In a perfect junior hockey world the best trades are the ones that benefit all who are involved. Case in point being recent swaps between teams from the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, Superior International Jr. Hockey League and Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
ELLIOT LAKE/KAM RIVER
Elliot Lake Red Wings of the NOJHL and Kam River Fighting Walleye of the SIJHL fashioned a multi-player trade.
Elliot Lake transferred 20-year old forward Dayton Clarke and cash considerations to Kam River for a trio of 18-year old skaters — forwards Kjell Osborne and Owen Lancaster and defenseman Calum McGill.
In last place in the West Division of the NOJHL, Elliot Lake general manager Mark Savery was able to parlay a graduating player in Clarke for three serviceable skaters who have considerable junior hockey eligibility remaining after this season.
Meanwhile, astute Kevin River general manager Kevin McCallum was dealing from the strength and depth of a team that is in first place in the SIJHL by trading Osborne, Lancaster and McGill — who are all decent hockey players — for Clarke, who will bring a huge presence to the Fighting Walleye in its quest for a league championship.
A hulking, 6-foot-3, 225 pounder, Clarke had 12 goals, two assists, 14 points in 20 games for the Red Wings this season — and McCallum definitely did his homework on the big forward before pulling the trigger on the trade that sent Osborne, Lancaster and McGill from Kam River to Elliot Lake.
As for what Elliot Lake received in exchange for Clarke: in secondary roles, Osborne managed three goals, six assists, nine points in 18 games for Kam River while Lancaster had 2-4-6 totals in 15 outings and McGill garnered 1-1-2 numbers in 12 contests as members of the Fighting Walleye.
To be sure, there is little doubt that the troika will help Elliot Lake as it chases the Espanola Express for the fifth and final playoff spot in the NOJHL West.
Skilled, medium size forward Jake Kovacs is back in the NOJHL and the Blind River Beavers are the benefactors.
And in going to Blind River, Beavers general manager and coach Kyle Brick scored big in obtaining Kovacs, who figures to again be an impact player in the NOJHL.
An Ontario Hockey League draft pick of the Barrie Colts, Kovacs returns to the NOJHL after previously starring for the Soo Thunderbirds during the 2019-2020 season. He netted 27 goals, 31 assists, 58 points in 55 games for the Thunderbirds during the ’19-20 campaign.
The 18-year old speedster was picked up by Blind River from the Trenton Golden Hawks of the OJHL in exchange for plum, 17-year old defenseman Jackson Barnes.
Barnes gets to play closer to his Kingston home with Trenton and he fulfils a goal of playing in the OJHL, having said that he would have wanted to move on from Blind River and the NOJHL after this season.