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Trades are more one sided than you'd think


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I had a bit of writers block last week, so I left it to you, to suggest some subjects to write about. Big thanks to @Beavissfor this idea. This is by far the most research I've done on VHL history in one shot.


Everyone looks back at trades and has an opinion as to who won or lost the trade. In reality, the only way to really win a trade is to ultimately win a championship.


So I'll be looking at things a little differently. Instead of looking at how the championship team won it's trades, I'll be looking at 5 trades, 1 from each of the past 5 seasons. In focus will not only be how the trade but the championship winner over the top, but how it also affected their trading partner


S58 was the year the Riga Reign won another Continental Cup. They were part of a three horse race for first in the regular season with Toronto and Seattle. Not only did they finish first in the season, they also won the playoffs.


The Reign made a trade with the Quebec City Meute during the year. The Meute sent Lukas Muller to the Riga for 2 first round draft picks, one that they'd later also deal away.


Muller, a playmaking center, had his 4th and final 100 point season and did what he was acquired for, to win a championship. He'd struggle his next two seasons before calling it a career.


The player the Meute ended up receiving, turned into Ben Green. He'd continue to put up big numbers in the VHLM during S58.  Once he graduated to the VHL, Green would struggle to find traction with any one team. He is now on his 4th team in his 6th professional year.


This one looks pretty one sided. But although the Green pick didn't turn out, they were able to move the other first round pick to help them later on.


In S59, the Seattle Bears and Helsinki Titans faced off in the Continental Cup championship, and went all the way to game 7, with the Bears coming out on top.


The Bears made a blockbuster deal with the Toronto Legion prior to the season, although it looked like the Legion were the ones loading up for a championship run.


The Bears sent Fook Yu and Fabio Jokinen to the Legion for a pair of defenders Dexter Lane and Adam Warlock, as well as a first round draft pick in S61 that ended up being Matt Thompson.


And thru the regular season it looked like just that, as the Legion rolled over the competition. But in the playoffs the 4th place Bears got hot at the right time and rolled all the way to a league championship.


Dexter Lane was a depth defenseman and was a steady hitter and shot blocker in his only season with the Bears. He'd play for Riga in his final season in the VHL. Warlock never suited up in Seattle as he was dealt in a three way trade later in the offseason. The draft pick that was Matt Thompson, ended up being an immediate impact player and is already one of the best forwards in the VHL. In just his second season, he won the Scott Boulet and Dustin Funk trophies.


Fook Yu, a talented scorer, only spent one year with the Legion. He did score 40 goals in the regular season as well 4 in a 6 game series loss. Jokinen was in the final year of his career, and delivered another excellent season.


This is an odd one, as the team “selling” ended up winning the whole thing. The Bears added 2 warm bodies, one that gained them more in going elsewhere, as well as a draft pick that has become a elite VHLer. While as we will see later, the Legion were on the losing end of a deal and continue to struggle for consistency.


The Helsinki Titans returned to the VHL championship in S60, this time winning the Continental Cup. They were able to bolster their lineup thanks to a trade with the Toronto Legion.  


This time the Legion were the ones clearly selling off, as they sent centre Marc-Alexandre Leblanc and defenseman Pablo to Helsinki for three lottery tickets that were a 1st round pick in S60 as well as 2nd and 3rd round picks in S61.


Leblanc was in his final season in the VHL and set a career high in points with 48 goals and 104 points. He also added 11 points in the championship run. Pablo, who was a high scoring rearguard actually had a down year in goals with 8 but still managed 76 points. He would play his next and final year in Riga.


With the three draft picks the Legion received Jonas Vilhjalmsson, who never played a VHL game, putting up solid numbers in the VHLM before retiring. Lew Bronstein was used with the 2nd round pick and while he was a big point producer from the back end in the VHLM, he has struggled to find that touch in the bigs. He remains part of their rebuild. The final pick received ended up being netminder Brody Neufeld. He only appeared in 17 VHLM games and now is a free agent.


This one was tough to call long term, as only Bronstein played more than a season with his new club. The Legion took a big swing and mostly missed again and continue to rebuild to this day. Helsinki sold the farm to win and did but hurt themselves as well down the road.


During S61 Davos Dynamo was victorious in the league championship. Before the season even began, Seattle shipped Gabriel McAllister, Otto Axelsson and the rights to Mats Johnsson to Davos for the Dynamo's 1st round pick.  


McAllister posted back to back 99 point seasons for Davos, before going back to Seattle before S63. Axelsson also only spent 2 seasons with Davos. He too went back to Seattle ahead of S63. Johnsson, would never even suit up for Davos. He went to Calgary, where he still plays.


Roger Sterling ended up as the pick going to Seattle. The netminder has been a very steady hand for the Bears, providing solid goaltending in a terrible S61 all the way to what looks like itll be a strong contender in S63.


Hard to blame Seattle for this deal at the time. They were in a rebuild and got a very good prospect in return. And in the end both McAllister and Axelsson came back to Seattle when they appeared to turn things around.


In S62 the Calgary Wranglers won the Continental Cup, beating the Quebec City Meute in 7 games. The only trade the Wranglers made was actually in the offseason prior to the S62 year beginning.


The Wranglers sent Boner to Riga, along with their 2nd round pick in exchange for Jesper Stromberg. While Stromberg would only play one season for the Wranglers, before becoming a free agent, he would help Calgary to a championship.


Boner had been consistently a 21-25 point shutdown defenseman. He had recorded over 200 hits and 100 shots blocked in his 5 year career.


He'd breakout in a big way in S62, tallying career highs in assists (46) and points (52). He stayed his usual defensively responsible self, and helped the Reign make the playoffs that season.


Boner would only spend the one season with Riga, as he was dealt the following offseason to Toronto, with Lavar Ball for a 4th round draft pick.


The 2nd round pick the Reign recieved, ended up being the 16th overall choice, and Riga selected Kisshan Shan. Shan remains in the VHLM in S63 with the Yukon Rush. He appears yay he will join the Reign in S64 and be a part of a very deep forward group.


Overall, it was a good return for Riga, they got a good prospect and a piece to a later trade in exchange for a player that would be out of the league the following season.


This was not easy to write as I am still new to the VHL. So please don't be too harsh if I didn't capture the true spirit of these trades. I hope to do something like this again in S67 and have a better understanding of what went into trades and how they reshaped the league, as opposed to just relaying what I read.


It is interesting to see how teams were able to pull off these big deals en route to winning a league championship. Being in such a small league, having such a small pool of players, a very short draft and only having players for a maximum of 8 seasons makes the challenge of timing your run even more dynamic and difficult. Weve seen where as many as three teams have had a serious shot at winning it all after the regular season, yet all these moves only pay off for one team a year.

1505 words 


Claiming for November 11,18,25

Edited by oilmandan
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