January 3, 2012
OHL rumour mill in full swing
By DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The Barrie Colts got off the first shot in the lead-up to the Ontario Hockey League’s trading deadline but, rest assured, other general managers will be looking to empty their guns soon, too.
Colts GM Jason Ford pulled the trigger on the first big trade of the week Monday, acquiring 19-year-old defenceman Ryan O’Connor and tough forward Anthony Camara, 19, from the Saginaw Spirit for a pair of 18-year-olds, goaltender Clint Windsor and forward Eric Locke, plus three second-round draft picks. One pick is conditional on O’Connor playing as an overager next season.
The trade brings O’Connor back to Barrie, the team that drafted him sixth overall in 2008 before dealing him to Saginaw during his second OHL season, and gives the Colts the puck-moving D-man and gritty winger they needed to complement their high-octane offence. O’Connor has four goals and 17 assists in 37 games this season while Camara, also a former first-round pick (in 2009), has seven goals and 12 assists to go along with 76 penalty minutes.
“If you want to get something good, you have to give up something good,” Ford said of the trade. “The thing we really like about the trade is we are getting two guys who are going to be here next year. We drafted (O’Connor) so we know something about the kid and he’s going to be back next year, more than likely. Camara is very hard to play against. He brings an element of toughness and can play with skilled players.”
The Colts might not be done yet, though. They still have a couple of open cards if they want to make another deal before the Jan. 10 deadline.
“Nothing (is) imminent,” Ford said, before adding, “things are starting to heat up (now).”
Are they ever.
With just days to go before the deadline hits, the OHL rumour mill is in overdrive. That’s usually the case as teams looking to make a push for the OHL title — this year Ottawa, Belleville, Niagara, Sarnia and, to some extent, Plymouth are the key players — go into buyer mode and the also-rans become sellers.
• The Sarnia Sting is in serious buying mode, according to a number of league sources.
A long-rumoured deal with the Kingston Frontenacs — Sarnia would get 19-year-old forward Ryan Spooner with rookie forward Ryan Kujawinski going the other way — is all but done. It just can’t be announced until after the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge ends Wednesday because Kujawinski is playing for Team Ontario.
There’s also rumblings that the Sting will land Peterborough Petes forward Austin Watson, a member of the American team playing in the world junior tourney, for third-year forward Brett Ritchie, reuniting him with his younger brother Nick. I’m not totally sold on this one going through — a couple of sources said they didn’t think it would happen — but it has been talked about for some time. If it happens, it won’t be announced until after the world juniors.
The Sting is also looking to upgrade on defence with Windsor Spitfires overager Adrian Robertson. No word on who, or what picks, would be going the other way but Sarnia would need to move an OA to do this deal. Ottawa also rumoured to be in the mix but more likely Robertson is going to the Sting.
• The woeful Erie Otters are looking to move Maple Leafs prospect Greg McKegg and overage centre Mike Cazzola in an effort to help with the rebuilding process.
The Niagara IceDogs would love to pry McKegg away from the Otters — the former 49-goal scorer would make them the prohibitive favourites to win the Eastern Conference — but so far the price has been too high. The IceDogs don’t need to make a big splash after getting Tom Kuhnhackl (who’s eligible to return from a 20-game suspension on Friday) from Windsor in early November and defenceman Brock Beukeboom over the summer.
Cazzola, a 36-goal scorer two years ago who has missed a big chunk of this season with injuries, would be a good fit with the Ottawa 67’s but another team (possibly the Kitchener Rangers) could swoop in and grab him.
• The under-achieving Oshawa Generals would love to make a big swap and rumours hit the web that they were going after Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors stud goalie J.P. Anderson and 19-year-old forward Riley Brace. That deal is unlikely to happen — one source said the Majors were adamant about not trading either veteran — but there could be a minor trade between the two teams.
More troubling to the Majors is the possibility of losing injured captain Stuart Percy for the remainder of the year. There’s talk the Majors could shut down the Leafs’ first-round pick, who hasn’t played since Dec. 11.
• Sounds like Ottawa could be dangling tough forward Dalton Smith, a second-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Interesting given the 67’s status as buyers. With nine defenceman on the roster, you’d think it’s more likely a blueliner gets moved if Ottawa wants to add a centre, the one glaring need.
• Apparently the London Knights wouldn’t be adverse to trading big defenceman Jarred Tinordi, who’s playing with the American team at the world juniors. But the Montreal Canadiens’ first-rounder has a huge price tag, which mike cause teams to shy away.