The Erie Otters made a somewhat unexpected trade on Monday afternoon. They sent one of their best forwards to the Eastern conference.
The trade sees 2020 Draft Prospect Hayden Fowler go to the Oshawa Generals in exchange for three draft picks including a 2022 second rounder (Kitchener), a 2024 third rounder (Mississauga) and a 2022 conditional fifth rounder. The condition is complicated but predicates on Fowler playing an OA season. The Otters would get more should that happen.
From the Otters perspective, the question here is why. Why would they trade one of their best forwards for futures at this point in the offseason? For the answer, we need to look at their roster.
The Otters’ roster now has seven 2001-born players on it. Fowler was eight. That’s a lot of players sitting one season away from being an OA. This group of players would play their overage season in 2021-22.
Among the seven players remaining with a 2001 birthday are…
- Daniel D’Amato
- Austen Swankler
- Brendan Sellan
- Brendan Hoffmann
- Emmett Sproule
- Brendan Kischnick
- Marcus Gillard
Think it was difficult to make some moves this season with OA’s? Imagine having to find deals when you have seven on your roster. This deal signifies that the Otters are looking out for the future.
Among the group is an entire line. D’Amato, Hoffmann and Sellan played together last season and enjoyed success in a shutdown role. Perhaps now we will see this trio stay together for the next two seasons.
Fowler Gets a Fresh Start
Landing a second, third and fifth rounder (and maybe more eventually) is a good return for someone who has had injury and consistency issues. Fowler definitely had some good moments. But it was tough for him to get in a groove especially coming off a broken collarbone.
In particular this season, Fowler’s penalty minutes skyrocketed. He plays with an edge and toes the line. He was most effective when getting under an opponent’s skin. But when that didn’t work out, he looked frustrated.
This trade is a fresh start for Fowler. He gets an opportunity to join a team in Oshawa that clearly has Memorial Cup on their mind. It’s also much closer to his home in Kingston. There is no denying the talent he has. It’s just a matter of finding consistency in his game.
Given the level of talent on the Generals, Fowler will get every opportunity to show what he can do. He is the 87th ranked skater on the Central Scouting North American list for a reason. He has a knack for high-end offense and can be an excellent playmaker.
Early in the season, Central Scouting Director Dan Marr visited Erie to get a first-hand look at Jamie Drysdale. But it was Fowler that stood out to him on that night. Marr told me that he wasn’t able to get enough viewings of Fowler in previous seasons due to injuries. That night in October impressed Marr enough that he was willing to rate him a B prospect at that time. Fowler will hear his name called sometime in the middle-later rounds. Assuming a clean bill of health, Fowler will get a chance to thrive especially if he gets to play with someone like Tyler Tullio. That could be the new duo for the Generals.
Opportunity For the Youth
The other part of this story is the youth the Otters do have. They believe they have 6-7 guys that deserve to play in the top six.
The Otters believe Elias Cohen has the talent and is ready for an expanded opportunity. Brett Bressette is someone who impressed the Otters last season and could be ready for more. Colby Saganiuk is now on board and can jump right into the top-six.
Chad Yetman and Max Golod are staples in the top-six. Connor Lockhart seems destined to play there too. Swankler and Sproule each could play that role. So there are plenty of able bodies to shoulder the load. This now gives the youth something to strive for. Fowler’s spot is open. It’s up to them to see who wants it the most.
Sometimes you need a fresh start. For Fowler, this is a fresh start with a team with huge aspirations this season. He’ll get every opportunity to show what kind of player he is while being closer to home and competing for a championship.
For the Otters, they get much needed futures to restock their draft capital while allowing others to see who is ready to take the next step. The Otters don’t have Memorial Cup on their mind like the Generals do this season so a futures trade here isn’t as far fetched as you might think.
The trade may have seemed weird at first. But given Oshawa’s desire to go all-in and the Otters roster situation, this trade does make sense for both sides.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager. Please take note of the updated Twitter handle: @mark_scheig.