At the trading deadline, the Quebec Tigres found themselves where they’ve been most of the season: within striking distance of a playoff spot, but not quite there. Faced with a small but persistent gap between them and the Hershey Bliss, GM Pete Gondret decided not to waste time upgrading around the margins, and instead made a big-ticket acquisition, landing C Warren Marlow from the Michigan Gray Wolves in exchange for C Phil Miller, LW Carl Bleyer, and their first-round draft pick.
“We had the chance for a big move, and we took it,” said Gondret. “Life is too short for weak measures.”
Gondret said that he’d originally engaged Michigan about acquiring veteran winger Todd Douglas, who would have provided some depth scoring for the Tigres. But as they talked, Wolves GM Tim Carrier mentioned that Marlow was available. “And then I heard the angels singing in my ear,” the Quebec GM said with a laugh. “This was a player I have always wanted.”
Center has long been a weak spot for the Tigres, and the 34-year-old Marlow provides a reliable option to fill that need. He has been a consistent two-way threat, averaging about 20 goals per season and providing stout defense. He’s lost a step with age, but he still recorded 19 points (11 goals, 8 assists) with Michigan so far this season. With the Wolves failing to contend this season, they chose to move on from their veteran center.
“It definitely wasn’t an easy decision to part with Warren,” said Carrier. “He’s given so much to this team over the years. We wouldn’t have won the Vandy [in 2016] without him. But we’re at a stage where we need to get younger, and we had a chance to get a top pick and a prospect. I couldn’t say no to that.”
For his part, Marlow is happy to join the contending Tigres. “Obviously, in Michigan for so many years, we were always in the playoff hunt,” said the center. “And as a player, you get used to that. Being able to get back to a contending team… that’s huge for me. I’m looking forward to helping bring the Vandy to Quebec.”
In the 21-year-old Bleyer, Michigan acquires a promising young winger. He has appeared in a total of 14 games for Quebec over the past two seasons, recording a goal and an assist. With the Tigres’ farm team in Halifax, Bleyer has produced 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists) in 30 games.
“Carl is a prototype Michigan Gray Wolves player,” said Carrier. “He’s good on defense, he’s a hard worker, and he knows how to score. I think he’s going to be a big contributor for us down the road.”
As for Miller, he was primarily thrown in for salary-cap reasons, but it represents another stop for the well-traveled journeyman. Michigan is the sixth SHL team for which the 31-year-old Miller has played in his career. This is the third time that he has changed teams at the trade deadline, having gone from Saskatchewan to Dakota in 2016 and Kansas City to Quebec in 2018.
Miller struggled badly with the Tigres this season, recording only 2 assists and a -10 rating in 27 games before being sent down to the minors.
Regarding his latest relocation, Miller displayed a sense of humor when speaking with reporters about the deal.
“At this point, I keep my suitcase packed around the deadline, because I just assume I’m going somewhere,” said the veteran. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my career, it’s this; don’t buy any green bananas.”