Last season, the Hamilton Pistols were headed for their first-ever playoff appearance, and they faced a choice: dip into their store of top prospects and make a big win-now deal, or make a smaller depth deal and hold on to their young talent. They chose the latter path, and wound up being bounced in the first round by Quebec.
This year, in the midst of an intense race in the East, the Pistols decided to go for a big-splash deal. They acquired C Eddie Costello from the Washington Galaxy in exchange for C Pat Collistone, D Buster Kratz, and their first-round pick.
“To be honest, I’m surprised to be here announcing this deal,” said Pistols GM Marcel LaClaire. “When we began to discuss it, it was almost as a joke. But the longer we talked, the more serious it became. Finally I said, ‘Let’s take the dare and do it.’”
The trade is a big swing designed to address Hamilton’s biggest weakness, which is scoring beyond their top line. The 28-year-old Costello led the Galaxy in points with 45 and in assists with 33. He will slot into the second-line center position in Hamilton, between LW Magnus Gunnarson and RW Kenny Patterson. In order to fit under Hamilton’s salary cap, the Galaxy will retain $1 million of Costello’s salary.
“Eddie is a dynamite player, and he gives us an immediate boost on offense,” said Pistols coach Keith Shields. “I’ve watched him beat us enough times over the years; I know what he can offer us.”
For Washington, the trade brings an end of the tenure of one of their most popular players. Costello was a key contributor to the Galaxy teams that made back-to-back SHL finals appearances, and was also a colorful character on the ice and in the locker room. Many young Galaxy fans copied his signature fauxhawk haircut.
“It’s pretty tough for me to leave DC, since I’ve had so many good times here,” Costello said. “But I’m excited to join the playoff hunt again, and I’ll keep in touch with all my boys back here.”
The rental of Costello (who will be a free agent at the end of the season) didn’t come cheaply. Collistone has been a longtime favorite in the Pistols organization. The 23-year-old known affectionately as “Stoner” was strongly considered for the third-line center role in Hamilton this season; the Pistols wound up signing veteran J.C. Marais instead. He was a 2018 CHL All-Star, and though his numbers are down a bit this season (13 goals, 17 assists with Oshawa), he remains a well-regarded prospect.
The 21-year-old Kratz is another homegrown Hamilton prospect. He’s been a depth defenseman for the Pistols this season, appearing in only 12 games and failing to record a point.
“I never thought [LaClaire] would make Stoner available,” said Galaxy GM Ace Adams. “He and Kratz both help us restock our prospect pool, which is great as we look to the next chapter for our team. We wish Eddie all the best. I hope he brings home the Vandy.”