Knights left out of dealing

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

Contending teams continue to make deals around them, but as yet, the London Knights haven't swung a major deal with the trade deadline tomorrow at 6 p.m.

Now the Knights will have to decide if they are going to react to what their competition is doing around them.

The Knights missed out on Peterborough Petes captain Steve Downie yesterday. The Knights tried to bring the former Windsor Spitfire to London.

The bad news was compounded by Downie going to the Kitchener Rangers, a division and conference rival.

He didn't go cheaply. The Rangers gave up 17-year-old Yves Bastien and three second-round draft picks. Bastien won gold with Canada's under-18 team this year. He has 10 goals and 22 points in 39 games with the Rangers and a plus-12 rating.

Downie had just returned from Sweden after winning his second straight gold medal with Canada's world junior team. In 62 regular season games with Peterborough over two seasons, he had 39 goals and 109 points.

The Knights are also looking to add some help defensively, but one of their targeted players, the Spitfires' Mike Weber, was traded to the Barrie Colts last week.

That was costly for the Colts, too. The Spitfires traded Weber, rookie winger Thomas Battani and Belleville's fifth-round pick in this year's draft for defenceman Blake Parlett, who was Barrie's first-round pick in 2005, along with second-round picks in 2008 and 2010 and future considerations.

At least Barrie isn't in the Knights' conference.

But Saginaw is and the Spirit have been wheeling and dealing all year. They added centre Cody Bass from the Mississauga IceDogs and defenceman Andrew Hotham from the Erie Otters.

Saginaw sent defenceman Matt Corrente and a sixth-round pick in 2007 to the IceDogs for Bass and winger Jordan Skellett. The Spirit then traded Skellett, a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick in 2009 to Erie for Hotham and a fourth-round pick in 2009. Skellett was a London Junior Knight and a former first-round pick of the IceDogs.

What's become obvious is teams that believe they are contenders are willing to pay a premium price for immediate help. Skellett, Parlett, Bastien are young players that can become key elements and cornerstones for future teams. But the teams who are selling are also extracting a number of high draft picks as well.

These teams are doing what the Knights did two years ago when they made their run to a Memorial Cup. The Knights gave up young players and draft choices at the trade deadline to fill in the holes. The players the Knights brought in at the deadline included Adam Dennis, Daniel Girardi and Danny Fritsche.

Knights general manager Mark Hunter has indicated repeatedly that there may be a chain reaction of trades once some of the bigger names begin go move.

Kitchener reacted to what Saginaw's been doing by getting Downie.

Can the Knights afford to let Kitchener and Saginaw get better without stepping into the market? Hunter will have to decide if overpaying for a player is going to be enough to make this year's Knights team good enough for another title run.

There is another impact players Hunter could use. One is the other Peterborough Pete, Daniel Ryder. Many believe he's a more complete player than Downie.

Hunter wasn't saying much yesterday about what his intentions are.

Guelph Storm defenceman Ryan Parent's name continues to come up but from all reports, it's going to take a massive deal to pry Parent out of coach and general manager Dave Barr's hands.

The Knights needs are obvious. Their first need is for a defenceman but they'll take a forward who can score.

Now all that has to be decided is whether the Knights want to pay the price to keep up with their neighbours.


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