New in the 2017-18 season, we will have an OHL column called the Sunday Seven. Once a week or thereabouts, we will go around the league and highlight seven stories of note and share analysis. This week, we begin with a major trade that took place Saturday.
Hamilton Went All-In
News of a potential blockbuster trade started late Thanksgiving night and carried on throughout Black Friday. At the time, we knew Hamilton and an unnamed Western team were involved. But who was it?
After some speculation, the Flint Firebirds tweeted out their lineup Friday and gave us the missing information needed. Both Nicholas Caamano and Ryan Moore were out of the lineup, a sure sign that a trade was near. Couple that with Hamilton’s Connor Roberts missing two games and you have the elements of an agreed trade.
Hearing rumblings of a deal involving the Hamilton Bulldogs and a western conference team, could be a big deal.
— Kenny Walls (@LongBallsWalls) November 24, 2017
On Saturday once the league approved the trade, the Bulldogs acquired Caamano and Moore from the Firebirds for Roberts, a second rounder and two third rounders. Upon initial review, the trade makes sense for both sides.
Hamilton needed an offensive injection. Acquiring Caamano and Moore give the Bulldogs two players who can play on the top line while adding much-needed goal scoring. Caamano scored 35 goals last season while Moore added 39. In an open Eastern Conference, the Bulldogs declared themselves all-in.
Flint is in the Western Conference’s basement so acquiring a player with upside and landing futures certainly fits their current needs. In Roberts, the Firebirds get a center who already has NHL size. The new duo of Roberts and Ty Dellandrea give Flint a nice 1-2 down the middle. Roberts also gets a fresh start after enduring a slow start with the Bulldogs. We’ll see if the new start ignites Roberts in his draft season.
What Trade Means for the Market
This trade indicates we have a seller’s market. Landing a 2000-born player and three high picks for Caamano and Moore is great news for those who have assets to give. I am looking at you Erie Otters (and maybe London Knights and Windsor Spitfires to a lesser extent.)
Sarnia and Ste. St Marie are running away in the Western Conference. London and Windsor will each need to decide how to proceed. Will the Knights get Victor Mete back? If so, given their talent, will they attempt to make a run? The Spitfires have Gabriel Vilardi back. Do they have enough to make another run?
But all eyes will be on the Erie Otters as we approach the deadline. They sit ninth in the West out of the playoffs. With players like Taylor Raddysh, Ivan Lodnia, Jordan Sambrook and others potentially available for the right price, this becomes the must watch story leading to the trade deadline. We’ve seen the first dominoes fall. Now who goes out and tries to land Raddysh?
In a seller’s market, the Otters can get a king’s ransom for a player like Raddysh. Stay tuned.
Sarnia More Than Kyrou
I got my first viewing of the number one team in the land on Saturday night. The Sarnia Sting didn’t play their best game but found a way to win in a tough building. If anything, they proved they are more than just Jordan Kyrou.
Jordan Ernst scored twice and was the game’s first star. Justin Fazio stopped 32 of 35 shots including many of the high-danger variety.
Kyrou and Adam Ruzicka will get their points. But to say this team is just them is not right. They’re number one for a reason and will look to improve as we approach the deadline. Speaking of the deadline for the Sting…
Sarnia’s Trade Wish List
If there’s one area the Sting need a boost, it’s their blue line. Specifically, they could use an offensively minded defenseman who can score and quarterback a power play.
I wonder if the Sting liked what they saw Saturday out of Jordan Sambrook. He would make a perfect fit in Sarnia if they do pursue a defenseman. Outside of Connor Schlichting and Theo Calvas, the Sting’s blue line is young. Adding a player like Sambrook would give them someone who has won a championship and can help their youngsters along.
Sambrook has 5-12-17 in 25 games this season and is an impressive +12 on a team who is out of a playoff spot. It’s just a matter of time before Sarnia makes their move. Will they look at Sambrook? It makes too much sense not to.
Saginaw on a Roll
Break out the Saginaw Spirit. They’ve now won seven in a row at the Dow Event Center. Mason Kohn scored the overtime winner as part of a three-point night to help the Spirit take out Kingston on Saturday night.
The Spirit are now up to 12-9-3 overall, good for seventh in the West. At the heart of their great play of late is their young players.
Draft eligible Damien Giroux has 22 points in 24 games including four points in his last three games. Blade Jenkins is also showing off what made him a first rounder last season. He’s up to 11-7-18 and has six points in his last four games.
Jenkins is now rated as a “C” prospect. That will not last long. NHL scouts have taken notice of him and there is significant interest.
The veterans have also stepped up. Cole Coskey has 12 goals which is a career high just over a third of the way into the season. Brady Gilmour is on a career high pace in points and is a workhorse. Troy Smith is doing a great job in the early going of having the Spirit play to their potential. They should be a fun team to watch in the second half.
Kevin Bahl Knows the Road Ahead
Ottawa defenseman Kevin Bahl is one of the more intriguing OHL draft prospects. It’s not often you see a 6-foot-6 and 230 pound defenseman who can skate available on draft night.
What makes him so interesting though is that many have tended to overlook him. He was a second rounder in the OHL draft and many in the industry have him as a second rounder for the NHL draft. I wondered why this was. I spoke to Bahl Thanksgiving night after the 67’s game against Erie and got to ask them that very question.
“You know, I really just focus on what I need to do to get better,” Bahl said. “I just go out there and try to shut the other team down. That’s my job. I think some out there look at my numbers and some of the little things I do and notice that I’m not really flashy.”
He’s not flashy but he is effective. Bahl did a great job against Erie using his size to his advantage. He also showed good speed for someone who is 6-foot-6. The one thing he does need to show is more offense. He has just one goal this season.
Bahl played in the Canada/Russia series and scored a goal there. He was the youngest player on Team OHL, which he called “a huge honor.” He could slip into the late first round with an effective second half of the season. Given his tools, he’s one of the more intriguing defensive prospects in this draft. He knows he has work to do to show the kind of player he can be.
Guelph’s Impressive Rookie
Quick, without looking. Who leads the OHL in rookie scoring? It’s someone you might not expect. While all the attention in Guelph goes to Ryan Merkley, Cam Hillis is quickly making a name for himself.
After recording a goal and an assist on Saturday, Hillis leads all rookies with 11-11-22 in 24 games. His most impressive performance came in Erie when he recorded four points and won over 70% of faceoffs. On that night, he was the best player on the ice.
Hillis is a bit undersized at 5-foot-11 but uses good speed and great hands to show the talent he has. He is a force on the Storm’s power play, recording six of his 11 goals on the man advantage. He’s working his way into the conversation as a day two NHL draft pick.
Thanks for reading. If there’s something you want to see discussed on the Sunday Seven, send me a tweet @markscheig or email email@example.com.
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.