Generals bolster Roc City Connection with trade ahead of training camp

When you think of August, for those not lucky enough to understand the value of this time in the junior hockey landscape, you do not instivively think trade

For the Northeast Generals, they lost a player that they developed. Payton Felix is heading to the Corpus Christi IceRays. The veteran forward has one final season to make an impact and earn a scholarship and a spot at the Division One level. The speed and jam he brings wherever he goes will be what any team who offers him a spot most likely sees on the ice first.

As Head Coach Bryan Erikson said of the trade on Felix’s departure, keeping in mind that the team has a plethora of returning forwards, and players in the USHL that could come back to Attleboro projected a bit ahead of him “This is a tough trade to make. Payton has been with our organization for 2 full years. 1 year with our U18 team and 1 year with our NA3 team. He is a fantastic kid that works extremely hard both on and off the ice. His motor is amazing and speed is elite. As an 01 Forward he had a few wings in front of him and I think the trade to Corpus will help him get some more ice time and bring a veteran presence to the Ice Rays.”

When you look at the success the NA3HL Generals had in getting to their league’s final four, the Fraser Cup, Felix was an instrumental part in that, putting up 51 points in 40 games in the regular season, then four points in eight playoff games. He will provide speed and leadership to an IceRays group needing it in their first season back on the ice in two years. Erikson and General Manager Matt Dibble proved that their loyalty, as it has been, remains in giving their players the best chance to find a college home. For some players, that best chance does not present itself in Attleboro.

With that loyalty, the Generals get back two players they know well through Dibble. As Erikson says of one of their acquisitions ” As for what we are getting back CJ Zezima is a kid that has played Roc City for a few years that we are very familiar with. He played for our friend Ryan Cruthers with the Charlotte Rush and was a dominant player for them. We expect him to make a huge impact on Day 1 with us.”

Dibble added ” Zez is a player who I would have considered as in the family before he was even a general. He plays Roc City, and is represented by one of my trusted friends in this business, Ben Osborne. My affiliation with the Charlotte Rush (where Zez played last year) gave me a pretty good understanding of who he is as a player and person. Ryan Cruthers coached him and billeted him last year in Charlotte, and I trust no ones development more. Ryan instills discipline and culture both on and off the ice and I look forward to seeing CJ bring what he’s learned to Northeast. CJ is the second player who comes to us via Charlotte Rush, joining Jared Scott. CJ is a kid I expect draws a lot of college attention early after a dynamic yet under-the-radar year in Charlotte.”

As for the other player they aquired today, they got the rights of Shawn McEwen. As Erikson said ” And Shaun will most likely be in Tri-City this year but having his rights in case it doesn’t work out for any reason is huge. He is a very skilled D man that is from MA and is committed to UMASS. So having a local player as a potential high end addition is a big get… Our roster is now very settled as we gear up for Training Camp next week. Really excited about the opportunity to do something special this year.”

Dibble added ” McEwen (or Q) is a kid I have known for a while and plays with me (for the Roc City Elite program) in the summer. He is a UMass Commit and slated to play in the USHL next year. Should plans not work out, we would be happy to have him in Northeast. He is a kid with an NHL frame and ability. For him, I think it’s about challenging himself and allowing his hockey IQ to catch up to his natural ability. If he does end up in northeast, we would have big expectations for him right away.”

Training camp starts next week, the season begins early next month, and Erikson and Dibble have a veteran roster full of players they know coming back, and coming to Attleboro from teams both are familiar with, along with a lot of talent in the USHL that could make their way back to Attleboro. Regardless of the roster this group opens with next month, they will have a pipeline of talent at levels above their league, and at tiers leading into it that can help.

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Expansion Draft Three Thoughts

The NHL Expansion Draft is now complete. The Vegas Golden Knights have their initial roster. They selected 30 players and traded for a few more. By the end of the night Vegas ended up with 12 picks in the 2017 draft. Five of those picks are in the first two rounds. Here are some quick thoughts on what took place tonight.

  • Why on earth did Florida give up Reily Smith just to lose a 30 goal scorer in Jonathan Marchessault? I get that Florida is not a cap team, but in my mind you cannot justify giving up a player who is just a year removed from a 50 point season in a third line role. Smith will bring some needed depth scoring to Vegas right away. To me this was the worse trade of the night for a team losing a player to the Golden Knights. While yes, the Panthers gained five million dollars in cap room, they lost two promising players who can score with some regularity. The Panthers still have a bright outlook next year, but they now need a bit more out of their up and comers and have to hope Jaromir Jagr comes back for another season. Florida just gave up 88 points between the two from last season to rid themselves of five million dollars in cap room.
  • Look for Vegas to pick up another goalie or more shortly. Tonight they selected Calvin Pickard, Marc-Andre Fleury, and J.F Berube. Berube was selected as part of a deal with the Islanders where Vegas also took on the contract of injured forward Mikhail Grabovski, and Jake Bischoff. The former Isles goalie has an expiring contract, and Vegas needs multiple goalies for its AHL and ECHL teams. Pickard is a serviceable backup that can start when called upon. Look for the Golden Knights to draft multiple goalies as well. Jake Oettinger out of Boston University would be one possible choice for them. He could move through their system quickly and start for them in three years.
  • Vegas has a lot of options with some of the players it picked up. Teams are willing to pay a premium for quality defenseman like Marc Methot, and Vegas wants more picks and assets to help them build for the future. Dallas has let teams know they are looking at moving their third pick and need help on their blue line. The Golden Knights have plenty of options and could put together a package to get that pick.



Potential to Trade-Vancouver

Before reading, keep in mind this is merely pure speculation based on the Canucks prospect pool. This is one of a lot of scenarios i bet Jim Benning is thinking of right now.

Canucks fans, do you like having more draft picks? Think Jim Benning way over paid for  a very physical yet very slow skating Eric Gudbranson? Want a forward core that can play defense and score(more than just the Sedins)? Upset that the Oilers got Frozen Four Most Oustanding player Drake Caggiula?  Ok, well then hear me out.

I understand Pierre Luc-Dubois is an outstanding player, but what if I told you there was another similar player who may not score 30 goals a season with regularity , but could help set up a future 30 goal a season guy like Brock Boeser. This player had over one hundred points this season playing for the most recognized Junior A team in the BCHL ,the Penticton Vees,this year and was only one of three players from Junior A to make the U18 World Championship squad for team Canada.

This player’s name is  Tyson Jost. Now look, I understand that Dubois is who the Canucks are most likely targeting, but if you could trade back and pick up a second or third rounder from say the Canadiens or another team selecting between 9-15 would you do it and risk Dubois not being there? Or would you ask for more back from that team ?

If so what would it take? I might suggest a second this year to move up and say a third round pick next year. Of course I wouldn’t have had to have suggested that if not for a certain general manager getting fleeced by Florida.

Ok, say this scenario happens and the Habs part with a second and third to move up and draft Dubois or Logan Brown. What does this mean for the Canucks? It means they would be in a position to add two extra prospects with more picks, and pick someone who could be skating in Utica in two years. Jost is  that refined in his game. What ever line he was on at the U18 World Championships he made better. Defensively, Jost was one of Canada’s best forwards. Plus, you know that if you want Dubois to develop well he will most likely spend at least one if not two more years in the QMJHL,

Jost will spend this year playing against older more physical competition in the NCAA for the defending national champions in an NHL-like facility. North Dakota has all of the tools needed for Jost to develop fast. At a maximum you would probably wait only two years for Jost to play in Vancouver. Plus, on some level wouldn’t you like to see Boeser and Jost developing chemistry this year at North Dakota knowing that they will be playing for you in two seasons?

Look, Dubois is a highly skilled elite talent, if the Canucks are not offered a decent deal they should pick him. If some team is willing to over pay to move up, should the Canucks listen, move down and draft Jost or another similar player? Absolutely.


Potential to Trade-Edmonton

Coming into the 2016 NHL draft the Edmonton Oilers are faced with  a ton of options. They can pay a steep price to move up and draft a franchise defining forward named Auston Matthews,Jesse Puljujarvi,or Patrick Laine.

That will not happen because yes, you can have too many Connor Mcdavids on your team when you need a star defenseman. There are multiple star defenseman that will be available when the Oilers pick. Edmonton has a great forward core and do not need more help right now building it out.

Depending on who they value most, there could be an incentive to trade down with a team looking to jump up to grab Logan Brown, Pierre-Luc Dubois, or Matthew Tkachuk. The Oilers’ system could use some more defensive prospects to bolster the cupboard a bit. Trading for more picks and still getting the player you want would be a slam dunk move to make. We think their trade partner will be another Canadian team with different prospect needs.

Who to trade with? Well, some teams right below them could be looking to move up to grab one of those elite forwards. Vancouver would require the least return for the Canucks to give up, but since the Canucks have a small amount of draft picks this year, do not look for that to happen.

We think Edmonton should trade with Montreal. The Canadiens have an extra second round pick and could use that and a future late round pick to move up to four. The Habs could use that pick on a big physical center like Logan Brown.

The Oilers could add depth to their prospect pool and use that first round pick on Mikhail Sergachyov. The Russian defenseman plays a physical,two way game, and can provide Edmonton with some much needed grit with a little offensive upside to compliment it. The Windsor Spitfire (OHL) had a 57 point for the regular season this past year and has proven to be a strong puck passing defenseman who knows where to be on the ice at all times. If Mikhail can improve his point production this year, he will be ready to play in the NHL next season.




Potential to Trade-Toronto

This brief series will focus on which teams picking in the top ten might look to trade. These teams could look to trade up or down.


Ok, the only reason that Toronto would trade rights to Auston Matthews is if it was overwhelmed with an offer. The only team that may trade for him is Arizona, who is desperate to boost sagging attendance. Matthews would accomplish this quite nicely.If Toronto could get two first rounders and two top line or defense pairing players,then it should be considered.

The Coyotes would be making this deal to sure up attendance numbers by bringing Matthews to town. Auston would compliment the pieces the Coyotes have right now and make them playoff ready now.The only piece the team would be missing is a top flight goaltender.

If Matthews goes to Toronto,he will have to wait to compete in the playoffs for at least two years. The Leafs franchise has a ton of top prospect talent throughout its system headlined by Mitch Marner and William Nylander. Until those prospects consistently prove themselves in the NHL, there will be some questions regardless of the talent of those prospects. If Toronto forces Arizona  to give up more players than a first line forward and top pair defenseman then it should do this deal in a heartbeat. Two top picks plus two stars now are all worth more than Auston Matthews would be.

The Arizona forward plays an outstanding two way game and does a great job playing defense,however he still has a jump to make from the Swiss League to the NHL. We expect him to about 20 games into the season. Matthews may not win the Calder but he will help whatever team he is on immensely next year. We think Auston will have a better season with the Coyotes than with the Leafs due to the supporting cast he would have in Arizona. Even if the Leafs sign Steven Stamkos which is far from guaranteed, there is no guarantee that the other Leafs prospects will have the necessary seasons to make the playoffs. Arizona came closer to it than the Leafs.

Reference to Reporter Jimmy Murray who broke this rumor