Barrie Colts general manger Jason Ford admits it’s never easy trading a popular veteran player like Lucas Chiodo.
Yet with the club’s focus clearly on the future, the Jan. 9 deal that sends the overage forward to the Ottawa 67’s in return for a third-round pick in 2021 (Sault Ste. Marie), a second-round pick in 2024 (Kingston) and the OHL rights to Shaw Boomhower was a move Ford believes makes sense.
“We’ve established that fact, that we’re looking toward the next few years here with the prior trades we made,” said the Colts general manager, who had already traded captain Justin Murray and New York Rangers blue -line prospect Joey Keane in recent deals. “There were a good amount of teams that coveted (Lucas) and we thought it was the best thing to do, and give Lucas a good opportunity.
“Over the last five or six years we’ve obviously made lots of deals and been in the running and given up lots of picks, so this is a good chance to recoup some of those picks.”
The deal comes ahead of the noon Jan. 10th trade deadline and the Colts may not be just done yet.
“We’re not closing shop, that’s for sure,” said Ford, who mentioned the club is looking at other offers as well as possibly signing one or two of the team’s prospects and getting them into the lineup . “There’s just all kinds of different possibilities and things to look at, which is good come trade time because you’re always trying to improve the hockey club right down to the wire,” he added.
Despite being a late 15th-round selection (293rd overall) in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection, Chiodo developed into one of the league’s top point producers racking up 49 goals and 129 points since the beginning of last season.
With 19 goals and 50 points in 39 games this season, Chiodo is tied for 13th overall in OHL scoring and will join an Ottawa team that many consider the favourites to win an OHL title and play for the Memorial Cup.
“There haven’t been too many 15-rounders that made it,” Ford said of the talented playmaker. “We signed him right out of camp and he played here for four years. Obviously he has lots of skill, is a great kid and a local talent. It’s a very difficult thing to do, but moving forward is best for both sides.
“He’s going to have a good opportunity with a good club in Ottawa.”
The Colts are hoping to convince Boomhower to leave the East Coast Hockey League and finish the season with them.
The feisty winger has got into seven games with the Cincinnati Cyclones this season, scoring two goals. The 20-year-old played two years in Mississauga before being dealt to Ottawa last season.
“There’s a possibility that he comes here and plays,” Ford said.
The Colts were also hoping Matthew Timms, acquired in an earlier deal from London, would join the club, but the overage defenceman has decided instead to go play CIS hockey with the Guelph Gryphons.
“The thinking here was that we give up a (conditional) 15th-round pick and get him to play here, if not we trade him somewhere else,” Ford said. “It didn’t work out, but that was fine. That gamble was a 15th-round pick and we can get that back from London here.”
The Colts also made another roster move, releasing goaltender Maxsim Zhukov. The Las Vegas Knights prospect, who lost his starting job in Barrie a month ago, will return to the United States Hockey League and play for the Green Bay Gamblers, his previous team.
That will allow younger goaltenders Kai Edmonds and Jet Greaves to see more action.
“We really like that goaltending tandem,” Ford said. “We have an 18-year-old goalie (Edmonds) and 17-year-old goalie (Greaves) that can carry the load for the rest of the season so they can get a lot of mileage and that should be beneficial.”
The departure of all these veterans will open up opportunities for younger players to step into bigger roles over the second-half of the season. Ford points to Nathan Allensen, Matthew Hill and Vic Hadfield who are all logging more minutes on the back end and getting more important roles that will help improve their game.
Young forwards like Riley Piercey and Tyson Foerster should also see more minutes and a bigger role.
“It’s nice when you have good young players waiting in the wings that can go into those spots,” Ford said. “You’re not forced to look at other options that may not be viable for you.
“Trading away older players is never an easy thing to do, but at the same time it’s kind of exciting to see what the future will bring with some of these young kids.”
The Colts return to action Jan. 10 when they host the Sudbury Wolves at the Barrie Molson Centre. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
PHOTO: The Barrie Colts traded overage forward Lucas Chiodo to the Ottawa 67’s ahead of the Jan. 10 OHL trade deadline, acquiring second-round and third-round picks along with forward Shaw Boomhower. TERRY WILSON/OHL IMAGES