Reviewing the Trade: Norsemen and Fire Antsby Matt MacInnis | May 25, 2017, 1:36 PM ET
It was supposed to be the trade that put one team over the top and would start a rebuild-on-the-fly for another. It worked out for one team.
On September 12, 2014, the Vancouver Island Norsemen and Philadelphia Fire Ants completed a rare trade between the two teams. The blockbuster deal was struck the day before the 2014 SICHL Entry Draft and involved just three assets: the Norsemen acquired superstar defenceman Duncan Keith in exchange for up-and-coming blueliner Christopher Tanev and the 7th overall pick. The Fire Ants selected Nick Ritchie the next day.
Almost three years later, the teams are set to do battle for the Continental Cup.
The Norsemen believed they were approaching a championship window, and adding an elite talent like Keith would guarantee them many years of deep playoff runs. Although the team is now in its first Cup Final in franchise history, the previous two seasons have been among the biggest disappointments in league history as talent-laden Norsemen teams have failed to make the playoffs in both years. Keith himself has produced mixed results. In his first year with the Norsemen, he suffered a season-ending knee injury with 11 games left while the team was chasing a playoff spot (which it missed after losing game 82 on the schedule). Last season he managed just four goals and 31 points while skating to a terrible minus-10 rating. This year he put up big points (50), but was a team-worst minus-16.
“…We certainly didn’t anticipate adding a piece like Duncan. His skill, leadership and awesome hair are going to make a real difference for our team,” said GM MacInnis at the time the trade was made.
The deal helped the Fire Ants accomplish their goals. Although they did miss the playoffs in 2014-15, the team made the second round last season and now find themselves just four wins away from the franchise’s second Continental Cup. Tanev has been a key contributor since he arrived, playing 217 regular season games and 21 (and counting) playoff appearances. The stellar young defenceman should be a part of the Ants organization for four more years at the end of this season.
Later this week, Duncan Keith and Chris Tanev will meet in the Continental Cup Finals. Tanev has 7 points and is plus-2 in 17 games played. Keith has been one of the biggest disappointments of the playoffs, registering just a single point in his 10 appearances – although it’s worth noting that he’s been relegated largely to spot duty during the playoffs after his uneven performance during the regular season.