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Another Trade For Streaky Sparta, But Injuries Could Make For More

by Sean Gallagher | January 30, 2015, 10:56 PM ET

One could argue that no team in the SICHL has been harder to gauge this season than St. Louis' Spartans. At one time wallowing in the bottom three spots of the entire league, the Spartans have since gone on several lengthy winning streaks, the latest of which has them on the home ice side of the playoff picture. And while team GM Sean Gallagher has made trades that would be more in line with a bottom feeder, the roster continues to respond with wins.

On Thursday, the Spartans were dealt a blow they're ill-prepared to handle; top line forward Chris Kunitz, who has 21 goals and 47 points in just 38 games this year, suffered a leg injury that will sideline him for the rest of the regular season. The team responded with a late-night trade ... which didn't address the loss. Instead the Spartans closed up a deal with Nova Scotia to bring in Luca Sbisa and Connor Carrick in exchange for Marc Staal. Not only did that deal not address the scoring winger issue, it seemed to be a mkove to acquire depth while stepping backwards on pure talent in the near term.

"That deal had nothing to do with what happened to Chris," said Gallagher, "That was a deal where two teams were helping each other out. We got some depth, albeit with some riskier players, while the Schooners needed a stud like Marc to bolster their lineup now."

The Spartans, instead, addressed the loss of Kunitz by moving Michael Grabner to the top line and promoting Phillip Danault to the SICHL to suit up for his first pro game on Friday.

And how did the depleted lineup react? With another win, of course. Granted, Denver is struggling quite a bit this season, but Grabner did score his 20th of the year, newbie Sbisa notched his first Spartan point with an assist and Danault didn't falter, finishing even on the scoresheet and adding a couple hits.

"We'll see, I guess," said Gallagher, "Every time I've thrown my hands up and quit on this team, they've stuck it right in my (eye). It's like they want to prove me wrong or something. I still feel like we need to continmue to address the lineup, but I'm just not sure what to do with them."

It seems likely that the turmoil on the blueline will calm for now, as the D Corps can't really take many more trades and shuffles, but the Spartans would likely want to improve their goaltending group, if possible. And while the top six forward spots were playing well, it's still unknown if Ryan Kesler will be Franchised this year or traded off still. Center is a spot the Spartans could stand to improve, but it's hard to see how, as the much-rumored availability of Phil Kessel seems to have cooled down as his play has improved and the team has moved into the playoff picture.

"It's a wild ride, man," said Gallagher, "You never know what the email inbox will bring you next."

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