Going into the final weekend ahead of Monday’s Ontario Hockey League trade deadline, Soo Greyhounds general manager Kyle Raftis said he wasn’t opposed to adding a big-name player if the fit was right.
In the hours leading up to the deadline, the Greyhounds acquired defenceman Jack Thompson from the Sudbury Wolves in exchange for defenceman Jacob Holmes, forward Marc Boudreau, and a 2nd round draft pick in 2022.
Thompson, a prospect of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, was sought by the Greyhounds as Monday’s deadline approached.
“He’s an elite defenceman in this league,” Raftis said of the veteran blueliner. “You can never have enough guys that can move pucks, defend, log the amount of minutes, and calm things down for us. He’s going to be a crucial part of that, along with the group that we have already.”
In 29 games this season with the Wolves, Thompson had eight goals and 23 points.
In discussing trade talks with the Wolves, Raftis said Holmes and Boudreau were two players targeted by the Wolves.
“They really targeted Holmes and Boudreau as guys who could make an impact for them now, and moving forward,” Raftis said. “It’s a different look to it. In years past, you would see first round picks, or high-end (young players) plus picks. This one was just more of how they could not take too many steps back with moving Jack.”
Raftis said moving the pair as part of the deal wasn’t easy.
“It’s really tough giving up both guys because they’ve been really good for us this year,” Raftis said.
“Jacob has some room to grow in his game, and he’s already an NHL-drafted defenceman, and there’s value in that too,” Raftis also said. “Both of those guys are going to be missed in our room. Boudreau, with all the young guys, always kept it light and kept everybody in a good mood and was a fun guy to be around. Jacob fit in from day one. He just really got along with everybody.”
The Greyhounds also added forward Keegan McMullen from the Peterborough Petes on Monday.
“He’s somebody that can play centre and the wing,” Raftis said. “He’s relentless on pucks. There were some nights this year where we could use that extra motor. We have a lot of skill in the lineup, but sometimes you need someone that can bring that relentless, hard-working approach to the game and chip in some offence.”
The Greyhounds sent a 6th round pick (2024) to the Petes.
A veteran of 70 games in the OHL, McMullen had four goals and nine points in 26 games this season in Peterborough.
The final deal of the day for the Greyhounds saw the team acquire 18-year-old forward Ty Anselmini from the Mississauga Steelheads, in exchange for a 10th round draft pick (2022).
“With Ty, he’s someone that we had chatted about in his minor midget year,” Raftis said. “He always put up points, but at the same time, we see him as a guy that can play really hard. We’re hoping that he can find that touch in getting back to being a point-producer, but at the same time, he’s got that mentality where he can be a wrecking ball and get under opponents’ skin. When we’re looking at our lineup, some of our young guys have had great years, but in the second half, things get a little tougher and, although there was lots of fighting over the weekend, it’s not all about fighting, but you still have to be hard on your stick and play hard. That’s something that we tried to address with all three guys.”
Anselmini was drafted by the London Knights in 2019, before being traded to the Steelheads. Prior to the start of the 2021-22 season before playing a game with the Knights, he played in 15 games with the Steelheads, scoring once and assisting on another goal.
For the Greyhounds, the deals fill some voids.
“A right-shot defenceman, some depth on the wing, and potentially someone that could play centre as well,” Raftis said. “That’s what we were trying to accomplish. Who those names were going to be over the last three weeks have varied majorly in who was going to be available.”
With the number of regular season games left for most teams than in previous years, Raftis said “for the most part, there wasn’t that craziness that usually comes with the deadline.”
In total, nine trades were completed involving 12 players and 16 draft picks.