St. Stephen – With the MHL “soft” trade deadline of Dec. 1 approaching, the St. Stephen Aces have made some shrewd moves with the goal of creating an even stronger team, with a deep lineup.
“These weren’t panic moves,” said Aces Head Coach and GM, Emery Olauson, Thursday morning.
“These aren’t moves of desperation, they are roster maintenance.”
“As a coach, you don’t want to be impulsive,” added Associate Coach, Bill Rotheisler.
“This is a short and long term-double whammy. We’re not sacrificing in the deal – we win from all accounts.
“Stocking the shelves and making sure you’re gonna be good a month down the road is important.”
So what moves have the Aces made?
First, the Aces have traded Defense, no. 44 Patrick Musico for what they consider a pretty considerable package of future considerations, draft picks, and prospect Philippe Casault. Musico moves on to the Grand Falls Rapids, and Casault should see Aces ice time this season.
“Musico is a big prospect in my opinion,” said Olauson.
“The reason I was able to wrap my head around giving him up is Grand Falls made a good offer – one that gives us a draft pick and future considerations. It just wasn’t fair to the future of the team to not do the deal. We were short forwards, but had lots of healthy D.”
“Overall, we are extremely happy with the return,” added Rotheisler.
“Not only does it make room for a pretty high-end free agent we have been working on, but it makes us better immediately, and makes our organization stronger and deeper.”
And the next move?
The Aces are bringing in former teammate of no. 25, Everett Hicks, and no. 26, Brandon Costa in Forward, Shawn Campbell, who is part of what Olauson described as the “runaway first place freight train” that are the Nelson Leafs, from Nelson, BC.
“The immediate benefit is the roster space it (moving Musico) allows to add Shawn Campbell,” said Olauson.
“Campbell was teammates the last two seasons with Everett Hicks and Brandon Costa,” said Rotheisler. “Shawn was signed for multiple reasons. First, he fits the Aces mould of being a strong two-way player.
“Shawn had 70 points in 82 games with the Castlegar Rebels for two seasons, after asking for a trade during the off-season started the season with 12 points in 11 games with the Nelson Leafs in the KIJHL, a league that is proving to be a strong development league for the MHL.
“With Nelson and Castlegar, Shawn was both a fixture 5-on-5, on the penalty-kill and on the power play. Over the past weekend Shawn was literally the only player to score for the Leafs during their two games.
“We were exceptionally deep on the back end, and this deal allowed us to immediately address in the short term some injury woes we had up front, all while also getting deeper in the long-
term on our back end, while freeing up some opportunity and ice time to what we believe are some pretty high end young guys we have on our back end right now,” he added.
“There were several reasons,” said Olauson on the moves.
“This gives the depth of players we need. Right now, if we were to sustain more injuries, we don’t have the players to go to. This is an exercise in accountability, and protection against not enough players long-term.”
The Aces have been relying heavily on the current roster, while no. 19, Ethan Stuckless, no. 17, Nick French, and no. 18, Adam Zimmerman have been out with injuries.
Olauson said he hopes to see Zimmerman back on the ice this weekend, and the update on French is he will be back in the line-up sooner than anticipated, but with no date set. Stuckless is due to return in December, but again, is without a set return date.
And when should we expect to see Campbell?
This weekend, say both men.
“We are happy with a lot of our guys with their two-way play,” said Rotheisler.
“Shawn fits that mold, but also provides us with one of the best penalty killers around, and the best 5-on-3 guy I have seen in junior hockey.
“In addition, he happens to be able to put up points as well. He has succeeded in all areas of the game literally everywhere he has played”
And although the loss of Musico is bittersweet, both say everything has been done with the best interests of the strongest team they can build in mind.
“We are excited for Musico, and the opportunity he has in Grand Falls and wish him the best,” said Rotheisler.
“The prospect coming back is a draft pick of Rimouski in the QMJHL. He made it far into the their camp this last season, and is the captain of his major midget team in Cole Harbour, a team he plays on with another Aces prospect, Cole Vardy.”
“This is a good group,” added Olauson.
“We just keep getting stronger.”
The Aces hit the ice this weekend Friday, Nov. 2, meeting the Amherst Ramblers. Puck-drop is 7 p.m.