OHL trade deadline could be sellers' market
MACKENZIE LIDDELL, Sports Network
TORONTO -- A look at some of the storylines around the Ontario Hockey League:
67's SITUATION PROVIDES SILVER LINING
While Ottawa's superstar trio of Shane Prince, Tyler Toffoli and Ryan Martindale would have loved to represent their respective countries at the world juniors, their exclusion is certainly a blessing in disguise for the surging 67's.
The 67's are currently the second best team in the East in the midst of an eight-game unbeaten streak. Retaining their best players while teams around the league loan out their all stars for two weeks -- not including Canada's selection camp, which runs from Dec. 11-15 -- gives them a discernible advantage.
The biggest target on Ottawa's hit list is certainly the league-leading Mississauga Majors.
Mississauga risks losing captain Casey Cizikas and the league's best goalie J.P. Anderson along with coach Dave Cameron for its three games scheduled over the course of the tournament.
Sure, the Majors are a team built beyond individual performances, but having lost two of their last four games while the 67's piled on points, a shuffle at the top of the standings isn't out of the question by tournament's end.
Along with holding onto its terrific three, 67's netminder Petr Mrazek was turned aside by the Czech Republic national team due to an ongoing dispute between his former club team in Vitkovice and the Czech Republic Ice Hockey Federation over a transfer fee.
With a favourable schedule over the next few weeks and a diminished talent pool league wide, expect Ottawa to maintain its feverish pace.
TURNING ON THE JETS
The January trade deadline is fast approaching and the red hot Spitfires' GM Warren Rychel will have some soul searching to do leading up to it.
It's been speculated that Rychel will part with defenceman Ryan Ellis and right winger Zack Kassian before the deadline, although that decision isn't getting any easier as the Spits are right in the thick of things atop the Western Conference.
After a 3-0-0 week, the Spitfires have now won five in a row and received huge performances from Ellis and Kassian before they left for selection camp on Saturday.
In the first three games of the streak, Ellis and Kassian each contributed three goals and five assists. Ellis is now the second highest scoring defenceman with 12 goals and 40 points while Kassian has vaulted to fifth overall with 15 goals and 48 points.
Lighting it up for Canada on the world stage will only help boost their value.
In the two games this week without the services of its star players Windsor unleashed an offensive fury, burying Sarnia 8-5 on Saturday before gunning it out in a 7-6 win over Kingston Sunday.
Up front, rookies Eric Locke and Alexander Khokhlachev have proven they can carry the offensive load along with Tom Kuhnhackl, while defenceman Nick Ebert has shown plenty of poise and offensive prowess in his first year.
The Spits are good enough to make a strong run in the playoffs, but Rychel could hit a home run in trading one or both of his biggest assets, leaving Windsor in a favourable position now and in the future.
As mentioned above, the deadline clock is ticking and teams across the OHL aren't waiting until midnight to strike a deal.
This past week Sudbury dealt enigmatic centre John McFarland, defenceman Ben Chiarot and a third-round pick in 2011 to the Saginaw Spirit in exchange for forwards Michael Sgarbossa and Alex Racino along with defenceman Frank Schumacher and a fourth-round pick.
It was an interesting, perhaps premature move for Saginaw as they have essentially priced themselves out of the market for some of the big name players likely to become available closer to the deadline.
Regardless, McFarland is a very talented player who was in need of a change of scenery and should thrive alongside a deep forward group in Saginaw.
Other big name players not named Ellis or Kassian rumored to be on the trading block are Barrie's captain Dalton Prout and leading goal scorer Taylor Carnevale.
The fire sale in Barrie is well underway, as it dealt overage goalie Peter Di Salvo to Oshawa before moving scoring winger Darren Archibald and goalie Dalton McGrath to Niagara for 17-year-old netminder John Chartrand and a pair of draft picks.
These next few weeks will separate the pretenders from the contenders and with plenty of teams capable of winning it all the market will certainly favour the sellers.
Following their loss to Guelph last week, the Majors relinquished top spot in the Canadian Hockey League Top-10 Rankings. The Saint John Seadogs of the Quebec league are the new No.1 team in Canada, putting an end to Mississauga's 12-week reign.
IceDogs centre Ryan Strome cashed in his five goals and eight points in three games for Player of the Week honours for the period ending Dec. 5. He now has 47 points on the season, seven behind new leader Prince.