Sonics Shuffle Deck Chairs at the Trade Deadlineby Kent Clark | March 19, 2018, 5:02 PM ET
Last season, the Edmonton Supersonics failed to make the post-season for the first time in over a decade, and only the second time in franchise history. This despite icing a solid lineup that at the outset of the season seemed destined for the post-season, if not a deep run.
This season, it's more of the same. Despite adding Johnny Boychuk, Kevan Miller, and Scott Hartnell during free agency, and boasting a deep if not offensively potent roster from top to bottom, the Sonics continue to linger around the playof cutline in the extremeley competitive Canadian Conference.
"It's crazy," said GM Mike Franceschini of the team's current situation. "There's such a tight grouping of teams, one win is enough to have you leapfrog 3 teams in the standings. But an ill-placed loss and you're out of the playoffs entirely again."
While the same fate befalls the Whitehorse Huskies, Quebec Canons, Calgary Mustangs, and Ottawa Slammers, Franceschini felt that he needed to do something in order to try to tilt the odds in his team's favor as they run out the stretch.
"We were in a very unique situation," stated Franceschini at a post-deadline availability at Wayne Gretzky Place. "We're clearly not comfortable enough in our situation to trade futures for help right now. We're also not the type of franchise that mails in the season if the playoffs are an achievable goal. It really handcuffed me in what I was able to do."
At the end of the day, the Sonics made two deals to improve their standing for the remainder of the season without giving up future assets, including three first round selections in the upcoming entray draft that, depending on how the season plays out, could all be lottery-eligible.
Said Franceschini: "Sending out Laddy was hard for us. He was a great player for our organization and an exemplary leader in our dressing room. In Rej (Sekera) we think we are helping our defense get a bit better and in Doaner we are getting another proven leader that we hope will be valuable come playoff time."
The second deal saw the Sonics acquire Lee Stempniak and cash for a 5th round pick in the upcoming entry draft.
"We actually made this deal knowing the Ladd deal was already on the table," said Franceschini. "We really didn't feel like we could lose Andrew without replacing some of his offense, which we think Lee provides us, at least for the rest of the regular season."
All told, the Sonics replace Ladd's 19 points with Stempniak's 26. Sekera meanwhile is expected to slot in as a top 3 defensemean. All of the players involved will be unrestricted free agents at season's end, and are all expected to hit the open market.
It was a mostly net lateral move for the Sonics, but one that fans hope will be enough to push the team into the post-season.