The first domino has fallen for the Erie Otters roster.
On Friday, the Otters traded veteran goalie Daniel Murphy to the Niagara Icedogs for two draft picks. The picks are a third rounder in 2024 and a conditional 6th rounder in 2021. Anyone paying close attention to the Otters knew this move was coming.
The overage situation in Erie is pretty clear as to who will start on the team once the 2020-21 season begins. Their captain Jack Duff and their two leading scorers Chad Yetman and Max Golod are all overage players this season and are expected to take those spots. That left Murphy on the outside looking in.
Dave Brown Reacts To Trade
GM Dave Brown knew this but wanted to make sure that Murphy had a new team lined up before the season.
“We’ve had some discussions with the group for the last little while,” Brown said. “I had another discussion with Dan this afternoon. You can’t make five, three no matter how hard you try. We wanted to make sure we were being clear and up front with the players in making sure that they all had opportunities to start the season with a new team.”
The trade still wasn’t easy for Brown to do. He admits that under normal circumstances, this would not have happened.
“Dan Murphy is a consummate professional and someone that displays the organizational traits the Otters covet,” Brown said. “Dan is a leader and someone that is well respected by all his teammates. An overage situation is never easy to deal with and Dan is someone we would never have parted with under regular circumstances. We are thankful for his contributions both on the ice and within the community, and we wish Dan the utmost success in his future endeavors.”
Aidan Campbell’s Net, Maybe?
With Murphy now in Niagara, the stage is set for Aidan Campbell to be the Otters’ starter. This seemed to be the plan all along from the moment Campbell first arrived in Erie last season. He had an up and down rookie campaign as was to be expected. He will now focus on getting ready for the season as the true number one on the roster.
As for Campbell’s backup, the Otters drafted two goalies this offseason. Nolan Lalonde is 16 and the future of the Otters in net. Alexei Kolosov was drafted in the Import Draft with the thought that he would come in and be the second goalie to allow Lalonde to properly develop.
But due to the pandemic, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. The Otters did draft Kolosov with the expectation that he would report. But with a potential return to play in the OHL still set for now at 12/1/20, a lot can happen between now and then. Brown shared his thoughts on the goalie situation. He hesitates anointing someone the number-one goalie right away.
“I leave those decisions up to the coaching staff,” Brown said. “It serves no purpose in talking about who will be the number one or who will be the number two. I always get agitated by anointing somebody the number one and the number two because at the end of the day, we’re going to put the person who stops the pucks. Obviously there’s a development plan for Aidan Campbell from the day we drafted him to the point where we’re at now. There’s a lot to work through in regards to our goaltending situation.”
We expect Campbell to at least get the first shot but as Brown said, they are working through some things. We can’t assume anything given the current state of the world. We’ll see where it goes.
6 Side Dishes
- Despite the QMJHL announcing a return to play starting Oct 1, Brown said the OHL is still looking at 12/1 as its potential return to play date. The QMJHL date will not influence how the OHL proceeds here.
- As for other Otters’ potential moves, Brown said they will continue to look at the roster and make decisions. He did say something that stood out to me. “We want to be galvanized together and have the best team chemistry possible.”
- I got the sense throughout last season that team chemistry at times was an issue. It seemed 1-2 players were not quite fitting with the team structure and what the Otters were looking for. The fact that Brown admitted they want to be galvanized together suggests there is much room for improvement there. I do not think the team is done with moves. If the right deal comes along, I would expect some surprising non-OA’s to be dealt.
- Overall in the OHL, the trade market remains relatively quiet. This is all about the unknown of how the immediate future could play out. If we start getting the sense that a 12/1 return to play is a strong possibility, then we might see some more significant action.
- Brown also said that the league’s goal is to have a strong return to play protocol in place. He also said the team has one in place that they believe in. That plan is tweaked on a daily basis as more information comes out.
- Finally, Brown admitted that there has been no conversation surrounding current OA’s and an extra year of eligibility should the league not be able to start up. This seems to imply that they believe 12/1 is realistic and until otherwise told, we should believe it too.