When I look at the beginning month of the season, and Scott Freeman atop the team and near the top of the league in scoring, it made for an interesting breakdown of the trade that brought him here – sending wildly popular Bobby Robins to Chicago. Because Robins is that type of power forward that are few and far between at this level, and because Freeman’s scoring knack is unmatched on the team, it’s a pretty even up deal. There isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t take either player on their roster.
It made me think back to some other memorable trades… and some trades that aren’t very memorable, but proved to be fruitful. The 2008-09 season, for example, was full of good trades, when six of the top 11 scorers on the team were acquired via trade.
But what were the BEST trades in team history? Here are my thoughts, with eight trades listed in no particular order. (Note: Look for a follow up to this in a few days, when I remember other trades that slipped under my radar. I know they’re out there!)
Dave Bonk from the Columbia Inferno for future considerations (Dec. 21, 2005)
In 2005-06 the Condors were struggling for consistency and offense. So was 2nd year forward Dave Bonk, who had amassed just five goals in 24 games with the Columbia Inferno. Along came the Condors, who offered up the infamous “Future Considerations” for a deal to land Bonk. The Brandon, Manitoba, native lit it up for the Condors, posting 19 goals and 36 points in 36 games, which would have been sixth on the team without including his point totals from Columbia. Bonk then led the team with 15 points in 14 playoff games, shattering records along the way. At the end of the year he was lost in a selection of players as “future considerations” to another team, prompting him to venture over to Europe. In 2008-09 he rejoined the team and racked up 82 points, leading the Condors and finishing 5th in the ECHL.
Andrew Ianiero from the Charlotte Checkers for Mike Wirll (Oct. 31, 2003)
What can you say about this deal? Everyone in Condorstown knows who Ianiero is and what he has accomplished here. Do I even need a paragraph to explain Ianiero’s mark on the organization? No, I don’t. Needless to say, when he was acquired on Halloween while the team was on the road in Idaho, the trade didn’t set Condorstown on fire. Wirll wasn’t coming. He signed a deal with the New York Rangers over the summer and they wanted him on the East Coast. All Ianiero did was come in and play the power play, kill penalties, play all three forward positions, drop the mitts a couple times, and finish second in scoring. His +15 was 11 higher than the next closest player.
Wirll, who jumped from juniors to play with the Condors at the tail end of 2002-03, had a decent season with Charlotte, posting 29 points in 42 games, also spent much of the season in the single-A WHA2 with Jacksonville. He would later be acquired by the Condors for D Martin Frechette in 2008-09, in another deal that should probably be on this list.
Mike Wirll from the Mississippi Sea Wolves for Martin Frechette (Nov. 28, 2008)
I’m right, it SHOULD be included on this list, so I’ll do it. Wirll had two goals and 11 points and was a shocking -11 in 14 games with the Sea Wolves at the time of the trade. At first he didn’t want to report, but he changed his mind. I remember this because I had to find a way to get him to Alaska to join us on a road trip. Wirll had a great season with the Condors, posting 22 goals and 51 points in just 43 games. He was also a +5 with two shorthanded goals as well. He finished 5th on the team in scoring that season, but when rookie Matt Pope finished the season in the AHL, he was that much more important as an anchor on the second line.
Frechette was a popular rookie d-man, who had seven goals and 16 points in 39 games. But his -10 didn’t help his cause to stay. He had 1g-6a in 20 games with Mississippi, and quit the pro game after being dealt again later that season.
J.J. Wrobel & Mike Marostega from the Anchorage Aces for Peter McRae (Jan. 9, 2003)
In 2002-03 the Condors had a heck of a team. But they needed some depth. That’s when they convinced the Aces to take F Peter McRae, a rookie out of Sacred Heart University, and give up F J.J. Wrobel and D Mike Marostega. Marostega was a steady, undersized d-man who helped the team with a +12 in just 22 games (especially after losing D Christoffer Norgren to injury late that season). Wrobel was also a bit under-sized, but was speedy and put up 23 points and a +12 in 31 games, helping to shore up the offense in the second half of the season.
McRae had 1g-1a in 19 games with Anchorage and called it a career.
Craig Martin & Rod Hinks from the Phoenix Mustangs for Jason Johnson & David Haynes (Dec. 12, 2000)
The big name in this deal was Martin, who put up 7g-12a-19pts and 287 PIM in 44 games. Haynes and Johnson had a combined four assists when this deal was made. Hinks had 12 points in 15 games with Phoenix and didn’t even report to Bakersfield, but it didn’t matter. Martin was a big deal at that time, and led the WCHL in penalty minutes. He was an enforcer that racked up penalty minutes like it was his job… wait, it WAS his job. Either way, he brought the fans to their feet enough to make dealing a couple of role players a no-brainer.
Donny Grover from the Cincinnati Cyclones for Ryan Nie (Jan. 7, 2009)
At the time, and even for weeks afterward, fans lamented the loss of Nie, who was a personable goalie prone to inconsistency, but he was a gamer. And the fans knew it. But the Condors had affiliated goalie Dave McKee and Yutaka Fukufuji, who was struggling. So Marty Raymond’s choice was to deal Fuji or Nie. Nie was gone.
Enter Grover, a physical d-man with AHL experience and 10 assists in 31 games. Coming to Bakersfield turned around his season, however. He had twice as many points (21) in just about the same amount of games (37), plus he a flair for the dramatic, scoring two “Grover-time” game-winning goals that season, and shoring up the defense on a pretty wide-open, offensive hockey club. He finished as the club’s highest scoring defenseman. The rest of the defensive corps combined for a -30 that season, making his +9 look fantastic.
The irony was that it’s a great trade because of a player that wasn’t involved in the deal: Fukufuji. A month after this trade he got hot, going 15-3-0 over his last 18 starts, leading the league in wins over the last two months. If he didn’t turn it around that season and finish the way he did, leading the team into the playoffs, this might have been a trade that made the opposite list. Nie went 16-6 with a 2.69 GAA and three shutouts the rest of the season with Cincy.
Ryan Menei from the Johnstown Chiefs for Matthew Myers (Dec. 26, 2009)
Myers had a rough go in Bakersfield. First, he had immigration problems at the beginning of the season, coming over from the UK, then he struggled for ice time on a roster that had a ton of AHL-caliber affiliated players. By late December he had just three points in six games. Then he was traded to Johnstown for Menei, a third-year forward that had 21 points in 24 games. Needless to say, even on paper, this was an excellent trade. But Menei, a former 35-goal scorer in the WHL, became more and more important as the Condors lost players to the AHL. By season’s end, he ranked third on the team in scoring and second in goals, putting up 14g-18a-32pts in 42 games with Bakersfield (18 goals and 53 points, combined totals). He also was tied for second in the playoffs with eight points in 10 games.
Myers had just two goals and five points in 22 games with the Chiefs after the deal, and has since returned to familiar ground in the UK, where he is a perennial all-star with Nottingham. It just didn’t work out for him in his one season on North American soil.
Evan Stoflet & Jason Dale from the Utah Grizzlies for Patrik Prokop (Dec. 8, 2009)
The second trade from the 2009-10 season to make the list – this one was a landslide – even though at the time it didn’t make a lot of headlines. Stoflet had one assist in 13 games. Dale had two goals in 12 games. And Prokop had no points in seven games with Bako. But Dale, who never really earned a regular role on the team, was a perfect depth guy for the Condors (who has now played a bunch in the AHL and lit up the CHL), and Stoflet was Mr. Steady on the blueline. He scored just one goal that season – it came in the playoffs – but the fans appreciated his hard work, defensive play and cool demeanor off the ice. He came back for the next season as well, and posted five goals and 22 points, along with a +15.
Prokop played eight games with Utah before they dealt him to Cincy, where he had 1g-1a in 18 games.
So… what do you think? Did your favorite Condors trade make the list? Tweet me or email me if I’ve overlooked someone.
Kevin Bartl is the VP of Communications for the Condors and part of the broadcast team, in his ninth season with the organization. Email him at email@example.com or follow on twitter @KevinBartl.