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Vancouver Canucks prospect Evan McEneny goes to Kingston Frontenacs; does that put them back in conference contention?

McEneny might be on course to turn pro in 2014 (OHL Images)

Five weeks ago, the Guelph Storm shone a black light on the Kingston Frontenacs' game with a nine-goal Thanksgiving weekend trouncing. While that was only one game, it was an indicator that the talented core group needs more defence in order to give the Limestone City's eternally patient fans a contender.

Thus the trade between the OHL's two K-towns on Thursday, with 19-year-old signed Vancouver Canucks defence prospect Evan McEneny going east to the Fronts, with Kitchener getting 17-year-old defenceman Dylan DiPerna and its previously dealt 2015 second-round choice.

It's a potential win-win for Kingston and Kitchener. The Frontenacs are trying to climb past a plateau after going from starting over to playoff team. The Rangers are beginning their teardown.

Counting that Guelph loss on Oct. 13, Kingston is 4-8-1-1 across its past 14 games. The worst-case scenario is that the Frontenacs haven't progressed as anticipated after squeaking out a seventh-place Eastern Conference finish last winter. The young-team alibi no longer applies since it has eight 19-year-olds (as of Wednesday, when wing Billy Jenkins and draft choices were sent to Niagara for 18-year-old agitator Mack Lemmon), plus the sophomore trio of star centre Sam Bennett, wing Spencer Watson and defenceman Roland McKeown are significantly more seasoned than the typical 17-year-olds.

The Fronts, who are still one of only three Eastern teams that has scored more goals than it has allowed, do appear to have come out of some offensive doldrums. It does need to ensure it has more puck-possession time. Getting McEneny to join a top four at the back with Nashville Predators prospect Mikko Vainonen, overage captain Michael Moffat and McKeown should see to it. McEneny's presence could also mean Kingston could get veteran Warren Steele, a 19-year-old who can rush the puck, into favourable matchups.

Whether that's enough remains to be seen, especially since No. 1 goalie Matt Mahalak (3.28 average, .905 save pct.) isn't on the shortlist of the OHL's best stoppers. Oshawa (.771 point pct. through 24 games) has opened a commanding conference lead over Kingston (.568 through 22), but that only amounts to one extra home date in a playoff series.

Kingston's next game, and two of its next five, are against the Generals.

On the Rangers' end of it, DiPerna was a high second-round pick in 2012 whose size is augmented with a certain grace and smoothness. He was playing on the third pairing in Kingston before being scratched last Sunday, presumably to avoid an injury that would scuttle the trade. It's more than a potentially decent return for the Rangers, who have numerous young defenders auditioning for spots for next season.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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