December 03, 2013
Warren Rychel wanted his son, Kerby Rychel, to have a shot at the Memorial Cup in his final year of junior hockey, but it won't come while enriching the team that won the host bid over the Windsor Spitfires.
The Guelph Storm, after 24-plus hours of being in a holding pattern on a blockbuster trade, have delivered the boatload of priority selection choices that the elder Rychel was craving to get the Team Canada forward from Windsor. Los Angeles Kings prospect Nick Ebert — it's the second time he and Kerby Rychel have been moved on the same day — will also head to the Midwest Division, instead of his Spitfires' D partner, Tampa Bay Lightning first-rounder Slater Koekkoek.
Officially, Guelph parts with 18-year-old Brody Milne, its second-round picks from 2014 through '18 and three later choices: Windsor's original fourth in this spring's draft, Guelph's four in 2015, a third in '16 that was originally the Kitchener Rangers' and a conditional 15th-rounder in 2017 (if Ebert returns to the OHL as an overage player). Bet the latter beats the most fruit, kidding.
From Tony Saxon (@SaxonOnTheStorm):
Confirmed: Milne and 8 picks to Windsor for Kerby Rychel and Nick Ebert.
— Tony Saxon (@SaxonOnTheStorm) December 4, 2013
— Kerby Rychel (@Krychs) December 4, 2013
One has to admit it does paint a picture, though. The Spitfires were fined and stripped of picks in 2012 after OHL commissioner David Branch found they had paid players "improper benefits." They stayed in the bidding process for the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup that ultimately proved a "slam dunk" for the London Knights.
Now the deal — and while there might be blockbuster-trade fatigue across the OHL, two high NHL first-round picks changing uniforms is huge — sets up Guelph for a shot at the big post-season prize.
The Storm, along with the Erie Otters, are on the shortlist of teams that could realistically aspire to knock off London in the Western Conference final and force the Knights to enter the Memorial Cup through the 'side door' as a host team. Should anyone draw a line from the Cup decision to a trade that stacks London's competitor, well, I can't be held responsible.
The Storm average an OHL-best 5.11 goals per game. In Kerby Rychel, who's 6-foot-1 and 202 pounds, they're getting an offensive forward who packs more physical heft than most of their high-end forwards. The Storm's top-end scorers — Carolina Hurricanes second-rounder Brock McGinn, Winnipeg Jets pick Scott Kosmachuk, overage Zack Mitchell and promising sophomore Robby Fabbri — tend toward the lithe and speedy side. Los Angeles Kings-drafted wing Justin Auger, all 6-7 and 231 of him, is more of a complementary scorer. So there is that.
Storm General Manager Mike Kelly on Kerby Rychel "In my eyes he might be the best power forward in the league." #OHL
— Darren Stevenson (@DarrenStevenson) December 4, 2013
More Mike Kelly "You'd have to say that we're all in but I also don't want to paint a picture that next year is going to be a rebuild." #OHL
— Darren Stevenson (@DarrenStevenson) December 4, 2013
Ebert had a rough sophomore season in '11-12, when he ended up being the very last player selected in the NHL draft by the Los Angeles Kings. The 19-year-old has stabilized his career and been a solid partner alongside Koekkoek, with the two sharing the OHL plus/minus lead at +27.
There were, needless to say, a lot of complications that held up the trade, which no doubt will lead to many plumbing whether another skate will drop.
Windsor was stripped of its 2013 first-rounder, which would have been No. 4 overall, due to the OHL sanctions. Guelph's top pick, 16-year-old defenceman Garrett McFadden, also stands to be bumped down the depth chart now that Guelph's back end boasts:
— Three NHL-drafted 19-year-olds in captain Matt Finn, Ebert and his fellow Kings selection, puck-mover Zac Leslie;
— A stable overage, Steven Trojanovic;
— Two 18-year-olds, Ottawa Senators choice Ben Harpur and import Phil Baltisberger, who skated for Team Switzerland in the 2013 world junior championship.
Putting one and one together makes it pretty much verifiable that McFadden was bandied about, as many have suggested. That would gum up the works considerably due to the OHL's embargo on moving players while they are away for international tournaments. As a member of Team Canada, Kerby Rychel could not be moved between Dec. 10 and Jan. 5. First-rounders essentially can only be traded in between Jan. 5 and the Jan. 10 trade deadline since most are playing in the world under-17 challenge tournament.
Warren Rychel also gains a bluff. It's easier to believe the GM could retain his two best 19-year-olds, Koekkoek and Montreal Canadiens prospect Brady Vail, and try to stay competitive instead doing a more thorough sell-off.
There is still the possibility to dangle Koekkoek, since it's not exactly secret that he could become available. Warren Rychel parted with Colorado Avalanche-drafted forward Michael Clarke and two second-rounders in January to add Koekkoek from the Peterborough Petes. Koekkoek is pulling down heavy minutes and has looked like the 19-year-old people imagined he could be three seasons ago in Peterborough, before shoulder problems scuttled successive seasons while he played on ninth-place teams.
Milne, who wears the same No. 16 as Kerby Rychel, offers some potential to Windsor as a solid offensive contributor. The Guelph native has eight goals and 15 points in 28 games, so the return could pay off if the 18-year-old ends up returning as an overage in 2015-16.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to email@example.com.