By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
The trade deadline was once again busy for Gens general manager Roger Hunt as he moved on from some team veterans, and acquired a new star.
Hunt notes the trade deadline is more than just “one day.”
“It’s actually a culmination of conversations and talks that may have started months prior,” he explains. “It just gets down to the point where you’re coming close to a deadline, so there’s some more urgency to get something done.”
Just as it was last year, Hunt made several notable trades at the deadline, sending veteran forward Serron Noel to the Kitchener Rangers, and goaltender Andrew MacLean to the Niagara IceDogs.
However, he also acquired goaltender Jordan Kooy from the Sarnia Sting, who appears to be taking over between the pipes, and star forward Philip Tomasino from the IceDogs in a trade which they unloaded nine draft picks, mostly accumulated through previous trades.
However, while the trade deadline just passed on Jan. 8, the wheeling and dealing began in late December, as the team decided to move on from forward Danil Antropov.
He was traded to the Saginaw Spirit in exchange for a second round pick in the 2020 draft, and a third round pick in the 2024 draft.
Then, on Jan. 7 – the day before the deadline – the Gens traded Windsor’s 2020 second round pick, their own 2022 fifth round pick, and Kitchener’s 2024 third round pick for Kooy.
The next day began with the team parting ways with MacLean, as he was sent to Niagara in exchange for a fifth round draft pick in 2022.
With MacLean gone, Hunt is hesitant to call Kooy the “runaway starter.”
“I think if anything else it gives Zach [Paputsakis] a little support, being his first year in the league,” says Hunt.
Kooy is one of four goalies in the OHL to be drafted by a NHL team. He was picked in the seventh round of the 2019 draft, 208th overall, by the Vegas Golden Knights.
The team then sent Noel to Kitchener in exchange for forward Ryan Stepien (six goals, 10 assists), as well as four more draft picks, one of which is from Ottawa, and another from Niagara.
“He was a guy that was an original draft pick here, ended up signing in the NHL from playing here, and it’s always harder to trade someone like that,” says Hunt.
But he’s hopeful at the end of the day it was the right move.
“Ryan Stepien is a big piece we needed, the picks were important, and certainly, for the next three months, I really hope Serron gets reinvigorated and has a great finish to his OHL career in Kitchener,” says Hunt.
Finally, the Gens capped the day with a trade for Tomasino, who has already made his mark in Oshawa after scoring six goals in his first three games with the team.
“He was a high target on our list all along, even dating back to watching him in minor midget… I think he was a huge target of ours, and certainly I would be hopeful, but not certainly convinced he’s going to score two goals a game for the next 30 games, but he’s off to a torrid start in Oshawa,” says Hunt.
With Niagara, Tomasino amassed 57 points in 36 games, with 22 goals and 35 assists.
The playmaking forward broke out last season when he scored 72 points in 67 games for the IceDogs.
With Oshawa, so far he is averaging more than three points per game as he has four assists to go along with his six goals in three games.
“He’s a guy that makes guys better around him,” says Hunt. “He’s got the ability to dish the puck, as well as to shoot it, to score, he’s got great hands, he’s a good skater, strong guy, and wins draws.”
Tomasino is a first round pick in the NHL, having been selected by the Nashville Predators 24th overall in the 2019 draft.
Hunt hopes the team finishes as high as it can in the standings to finish the season.
“We’ve got our work cut out to catch the teams ahead of us,” he says. “I think Ottawa has laid their stamp down, and, I wouldn’t say they’re [running away with it], but they’re close to it.”
He hopes the team can keep pace with the rival Peterborough Petes, and he has his eyes set on the third seed.