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OHL: Winners and losers at the deadline

Greg_McKegg_(21)Fortune favours the bold — or at least Ontario Hockey League general managers hope so. Unlike the relatively quite trade deadline of a year ago when many teams opted to hold since the Mississauga-St. Michael's Majors seemed to have an iron grip on the league, 50 players changed uniforms within the past 10 days.

Now that it is safe to crawl out from under the big pile of coats you've been hiding under since last week, here's a rundown of the winners, losers and surprises from the deadline.

Winners

London Knights — Isn't it odd how the rich always get richer without having to pay too much? Coach-GM Mark Hunter  got two 19-year-olds who were captains of their previous teams and thus presumably hungry to win, adding centre Austin Watson and winger Greg McKegg, a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect.

The Knights also managed to get a capable backup goalie in the process by adding former Canadian under-18 team goalie Tyson Teichmann in the McKegg deal with Erie. Now Michael Houser might finally get a day off.

Sarnia Sting — Coach-GM Jacques Beaulieu's 20th and final trade since June 1 brought over goaltender JP Anderson, the San Jose Sharks prospect who is both seasoned and steadier than Brandon Maxwell, the overage 'tender pushed aside in the deal.

Anderson's star has not dimmed simply because his old Mississauga team is out of the spotlight. His save percentage there (.910) was only a percentage point off what he posted a year ago (.911) behind a defence that offered considerably more protection. The Sting also loaded up smartly, adding Boston Bruins prospect Ryan Spooner for secondary scoring along with overage offensive defenceman Adrian Robertson.  They needed the changes, as reflected by the fact injuries have caused them to fade to fourth in the Western Conference with a 20-16-1-4 record.

Saginaw Spirit — New general manager Jim Paliafito performed addition by subtraction. He moved talented but enigmatic winger John McFarland to the Ottawa 67's and got a windfall by adding eight players, prospects and priority selection choices from Niagara for defenceman Jamie Oleksiak, who has arguably been more about potential than performance during his first half-season in the league. The Spirit also didn't have to sell the farm, holding on to graduating players Brandon Saad and Josh Shalla as they bid to salvage a playoff spot out of a season that downward-spiraled fast this fall.

Losers

Peterborough Petes — The starting point for a player of Watson's calibre is at very least two second-round picks. All sophomore GM Dave Reid was able to get as a sweetener was 17-year-old forward Chase Hatcher, who had been unable to crack London's deep lineup this season. Watson reportedly wouldn't accept a move to Sarnia, but that doesn't mean a better deal could not be had. As for Hatcher, it strains credulity to believe he was just blocked by better players.

The Petes are putting a brave face on the deal. There should be empathy for a team whose best defenceman, Slater Koekkoek, is having season-ending shoulder surgery, and whose best goal scorer, Matt Puempel, is out with a concussion after taking a head shot last week from Kingston's Alex Gudbranson. Given the straits the Petes are in, shouldn't Reid have pressed Hunter to give more up for Watson?

Erie Otters — What's the saying ... the future never comes for those who always look to the future. The Otters' fire sale netted them an extra second-round pick for each of the next five years, but will that pacify critics? Managing partner Sherry Bassin and assistant GM Dave Brown were hopeful of getting three top young prospects. Does 18, the age of incoming centre Dane Fox and defenceman Jimmy McDowell, count as young in a 20-and-under league? Seventeen-year-old defenceman Troy Donnay, another of the fruits of the McKegg trade, is a project at 6-foot-7. The Otters came into this facing a lot of doubters, since their last prolonged rebuilding period did not yield a deep playoff run.

Matt PetgraveBiggest gambler

Oshawa Generals — It is not often a ninth-place team is a buyer. Gens GM Chris DePiero overhauled his back end by adding puck-mover Matt Petgrave and Winnipeg Jets prospect Julian Melchiori, along with Geoffrey Schemitsch, who earned a championship ring with Petgrave last season in Owen Sound.

Oshawa (18-19-1-3) has only produced in spurts all season long despite all their talent up front in world junior forwards Boone Jenner and Nicklas Jensen and NHL second-rounders Lucas Lessio and Christian Thomas. Oshawa is gambling the reinforcements can pay off in a third or fourth playoff seed, by which time 17-year-old goalie Dan Altshuller might be ready to live up to his considerable potential.

Knowing when to hold them

Plymouth Whalers — Coach-GM Mike Vellucci stood pat with a lineup that includes four world junior players.

He's still here?

Owen Sound Attack —  Scott Stajcer, a signed New York Rangers draft choice, will officially be a one-team OHLer after no one met GM Dale DeGray's price for the overage goalie. The 20-year-old, with his 2.55 average and .925 save percentage, is the biggest reason the Attack are running a solid fifth in their conference, which is very good for most teams coming off a championship year. Trading Stajcer to a team such as Sarnia, Barrie or Oshawa would have been tantamount to punting away the season; that goes double with the way St. Louis Blues draft pick Jordan Binnington (3.48, .889) is struggling this season

Knowing when to fold them?

Mississauga-St. Michael Majors — GM-coach James Boyd's Majors are only seven points out of third place in the Eastern Conference. However, Boyd folded the tent by trading Anderson to Sarnia and moving veteran forwards Derek Schoenmakers (to Sudbury), Joseph Cramarossa and Jordan Mayer (both to Belleville) within the conference. If it reeks of a white flag move, well, it is. The Majors have only 11 wins in their last 33 games and have a negative goal differential. Cue the post-MasterCard Memorial Cup malaise. The Majors did make a nice pickup, adding 17-year-old NHL draft prospect Kristoff Kontos in the Schoenmakers trade.

And others who weren't so lucky

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds — Kyle Dubas, who broke the bank for world junior goalie Jack Campbell, finds his team tied for sixth in its conference with the team that used to have Jack Campbell. True story: the 'Hounds (18-20-2-2) are dead even with the Windsor Spitfires (18-20-3-1). Dubas is getting raked over the coals, predictably, for not trading Campbell and recouping his losses. In his defence, the optics of going back on such a massive trade so soon would probably be worse than whatever fate awaits the Soo the rest of the season. Campbell could also help the 'Hounds be a tough out in the playoffs.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photos: OHL Images).

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