as honest a player as there is in the league. He’s great in the faceoff circle, can kill penalties, produce at even strength and is responsible defensively.
5. Cordell James (Owen Sound): In typical Dale DeGray fashion, the acquisition of James by Owen Sound went completely under the radar. James offers good size and strength at the centre position. He has no issues playing anywhere in the lineup and his production has exceeded expectations. James is a hard-nosed player right up the alley of Attack coach Ryan McGill.
4. Simon Bourque (Saint John): The Sea Dogs moved former first overall pick Luke Green, which left a big hole on the back end. That hole was filled by Bourque, who has plenty of playoff and Mastercard Memorial Cup experience. The Montreal prospect has brought leadership, point production and puck moving ability to a group that already featured first rounders Thomas Chabot and Jakub Zboril.
3. Dante Salituro (London): Mitchell Stephens was a known commodity when he was acquired by London, but Salituro is not quite the household name. He has experienced the ups and downs in his first year as a pro. A short AHL stint was followed by two ECHL team experiences and then he ended up in London. Knights’ part-owner Basil McRae is also Columbus’ director of player personnel, so when it came time to determine the immediate future of the former Ottawa star, it made perfect sense for Salituro to end up in London.
2. Brendan Guhle (Prince George): What a wild ride it’s been for Guhle, who went from Prince Albert to Prince George in November and also got into three games with the Buffalo Sabres as an emergency replacement. He found his stride playing in Prince George, where he put up 20 points in 25 games, including 10 goals, but has been derailed with a lower-body issue. He should return for a final stretch run of regular season games and be ready for the playoffs. Guhle is a magnificent skater with good size and reach. He’s allowed Richard Matvichuk to slot his defenceman and more evenly distribute minutes.
1. Pierre-Luc Dubois (Blainville-Boisbriand): After a disappointing camp in Columbus, Dubois was expected to come back and light it up in Cape Breton. For whatever reason, he couldn’t get it going on a consistent basis with the Screaming Eagles. By the end of the world juniors, Dubois’ game looked a lot more like the guy Columbus selected third overall last June. And since coming back to play with Blainville-Boisbriand, he’s operating at a goal-per-game pace and scoring important goals (six first goals and four game-winners), while nearly tripling his shooting percentage.