As the early January trade deadline approaches for Ontario Hockey League clubs, the Ottawa 67’s got a head start on the action Monday afternoon by announcing a trade. They acquired a second-round pick in the 2023 OHL Priority Selection that was originally owned by the Guelph Storm from the Niagara IceDogs in exchange for young sniper Brenden Sirizzotti.
It was a move that came as a shock to many, especially considering the impact that injuries and suspensions have had on the team this season. In his first full season in the league, Sirizzotti was doing some impressive things when the puck was on his stick. At the time of the trade, he had played 30 games, amassing 18 points, seven of which were on goals. He was fourth on the team in scoring, and from the outside, it seemed like he was playing really well.
When he had the puck in the offensive zone, Sirizzotti had the chance to score. He was a dangerous player for the 67’s. His issues haven’t been in the offensive zone, but rather in other areas of the ice. Early in the season, he was producing offensively, but head coach Dave Cameron needed more from him elsewhere. He was a healthy scratch a couple of times, and even when he got back into the lineup in early November and scored a pair of critical goals, Cameron made sure to mention the other areas of Sirizzotti’s game.
“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.”
Fans love the glitz and glamour that comes naturally with a game predicated around offence as Sirizzotti brings, but anyone who has ever spoken to Cameron wouldn’t say he loves it. Nearly every player on the roster has bought into the defence-first mindset, but there were times where Sirizzotti seemed more focused on creating offence rather than playing a strong-structured game. This led to him having a decreased role, and even though he was putting up points as of late, he was being outplayed by younger players on his own side of the ice.
There is another big thing for the 67’s to navigate. They are planning to have Ottawa Senators’ 10th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Tyler Boucher join the team in the coming days, and there are still hopes that Jack Beck will be back sooner rather than later. When that happens, the spots on the roster will start closing down, meaning someone would be left without a roster spot.
He was battling for his spot with players like Luca Pinelli, Chris Barlas, Brad Gardiner, Will Gerrior, and Steven LaForme. The offence from these players combined hasn’t been much, but every one of them has stepped up their game and played roles that no one could have ever expected they would play in the midst of all the injuries. Sirizzotti wasn’t succeeding in his role in Ottawa, and in the end, general manager James Boyd decided the best thing for everyone involved was a trade.
“This is a very exciting addition for us,” said IceDogs general manager Joey Burke. “Brenden is a guy we have wanted here since he broke all the ETA records in his draft year. Not only is he a perfect fit age-wise for our group, but his mix of elite skill, vision, and pace fits our playing style perfectly and I know it will be a great match here.”
“This is an addition we have been trying to make a reality for a while, and one that not only helps us right away this season, but will pay huge dividends for us next year as well,” Burke continued. “We couldn’t be more excited to officially add Brenden to Niagara today, and I can’t wait to see him make his debut this weekend.”
This move frees up a roster spot for the 67’s, both now and in the future where they could add another player, likely an over-ager at the deadline. This is also a move that could possibly be the best for Sirizzotti. He heads to Niagara and is already their second-leading scorer. He should have a big role on a young team that is looking to find something on the offensive side of the ice. He will have a chance to find his ceiling with the IceDogs and play a game that he is more comfortable with.
The return is also a good one for the 67’s. Considering teams are not allowed to trade first-round picks, the second-round pick is the best return Boyd could have gotten. The pick comes in 2023, a year where they didn’t previously have a second or third-round pick. It likely wasn’t an easy decision to move on from Sirizzotti, who they picked in the second round of the 2019 Draft, but this is a move that is best for everyone involved. It’s hard, but it is part of the business.