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From the Stands: Big deal a long time coming

From the Stands
By Paul Osborne

Guelph Storm general manager Mike Kelly admits it was a very challenging few days.

He shipped Brody Milne, five second round draft picks, a third, two fourths and a 15th round pick to Windsor for winger Kerby Rychel and defenceman Nick Ebert. (That 15th round pick will become another second in 2019 if Ebert returns as an overage next season).

“I would have to say its one of the toughest I’ve done,” said Kelly acknowledging talks began two months ago.

“I traded Jason Spezza when I was with Windsor but in that deal I put an offer on the table and walked away for two weeks and let everyone else beat their brains out with offers. Then Belleville called to say they accepted my offer.”

The offer was Spezza and a second round pick for Kyle Wellwood. My how times have changed.

Kelly has always been a man of few trades and hates to give up any future.

“It took me out of my comfort zone,” he said of his latest deal. “I’m normally hoarding and prizing my draft picks and when I draft a player I fully expect him to finish his career here. People are asking ‘Are you all in now?’

We have taken some pretty serious steps to win, but are we at the point where we haven’t worried about next year or the year after? Absolutely not.  We think we will have a contending team both those years.”

The going price for rental players has gone crazy, but in this case the Storm got two high-end players and will be able to recover most of those picks through future trades. Even so, Kelly points out they still have five picks in the first four rounds in June.

“And I suspect we will sign five players from last year’s draft,” said the GM. “We are very high on that draft and don’t forget, we’re only going to lose six or seven players next year and have three in the top 30 in scoring right now (Jason Dickinson, Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri) so we’ll have a good team.”

The Rychel/Ebert trade had its hiccups. Originally it was expected to be Rychel and Slater Koekkoek but at the last minute Koekkoek decided he wanted to stay in Windsor, so it was back to the drawing board and Kelly said it took “hours upon hours” to get the Rychel/Ebert deal done.

Kelly added that with Ebert unsigned by the Los Angeles Kings, it meant there was the chance he could return as an overage for next season, so that led to the extra deliberation.

There are so few opportunities to really make a run for the title in junior hockey but this is the best team Guelph has had in a decade.

The problem is there are three other extremely strong teams in their conference (Erie, London and Sault Ste. Marie) and you have to beat them all to even have a chance to make it. London is already in the Memorial Cup as the host, so you’ll have to win the West and then beat the best in the East to make it.

But the West is where the greatest challenge lies, and the addition of Rychel and Ebert should really help. They are both top end talents.

From the Land of Oz . . . The addition of Ebert gives the Storm three L.A. Kings draft picks, along with Zac Leslie and Justin Auger . . . Robby Fabbri is turning into an impact player right before our eyes. He was no doubt thee player every team wanted in return as the Storm talked trade, but there was no way Kelly was going to part with him for any price . . . The Storm won two of three on the weekend. Fabbri had two goals in their 5-3 loss to Owen Sound Friday night; counted a goal and an assist in their 5-2 win in Plymouth on Saturday and their 7-4 win in Sarnia on Sunday. Zack Mitchell also had a six point weekend.

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