The OHL trade deadline saw a flurry of big names changing teams, but the majority were in the Western Conference.
The Sudbury Wolves stayed quiet like their division rivals making one move sending Ben Garagan to Hamilton for a fifth round pick in 2019 and a conditional fifth round pick in 2022.
Garagan, ironically, was a fifth round pick in 2015 for the Wolves and had three points in 22 games for the local juniors this season.
Wolves General Manager Barclay Branch said Garagan had a tough time finding consistent playing time and was in need of a scenery change.
“Ben was sort of caught up in a numbers situation being one of 14 forwards for us. It was just a case where there was a chance to provide Ben with a new opportunity and a fresh start,” said Branch.
The Wolves were rumoured to be actively looking at the deadline, but looking and dealing are two different things and with the playoffs within reach the Wolves brass were just listeners.
“There was a lot of discussion, we just felt that we owe it to our players and our fans to put ourselves in the best position possible to make the playoffs. If there was an opportunity to make our team better immediately we most definitely looked at it and considered it, but at the same time we didn’t want to do anything that lessens our chances of bringing playoff hockey back to Sudbury,” said Branch.
Branch feels moves made in the offseason and during the year both added experience and made sure the team didn’t have to scramble at the last minute.
“We believe in our players, with the additions of Aiden Jamieson, Liam Dunda, C.J. Yakimowicz and Patrick Sanvido over the course of the season, we feel we’ve supported our young core with these types of additions,” said Branch.
The name most mentioned in Wolves trade talks was Captain Kyle Capobianco.
But they went quiet near the deadline and Branch talked about why.
“The only thing I’ll say to that is it takes something very special to be considering moving your team captain. We believe in the young players in our system, it’s so important that they have quality veteran players to look too and learn from. Kyle is our captain and he’s one of the best human beings that I’ve ever been around in my time in the game,” said Branch.
Capobianco has played every game in his OHL career in a Wolves uniform and is the only player on the current roster to play a playoff game for the Sudbury Wolves, so it was important to both sides that he finish his OHL career in Sudbury.
“It was very clear that’s what Kyle wanted to do and we couldn’t be happier to be moving forward with Kyle in our lineup as the captain and leading us into the playoffs,” said Branch.
As mentioned, there were some big names traded at or just before the deadline.
Three players from Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships were moved.
Saginaw traded Mitchell Stephens to London for seven draft picks, including a 2nd round pick that Sudbury had previously traded to the Knights.
Anthony Cirelli was traded from Oshawa to Erie for Allan McShane and five picks.
Toronto Maple Leaf prospect Jeremy Bracco is heading from Kitchener to Windsor.
Falconbridge native Cameron Lizotte was also traded for the second time in two years heading from Barrie to Erie.
The major pieces were moved to the Western Conference and Branch said the East being quiet didn’t factor in how they navigated the deadline.
“We were aware of what was going on league wide, but we weren’t allowing that to enter into our decision making process at all,” said Branch.
The Wolves did make one other move, signing goalie Mackenzie Savard to an OHL Standard Player Agreement.
Savard has been filling in behind Jake McGrath after Zack Bowman went down with an injury.
The Wolves are in action on Wednesday when they welcome the Greyhounds to town.