AMHERST, N.S. – While it wasn’t as active as other teams, the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers did make a couple of moves at Thursday’s Maritime Junior Hockey League trading deadline.
The Ramblers acquired defenceman Michal Sivek from the Summerside Western Capitals just before the 7 p.m. deadline for a conditional second round pick in 2019, a conditional pick in the 2020 draft and future considerations.
Amherst also sent defenceman Matt Sartoris to the Edmundston Blizzard for defenceman Dominic Hachey and a fifth-round pick in 2019.
“He (Sivek) is a player several others teams were trying to acquire so I feel fortunate we were able to make this deal,” Ramblers coach and general manager Jeff LeBlanc said. “He’s happy to be coming to the Fred Page Cup host and we’re happy to have him in our lineup.”
Sivek, a native of Staten Island, N.Y., had a goal and six assists for seven points in 25 games with Summerside this season after playing in Germany last year.
LeBlanc said Sivek was caught in a numbers game in Summerside with the Caps’ addition of Jacob Arsenault and the return of Jesse Annear from injury.
As for Hachey, the 18-year-old defenceman, divided last season between the Charlottetown Islanders of the QMJHL and Edmundston, where he was a member of the MHL Cup-winning Blizzard. He did not return to Edmundston this season and is playing with the Moncton Vitos junior B team.
“He’s a good defenceman who is only 40 minutes away if we have any injuries or need him. He will remain with the Vitos and perhaps finish the season with us after the Vitos are done,” LeBlanc said. “He has Fred Page Cup experience who should help us later in the season.”
LeBlanc said he is sad to see Sartoris go, saying he was a player who showed a lot of class and represented the Ramblers well during his tenure in Amherst. Sartoris had five assists in 17 games in his third season with the Ramblers.
He also missed considerable time earlier in the season with a hand injury.
“We’re sad to see him go, but it’s a move we had to make,” LeBlanc said.
While there was plenty of action in the days and hours leading up to the deadline – including a blockbuster that sent Dylan Riley and Jacob Hickey from the Pictou County Weeks Crushers to Summerside for Sam Meisenheimer, Cal MacPherson and draft picks and one that saw Grand Falls send Brendan Bornstein to Campbellton for Lucas MacAulay, prospects and draft picks – LeBlanc said he wasn’t prepared to jeopardize next year and beyond and reiterated that he has total confidence in the group he has assembled already.
“To me, hockey teams are built during the summer and you tweak as the season goes on. If you’re looking at that top end guy at this stage of the season it’s going to cost you and not just a year down the road, but two or three years down the road. If we had gone after some of these top guys, some of whom I don’t really think we’re available, it would have crippled us for several years. I’m not prepared to do that,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc said he was very active during the summer and in the first couple of months of the season adding Aidan McFarland, Casey Fox, Hunter McIntyre, Matt Williams and Alex Lafreniere last summer and Matt Green, Stephen Fox, Colton McKenna and Zach Pilon since opening night.
He did confirm defenceman Linden Namagoose will not return as he continues to recover from the concussion received against Truro in October when he was punched by Caleb Hart of the Bearcats while his arms were pinned by a linseman. Hart was given a five-game suspension. It was the same game Green was injured.
LeBlanc said he did try to acquire Bornstein but Grand Falls had their eye on a Campbellton prospect and when he was included that sealed the deal.
He said it’s not correct for fans to say he or the organization were not all-in at the deadline, saying he and his team is just as committed to winning now as they were before Thursday.
“We’ve done a lot in the last couple of seasons to put this team together,” he said. “We weren’t going to make a trade for the sake of making a trade and I wasn’t going to do anything that would negatively affect the franchise for the next two or three years by doing something like trading six assets for one player. We have a very good team now. That’s why we didn’t upset the applecart. We have a very good team to represent the team at the Fred Page Cup. We really like our team and the group of character kids that we have and that's what they are. Not many teams could have gone through the injuries we have gone through and be in the position we are.”
The Ramblers are back in action on Saturday night at 7 p.m. when they host the South Shore Lumberjacks.