Gens now enjoying spoils of blockbuster

DOUG GRAHAM, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

Chris DePiero didn't deny there was a hold-your-breath moment after what unfolded around the Oshawa Generals in January.

Some nine months later, however, the trade that sent star forward John Tavares and top defenceman Michael Del Zotto to the London Knights has worked out nicely for the Generals coach and general manager.

While Tavares and Del Zotto are in the National Hockey League with the New York Islanders and New York Rangers, respectively, Oshawa is in first place in the OHL's East Division.

Oshawa won only seven of its last 29 games after the trade last season and missed the playoffs.

Now with three faces from the trade in the lineup -- winger Christian Thomas, defenceman Scott Valentine and goaltender Michael Zador -- the Generals have won seven times in their first 12 games.

"It has worked out well," said DePiero, stressing that it's also early in the season.

That caution aside, though, DePiero did say that the goal of the trade was to look "at the bigger picture" for the franchise's future.

"We took an internal audit of where we were as a franchise, the players we had and the draft picks," he said. "You don't make a trade of that magnitude without the blessing of ownership. We knew we would be taking a step back at the time but it was the bigger picture going forward that we were looking at."

Thomas, the son of former NHLer Steve Thomas, has been terrific for the Generals, leading the club with 17 points.

Valentine and Zador were showcased enough in the second half of last season that they were selected in the NHL draft by the Anaheim Ducks (Valentine) and Tampa Bay Lightning (Zador).

DePiero deserves credit, too, for taking an oft-times one-dimensional team and turning it into a club that gets scoring from a number of sources.

Captain Jeff Hayes may be the best example of that. Hayes, 20, was a hard-working but limited offensive contributor while Tavares was around.

The Ottawa native had 10 goals in 67 games last season. He has nine in 12 games this year.

DePiero said Hayes represents everything his coaching staff wants from an older player with his leadership, attitude and work ethic.

"I am very proud of what Jeff has accomplished for us," DePiero said.

There are other success stories, too, now that the scoring is more spread out.

The line of Nick Esposto, Conor Stokes and John Padulo always works hard to create chances and has chipped in with timely offence.

First-round pick Boone Jenner of Dorchester also has been a splendid addition.

Then there is the presence of Calvin de Haan, the first-round pick of the Islanders, on the back end.

"Calvin's our leader in many ways. His leadership and the calmness he brings has been excellent. He's our anchor that way," DePiero said. "Throw in his ability to play the game and that's a very good package."

The Generals still have a player to add to the lineup -- injured overager Brett Parnham, who has returned to skating after suffering a shoulder injury at Ottawa Senators training camp.

Parnham scored 50 goals last season. When he does return, he'll just be another part of the package, not a guy under pressure to do all the scoring.

PUCK TALK

Five OHL players are ranked by International Scouting Services in the top 10 prospects for the NHL draft. Windsor Spitfires forward Taylor Hall and defenceman Cam Fowler are first and second, while Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers is third. John McFarland of the Sudbury Wolves (sixth) and defenceman Erik Gudbranson of the Kingston Frontenacs (10th) round out the top 10 . . . The Brampton Battalion has received word that Matt Duchene will be remaining in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche, taking away one of the OHL club's key forwards from last year's runner-up squad. Duchene scored his first NHL goal Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens . . . One player who may be coming back to the Erie Otters is goaltender Jaroslav Janus, who is with the AHL's Norfolk Admirals on a 25-game pro tryout.


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