Spitfires start rebuild with blockbuster deals
DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency
|Garrett Wilson, then captain of the Attack, Ryan Ellis, then captain of the Spitfires, fight for the puck in front of goaltender Jack Campbell at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre in Owen Sound, Ont., April 19, 2011. (WILLY WATERTON/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - The Windsor Spitfires signalled the start of the rebuilding process by making a pair of blockbuster trades Wednesday.
The struggling Spitfires, losers of their last six games, traded goaltender Jack Campbell and skilled forward Tom Kuhnhackl for four players and a boatload of draft picks in a pair of separate deals.
First, Windsor general manager Warren Rychel sent Kuhnhackl and a second-round pick in the 2013 import draft to the Niagara IceDogs for prospect Phillip Di Giuseppe and goalie Jaroslav Pavelka, plus three seconds (2012, '15 and '15) and a first-round import pick. Kuhnhackl had 39 goals and 29 assists in 63 games with the Spitfires last season.
Later in the day the Spits sent Campbell, a Dallas Stars first-rounder who backstopped the Americans to a gold medal at the 2011 world junior championship, to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for young defencemen MacKenzie Braid and Patrick Sieloff and seven draft picks -- four seconds, a pair of third and a conditional 15th rounder in 2016.
"Jack was the ultimate professional with the Spitfires," Rychel said. "His dedication and commitment to the team was amazing. It will make him an excellent pro with the Dallas Stars. This is another step in our rebuild and a chance for him to win a championship in the OHL.
"(The Kuhnhackl) trade is part of the rebuilding mode we're in right now. Acquiring these picks is very important for the future of our club. Tom is a good kid who has made a huge impact for us after coming in from Germany."
The deals came two days after the Spitfires traded 18-year-old defenceman Craig Duininck to the Sarnia Sting for three draft picks, including a second in 2014.
The Greyhounds, third in the Western Conference with a 10-6-0-0 record, paid a steep price for the 19-year-old goalie but didn't completely mortgage the future, according to Greyhounds first-year general manager Kyle Dubas.
"As for the price, it's very high, of course," Dubas said. "If you look back at the history of goalies like Jack Campbell that have been moved ... that's the going price. We still have extra (draft) picks. We wanted to show the guys that we believe in them. We're not here to bow down to anybody or accept being average or just good. So you have to go out and do these type of things."
Of the four players the Spitfires got for the two stars, only two -- Braid and Pavelka -- will be in the lineup immediately. Braid, an 18-year-old from Mississauga, played just four games for the Greyhounds this season while Pavelka, an 18-year-old from the Czech Republic, became expendable when the IceDogs acquired Chris Festarini from the Erie Otters last month.
Di Giuseppe, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound forward, is a freshman at the University of Michigan while Sieloff, a 17-year-old defenceman with the U.S. national development team, has commited to Miami (Ohio) University for next season.
Almost lost in the shuffle was a smaller deal that saw 17-year-old centre Cody Payne head from the Oshawa Generals to the Plymouth Whalers for a pair of picks, including a third-rounder in 2012.