It can be a roller coaster ride of truths and rumours. This is the time of year that leads to the annual Ontario Hockey League trade deadline.
As some teams are in buying mode, others are looking to sell off veteran assets for younger players and/or future draft picks.
Then there are middle-of-the-pack or already-in-building-mode teams that will stop, look and listen while being content to stand pat and proceed with what they already have.
After four straight 50-win seasons and one OHL championship followed by an improbable loss to the host Windsor Spitfires at the 2017 Memorial Cup tournament, the Erie Otters are rebuilding and looking to regain some of the several future second-round draft picks that have been previously dealt off.
While Erie is flirting with a .500 mark at this stage of the 2017-2018 season, it is highly likely that Otters general manager Dave Brown will be listening with both ears as contending teams make a pitch for point-per-game, overage defenseman Owen Headrick and productive, 1998 birth-year right winger Taylor Raddysh.
Soo Greyhounds, who are a serious Western Conference contender and chasing what has been an elusive OHL championship dating back to the early 1990s, are in the market to make a pitch for Headrick and possibly Raddysh leading up to the January 10 trade deadline.
Getting Headrick would bring the Garden River First Nation product back home to the Sault Ste. Marie area.
Not only did the Greyhounds blindly pass on Headrick at the 2013 OHL draft and watch Erie take him as a 14th-round afterthought, the slick, cerebral defenseman then opted to play for the Lake Superior State Lakers of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for a year and a half before leaving school to join the Otters for the stretch run of the 2017-2018 season.
With his skill and smarts and puck possession ability along with a howitzer of a shot, Headrick would provide a major addition to a contending team such as the Greyhounds, Sarnia Sting, Kitchener Rangers and Owen Sound Attack or one of the Eastern Conference teams who have championship aspirations.
Two other lower-rung teams who may opt to exchange veteran commodities for youth and/or draft picks are the Flint Firebirds and Sudbury Wolves.
Flint, which started the season strong but has since faltered badly and is averaging five goals against per game, has already dealt high-scoring veteran forwards Ryan Moore and Nick Caamano to the Hamilton Bulldogs for young forward Connor Roberts and multiple draft picks. And Firebirds general manager Barclay Branch is in a spot to entertain offers for offensive-minded, overage defenseman Jalen Smereck, among others.
Sudbury, at some point, will have to move out one of its four overage players to get down to the maximum three before the January deadline.
The Wolves currently have goalie Mario Culina, defensemen Doug Blaisdell and Kyle Rhodes and forward Troy Lajeunesse as overagers. But with Rhodes on the injured list for about another three or four weeks, Wolves general manager Rob Papineau has time on his side before he has to make a move.
It was earlier thought that the young, under-construction Saginaw Spirit would part with a valuable veteran or two or three as it continues to build towards contender status.
For example, 6-foot-6, 1998 birth-year defenseman Keaton Middleton is a Saginaw asset and a prize in the eyes of a number of OHL contenders. But the Spirit is developing as a team ahead of schedule and has an 8-1-1 record over its last 10 outings, thus Saginaw general manager Dave Drinkill just may decide to leave well enough alone.
Meantime, mid-level teams such as the reigning Memorial Cup champions from Windsor may be on the seller side of the trade market. Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel is as shrewd as they come and does not flinch or hesitate when it comes to buying or selling if he believes it will help his team.
Who will stay? Who will go?
Who will make a play? Who will say no?
Who will say okay? Who will go with the flow?
High stakes gambling is not limited to the card tables.
There is action aplenty ahead at the OHL Casino.
PHOTO: Erie Otters overage defenseman Owen Headrick looms as a valuable trade chip ahead of the January 10 deadline.