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Pair of Trades Shake Norsemen Faithful

by Matt MacInnis | January 19, 2007, 11:40 AM ET
After several days of intensive talks with numerous teams about 15 different players and assets, the Vancouver Island Norsemen have made a pair of deals; and both of their supporters scratching their heads. The first officially confirmed deal sees current back-up goaltender Robert Esche being shipped to the Nova Scotia Schooners in return for a defensive specialist John Madden and the Hamburg Gladiators’ fourth round pick in the upcoming 2007 draft. Both players have contracts that will pay them roughly $3 million each over this year and the next two seasons. But the Norsemen already have Mike Ricci under contract for a similar amount (roughly $400,000 more) for this season and have recently opted to demote him to the farm team. “We feel that John is more of a complete player at this stage of his career than Ricci,” explained GM Matt MacInnis. “John also saves us nearly half a million compared to Mike and is a modest decrease from what we were paying Esche.” So is this move all about saving an insignificant amount of money. “Not at all,” claimed MacInnis. “This is first and foremost a hockey move, as well as a common sense business decision. We had three million dollars of resources in Robert Esche playing in roughly 30 per cent of our games. That just didn’t make sense. So we have moved him for a player in Madden who is going to be an every day player and a significant boost to our penalty kill and ability to shut down opposition.” But the second move was a real shocker. The club has sent leading goal scorer Jarrett Stoll and promising young talent Tomas Plekanec to the Brandon Wheat Kings in exchange for a package containing soon-to-be UFA Miroslav Satan and a first and second-round pick in the 2007 draft. But why move one of the few players currently playing to the best of his abilities? “This trade was about asset management. Don’t get us wrong, we are currently in the market for a playmaking centre to replace Stoll, but for the most part, this was largely about positioning ourselves for the future,” admitted MacInnis. “Basically we looked forward and saw that next season Ryan Getzlaf will be ready for second-line duty. Plus we have Jeff Carter in the mix as a future scoring-line centreman. So we could afford to move Stoll. The situation was once again the same with Plekanec. Pleks may be playing as a winger on the farm right now, but he is a centre, and with guys like Ryan Kesler and Antoine Vermette also in the system and most comfortable at the pivot position, he wasn’t really going to factor into our plans.” Why pick up Satan, a struggling UFA? Especially when the team already has three offensively-gifted right wingers. “Miro gives us even more flexibility up front. He can play both wings, which gives us the option to move guys around a little to best suit their skills. We think he’s really going to click if he’s given the chance to play with Sid as well,” said MacInnis. “Furthermore, Satan gives us another option for Franchise Player designation next season. Currently the only guy we have under contract we’d be likely to use it on is Adam Foote, and we’re not certain what his plans for the future are.” The trades result is the Norsemen losing two roster players (Esche and Stoll) and a farm prospect (Plekanec). In return they received two roster players (Satan and Madden) plus three draft picks. The reduction of current assets is something to note. “We are in a position where we need to start looking at moving some of our surplus depth,” says MacInnis. “We looked at our roster today and who we expect to be around next season and recognized that the waiver draft was going to pose some problems for us. This move likely won’t be the last one involving us shifting some present resources to the future.”

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