Any doubts about whether this summer's OHL sanctions would deter the Windsor Spitfires from ramping up for a shot at hosting the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup have been erased.
Windsor GM and vice-president Warren Rychel sent a clear signal on Thursday with a trade with the Peterborough Petes that is as much about next season as the present one. The Spitfires added puck-moving defenceman Trevor Murphy, who had great notices in his age-16 season but was left off NHL Central Scouting's preliminary ranking and also picked up winger Zach Lorentz. The Petes, in their first trade since Dave Reid was ousted as GM, get overage winger Derek Schoenmakers and 18-year-old defender Brandon Devlin. The odd part of the trade is the team in a playoff position just made its lineup younger whereas the team in last place got older.
Murphy, 17, played minor hockey in the Windsor, Ont., area where his defence partner was current Barrie Colts standout Aaron Ekblad. With his diminutive frame (5-foot-10, 173 pounds) and deftness with the puck, he's often been called the OHL's 'other Murphy.' He had four points and was minus-8 in 23 games with the last-place Petes, so it's a challenge trade for him. It's also a short-term pain for long-term gain bit of risky business by the Spitfires since Schoenmakers is the third-leading goal scorer on a team which is not scoring much.
From Jim Parker:
"We get a little younger," Spitfires' general manager Warren Rychel said. "Murphy's a key piece. He's a puck-moving defenceman and that's key in the deal.
"Zach Lorentz has been coached well in Kitchener by Steve Spott and will give us some speed. He's a very responsible player and he could be an overage player next year when we bid for the (Memorial) Cup." (Windsor Star)
The Spitfires' angle seems cut-and-dried, although this alone will not make them an early favourite to be a conference favourite in 2014. On the other end of it, The Petes are not getting as much benefit of the doubt, what with being a team who's been out of the playoffs in successive seasons and is currently not in the OHL basement.
I'm scratching my head over this Windsor/Peterborough trade. Looks like a good move for Spitfires. #OHL
— Loosepucks.com (@loosepucks) November 23, 2012
Some would say this move shows the Petes (5-16-2-1) are pretty desperate to get into the post-season in hope of quelling the discontent about the franchise's direction. It's not entirely a quick fix, granted, since Devlin can conceivably play another 2½ years in the OHL. Schoenmakers could also be swapped at the Jan. 10 trade deadline if Peterborough doesn't improve.
From Mike Davies:
Petes' head coach Mike Pelino, who made the deal in concert with director of player personnel Mike Oke, said he believes the deal adds more size, physicality and defensive responsibility to his line-up. He says it should also serve as a wake-up call to the rest of the team.
"We're trying to make our team better immediately without compromising the future," said Pelino. "Schoenmakers has played on a Memorial Cup qualifying team in Mississauga and had a real solid year last year and was making a solid contribution to Windsor's play this year. We think we've added someone who will provide a combination of offence, physicality and maturity up front."
Pelino acknowledges they're giving up offensive upside in Murphy but feels Devlin brings more stability to the back-end and is a potential overage candidate in two years.
"By adding Devlin we're adding a defenceman whose biggest asset is his defensive play. He brings a solid hard working game. He keeps the game simple," said Pelino.(Peterborough Examiner)
Time will tell if this helps right the Petes with two-thirds of the season to go. One would like to say they deserve more than five wins in 24 games. A lot of people might emit a loud eep if told that rookie goalie Michael Giugovaz also has a .955 save percentage on 39.6 shots per game in those five wins. That nugget tells you why they needed a stay-at-home defenceman.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.