67’s Sell At OHL Trade Deadline, Continue Building For Future

The OHL’s Trade Deadline has now come and gone, and for the Ottawa 67’s, it was a difficult one, where they saw multiple players leave the team, both for trades and other reasons. After taking a run at the Memorial Cup twice in 2018-19 and 2019-20, the team entered the 2021-22 season with relatively low expectations. With the team currently sitting in seventh in the Eastern Conference, general manager James Boyd made a couple of moves to build for the future.

There was one addition made to the team, one that was announced on January 10. This addition didn’t come via trade, but rather Boucher deciding that leaving Boston University was the best option for his career. When he does get into the lineup, he should bring a big boost to the offence.

“We’re going to make him well aware that we’re happy to have him because I think he brings an element to our team that we are lacking, and that’s size and physicality,” said head coach Dave Cameron on TSN1200’s In the Box. “My only advice to him will be is that when you come into an environment that Tyler is coming into and you’re changing countries, you’re changing leagues, and you’re changing coaches, don’t come in now and try to play your whole career every night. Just come in and play to your strengths, learn our systems, get comfortable. We appreciate you, you bring what we need, and again, you just have to get better every day.”

“The thing that most excites me about Tyler from people that I have talked to and from watching him is that he knows what he is,” he continued. “He knows that he is big, powerful, and physical and he knows that he needs to get to the front of the net. He knows to use his physicality to open up the ice to make plays for his linemates. For me, that’s a huge step for any kid that’s trying to get to the next level.”

That is where the additions stopped for the barber poles. The first departure was trading Brenden Sirizzotti in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2023 OHL Priority Selection, a pick that was originally owned by the Guelph Storm. Without going too in-depth on this one again (we have an article about the topic already), this was a trade that on the surface looked odd for the 67’s, but even though Sirizzotti was scoring points, his all-around game wasn’t quite where head coach Dave Cameron would have liked it to be.

“Brenden is one of those guys that I gotta convince that don’t just evaluate that because you scored it’s a good game,” said Cameron. “It’s the process, and his game is quite simple. When he’s moving his feet and going, he’s a good player in this league. Like every other player in this league, if he slows it down, teams track too hard, and it’s too competitive of a league, they struggle.”

Frankie Benvenuti/The Puck Authority

Overall, the return for Sirizzotti was solid considering first-round picks can’t be moved anymore. He has all of the talent to be a great player at the OHL level, and with the IceDogs since the trade, he has three assists in two games. It’s unfortunate that things didn’t work out in Ottawa, but the expectations were high, and sometimes, things don’t go the way you hope. Clearly, things have started well in Niagara and he’s now on a team that has reportedly wanted him since the start of the 2019-20 season, and Ottawa got a solid return. It was a solid trade for both sides.

Later that week, it was announced that the 67’s had released Dylan Robinson. This announcement shocked many, especially considering how important Robinson had been all season long. According to a report made in French by ledroit.ca writer, Jean-François Plante, Robinson had decided that he no longer wanted to play hockey. He scored 11 points and six goals through 18 games, but clearly, he wasn’t loving it as much as he once was and decided to move on to whatever comes next.

Finally, the last transaction came just under the wire of the Trade Deadline and it was a big one. The 67’s sent veteran defenceman Alec Belanger to the Kingston Frontenacs for a series of draft picks. The picks include a second-round pick in 2023 (Niagara IceDogs), a third-round pick in 2024 (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), and a fifth-round pick in 2025 (Kingston Frontenacs).

Losing Belanger is tough to swallow considering the quality of play that he brings to a young team and the veteran leadership that he has shown, even while sidelined with an injury for much of the season’s first half. The trade wasn’t without merit, however. Looking into the future, the 67’s had to find a new home for one of Belanger, Cam Tolnai, Anthony Costantini, and Will Cranley before next season, as all of them are soon to become overagers. They would have been over the limit of three, and while they could have possibly waited until next season to make the move, doing it early allows them to get some other players into the lineup more consistently.

For most of the season, there has been a rotation between Derek Smyth, Matthew Mayich, and Thomas Sirman, but with one fewer defenceman in the picture, that no longer needs to happen. Additionally, the return for Belanger was rather beneficial to the 67’s, and sending players to good situations has been a priority for Boyd. It would be hard to find a better situation for Belanger right now than a team that is a serious contender for the Memorial Cup.

It’s been a while since the 67’s have been sellers at the Trade Deadline, but selling now puts them in a better situation to possibly compete next season, or the one after that. It’s pushing the reset button in a sense, but it’s not like this team is going to be bad the rest of the way. They should still be a competitive hockey team, and they should still be capable of winning their fair share of games.

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