Roger Hunt has certainly kept himself busy ahead of the Jan. 10 noon OHL trade deadline. The Oshawa Generals vice president and general manager has pulled off seven deals, including a pair of major moves that saw the club play the role of seller in one and a buyer in the other.
The blockbuster of the bunch came on Jan. 8 when Oshawa shipped captain Jack Studnicka and veteran defenceman Matt Brassard to the Niagara IceDogs for rookie blueliner Lleyton Moore, three second-round picks and three third-round selections.
Giving up Studnicka, who played for Canada at this year’s World Junior Hockey Championships and had 56 goals and 128 points over four seasons with the Generals, wasn’t easy for Hunt. Brassard, a prospect with the Vancouver Canucks, was a staple on the blue line. Moore was Niagara’s 12th overall selection in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection.
“Jack came in following our Memorial Cup year and right away proved he was a leader and the exact guy we needed to build our team around,” Hunt said. “Matt was acquired in a trade from Barrie and his OHL career took off after joining our club, which led him to be drafted by Vancouver. Lleyton is a dynamic, skilled young defenceman, who was highly touted in his draft year.”
The Generals, who sit third in the Eastern Conference, were far from stepping back and proved that later in the day when they added moved a pair of second-round picks and a third to the Hamilton Bulldogs for overage forward Brandon Saigeon.
The Colorado Avalanche prospect has racked up 81 goals and 180 points in 171 games over his last two-and-a-half seasons with the Bulldogs.
“Brandon is a proven playoff performer,” Hunt said. “Last year he had 25 points in 21 playoff games during Hamilton’s championship run.”
Hunt made another deal later with Hamilton, adding a big piece on the blue line by acquiring Nicolas Mattinen for veteran forward Eric Henderson, a second-round pick and third-round selection.
“He’s a big, good skating, right-handed shot defenceman that has a lot of playoff experience,” Hunt said.
The Oshawa GM kicked off the deadline five days earlier by adding some proven offence with the acquisition of 19-year-old forward Brett Neumann from the Kingston Frontenacs. Neumann had 25 goals and 23 assists in 39 games this season, surpassing his career highs. In return, Oshawa sent winger Nick Wong, a second-round pick in 2021 and a third-round selection in 2019. The Frontenacs also received a conditional 2024 third-round pick (Windsor) should Neumann play his overage year with Oshawa.
Other Oshawa deals saw the club move defenceman Joseph Rupoli to the Kitchener Rangers for 10th-round pick in 2019, goaltender Codi Ceci to the Erie Otters for a 10th-round selection in 2024 and swap a second-round pick in 2020 (Hamilton) and a fourth-round pick in 2021 to Ottawa for a second-round selection in 2019 (London).
The Generals also named veteran forward Kyle MacLean captain, replacing Studnicka.
“It’s never easy to trade your captain part way through the season, but we know Kyle is ready to immediately take on the role, as he already is a leader in our dressing room,” Hunt said.
“Kyle was the logical choice as the next guy to lead our organization,” Gens head coach Greg Walters said. “He defines what the organization is all about and what we stand for. He is the hardest working guy on and off the ice, he never quits.”
Oshawa returns to action tonight (Jan. 10) when they hit the road to take on the rival Petes at the Peterborough Memorial Centre. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
Photo: The Oshawa Generals added a proven playoff performer, acquiring overage forward Brandon Saigeon from the Hamilton Bulldogs ahead of the Jan. 10 OHL trade deadline. Brendon Taylor/OHL Images photo