Built for ‘good, long run’
Kingston Frontenacs general manager Darren Keily was able to relax somewhat Wednesday following the end of the Ontario Hockey League trading period.
While he termed it a stressful few weeks, Keily was happy with the end result. Since New Year’s Day, the Frontenacs have acquired forwards Gabe Vilardi, Cliff Pu, Max Jones and defencemen Sean Day and Mitchell Byrne in the busiest trading period ever for the organization.
“We’ve become a better hockey club. That was the goal all along,” Keily said while viewing Wednesday’s practice session for a team that has been transformed in moves orchestrated by him and Doug Gilmour, the president of hockey operations.
“We hope we can have a good, long run in the playoffs. That’s what the team was built for. You have just got to put the best possible team that we could on the ice and that’s what we have done.”
The five players for which Kingston traded have 139 games of OHL playoff and Memorial Cup experience. The price paid for all of the dealing was players Cody Morgan, Nathan Dunkley and Sergey Popov and 14 draft picks.
Keily defended emptying the cupboard of future OHL draft selections, saying that was the landscape for organizations loading up for a run at a championship.
“You take your shot at it and then rebuild and start over again. Ours got a little bit fast-tracked with the success we had early in the season,” Keily said.
“We will be on the other foot next year. I don’t think it will take as long as what some people might think. But we just thought this was the best opportunity for us this year.”
Keily said it was when head coach Jay Varady and the team recovered from a stretch of just picking up three out of 14 points in October and went on to win seven out of eight games that the decision was made to be a buyer at the trade deadline. Goaltender Jeremy Helvig being in his overage season was a factor, too. Helvig is arguably the best goaltender in the league.
“It is just a cycle and it depends on what cycle you are on, what the division is like, what the conference is like, your goaltending, everything,” Keily said. “Everybody is on different time waves. We are no different than other teams. Hamilton did the same thing. Windsor did the same last year. London is now getting young guys back.
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