It has been a rough start to the season for the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads, but Thomas Harley has been one of the bright spots for the OHL organization. Harley has been a force on the blue-line thus far for the Steelheads and has been one of the league’s top two-way defensemen right from the get-go and into the new year. At the bottom of the OHL’s standings, Mississauga currently stands just three points back of the Hamilton Bulldogs.
While there is still a long time to go before the playoffs gets underway, the case can be made for Mississauga to start considering the thought of a rebuild. If that is the case, Thomas Harley may be the perfect candidate for the Steelheads to trade to start their rebuild.
Harley was drafted 19th overall at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and was the highest selected OHL player at the draft. Harley has had a great start to the season where he currently sits just one point out of first place for points with 39 in 38 games. Ahead of him is right-winger Cole Schwindt. Harley also adds a Plus/Minus rating of +4. Harley has shown significant improvements in his game this year and as such, would attract significant interest around the busy Ontario Hockey League. The Steelheads would surely be able to command quite a return if they decided to part ways with Harley.
If the Steelheads start to improve, then trading Harley could end up looking like a bit of a blow, however, it is important to think about the long run when you are restructuring at the OHL Trade Deadline. Even if the team did make the playoffs, they would still have a big hill to climb in order to be legitimate contenders. In this case, they would likely be facing Quinton Byfield and the Sudbury Wolves or Brendan Lemieux and the Barrie Colts in the first round. Even with Harley on the roster, it would be quite tough for the Steelheads to be able to make it last the first round.
With the way that Thomas Harley has been playing, the Dallas Stars prospect may find himself playing next season in the national Hockey League. This would mean that the 2019-20 season would be Harley’s last in the OHL. If this is the case and Harley is unlikely to come back to the OHL next season, then it would be wise for the Steelheads to trade him now to get a big return so that they can start preparing for the future.
Contenders are known to make big trades near the yearly annual OHL Trade Deadline in order to add a big name like Thomas Harley to help their team make a push for the playoffs. The Steelheads would likely be able to add a high-level prospect, a first-round pick and a young player to their roster in exchange for Harley. The return could be even higher if the team looking to acquire him believes that Harley will be back in the OHL next season.
Although for the past two seasons, Thomas Harley has been one of the best players, thinking about and trying to build for a brighter future is both important and crucial. Trading Harley could give Mississauga the building blocks they need to become legitimate contenders in the next two seasons. Harley looks close to being ready to start playing professionally on a full time basis and if the Stars like what they see, then Harley may not be back in Mississauga anyways which makes the idea of trading him all the more wiser.