Colts boost offence with acquisition of McDonnell from Kitchener

Third deal ahead of Monday's trade deadline

This year’s OHL trade deadline is shaping up as a busy one for the Barrie Colts.

General Manager and Head Coach Marty Williamson pulled off his third deal ahead of Monday’s noon deadline, acquiring veteran forward Declan McDonnell from the Kitchener Rangers for Colts prospect Hunter Brzustewicz.

McDonnell, a seventh-round pick of Tampa Bay in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, had 10 goals and 13 assists for 23 points in 27 games with the Rangers this season.

Declan McDonnell. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images

The five-foot-10, 171-pound winger will help replace some of the scoring the Colts dealt away earlier this week after moving Oskar Olausson to Oshawa and Nicholas Porco to Owen Sound.

The Lakeview, N.Y. native could also return as an overage forward next season.

“That’s our feeling,” Williamson said. “If he doesn’t, he’s had a real good year this year, and we’re happy with that. We took the gamble on that, and he wanted to be part of this group, and we’re happy to have him.”

Both teams have conditional draft picks attached to the trade.

The Colts would have to give up second and fourth round picks if McDonnell plays an overage season for Barrie. Kitchener would give up second and fourth round selections if Brzustewicz, who is currently with the United States National Training Development Program junior team, reports to the Rangers. Brzustewicz, who was considered one of the top prospects available in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection, went in the fourth round (69 overall) to Barrie.

“If they can get him, good for them. But we felt adding Declan for him was good management,” Williamson said. “We didn’t need picks for him. We have a lot of picks, so we get somebody we can put in our lineup right now.”

Related: Colts’ six-game win streak snapped with 3-2 overtime loss to North Bay

The Colts, considered one of the OHL favourites coming into this season, surprised many this week when they traded away scoring forwards Olausson and Porco.

But Williamson and his management team didn’t like the idea of moving some of the team’s top young talent combined with the uncertainty that comes with playing in the middle of a pandemic.

“Everybody wanted our younger players and we took a strong stance that we were not going to move them,” Williamson said. “We’re happy with these guys.

“We’re developing them and we think we got some real special players down the road.”

Williamson likes his core of young players like Beau Akey, Hunter Haight, Beau Jelsma, Chris Grisolia, and Grayson Tiller and considered the prices too steep for a team he believes can contend over the next few years.

“We’re keeping this group together and we’re going to keep building,” he said. “We think we’ve got a bright future with these guys going forward.

“They’re our kind of guys. They’re real hearts and real good kids. They play hard and that was our stance.”

Williamson also believes in no way are the Colts waving the white flag on this season.

“We’ve got a good hockey team,” he said. “Our defence, we think, is rock solid. We know we got good goaltending. We’re not scared of anybody.

“The fact is that we didn’t go out and spend eight or 10 picks on an overager and another guy. It just means we’re situated well for this year and next year.”

The Colts might not be done on the trade front. Conversations continue as the Monday noon deadline is approaching.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we do something else or we sit tight,” Williamson said. “It’s going to be interesting. There’s a couple of moves to be made. We’re just going to huddle as a group and see what we see is continuing this path of ours a little bit.”

ICE CHIPS: Colts defenceman Matthew Sredl signed a deal with the ECHL’s Worcester Railers.

images via Luke Durda/OHL Images