Last week, Shockers RW Daniel Bellanger was asked for comment on his 6-game pointless streak. A visibly frustrated Bellanger laid the blame at the feet of his teammates. “The fact is that this team is garbage,” the winger snapped. “They can barely stand on their skates. I have been carrying this team for the whole season, and I am very tired. I cannot do everything.”
Bellanger’s comments made him persona non grata in Saskatchewan, and the Shockers front office began seeking a trade. Meanwhile, the Night were seeking an offensive upgrade to move up in the wide-open East.
On Monday night, the teams struck a deal to send Bellanger and D Shane Gladchuk to New York in exchange for F Brad Stevens, D Dick Bradshaw, and the Night’s 1st-round draft pick.
“We felt like this was a great opportunity for us,” said Night GM Royce McCormick. “Daniel is an impact scorer who will fit right in here in New York. We already have the league’s best attack, but now it’s getting even better. And in Shane, we get a valuable two-way threat that will firm up our blue line.”
The 28-year-old Bellanger was Saskatchewan’s leading scorer at the time of the trade, having tallied 13 goals and 30 points. The 26-year-old Gladchuk was a quiet, steady presence on the Shockers’ second line, having started every game and putting 2 goals and 3 assists.
Bellanger expressed delight at the trade. “I could not be happier to be going to such a great city,” he said. “Also, I am grateful to be with a team that actually has a chance, with teammates who can play at my level.”
Gladchuk’s reaction was more mixed. “I’m going to miss my teammates and the great fans here,” the defenseman said. “But I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in New York.”
In exchange, the Shockers received the 25-year-old Stevens, a popular reserve who put up 2 goals and 4 assists in limited action with the Night, and the 31-year-old Bradshaw, who had yet to record a point this season and had fallen out of favor with New York coach Preston Rivers.
While the primary goals for the rebuilding Shockers were to unload Bellanger and acquire the pick, GM Cooper Matthews also praised the players coming back in the deal. “Obviously, we’re looking toward the future, but this deal is also about the present,” said Matthews. “In Brad, we’ve got a high-energy guy who will have a chance to show what he can do. With Dick, we’ve got a solid veteran defenseman who can be a leader and teacher.”
Stevens reacted to the trade with a mixture of excitement and confusion. “Awesome!” said Stevens. “I’m pumped to get a chance to start, and I look forward to getting to know the… Saskatchewanders? Saskatchewanians? Saskatchwanites? What are they called, anyway? Guess I’ll find out.”
Bradshaw declined comment on the trade, but his play is doing the talking: in 4 games with the Shockers, Bradshaw has recorded 3 assists.
Three days after the trade, the Night and Shockers faced off at Potash Arena in Saskatoon. The sellout crowd greeted Gladchuk warmly, but booed Bellanger vociferously. “I am not surprised,” said the winger after the 5-4 New York win. “They are mad at me for telling the truth. They should be booing their own team for being losers, but instead they boo me. Simple jealousy.”