First off, it’s a real change of philosophy for the organization. Not in recent memory can anybody remember when such dramatic changes were made at the deadline.
There’s no question the identity of the team changed dramatically.
The Wolves traded Frank Corrado, Josh Leivo and Joel Vienneau to Kitchener in return for Franky Palazzese, Cory Genovese and Matt Schmalz, with Justin Sefton sent to London in return for Kevin Raine.
The core of your veteran leadership group was suddenly gone, replaced by a pretty good goalie, two lunch-pail, stay-at-home defencemen and a 6-5, 16-year-old, up-and-coming rookie.
On paper it may look like the Wolves got the short end of the trade, but I say it’s still too early to tell. I also think a majority of those who call themselves fans are pretty pleased with the results.
While it’s only been eight games, the consensus is that this Wolves team is a more exciting team to watch. First off, in Franky Palazzese you have a goalie that gives you a chance to win each and every game. You can almost see the confidence of this young team get stronger each game, knowing there is somebody back there they can rely on if a mistake is made.
Let us not forget, before the trades, the team was playing good hockey, but not necessarily because of the guys that were traded away. Matt Campagna, Nathan Pancel and Nick Baptiste have probably been one of the hottest, if not the hottest, lines in the Ontario Hockey League.
Add in Brody Silk, Jacob Harris, Dominik Kahun and Dominik Kubalik, who have stepped up their games, and defencemen Charlie Dodero and Jeffery Corbett, who are a top defence pairing, and you can have confidence every time they go out on the ice.
Add in the new guys and all of a sudden you have the makings of a hockey team that is not just in good shape for the future, but has the potential for right now.
Another indicator that this team is on the right track is the recently released Central Scouting mid-term rankings for the 2013 NHL Draft.
No fewer than five Wolves show up on the list of top North American players.
Jeffery Corbett came in at No. 66, Nick Baptiste at No. 103, Brody Silk at No. 105 and Dominik Kubalik at No. 146, along with 19-year-old Franky Palazzese, who is on the list at No. 14 among goalies.
The number should be six as somehow Dominik Kahun was left off the list.
This goes to show the Wolves have talent. While maybe not first-round talent, certainly talent that every team needs. All of the players I mentioned above, minus Charlie Dodero, can come back next year and will make up the heart of the 2013-14 Sudbury Wolves.
It’s a group of players that has to work hard to have success, but add in a couple of pieces to the puzzle and you have the makings of a team with the potential to be a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference.
Let’s not sell this new-look Sudbury Wolves team short.
I wouldn’t go planning a Memorial Cup parade, but they’re playing some really good hockey right now and if recent games like the ones against Barrie and Kitchener are any indication, the recipe for playoff success could very well be there sooner than many expect.
Stew Kernan is the radio and television voice of the Sudbury Wolves, and the news director at EZ Rock and Q92. This column appears every other week in Northern Life.