When the London Knights signalled they were punting on the season, that means the window off opportunity for the rest of the Western Confenence in the OHL is that much more open.
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds GM Kyle Raftis has clearly decided the time is now. It's not every day a club deals for two players who were just in the world junior championship in separate deals, but the 'Hounds got the OHL's most proficient point-getter on the blueline, Anthony DeAngelo, from the Sarnia Sting mere hours after getting power winger Nick Ritchie from the Peterborough Petes. With overage defenceman Connor Boland included in the Ritchie deal and the trade on Tuesday for the Kitchener Rangers' leading scorer, Justin Bailey, the 'Hounds have gone from being a successful but somewhat young team to one with a lot more seasoning.
All told, the cost of loading up includes three roster players and a total of at least 10 priority selection draft picks, including seven second-rounders spread from next spring's draft until 2020. It's not hyperbolic to say this is a move made to make the Memorial Cup. The Soo hasn't been there since 1993.
Bailey (who scored two goals in his Soo debut on Wednesday), DeAngelo and Ritchie have all suffered some slings and arrows after being put under a strong microscope from the moment they arrived in the OHL. Bailey's blossomed as an offensive finisher over the past 1½ seasons since his hometown Buffalo Sabres got him No. 52 overall in the 2013 draft; he'll also line up with fellow Sabres signing Jean Dupuy with the 'Hounds, at least for the time being.
DeAngelo's tribulations, of course, have included being a risk-taking offensive defenceman on a sometimes thin Sting team. That, among other factors, made him a polarizing prospect, but he's clearly shed that baggage since becoming a NHL first-rounder and making Team USA, which left him out of one of its camps in the summer.
The 6-foot-3, 229-pound Ritchie, when he's on, also offers a confluence of size and skill that few OHLers possess. The Anaheim Ducks first-rounder also, in time, became an effective supporting player with Team Canada at the world junior.
What makes the dynamic interesting is that all three 19-year-olds have been somewhat starved for a post-season run, having won a combined two playoff series in the OHL. Sometimes it's a wild card with regard to how a graduating player approaches the back half of his final junior season, but that ought to increase the hunger quotient.
On the flip side, the Sting, Petes and Rangers all at least brought a player back. In order, Sarnia got the Soo's first-rounder Anthony Salinitri, who could become an effective two-way centre. The Petes added Carolina Hurricanes-drafted defefenceman Kyle Jenkins, a smart defenceman whose game might be better suited to the Eastern Conference. The Rangers picked up 18-year-old centre David Miller, a dogged worker who tends to make his linemates better.
In any event, the 'Hounds moves has made the West something of a two-horse race with the Connor McDavid-led Erie Otters.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.