Todd Fiddler had two goals in 14 games with Moose Jaw this seasonJust over a month into the WHL season, the Moose Jaw Warriors have cut ties with 20-year-old forward Todd Fiddler, the team's highest-profile acquisition in the offseason.
Fiddler scored 42 goals for the Spokane Chiefs last season, but the Chiefs decided soon after the end of their second-round playoff exit to move forward with forwards Mike Aviani and Mitch Holmberg and goaltender Eric Williams as their 20-year-olds this season.
On May 2, Spokane sent Fiddler to Moose Jaw for a third-round bantam draft pick in 2014. At the time, it was viewed as a much-needed offensive upgrade for the Warriors, who scored the third-fewest goals in the WHL last season and missed the playoffs.
Unfortunately, Fiddler hasn't been producing on the ice in Moose Jaw. Though he did put up 10 points in 14 games with the Warriors, he only scored two goals and was a healthy scratch in two of the team's last three games.
That led to rumours over the weekend that Fiddler was on his way out, and the news was confirmed today by Moose Jaw Times-Herald writer Katie Brickman:
— Katie Brickman (@katiebrickman) October 28, 2013
The Warriors haven't made a formal statement on the team's website or via social media. According to Brickman, the Warriors sent an email this morning to media stating that Fiddler was no longer a part of the team, but offered no further explanation. Fiddler was removed from the team's official roster today. Later this afternoon, CTV's Lee Jones offered this brief quote from Warriors GM Alan Millar:
This is quite the change in attitude from Millar, who said this about Fiddler upon trading for him in May:
“We wanted to add someone that could play in our top-six whether that's with a Fioretti or Point down the middle,” said Warriors general manager Alan Millar. “We feel we've added a real solid player. He's got deceptive speed, he plays the game hard and 42 goals last year tells you all you need to know.”
“Obviously the year he's had under Don Nachbaur (Chiefs head coach), he's really figured it out and played well,” said Millar.
Though Fiddler put up big numbers with the Chiefs last season, he's had an up-and-down career in the WHL. He scored 23 goals as a 17-year-old rookie with Prince Albert, but had just four goals in 35 games the next season when the Raiders shipped him and goalie Williams to Spokane for Anthony Bardaro. Fiddler played well down the stretch in 2011-12 with the Chiefs, setting up his breakout season.
UPDATE: Millar tells the Moose Jaw Times-Herald he's notified the WHL about possible tampering by a Jr. A club.
“In the meantime, we’ve come to the understanding that there is the potential of some tampering by a Junior A team. That’s something we’ve addressed with the WHL (Monday) morning. It’s something that will have to be looked into to see if we can get to the bottom of it before any decision on Todd’s next step will be determined.”
He also notes that the likelihood of Fiddler being traded to another WHL team at this point is very slim.
“I think those avenues are exhausted,” said Millar. “I’m unsure if there’s an opportunity for him in the league and furthermore I’m unsure that Todd wants that opportunity.”
Fiddler wasn't on particularly good terms with the Chiefs when he was traded, though. He was a healthy scratch in his last game in Spokane, the fourth loss in a sweep by the Portland Winterhawks in the second round of the WHL playoffs.
Don Nachbaur's decision to bench Fiddler in a do-or-die game of a series in which the Chiefs were struggling to score goals was a bit of a footnote at the time, but Nachbaur hinted at the time he was only going to use the players who were "on board" with the team.
At his best, Fiddler's a physical forward with good speed who finishes well around the net. Regardless of who's to blame for his recent setbacks, let's hope he can find a way to get back to being the player he was a year ago at this time.