Trade season in the Ontario Hockey League opened on June 1.
And while there has not been a flurry of activity, several seasoned skaters have been swapped from one OHL team to another.
North Bay Battalion has been involved in two significant transactions while frequent trade partners, Flint Firebirds and Guelph Storm, made yet another exchange with each other. In the space of a calendar year — from last off-season to this one — Flint and Guelph have made no less than five trades with each other.
Meanwhile, Saginaw Spirit pulled off what could be a helluva heist in getting a former first round pick from North Bay for a bargain price.
STEAL OF A DEAL
In a league where second round and third round picks are traded with little more than a shrug of a shoulder, Saginaw general manager Dave Drinkill was able to start this OHL trade season with a bargain pickup.
Drinkill was somehow able to obtain 2002-birth-year defenceman Pacey Schlueting from North Bay for a fourth round draft pick in 2024 and a 12th round pick in 2023.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Schlueting was a first round pick of the Battalion, ninth overall, at the 2018 OHL priority selections draft from his hometown North Bay Trappers of the Great North Midget Hockey League.
As one of the more astute veteran general managers in the OHL, Drinkill talked extensively about being able to acquire a player of Schlueting’s potential.
“When the opportunity to acquire Pacey through conversations I had with North Bay became a reality, it was something we could not pass on,” relayed Drinkill.
“Going back to his OHL draft year two seasons ago, we have always thought he has the skill set to become a really good defenceman in this league. He was drafted high for that potential.
“We have received nothing but positive feedback on his work ethic and character, on and off the ice, which is extremely important to me and to the franchise.
“We are excited to work with Pacey and get him adjusted to our system. We believe he will flourish and become a key member of our organization for the next few seasons,” Drinkill added.
Schlueting has played two full OHL seasons with North Bay and as a former first rounder, looms as a steal of deal for Saginaw.
Flint bolstered its blue line brigade via yet another trade with Guelph.
In this one, highly touted defenceman Zack Terry moved on from Guelph to Flint for a pair of 2023 draft picks.
In assessing the trade, Firebirds general manager Barclay Branch referred to Terry as “both an impressive player and person.”
To get the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Perry, Flint parted with excess third and fifth round picks at the 2023 OHL priority selections draft to Guelph.
Terry was Guelph’s second round draft pick in 2018.
Branch, as Flint’s GM, had much good to say about Terry besides referring to the 2002-birth-year defender as an impressive player and person.
“Zack is a high-ceiling player who has a lot of potential to grow in this league … He has all the characteristics to be a successful player,” Branch relayed.
In an obvious show of mutual trust, Branch and Guelph coach-general manager George Burnett have become frequent trade partners, as noted by the five deals the two men have made with each over the past year.
The trust and respect for one another goes back to the 11 years the two spent together with the erstwhile Belleville Bulls when Burnett was the coach and GM and Branch was assistant GM and director of player personnel. Before that, Branch also worked under Burnett with the Oshawa Generals for a shorter period of time.
And if that isn’t enough of a bond, Branch’s younger brother, Wade Branch, is Guelph’s chief scout under Burnett.
KNIGHTS TO TROOPS
Relatively new North Bay general manager Adam Dennis made a nice pickup when he obtained 2001-birth-year left-winger Matvey Guskov from the London Knights for third round picks at the 2021 and 2023 OHL priority selections draft.
A Russian import, Guskov had requested a trade from London after netting 16 goals, 14 assists, 30 points in 62 games with the Knights last season.
A National Hockey League draft pick of the Minnesota Wild, Guskov is expected to play a much bigger role for the Battalion than he did in two years on the Knight shift.
Dennis, as North Bay’s 35-year-old general manager, said Guskov joins the Troops as “a very responsible player who brings an unmatched work ethic.
“We also feel he has an untapped offensive potential which should mesh well with some of our top offensive players. Coming into his third year he’s highly motivated, and we’re thrilled to have him join our group,” added Dennis.
In an old-fashioned, one-for-one trade involving a pair of 2001-birth-year defencemen, Sarnia Sting acquired Cameron Supryka from the Hamilton Bulldogs for Colton Kammerer.
And Supryka has a lofty goal in moving from Hamilton to Sarnia.
“I know the Sting traded for me to help improve their chances to win a championship — and that is my goal every single season, no matter what,” Supryka told Postmedia. “That is the first thing that comes to mind: winning a championship with Sarnia.
“I know it is a small town and they have got great fans there. I look forward to working with the coaches and my new teammates to help achieve that goal for next season,” Supryka added.
Supryka had three goals, 18 assists, 21 points in 53 games for Hamilton in 2019-2020.
Dylan Seca, who was named the new general manager in Sarnia earlier this off-season, likes Supryka’s skill set.
“He is a good puck moving defenceman and skater,” relayed Seca. “(Supryka) is a really good kid who is excited for a little more opportunity here in Sarnia.”
Seca added that the exchange of defencemen fills a need for both Sarnia and Hamilton.
“It kind of came by chance that they were looking for a right-handed defenceman and we were looking to help our left side,” Seca pointed out. “Obviously Colton Kammerer is a player that has done everything right. But really, this trade was just a good fit both ways.”
Kammerer had four goals, 10 assists, 14 points in 49 games for Sarnia this past season.