Galaxy Trade for Sailors D Gallagher

The Washington Galaxy are in a great position as they look to capture their third straight division title.  They’ve gone undefeated since the All-Star break, and they just passed Hershey to take the lead in the East.  It would have been easy to imagine them making no moves at the deadline, not wanting to mess with a good thing.  Instead, though, the Galaxy made a small but smart move, bolstering their defensive corps by grabbing D Stan “Animal” Gallagher from the Seattle Sailors in exchange for minor-league D Woody Fairwood.

Stan Gallagher

The pickup of Gallagher should stabilize Washington’s third defensive pairing, which has been a season-long conundrum.  The position opposite Bruce “Boom Boom” Hogaboom has a revolving door, as the Galaxy have rotated between veteran Bill Corbett, young banger Jurgen Braun, and rookie Graham Bellinger.  All three have done credibly, but none of them has played well enough to seize the job full-time.

The 27-year-old Gallagher should provide Hogaboom with a strong running partner.  He scored 16 points (2 goals, 14 assists) with Seattle, playing largely on their top pairing.  He earned his “Animal” nickname for the fierce enthusiasm he puts into his skating and checking, which will make him a good fit beside the pugnacious Hogaboom.

“Did we need to make this deal?  Probably not,” admitted Galaxy GM Garnet “Ace” Adams.  “But does this deal make us a stronger team than we were yesterday?  Oh yeah.  The Animal’s got a well-earned reputation around this league, and putting him and Boomer on the ice together should unleash some havoc.  Graham will have the opportunity to go down to the minors and play every day, which should help him develop.  And Corbs and Brauny will get opportunities to contribute off the bench, where we know we can count on them.”

In the run-up to the deadline, it was rumored that Washington was pursuing a bigger deal.  The Saskatchewan Shockers were reportedly dangling D Chris “Lightning” Oflyng, and Hershey was said to be in hot pursuit of them.  It was speculated that the Galaxy were also after Oflyng, if only to block the Bliss from getting him.  But Adams said that Washington wasn’t making a serious attempt to land the Shockers blueliner.

“You never say never in this job,” said Adams.  “But we figured Oflyng was going to be too rich for our blood, and frankly, we didn’t need an upgrade like that.  We just wanted a solid vet for the third pairing, and we got him.”  As it turned out, Hershey wasn’t able to meet Saskatchewan’s demands for Oflyng either; they might have turned to Gallagher as a fallback option, but Washington beat them to it.

Woody Fairwood

For Seattle, the 21-year-old Fairwood may not match Gallagher in the character department, but he should provide similar production.  Fairwood had been playing with Washington’s minor-league club in Baltimore, where he notched 50 points (9 goals, 41 assists) and a +7 rating.  He was tied for the team lead in both categories

“I knew I was probably going to have a hard time making my way up to DC,” said Fairwood.  “It was a good organization and I’ll miss my friends there, but to get a shot at some real minutes at the major-league level, that’s exciting for me.”

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Igloos Nab Winger Miranda from Seattle

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.”

Waldo Miranda

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.

Rodney McElvern

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.”

Bliss Acquire McLearen, Make Push for East

The SHL’s trading deadline occurred this week, which meant that the league’s contenders were all looking for ways to shore up their squads for that playoff push down the stretch.  By all accounts, no team was more active in seeking upgrades than the Hershey Bliss.  Although the Bliss spent most of the first half out front in the East, the Washington Galaxy have caught fire the last couple of weeks, winning 9 of their last 10 and passing Hershey for first place.

Eager to avoid falling behind Washington, Hershey GM Scott Lawrence pursued numerous options for strengthening his roster.  In the end, he made a single deal, acquiring LW Vonnie McLearen and D Gustaf Bergstrom from the Dakota Jackalopes in exchange for F Kelvin Starkey, minor-league D Alex Angelos, and a 2nd-round draft pick.

Vonnie McLearen

In McLearen, the Bliss add a rising star who will give their already-solid offense a boost.  The 23-year-old winger was one of Dakota’s top scorers, putting up 12 goals and 20 assists on the season.  Over the last couple of seasons, McLearen has risen from a lightly-used reserve to become a key offensive contributor.  He has a reputation as a hard worker and a strong two-way player.

“Honestly, I was a little surprised to discover that Vonnie McLearen was available,” said Lawrence.  “Great young guys like that are usually tough to come by.  He’s a tremendous pickup for us.  We’re really excited about the energy and spark he’s going to bring to our team.”

Gustaf Bergstrom

The Bliss also added a veteran grinder in Bergstrom.  The 30-year-old blueliner will be the seventh defenseman for Hershey, replacing rookie Kermit Kaufman.  He was a longtime starter for the Jackalopes before being demoted to reserve duty this year.  He appeared in only 6 games with Dakota in the 2017 season, recording an assist.

“When you’re playing those tough games down the stretch and in the Finals, you could always use a little extra grit,” said Lawrence.  “Bergstrom’s an old-fashioned banger, the kind of guy who isn’t afraid to scrap and does the dirty work.  He gives us that quality depth, a guy we can count on when we need him.”

While the acquisition was welcomed by Bliss fans, the deal got a chilly reception in Dakota.  McLearen has long been a favorite among Jackalopes rooters, who have enjoyed watching him blossom into a top-notch starter.  The fans were heartbroken to see McLearen dealt, and they bombarded the front office with angry tweets and emails.

“This was a tough deal to make,” said Jackalopes GM Paul Mindegaard.  “Everyone around here loves Vonnie.  Heck, I love Vonnie, and I hated to give him up.  But sometimes you have to make tough deals in this business.”

According to team sources, the trade was financially motivated.  The small-market Jackalopes spent freely this season in hopes of building a contender.  Instead, the team has languished around the .500 mark, well behind Anchorage and Michigan.  McLearen will be a free agent this offseason and is likely to command a significant raise.  The strapped-for-cash Jackalopes are unlikely to be able to re-sign the young winger, and they wanted to get a return for him rather than see him walk away for nothing.

Kelvin Starkey

In exchange for McLearen, the Jackalopes received a pair of young prospects.  The 24-year-old Starkey was signed by Hershey before last season, and displayed considerable promise.  He had worked his way into a starting role for the Bliss prior to the trade.  In 11 games with Hershey, Starkey scored 8 points (1 goal and 7 assists).

“We’re hoping that we got ourselves the next Vonnie McLearen in this deal,” said Mindegaard.  “Kelvin is a guy who has worked his way up the hard way, and we think he’s got considerable room to grow with some additional playing time.”

Alex Angelos

The 20-year-old Angelos is an offensive-minded defenseman who flashed considerable promise with Hershey’s minor-league affiliate in Albuquerque.  With the Screaming Eagles, Angelos put up 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) in 44 games.

“Alex Angelos is a guy who fits well with our team concept,” said Mindegaard.  “He’s a fast skater, and he’s shown that he can contribute in a high-tempo environment.  He’s also a strong shooter and he has a great passing touch.  He’s a player who has the potential to have a long and successful career here.”

While the Jackalopes are gearing up to get younger, the Bliss are hoping that the acquisition of McLearen will put them over the top.  Each of the last two seasons, Hershey has come up short against the Galaxy, and the team and their fans are growing impatient for a shot at the title.  “Everyone in this organization is hungry for a championship,” said Lawrence.  “We believe that this trade puts us in position to make that run to the title.”

New York Ships Bellanger to Seattle

New York Night coach Nick Foster has made no secret of his plans to remake his roster in order to build a more balanced and competitive team.  He’s already taken several steps in that direction, shaking up his lines and calling up several players from the minors.  The Night took another step toward rebuilding on Monday, sending RW Daniel Bellanger to the Seattle Sailors in exchange for F Randy O’Connor and a 2nd-round draft pick.

“I’m not afraid of shaking things up for the sake of getting better,” Foster told reporters.  “This deal is an example of that.”

Daniel Bellanger

Bellanger has been in the coach’s crosshairs since the first week of the season.  After New York dropped its first four games of the season, Foster called an unscheduled practice on an off-day.  Bellanger, along with D Teddy Morrison, failed to show for the practice.  The coach responded by benching both players.

Both were ultimately reinstated to the lineup, but as the Night continued to struggle, Foster called for reinforcements from the team’s minor-league affiliate in Utah.  He called up winger Sylvester Catarino, defenseman Rocky Winkle, and goalie Sherman Carter, and started giving them all regular playing time.  Bellanger wound up being a healthy scratch in a number of games, appearing in only 14 games this season with the Night before the trade, recording 4 goals and 2 assists.

Bellanger has a reputation for being talented but temperamental.  He came to New York from Saskatchewan in 2015 after he called his teammates “garbage” and said he was tired of “carrying [the] team.”  Last season, Bellanger left the Night and went home with two games left in the season, an apparent show of displeasure with coach Preston Rivers, who was later fired.

Foster refrained from attacking Bellanger on his way out the door.  “This trade is not a reflection on Daniel as a person or a player,” Foster said.  “He’s a talented hockey player and I wish him well.  But we’re headed in a different direction as a team.”

Bellanger took the trade rather personally.  “I feel that I was never given a chance to succeed,” the winger told reporters.  “I hope to play New York many times in the future and beat them.”  He has gotten off to a hot start in Seattle, putting up a goal and an assist in 3 games since the trade.  Additionally, the Sailors pummeled the Night 9-3 in a game played two days after the trade, although Bellanger scored no points.

Randy O’Connor

The trade reunites O’Connor with his old team.  The 25-year-old forward played for the Night in 2015 before being tabbed by Seattle in the expansion draft.  He had been playing on the Sailors’ third line, posting 10 points (2 goals and 8 assists) in 24 games.

“Back in the Big Apple, baby!” crowed O’Connor.  “I love this deal.”

O’Connor is not expected to start with New York; Bellanger’s playing time is expeted to go to Catarino instead.  For the Night, the draft pick is the most valuable asset in the deal.  In previous seasons, GM Royce McCormick has freely traded away draft picks for established veterans in a futile attempt to become a contender.  But Foster has stressed the importance of a winning culture, and he would rather bring in young players that he can select and mold in his image than try to remake the games of the team’s self-centered, shoot-first veterans.

This deal raises an interesting question, however.  With the trade deadline still a couple of weeks away, this is almost certainly not the last deal New York will make.  Foster’s goal of culture change will require much more than trading away a single disgruntled player.  On the other hand, Night owner Marvin Kingman has reportedly been resistant to a wholesale rebuilding of the roster.  And New York has been playing better lately, and are creeping onto the fringes of contention in the East.

If the Night start to climb into the race before the deadline, will Kingman be pushing for win-now deals instead of the culture-change deals Foster prefers?  Will Foster be willing to sacrifice a shot at winning this season to further his long-term vision?  One thing is for certain: the Night will be a team to watch in the weeks ahead.

SHL Offseason Trade Summary

The following trades took place in the offseason before Season 3:

The Quebec Tigres made a huge deal at the top of the draft after their planned choice went awry.  The Tigres had planned to take scoring winger Rod “Money” Argent with the #2 pick, addressing their major shortcomings on offense.  But after the Seattle Sailors surprisingly drafted Argent with the first pick, Quebec found themselves with no obvious choice.  So they traded down, dealing the #2 pick to the Hamilton Pistols in exchange for the #5 pick, a second-round pick, and D Dmitri Kalashnikov. Hamilton sought the #2 pick in order to grab G Lasse Koskinen, who immediately became the team’s top netminder.  While Quebec did not wind up with an impact player of Argent’s caliber, they traded quality for quantity.  With the #5 pick, they plucked RW Rupert MacDiarmid, who put up 15 goals and 39 points in juniors last year.  In Kalashnikov, the Tigres added an elite and ferocious defender, whose 109 penalty minutes were the second-most in the SHL last season.  The Tigres used the second-round selection to nab D Hal Pugliese, who took Penn Tech to the NCAA tournament three times in his collegiate career.

The Dakota Jackalopes also dealt a first-round pick, sending the #6 selection to the New York Night along with C Phil Miller in exchange for C Mike Rivera.  The trade represents a bold gamble for both teams.  For Dakota, adding Rivera augments their high-flying offense, as the Jackalopes attempt to catch up with their division rivals in Michigan and Anchorage.  Last season, Rivera banged home 23 goals and collected 39 points with New York. He is expected to anchor Dakota’s second line this year.  For New York, the trade reflects new coach Nick Foster’s desire to build a more balanced club.  Although Rivera was a strong contributor on offense, he is widely considered a defensive liability.  Miller, who put up 18 goals and 30 points between Saskatchewan and Dakota in ’16, is regarded as more of a two-way player.  With the sixth pick, the Night grabbed goaltending prospect Sherman Carter, who recorded a 2.27 GAA and a .930 save percentage in juniors last season.  In addition to drafting Carter, New York signed the top free-agent netminder, Jesse Clarkson, to complete an overhaul of one of their weakest positions.

After the draft, the Night made a pair of deals aimed at improving their third line.  First, they swapped G Oliver Richardson to the Saskatchewan Shockers for the rights to G Hector Orinoco, then sent Orinoco’s rights along with F Dill Howlter to Hamilton for winger Andrei Volodin.  Richardson, who posted a 6-10-0 mark with a 4.37 GAA for New York last season, became expendable after the Night drafted Carter and signed Clarkson.  He represents an upgrade for the Shockers, who have struggled to find a solid backup for Zeke Zagurski since the league’s inception.  Orinoco played last season in the German league, where he record a 17-11-2 record with a 3.06 GAA.  He will likely spend the season in the minors for Hamilton, barring an injury.  The 25-year-old Volodin should bring a little extra scoring punch to New York’s third line.  He scored 18 goals and 34 points for Hamilton in the 2016 season.  The 20-year-old Howlter failed to record a point in 9 games for New York last season.

The Washington Galaxy sent longtime backup goalie Gus Parrish to the Seattle Sailors in exchange for F Yann Eberlein.  The deal was a bit disappointing for the fans, as Parrish was a beloved figure in Washington, adored for his boyish enthusiasm and flair for colorful quotes.  Last season, Parrish went 7-6-0 with a 3.21 GAA as the Galaxy defended their Eastern Division title.  But after Washington signed free agent Ron Mason in the offseason, Parrish found himself without a job.  Eberlein struggled in limited action with the Sailors last year, recording 2 goals and 7 points in 34 games.  Washington hopes that the 25-year-old Swiss forward can provide a solid presence off the bench.  The Galaxy suffered from poor third-line and bench production last season, as rookies Henry Van Alpin, Barry Sullivan, and Oliver Wallington all turned in disappointing campaigns.

The Jackalopes and the Hershey Bliss made a minor deal just before the start of the season, swapping bottom-pairing defensemen.  Dakota sent Pierre Chappelle to Hershey in exchange for Scott Hexton.  The Jackalopes were looking to strengthen their blueline corps a bit, and Hexton (3 goals, 12 points last season) grades out as an above-average defender.  On the other hand, the Bliss were looking to enhance their offensive production beyond their loaded top line.  Chappelle (5 goals, 20 points last year) provides an upgraded scoring threat relative to Hexton.  The 28-year-old Montreal native is on his third team in as many seasons; Dakota picked him up from Hamilton during last offseason.

Rapids, Shockers Make Minor Deal

Dakota SmallSaskatchewan SmallAlthough the Dakota Rapids made one deal with an eye on the future, trading away their starting goaltender, they made another minor deal designed to make the team stronger now.  A few minutes before the deadline, the Rapids acquired center Phil Miller from the Saskatchewan Shockers in exchange for rookie forward Dwight Flynn and a second-round pick.

phil-miller
Phil Miller

The deal plugs an ongoing hole for Dakota at the third-line center position.  The Rapids picked up Florian Theroux from Hamilton at the deadline last year to play the position, but Theroux was claimed by Quebec in the expansion draft.  Dakota has struggled to replace him all season.  Vonnie McLearen had gotten the bulk of the work centering the third line; while he has had a good season overall, he is a natural winger and has had a hard time adjusting.  Rapids fans had taken to calling the third line the “Donut Line,” because it had a hole in the middle.

In the 27-year-old Miller, the Rapids add a capable passer and defender (8 goals, 13 points on the season) who should fit well with Dakota’s uptempo style of play.  “This is a move that helps us now and later,” said GM Paul Mindegaard.  “Phil’s been on our radar for a while as a guy who could help us.  Saskatchewan hadn’t wanted to part with him, but finally we got to a point where the price was right.”

For his part, Winnipeg native Miller took the deal in stride.  “I’m a good loyal Canadian, so it feels wrong to be traded south of the border,” said Miller.  “But on the other hand, I’m probably closer to home now, and I’m going from one small Midwestern city to another.  Dakota is sort of an honorary Canadian state anyway.”

dwight-flynn
Dwight Flynn

For the Shockers, who are much improved over last year’s dismal performance but are still building, this deal was all about stockpiling assets.  The 23-year-old Flynn, a Syracuse native who was drafted out of SUNY-Rochester this season, didn’t appear much for Dakota, recording 3 assists in 9 games.  Scouts consider him a rangy, promising prospect with excellent speed, although they feel that he will need to bulk up some in order to compete physically at the professional level.

“We’re at a stage where we can afford to let guys grow with us,” said Shockers GM Cooper Matthews.  “We know what Phil Miller can do. We don’t know what Dwight Flynn can do yet, but I’m looking forward to find out.”

 

Night Spring Surprise Blockbuster

New York smallHamilton SmallRight 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.

rod-remington
Rod Remington

“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.”

diego-garcia-ny
Diego Garcia

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.”

edgars-zalmanis
Edz Zalmanis

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.

kenny-patterson
Kenny Patterson

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.”