top of page

Steelheads' Potential 2024 OHL Trade Deadline Options

By: Mitchell Fox

The OHL Trade Deadline has gotten fiery. The overage player trade deadline passed at noon today and a variety of teams have made massive, and sometimes surprising, moves to bolster their team for a playoff run or trade players away for future assets.

The Mississauga Steelheads have already made a few trades, first acquiring Reed Gee from the Flint Firebirds in December and then acquiring Dean Loukus from the Saginaw Spirit, who needed to free up an overage spot for Josh Bloom. Today, they moved Zander Veccia to the Guelph Storm in exchange for four draft picks.

The Steelheads might fit somewhere in between a buyer and a seller this year. Coach and general manager James Richmond has made it clear he will do what makes the most sense at a given time and use the cards in his hand, but it is also clear their contending window is the next two years more so than this one. Adding a 17-year-old in Gee who is available to them for multiple years but also getting Loukus as a veteran presence in the locker room demonstrates that.

Across the three trades they have made, the Steelheads have brought in six draft picks and moved five, while bringing in two players for one.

The Steelheads sit near the top of the Eastern Conference but they also have a young team and are focused on the future. They could add a strong player or two to bolster their lineup but will likely do so with players born in 2005 or 2006 to make sure the addition helps them compete not only this season but next.

Having filled their third overage slot with a respectable scorer (Loukus has 28 points this season) and added defensive depth, the Steelheads’ main need is for forward depth, which has been especially evident lately with Angus MacDonell (injury), Lucas Karmiris (injury), Adam Zidlicky (World Juniors) and Marc Boudreau (suspension) missing games lately. A main want may be a second-line center, which would allow for Luke Misa to play the wing and Karmiris and Jack Van Volsen to play on the third line. 

On defence, a top-four left-handed defenceman could be useful to reduce the load on recent acquisition Reed Gee and 16-year-old Luke Dragusica but Jakub Fibigr should return soon, so that is up in the air.

It is reasonable to believe Mississauga's preference is to use draft picks rather than players. Jack Van Volsen could be a player in need of a fresh start but his improved play of late and rapport with former U16 AAA teammate Porter Martone mean there might not be a worthwhile move out there. Similarly, Zidlicky could move before returning from the World Juniors, but likely only if the Steelheads get a better player coming back who will be eligible next year.

Lastly, the Steelheads have an import slot available to them. They very well could use it, probably on a one-year player so they can fill it with Jacob Galvas or a CHL Import Draft pick next year.

Here are some of my (completely conjectural) ideas for what the Steelheads could do before this year’s OHL Trade Deadline.

Call back a favourite trade partner, the Sarnia Sting

Last year, the Steelheads made a pair of massive trades with the Sarnia Sting. They dealt Ethan Del Mastro and Luca Del Bel Belluz to the Sting in exchange for Porter Martone, Angus MacDonell and more. Martone and MacDonell are now key pieces for Mississauga, with Martone looking like a star in the making. They also made a trade with Sarnia this season, moving overager Kai Schwindt upon his return from the American Hockey League (AHL).

The first player who catches my eye as a fit for Mississauga is Easton Wainwright. The 18-year-old center would be eligible to play next year, so he checks that box. Despite injuries, Wainwright has 19 points in 22 games this season, a scoring pace that suggests he could be a difference-maker for the Steelheads. He does not have the best faceoff stats, which could be a red flag considering the Steelheads’ need to improve in that area, but that issue could be solved by committee. He is an alternate captain with the Sting and the Steelheads could use some more leadership, however, that could mean he may not be available for trade.

Another possibility for the Steelheads is to acquire an import player from Sarnia. They already moved Sandis Vilmanis, the Florida Panthers prospect and Latvian World Juniors standout, so another option is Roman Kukumberg. The 18-year-old Slovakian has eight points in 16 games this year, as he missed some time with injuries and the World Juniors. I would think they would use their spot on someone more impactful right away but if youth is the preference, Kukumberg seems like an option.

Talk to the Firebirds again

The Steelheads made a deal with the Flint Firebirds in December, acquiring defenceman Reed Gee as part of a deal involving five draft picks. It was necessary after Fibigr got hurt and while Dragusica was suspended and Gee, a 2006 eligible to play for the Steelheads for two more seasons after this one, was a good fit. That said, the Firebirds have some other pieces that could make sense for Mississauga.

I have my eye on an import player once again: Simon Slavicek.

Slavicek is a Czech import player who was at Team Czechia’s World Juniors camp with Zidlicky but was cut just before the tournament. With Fibigr, another Czech, as their only import player at the moment, the Steelheads not only have room for Slavicek but a fit for him in the dressing room. His 22 points in 26 games this year are a testament to his scoring ability, while he can also play as a center and win some faceoffs, so he fits a lot of criteria for Mississauga. Slavicek is 19 and likely could be moved if Jacob Galvas comes to North America next year or if the Steelheads make a selection in this summer’s CHL Import Draft. 

Another player from the Firebirds who could be in play is Mississauga product Marko Stojkov, though I imagine the price will not be worth it if the Steelheads’ focus is on younger players and they already acquired Gee. 

Give some IceDogs a new home

The Niagara IceDogs have already proven to be a seller at this deadline. As such, Richmond could certainly give IceDogs general manager Wes Consorti a call about which of his 2004 or 2005 forwards might be available.

A big name is Mike Levin, but he likely fits a role a little too close to the one the Steelheads want Misa to focus on. A better option might be Mathieu Paris. Paris, who is having a better year in Niagara – 18 points in 25 games – after a slower start to his OHL career in London, could slide onto the second or third line and push Boudreau down onto the fourth line where he fits best. The last time he played in Mississauga, on Dec. 10, Paris had two assists, seven shots and won 15 of 29 faceoffs he took, the first time he took more than 11 faceoffs this year. Could that be an indication of Niagara trying to sell his abilities at center? Probably not, but perhaps.

Another IceDog who could be of interest for the Steelheads is Alex Assadourian, a 2005-born center with a bit of edge to match his 16 points in 23 games this year. Last season, he took off on a hot streak after being traded to the IceDogs from the Sudbury Wolves at the trade deadline, so the Steelheads would hope for the same from Assadourian this year. Penalties (including against Mississauga) and injuries could be concerns for the Steelheads though, so the price would have to be low.

Deal with a rival, the Barrie Colts

Finally, a team that is getting some attention for their fall-off this year is the Barrie Colts, who sit second-last in the Eastern Conference. The Colts do have some intriguing players, though the price for known Steelheads killer Beau Jelsma might be a bit hefty for Richmond and company and Cole Beaudoin and Eduard Sale are not likely to be available. 

Roenick Jodoin and Tai York are more likely players to be moved by the Colts, but as 2004s, they do not seem like Richmond’s desired acquisitions unless the offer is too good to pass up.

A Colt who could be an intriguing young fit for the Steelheads is Bode Stewart. The Oakville product has 10 points in 21 games this season, on the heels of four points in 41 games with the Saginaw Spirit last season. He was traded for a second and a third-round pick in the offseason, more than the Steelheads would probably be willing to move for him, but it still feels possible. Stewart’s two goals this season have both come against the Steelheads at Paramount Fine Foods Centre, so maybe the Steelheads would like to build on that, or maybe the Colts and Stewart are happy to be a thorn in Mississauga’s side.

It might make more sense for the Steelheads to acquire a defenceman from the Colts. With Connor Punnett already having been moved as an overager, Grayson Tiller might make the most sense. The 18-year-old does not produce a ton offensively and might take more penalties than the Steelheads would like, but another big, young blueliner to play on the second or third pair might be a good addition if the price is not too high.

Do something a bit less predictable

The four teams mentioned above are certainly not the only ones making moves and not the only ones selling players. In the next 24 hours or so, there could still be a number of splashes. 

The Peterborough Petes have orchestrated one of the biggest tear-downs possible this year, so they are definitely a team Richmond and company could contact. That said, I do not see many great fits. They do not have many ‘05s they are likely to move. But one never knows.

The Windsor Spitfires are another team likely to sell, while the Kingston Frontenacs and North Bay Battalion have added but could still make some changes to shake things up. The possibilities for Richmond and company are not as endless as they were last week, but there are possibilities out there.

Overall, while I expect the Steelheads to be quiet, they can never be counted on to be too quiet. Every fish gets lured in every once in a while.


bottom of page