Right at the trade deadline, the New York Night made arguably the biggest deal of the season. Despite being in third place in the East and trailing by 11 points, the Night made a blockbuster deal to acquire – oddly enough – yet another scorer, acquiring C Rod Remington from the Hamilton Pistols.
“As awesome as our offense is, we’re always looking for ways to make it even better,” said Night GM Royce McCormick.
In addition to Remington, New York also acquired forward Diego Garcia from the Pistols. In exchange, the Night shipped out veteran winger Kenny Patterson, rookie C Edgars “Edz” Zalmanis, and their first-round pick in next year’s draft.
By all accounts, it was an odd deal for the Night. There is no doubt that Remington is a highly skilled player; in fact, he’s one of the league’s top scorers. With the Pistols this season, the 28-year-old Remington put up 16 goals and 46 points, centering Hamilton’s high-powered first line between LW Steven Alexander and RW Claude Lafayette. He is in the top 10 in the league in both assists and points.
“It’s not often that a player of Rod’s caliber is available in trade,” said McCormick. “So naturally, when we found out he was out there, we jumped at the chance.”
But the question remains: How does he help the Night? New York’s playoff chances are slim at best, as they trail both Washington and Hershey by significant margins. And offense is the last area where the Night need to improve; they’ve scored 148 goals on the season, most in the league. The area where New York struggles is defense: they’ve surrendered 165, most in the league, worse even than expansion Seattle. Yet the Night didn’t seek a better goalie, or to bolster their blueline. Instead, they snagged a scoring forward who does not have a reputation as a stellar defender.
“They really seem to think they can win every game 11-10,” said a rival GM. “It’s just nuts.”
Also, for the second straight year, the Night dealt away their top pick. Last year, they shipped their first-rounder to Saskatchewan for RW Daniel Bellanger in a futile attempt to catch Washington atop the East. The Shockers used the pick to draft LW Troy Chamberlain, who has starred while Bellanger has underwhelmed.
For Remington, the deal was bittersweet. He grew up in Kitchener, like Hamilton a part of the greater Toronto area, and he frequently had several family members and childhood friends attend his games at the Gunpowder Armory. “It’s tough to leave,” said Remington. “Playing in front of your hometown crowd, that’s pretty special. But it’s a business, and that’s how it goes. Besides, now I get to play in the greatest city in the world.”
In Garcia, the Night pick up a winger with modest numbers (8 points in 33 games) and a reputation as a malcontent. Last year, playing for Dakota, he feuded with coach Harold Engellund and demanded a trade after losing his starting job. He’s been quieter since getting more regular playing time with the Pistols, but has been knocked for a lack of hustle in practice and sometimes in games.
“I just want to play,” said Garcia. “Where doesn’t really matter. It’s just a name on the front of your jersey.”
Hamilton, despite being only two points behind New York at the time of the deal, was in selling mode, actively shopping several key players ahead of the deadline. They made Remington available both because they felt he could yield a big return, and also because they wanted to make room for rookie C Calvin Frye to the top line. Frye has been a dynamic scorer, putting up 21 goals and 39 points, and has amply earned the promotion.
“There’s a couple things that made it possible for us to make this deal,” said Pistols GM Marcel LaClaire. “Obviously, we’re still in the process of building for the long haul. But the fact that Calvin has been so great, he’s played his way up to the top line. And that gives us the confidence that we can trade away Rod.”
In exchange, the Pistols snagged an intriguing prospect in Zalmanis, a 20-year-old Lithuanian center. Drafted in the second round by New York, Zalmanis has posted solid numbers in his debut season (7 goals, 15 points in 32 games) while displaying excellent speed and a knack for making crisp passes. In fact, he reminds many observers of a younger Remington.
“We kind of feel like we’ve got Rod 2.0 in the making here,” said LaClaire.
The 30-year-old Patterson provides a veteran presence on a young team. The winger had fallen out of favor in New York, and was a frequent target for the boobirds at Neon Sky Center. A natural right winger, he struggled after being shifted to left wing this season, which has been reflected in his disappointing numbers (5 goals, 13 points in 38 games). In Hamilton, he will return to his natural position, and should have a chance at more shot opportunities.
“I feel like this is a great move for me,” said Patterson. “I had some great experiences in New York and I’ll always love the city, but this seems like a better fit at this stage of my career. I look forward to not having to fight for the puck so much, and I’m really excited to help the young guys develop here. Hamilton’s a great hockey city, and we’re going to build a great champion here.”