AWOL Belarusian forward Artur Gavrus returning to the Owen Sound Attack would have made it a good Monday for Dale DeGray.
But landing defenceman Cody Ceci and winger Steven Janes from Ottawa later that afternoon made it a great day for the Owen Sound Attack general manager.
“I think they’re two good moves for us,” said DeGray. “It’s a good injection for us.”
DeGray landed Ceci, Janes, and a 2015 Ontario Hockey League third-round pick from Ottawa for underage defenceman Jacob Middleton and 18-year-old Colorado Avalanche prospect Joseph Blandisi.
“Hopefully this will be what we need to snap us out of our funk,” said DeGray, noting Ceci will go to the Ottawa Senators training camp this weekend.
“Like everything there’s a price to pay for it and we didn’t get those guys for free. It’s never easy giving up players, let alone giving up Middleton (an underage). It wasn’t easy to do and I feel I paid a lot, but I think it’s a good hockey trade.”
The Attack had been looking for an offensive presence on the blue-line and Ceci certainly fits that bill.
The 19-year-old Orleans native is an Ottawa Senators first-round pick. He’s got 11 goals and 29 assists in 42 games this season with the 67’s and he’s scored 41 goals and has 105 assists in 238 career OHL games.
After the Attack gave up two shorthanded goals in Saginaw on Saturday due to sloppy passes on the point, Ceci quarterbacking the power play should be an upgrade.
“Ceci is one of the top offensive defencemen and two-way defencemen in the league,” said Attack coach Greg Ireland. “We do a lot of things very well (on the power play) but we’ve got to get more shots to the net. He’s got a real shot mentality and he’s got a real bomb. He’s got the ability to know when to make a pass and dish it. That helps us in an area that we’ve been working hard on all year.”
Gavrus and Janes will give the Attack two more top-six forwards and should address its lack of secondary scoring.
“Janes can be a big, strong power forward for us who drives the net and gets involved in the play,” said DeGray, who noted that Ceci, Gavrus, and Janes are all expected at practice today.
“Artur comes back and provides a lot of spark and skill and instantly is loved in our dressing room. Those are three quality moves.”
Gavrus had 15 goals and 22 assists in 45 games last year. He scored five goals and added seven assists in 12 games this year with Belarus’s Neman Grodno. He was the top forward at the World Junior Group A Hockey Championships with five goals and five assists in five games for Belarus, which lost in the final.
“It was not his choice (not to return to Owen Sound in September),” said DeGray, would didn’t rest easy on Monday until Attack marketing director Brent Fisher texted him a picture of Gavrus at Toronto’s Pearson Airport. “He did what he had to do and we’re OK with that.”
Janes has 14 goals and 13 assists in 36 games this season with Ottawa along with 62 penalty minutes. The 19-year-old Etobicoke native has 37 goals and 40 assists in 170 career games. Janes is undrafted and he could return next season as an overage.
“They’re top end offensive performers,” said Ireland. “I think it gives us some options and I like the fact that it creates some competition and some accountability among our guys. I think that will help push each other in a good friendly way.”
Adding three top-end players to the lineup would be enough for most teams, but DeGray said he’s won’t be finished trying to deal until the OHL trade deadline, which is at noon on Wednesday.
“I would like to make one more move if I can to try and even everything out,” said DeGray, who now likes his team’s chances against the London Knights.
“Hopefully we have enough to compete with London. I don’t think we had enough before.”
It wasn’t a cheap deal for the Attack as Owen Sound had high hopes for Middleton, their 2012 first-rounder who was expected to quarterback their power play some day.
And Blandisi has seven goals and 18 assists in 37 games this season. The 18-year-old Markham native has 24 goals and 32 assists in 105 career OHL games.
“I think Ottawa is getting two pretty good players and two outstanding young men. They’ll be missed in our locker room,” said Ireland. “It’s time for an injection of new blood into our lineup and in the last nine or 10 games we think we can be performing a little more consistently.”
SLAPSHOTS: G Jordan Binnington has returned from the World Junior Hockey Championships in Ufa, Russia. He’s not expected to make the road trip to Erie or Niagara this week but could play on Saturday against Kingston . . . Gavrus doesn’t have his U.S. paperwork completed so he won’t make the trip to Erie but he is expected to play in Niagara on Thursday . . . DeGray said he’ll leave a spot on his 25-man roster for injured centre Jarrod Maidens, who has not played since Nov. 2011 because of post-concussion syndrome. The Ottawa Senators pick continues to do rehab in hopes of getting back onto the ice.