'Draft Summit a Success' says Acadia GMby Marcel Cormier | August 31, 2017, 11:18 PM ET
"What we did...the moves we made...they were definitely not part of the plan when we go on the plane to leave for Edmonton," said Acadia owner and General Manager Guy Flaming. "That said, the end result is something we're pretty happy about so no one around here is complaining."
When he left Saint John a week ago, Flaming had 11 trade picks in his back pocket and seemed content yet , while in Alberta, he added three more for 2017 and a pair of 2nd rounders for 2018. The cost was high including fan favorite and perceived top defenceman Dustin Byfuglien but still the GM insists his club is better.
"Believe me, trading Buff wasn't even remotely near my 'To Do' list but sometimes you have be open to outside the box opportunities and at this time of year, those chances can disappear quickly so you have to be ready to act."
The trade market began heating up the week prior to the Summit as the deadine to sign Franchise Players drew near. Flaming intended on not signing any of the team's 5 impending UFAs to a Franchise Player Contract as he felt doing so would clog the system at a key position. Dan Girardi was the only player worth such a deal but at a $4M price tag, it would be too costly for a 7th D-man.
Then, out of curiosity, Flaming floated the name of Justin Braun to gauge reaction.
"A few teams kicked tires but one in particular came very close to fruition," said Flaming in regard to serious conversations with Chris Baker of the newly created Toronto Metropolitans. "It didn't come together in the end but it went on long enough that I was in a position where I had to sign Girardi so as not to be short a guy. When that deal was signed and then the trade talks fell apart...I suddenly had one extra guy."
Flaming's intention was to move a defenceman from the roster, likely Braun, and try to address a need up front in the process. When he arrived in Edmonton, he set to work meeting quietly with a number of GMs at the Canadian Brewhouse. Although he had a number of conversatons, nothing was happening. Then, over a plate of face melting buffalo chicken fingers, Flaming connected with London Monarchs GM Michael Oram.
To Bears: Patrick Maroon (69), LON 4 (2017)
"I wanted to add a winger that would come with a manageable contract and Michael was looking to add organizational depth so it was a deal that made sense for both teams."
Maroon, 28, is a restricted free agent who will command $2.5M this year. It's expected that the Bears will sign him to a 4-year deal.
The trade addressed the hole up front but not the extra defender on the active roster. Flaming continued to shop Braun but to no avail. Then news started to break of seemingly crazy deals between Las Vegas and Denver with the Rapids suddenly snapping up veteran players heading into the final year of their contracts. Eventually the call from Sam Myers came.
"Sam was ultra aggressive - at one point he wanted pretty much half of my roster but I explained to him that I was not interested in blowing up a contending team," said Flaming. "It was late, like middle of the night, when we got around to seriously discussing Buff."
"Denver had already acquired half a dozen guys who are one season away from unrestricted free agency, I couldn't understand why he was pursuing Buff so intently. It was almost as though the Franchise Player rules were a complete mystery to him." said Flaming, "But his team is his team and I can only worry about my squad. In this instance, I had planned on keeping Buff to be my Franchise Player in 2018-19 so I was giving up 3 years. When I explained that to Sam and he didn't back off, I agreed to a move I'd had no intention of making just a few hours earlier."
To Bears: DEN 1 (2017), CGY 2 (2017), CGY 2 (2018), DEN 2 (2018)
The league office requested that both teams keep the transaction quiet so that it could be announced during the live 2017 SICHL Draft. When league commissioner Mark MacRae made it official, several rival GMs in attendance were heard reacting. However, the Bears didn't hold onto the 3rd overall selection for long, instead Flaming made another swap immediately with a team looking to make a splash.
To Shamrocks: DEN 1 (2017), BRN 2 (2017)
To Bears: DUB 1 (2017), HAV 1 (2017)
The move saw Acadia trade back from the coveted #3 overall position to Dublin's #9 spot but also add another 1st round pick, Havana's option at #24. But when the time came for the Bears to make thier selection at 9, Flaming was intercepted by Fredericton Express GM Mark MacRae.
"Mark asked me who I was taking or rather, if I was taking a specific player that he wanted. I admitted that I had a list of 4 players but that the one he wanted, Owen Tippett, was at the top of it," Flaming confirmed, "The offer to move back a spot meant that we could improve on one of our 2nd round picks by 16 spots and we felt that was reasonable."
So Fredericton took Tippett 9th overall and gave Acadia the 10th selection. But the Bears still had a 3-man list so when both Banff and Nova Scotia came calling, Flaming was open to ideas.
"I ended up making the deal with Eric [Schneider] which made me queasy but enabled us to sit in the #13 hole knowing we were going to get one of the remaining players we coveted."
Kailer Yamamoto (13th overall) - The diminutive forward struck for 99 points in only 65 games playing for the WHL's Spokane Chiefs. The local product is expected to be a key forward for the United States at the 2018 WJC in Buffalo. "Small body, massive upside."
"I saw that one GM said I could have traded down to his spot a few picks later but I knew in my heart that there was little to no chance that Kailer was still going to be available once either Las Vegas or Quebec were at the podium," Flaming explained, "Instead, I maneuvered down the board, all the while improving our position in the 2nd round, and still got the player I wanted."
Juuso Valimaki (19th overall) - There was genuine surprise at Acadia's table when the 19th pick arrived, their own in this draft, and the Finnish defenceman was still available. At 6'2 and 210 lbs, the blueliner was a point per game player for the Tri-City Americans finishing the year with 19 goals and 61 points in 60 games. Known for his ability to distribute the puck, Valimaki plays with a maturity uncommon to his age and appears nearer to pro readiness than most in the class of 2017. The Finn will be a marquee player for his homeland at the 2018 WJC.
Ryan Poehling (23rd overall) - Using Ottawa's selection paid to them by the Boston Colonials as penalty for missing the SICH Summit, Acadia chose big center Ryan Poehling from St. Cloud State. The 6'2 pivot didn't produce big numbers as a freshman but considering he was one of the youngest players in Division 1, no one really expected him too. He'll dress and contribute to the USA roster at the 2018 WJC. He is teammates with fellow Acadia prospect Michael Eyssimont.
Jake Oettinger (24th overall) - The top rated goaltender in the Class of 2017, Jake Oettinger had an outstanding freshman year at Boston University. The Terriers netminder is listed at 6'4 and 210 lbs, already an imposing size. The Minnesota product was USA's back up goalie at the 2017 WJC but it's his job to lose in 2018.
Dylan Samberg (36th overall) - The first of two players chosen by Acadia who saw some time with the USHL's Waterloo Blackhawks, Samberg was a standout for his high school team in Hermantown. He's also the first of three Golden Bear choices who is slated to join the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs this coming season. At 6'3 and 210 lbs, the blueliner is a physical threat that can also chip in offensively.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan (37th overall) - Having drafted his teammate in the 1st round, Acadia went back to Spokane and grabbed the club's 2nd leading scorer too. 39 lamplighters and 74 points later, Anderson-Dolan has quickly gained the reputation as an offensive weapon.
Jonah Gadjovich (41st overall) - Physical, deceptively agile and willing to get his nose dirty, Jonah Gadjovich was one of the top goal scorers in the Ontario Hockey League. HIs 46 talleys were a team high, one better than Owen Sound teammate Nick Suzuki.
Alexandre Texier (48th overall) - The 17-year-old French phenom played professional hockey in his hometown of Grenoble and ended the year with 10 goals and 19 points in 40 games. Having been selected in the CHL import draft by Baie-Comeau, Texier has opted to play professionally again and move to Finland where he will dress for KalPa.
Mario Ferraro (83rd overall) - Using a pick which cost them Beau Bennett and Ryan Sproul, Acadia selected defenceman Mario Ferraro from the USHL's Des Moines Bucaneers. A future UMass Minutemen teammate of Cale Makar's, Ferraro proved he can play as he accumulated 41 points in 60 games. The Ontario product's CHL rights belong to the Barrie Colts.
Michael Anderson (86th overall) - The secnd consecutive pick used on a defenceman, the Bears liked what they saw from Anderson both in Waterloo and also at the 2017 World Junior A Challenge. "Mikey" will join his older brother Joey Anderson in Duluth this coming year.
Scott Reedy (96th overall) - Centerman Scott Reedy made a lasting impression on Bears GM Guy Flaming who heard the prospect interviewed on The Pipeline Show early in the season. On the ice, Reedy had solid but not stellar numbers. He's scheduled to play at the Minnesota with the Golden Gophers this year.
Noah Cates (103rd overall) - "He was my pick you asshole!" shouted Vegas GM Dustin Nielson when Flaming announced his club's 4th round pick. The future Duluth Bulldog ripped up the high school circuit with an impressive 65 points in just 25 games. He'll spend 2017-18 in the USHL with the Omaha Lancers.
Nick Campoli (131st overall) - He only managed to appear in 20 games but center Nick Campoli racked up 32 points for the OJHL's North York Rangers. Unfortunately, Campoli failed to qualify academically to join Clarkson this coming season, instead he will play for the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL.
Wyatt Kalynuk (157th overall) - The defenceman recorded 31 points for Bloomington in the USHL this past season. Next year he is slated to join the Wisconsin Badgers program, noted for developing defencemen this a large reason why the Bears chose him.
"Overall it was a very successful draft and I think everyone who as there will agree with me on that one," said Flaming, "Now that it's behind us, it's about building a winner for the coming campaign."
Free agency is next followed by the start of the exhibition season. Bears tickets for all games will become available as the season schedule is made public.
- Despite some speculation that the team was looking to trade forward Jordan Eberle, GM Flaming has told his staff to expect Eberle to be with the team for the next few years.
- With no key players entering their final season, Acadia currently has no one pegged to be their Franchise Player in 2018-19.
- Acadia is searching for a forward that can help kill penalties, preferably a RW, and is likely to be active during fre agency for the first time in years.
- A number of Bears prospects are in position to compete for their country in the 2018 WJC. Matthew Phillips and Jonah Gadjovich both took part in Canada's summer camp while returnee Tyson Jost was unavailable to attend. For USA, the Bears were well represented with Kailer Yamamoto, Kieffer Bellows, Ryan Poehling, Andrew Peeke, Dylan Samberg, Mikey Anderson and starting netminder Jake Oettinger all in attendance. Other WJC level players include Juuso Valimaki and Aapeli Rasanen (Finland) and Alexandre Texier (France).
- Goaltender Matej Tomek spent the last 2 seasons at North Dakota but only appeared in a pair of games. He has left the program and will play for Waterloo in the USHL for 2017-18 and could join a new NCAA program next year or perhaps play professionally in Europe.