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.

Things Fall Apart in Hamilton

Hamilton PistolsThe Hamilton Pistols season is falling apart, and tensions are reportedly rising in the locker room and the front office.  The Pistols have dropped 8 of their last 9 games, falling solidly into last place in the East.  According to sources with the team, the team’s swoon has created rifts between coach Ron Wright and GM Marcel LaClaire, and between Wright and his players.

“Ron’s kind of tired of the team, and they’re kind of tired of him,” said the source.  “It’ll be real interesting to see if he’s back next year.”

Ron Wright
Ron Wright

Wright is known as a demanding coach, and three weeks ago he called out his team for a lack of defensive effort.  The players largely acknowledged Wright’s criticism at that time as fair.  But in the time since, the situation seems to have deterioriated.

At the trading deadline, the Pistols made a minor deal with the Dakota Rapids in which they gave up a 3rd round pick.  Wright made no public comment on the deal, but behind the scenes, he was reportedly very dissatisfied with the deal.

“He felt like it was a cop-out,” said a source close to Wright.  “He felt the only way the team was going to have a shot was if they made a big swing-for-the-fences deal.  If they weren’t going to do that, might as well stand pat. Why waste an asset in that pick making a tit-for-tat trade?”

Shortly thereafter, the team hit its current skid, and Wright’s frustration level mounted.  After the team was blown out by Hershey 7-3 on Saturday, Wright held a closed-door meeting in which he reportedly castigated for the players for rolling over and giving up.  The next night, the Pistols lost by the same score to Dakota.  After that game, Wright went public with his criticisms.

“Apparently, a number of our players have decided that the season is over already,” said Wright.  “They’ve decided that they don’t feel like playing any more.  If that’s the case, then they can have a seat.  I’m not going to put up with a total lack of effort.”

After that game, he benched D Joey “Pig Iron” Morris, who has not played since.  After Thursday’s 6-2 win over Saskatchewan, Wright benched RW Andrei Volodin, even though he scored a goal in that game.  On Friday, the Pistols came unraveled in the third period, blowing a 3-0 lead in a loss to Anchorage.  During the game, Wright was seen engaged in a heated argument with D Dmitri Kalashnikov, who had let his man get by him to set up the Igloos’ winning goal.

In his postgame press conference, Wright minced no words in excoriating his players.  “That game was a complete embarrassment,” the coach said.  “We had a chance to make a statement win over a very good team and make a stand for our pride, but we decided that we didn’t care.  Apparently, the only thing we care about is getting the season over with as soon as possible so we can get a head start on our summer vacations.  It’s a disgrace.”

The players are reportedly tired of being yelled at by Wright, especially at the tail end of a lost season.  And LaClaire is said to be mulling whether Wright’s hard-nosed style is well-suited to getting the most out of the team.  The coach declined to address rumors about his job status, saying, “I’m sure there will be discussions at the end of the season, but that’s not your concern.  Based on the way we’ve done this year, I don’t think that any of us deserve to feel secure in our position.  There’s going to be a lot of change around here next year.”