If the OHL playoffs started right now, the Sarnia Sting wouldn’t even have home-ice advantage in the first round.
But instead of simply hoping for the best, they’re loading up for the stretch run.
In a blockbuster deal finalized late Wednesday night, the Sting acquired Ottawa 67’s captain Travis Konecny and overage centre Sam Studnicka in an attempt to hunt down Western Conference powers Erie, London and Kitchener. The Sting also received a third-round 2016 OHL draft pick.
To obtain Konecny and Studnicka, they mortgaged futures. The Sting sent centre Sasha Chmelevski – whom Sarnia selected 10th overall in the 2015 OHL draft – winger Chase Campbell, 18, and eight draft picks to the 67’s. The picks are three second-round selections, three thirds and two fifths. Plus, they could ship out two more second-round picks, pending conditions, according to a Sting team release.
Konecny is clearly the centrepiece of the trade.
The versatile forward just completed a tour of duty with the Canadian team at the World Junior Championship. Although Canada finished a disappointing sixth in the tournament, Konecny was physical in an energy role and chipped in with a goal and an assist.
He’ll arrive in Sarnia with quite the track record.
Konecny was the first overall pick in the 2013 OHL draft where he was selected ahead of players like Dylan Strome (Erie, third), exceptional status defenceman Sean Day (Mississauga, fourth) and childhood friend Lawson Crouse (Kingston, fifth). He then won the league’s rookie of the year and was nabbed by the Philadelphia Flyers (24th overall) in last June’s draft.
With career OHL stats of 62 goals and 183 points in 152 games – including 45 points in 29 contests this season – the 67’s couldn’t risk the 18-year-old graduating to the Flyers in the fall and miss out on a substantial return.
The rebuilding 67’s are seventh in the weaker Eastern Conference. They add Chmelevski – who has 17 points, good for 17th in rookie scoring – and the slew of draft picks as building blocks.
Meanwhile, Konecny gets to return closer to home – Clachan is less than 100 kilometres southeast of Sarnia – and play for a team hoping to move up in the Western Conference standings.
The Sting have a long road ahead. They are 22 points behind the No. 1 Otters and eight behind the Windsor Spitfires for top spot in the West Division.
But the acquisition of Konecny signals they won’t go down without a fight.
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