This week, the Anchorage Igloos nosed into first place in the West for the first time all season. The previous division leaders, the defending champion Michigan Gray Wolves, have been beset by injuries, and the Igloos have taken advantage. Hoping to make their advantage stick, Anchorage made a trade at the deadline to bolster their depth at forward, picking up LW Waldo Miranda from the Seattle Sailors in exchange for F Rodney McElvern.
“We’re confident that we have a team strong enough to win the championship,” said Igloos GM Will Thorndike. “But when we see a low-cost opportunity to improve, we’re going to pounce on it. We saw an opportunity here, and we took it.”
Miranda was in his second season with Seattle; they originally selected him from Hamilton in the expansion draft. The 25-year-old winger bounced between the second and third line for the Sailors, putting up 11 goals and 8 assists in 38 games this season. With the Igloos, he projects as a reserve, but one who’s ready to step in should an Anchorage winger get injured or need a rest.
“When you’re making a push for the postseason, you need depth,” said Thorndike. “You never know when somebody’s going to go down or go into the slump, or you’re going to need to sub a guy in or out to take advantage of a matchup. Waldo’s a guy who’s perfectly capable of starting, and probably would for most teams in the league. To have someone like that coming off the bench, that’s a real luxury. But it’s the kind of luxury that can make the difference between winning and losing the division, or winning or losing a playoff series.”
The Wolves are currently learning that lesson the hard the way. Earlier this month, they lost top-line C Hunter Bailes to a major upper-body injury; he is due to return next week after missing almost a month. Then on Tuesday they lost another center, Warren Marlow, to a lower-body injury. Although his injury is far less severe than Bailes’, he is expected to be out for a week. In the absence of two of their top scorers, Michigan’s offense has crumbled. The Wolves declined to make any trades to fill the gap, believing that they’ll get back on track when Bailes and Marlow return.
In exchange for Miranda, the Sailors received McElvern, a 22-year-old rookie who was Anchorage’s second-round draft pick out of Lake Ontario State. McElvern was a 20-goal scorer in college; with the Igloos, he appeared in only 3 games, scoring no points and recording a -1 rating.
“We’re really excited to see what Rodney can do for us,” said Sailors GM Jay McKay. “He’ll have plenty of ice time with us to show us what he’s got. We’re not going to make the playoffs, so we’re looking to give our young guys more playing time down the stretch, and Rodney’s definitely going to get a real good look.”