High rent district of the OHL

Randy Russon
January 8, 2018

Rental prices have skyrocketed in the Ontario Hockey League, thanks in no small part to the Soo Greyhounds and Kingston Frontenacs, not to mention the Kitchener Rangers, Sarnia Sting and Hamilton Bulldogs.

For example, if you are the average OHL follower, you are no doubt aware of the exorbitant price that Soo general manager Kyle Raftis paid in what was a recent, ransom-like exchange with the Erie Otters.

That is, the Greyhounds finalized a long rumoured OHL trade with Erie by acquiring Team Canada right winger Taylor Raddysh and high-end defenseman Jordan Sambrook from the Otters.

What the Greyhounds gave up to the Otters in return for the pair of 19-year old skaters is astonishing and astounding, even by the standards that have been set in what is a trade-happy OHL.

Besides 2001 birth-year forward Hayden Fowler, who was the Soo’s first round pick at the 2017 OHL draft, the Greyhounds parted with nine future draft choices — second-round picks in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023, third-round picks in 2018 and 2023 and sixth round picks in 2018 and 2021.

Raddysh is fresh from a gold medal winning effort as part of Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships and is seen as a catalyst addition for the first-place Greyhounds, who are taking another run at an OHL title after coming up short in disappointing fashion during the 2014-2015 season.

Ah, that team of 2014-2015 that loaded up at the trade deadline to bring in star forwards Justin Bailey and Nick Ritchie and high-scoring defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and entered the playoffs that spring as the no. 1 seed with home-ice advantage only to be ousted by Erie in the Western Conference finals.

Raftis was the GM of that 2014-2015 team that seemingly had it all but could not finish under since-departed head coach Sheldon Keefe.

Now, three years later, Raftis has again put together a championship favourite, this time for third-year head coach Drew Bannister.

Did the Raftis give up too much to get Raddysh and Sambrook to take another shot at OHL glory? If the Greyhounds go on to win the championship and represent the OHL at the 100th anniversary of the Memorial Cup, the price paid will have been worth it.

But what if the Greyhounds do not win the OHL crown with the all-around, powerhouse team that Raftis has assembled? Then, to be sure, the second guessers will be out in full force.

Personally, I think Raftis gave up too much to get Raddysh and Sambrook. But that is but a matter of opinion.

Besides, whether Raftis gave up too much or not, this bodes as an exciting time for the Greyhounds as they moved forward with a bold, win-at-all costs charge at trying to bring an OHL title to Sault Ste. Marie for the first time since Ted Nolan was coaching and a future coach named Bannister was a teenage defenseman.

On one hand, I admire what Raftis did by going and getting what he wanted, regardless of the price.

On another hand, I still maintain that the Greyhounds would be favourites to win the OHL title without having made the trade with Erie.

There is an old saying that comes to mind: No guts, no glory.

Which, in the case of Raftis and the Greyhounds and this 2017-2018 edition, is apropos.

What you think about “High rent district of the OHL”

  1. I think there is a lot of up coming good hockey players that dont get drafted high or are not even in the draft. . It up to a good management staff and the scouting to find other good players . So giving up these draft picks down the road might not hurt . Time will tell.

  2. Sure. It looks bad on paper but let’s look at the past a bit shall we. Since 2010 the Greyhounds have drafted Matt Murray (2010), Kevin Spinozzi (2012), Colton White (2013), Boris Katchouk and Joseph Raaymakers (2014) with their second round draft picks. Not bad for second round picks when it is usually players picked in the first round that make headlines.

    Look at the current edition of the Greyhounds. Morgan Frost was a 4th round pick (2015), Keeghan Howdeshell was a 10th round pick (2010), Tim Gettinger was a 3rd round pick (2014), Jack Kopacka was an 8th round pick (2014) while Connor Timmins was 4th round pick in 2014.

    Hell, Matthew Villalta who has 50 wins and 5 regulation losses to his name (regular season) wasn’t even drafted.

    What I would personally be concerned is scouting and drafting. Lets look at 2015 as an example. The Greyhounds drafted Liam Hawel 22nd overall. With the next pick Windsor took Michael DiPietro. At 26th overall London took Robert Thomas. One of them just came back from the World Junior Tournament with a gold medal, the other will more than likely be there next year while Liam Hawel currently has 5 goals and 16 assists. For the Guelph Storm.

    In 2014 the Greyhounds made Anthony Salinitri their first round pick at number 17 overall. Taken at number 18 was Max Jones. Taken at number 19? The player the hounds just gave up 9 draft picks and Fowler for. Taylor Raddysh.

    Look, the draft is just a form of gambling. Sometimes you win (Darnell Nurse 2011, Jared McCann 2012, Blake Speers 2013). Sometimes you lose Jordan Mayer (2007), Gianluca Curcuruto 2010, Jeremy Swanson (2000). You can always look back at the draft with a lot of “ifs and buts” or “how did we miss that player?”. Do you draft the best available player or do you draft the players that you need to fill out your roster?

    Giving up all of the picks is huge, but there is nothing saying that the Soo would have wound up drafting anyone with any of those picks that would have turned into an impact player anyway. Obviously having more picks means you have a better chance of drafting a player that is going to help your team, but it is far from a guarantee. I don’t hate this trade and, quite honestly, if they win the last game of the OHL season or the last game of the CHL season, I’m not sure many people in the Soo will care.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *