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Spartans Make Some Early Moves

by Sean Gallagher | December 17, 2017, 1:59 AM ET

The first trade slipped past most observers; Jean-Francois Berube for a 5th round pick? Seemingly minor and, by the way,  how did Dublin grab a decent 2018 selection for a SICHL non-factor?

Oh, he'll be expansion-exposure eligible. Weird, but whatever.

The second trade? Waves were made. With Vancouver's twitter account hinting at a move of veteran leaders Andrei Markov and Chris Kunitz, the SICHL community and their fans were waiting to see where the vets were headed. When St. Louis' twitter account mentioned a busy travel secretary, astute SICHL-watchers put together the puzzle: Sparta had made the deal.

At the 25%ish mark of the season, the Spartans made a move that looks more like a trade deadline deal, acquiring Kunitz and Markov from the Vipers for Jannik Hansen and Erik Gudbranson.

"We heard that they were shopping some guys and we feel like the added leadership and experience those guys bring would be good for our group," said Gallagher, "Chris [Kunitz] is a known commodity here, having played nearly 300 games with us over four-plus seasons. He'll take on that veteran leadership fourth line role for us and while his skills probably aren't as sharp as Hansen's at this point, we felt ok with trading them for one another.

"On the defensive side, Markov provides some major upside for us. We're giving up the guy on the better contract with the longer career ahead of him and all that potential in Guddy, but Andrei brings us an immediate offensive presence and more of that incalculable experience and leadership."

St. Louis also took on a lot of salary in the deal, which clearly helped Vancouver and will further deplete the Spartans' coffers, which were loaded with over $34 million this summer and look to finish somewhere south of $8 million when the regular season ends.

"We've burned the boats, you could say," said Gallagher, "our goal has been a long playoff run all along. Now we're fiscally tied to it."

The Spartans lost a tough, tight, contest to the Huskies tonight and will play in London, England tomorrow, truly one of the worst possible back-to-back road games any league could conceive.

"Hopefully they don't drop the puck before we land," quipped the always-cheerful Jeff Skinner, "I mean, they can't do that, right?"

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