Trades are often looked at as taboo in the CHL. While they are necessary, there’s still the human side to consider, especially with younger players who are trying to find their way in a new city, new schooling, friends, billets and sometimes with a new language.
But trades are not as bad as first thought. Oftentimes younger players are exchanged for older, more experienced players. The younger player, who is usually buried in the back-end of an experienced line-up, has trouble getting the necessary minutes to develop. Meanwhile, older players likely have had a decent run with their current team, but with the end of their junior careers in sight, a chance to go play for a contender is enticing.
When big names move, they often make a splash with their new clubs, while the younger players going the other way aren’t necessarily heard from until a year or two later. Here’s three deals from each league that have had significant impact, either for the player or the team:
Ryan Suzuki (Barrie to Saginaw)
Having missed a large portion of the season due to a serious eye injury, Suzuki was dealt to Saginaw to bolster team scoring. The move has worked well for both the player and the team. The Spirit are 10-3 when Suzuki is in the lineup and are threatening to overtake Windsor for top spot in the Western Division. Suzuki has played on a line with projected top ten pick Cole Perfetti, and the combination has been magical. Suzuki has 22 points in his 13 games with the Spirit and has won 63 per cent of his faceoffs.
Raphael Lavoie (Halifax to Chicoutimi)
Sagueneens Head Coach and general manager Yanick Jean pushed all his chips towards the middle of the table and made several acquisitions over the course of this season. Along with the procurement of Dawson Mercer from Drummondville, Lavoie may be the player who could put the Sags over the top. The Edmonton prospect scored 86 goals in 192 games as a Moosehead. Add in a world junior gold medal and an appearance with Halifax as host of the 2019 Memorial Cup, you have a player who is accustomed to playing in the big game. Lavoie has put up 12 goals and 18 points through his first twelve games with the Sags, having been held pointless on just two occasions with his new team.
Akil Thomas (Niagara to Peterborough)
The world junior hero pulled a classy move when he was acquired from the IceDogs. He asked the family of the late Steve Montador for permission to wear No. 44, Montador’s jersey number when he played for the Petes in the 1999-2000 season. The move has proven to have had good karma as Thomas has produced more than two points per game since the deal. He’s been held off the scoresheet just once in 13 games as a Pete, having recorded multi-point efforts in seven contests. All told, the Kings prospect has 24 points in 13 games with 61 per cent efficiency rate in the circle.
Beck Warm (Tri-City to Edmonton)
One of the more undercover deals in the WHL saw oft-trading partners Tri-City and Edmonton connect again. Oil Kings general manager Kurt Hill was happy with the depth of his club and felt when healthy, they would be even better than advertised. Without deleting from his current roster, he was able to add a veteran netminder who will give Edmonton the Eastern Conference’s best one-two punch in goal. Warm has provided that comfort for his new team as Edmonton has points in all four of his starts since the deal. Warm is 6-1-0, with a 2.36 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage in eight Edmonton appearances. The Oil Kings occupy top spot in the Eastern conference thanks to a 10-1-1-1 record since Warm’s arrival.
Eric Florchuk (Saskatoon to Vancouver)
Looking to add scoring depth, Giants general manager Barclay Parneta acquired Washington prospect Eric Florchuk from Saskatoon. The talented centre had seven points in his first five games. That has translated to a 9-4-1-0 record since his arrival, and has allowed Vancouver to improve from a .514 points percentage to a .559 points percentage. Further, Vancouver’s power play was ranked last in the league at 11.7 per cent upon Florchuk’s arrival and has risen to 11th in the league, now operating at a 20.4 per cent efficiency. Twelve of his 21 points with Vancouver have come on the power play and overall, he is currently on an eight game rip where he’s put up 14 points.
Gabriel Fortier (Baie-Comeau to Moncton)
Tampa prospect Fortier had 32 points in 36 games for Baie-Comeau before the deal to Moncton. Since that time, he’s scored 10 goals and had 16 points in 15 games with Moncton. Most impressively, nine of his 10 goals with his new team have been scored at even strength. Since his arrival, the Wildcats are 12-2-1-0 and sit in second place in the QMJHL.
Creed Jones (Gatineau to Rimouski)
Jones, who was never considered a starter, was 2-11-2, with a 3.86 GAA and a .887 save percentage in 19 games with the Olympiques this season. Overall, he had just 13 wins in 64 career games in Gatineau. Since his acquisition, he is 7-0, with a 0.96 GAA and a .953 save percentage. Rimouski is one of the best shot suppression teams in the QMJHL, and surely Rimouski is a more talented team at this point. Having said that, the Peterborough, Ont., native’s play has been a big reason why the Oceanic are 13-2 since his arrival. Jones has partnered and essentially split duties with incumbent Colten Ellis as Rimouski sits in fourth spot in the league standings.
Philip Tomasino (Niagara to Oshawa)
It should come as no surprise that Tomasino is filling the nets with Oshawa. After all, he is a first round pick of the Nashville Predators from the 2019 draft. Tomasino has torn it up and is now a legit contender for the OHL scoring title, thanks to his 33 points in 15 games as a General. His play hasn’t necessarily translated to team success as Oshawa is 9-5-1-0 since Tomasino’s arrival, but it’s tough to overlook the individual numbers when a player is over two points per game.
Dawson Barteaux (Red Deer to Winnipeg)
The Ice is no stranger to making deals. Since learning of their relocation to Winnipeg, general manager Matt Cockell has moulded this team into a contender in its new digs. The most recent big-name acquisition involved the procuring of Dallas prospect Barteaux from the Rebels. Red Deer owner, general manager and head coach Brent Sutter said moving his captain, who was a major minute eater and an amazing mentor, was the toughest trade he’s ever had to make for his franchise. Barteaux has not only put up big point totals (three goals and 15 points in 12 games played), but he’s been able to mentor rising star Carson Lambos on Winnipeg’s top pairing. The Ice have been able to maintain top spot in the Eastern Conference and is poised to make some spring noise in the WHL.