Friday, January 8, 2010

Swaffield video and interview, Deadline thoughts

Taylor Swaffield told me today on Mountain FM's Overtime that he's a physical guy. Don't believe him? Check out the videos above. You can also check out his fight card. Taylor has dropped the gloves 21 times over 117 AJHL games. While he's not a goon, it's clear Swaffield is willing to go to battle.

As for his scoring, I'd say perhaps there's a little more potential there than it may appear. Swaffield was out half the season in 08-09 with an injury. If he plays a whole season we're likely talking about double the point total last season... 14-16 points instead of 8. This season he's around that same pace. In AAA Midget hockey he had 14 points in 34 games and was tied for 7th in team scoring. Is that Bobby Orr material? Obviously not. However, this is not a guy with no offensive instincts at all. He'll chip in with some helpers here and there. The scouting report is that he has a good first pass. A combination of his size, physical play and a good first pass may make him an ideal fit as a guy who can spring the skilled Trail forwards. If he gets more of an opportunity here you never know how he could take advantage of it.

The bottom line is that Swaffield isn't here to light the league on fire. He's a veteran guy who the Smokies are hoping will provide solid play, a physical edge and leadership on the back end. Anything else is a nice bonus. Trail really has nothing to lose here. They didn't have to give up a player to get Swaffield. The big guy wasn't free, but he can help the team today without costing them down the line. It's low risk and possibly high reward. I had the chance to have brief chats with both Taylor and Smokies Assistant Coach Brian Youngson on the move today on Mountain FM's Overtime.

New Smokies Defenceman Taylor Swaffield

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Smokies Assistant Coach Brian Youngson

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Is this it for Trail? It's hard to imagine them doing too much more given the current card situation. That being said, the phones will be ringing off the hook all weekend. Never say never.

How about the rest of the league? I suspect there will be some activity. There are already a ton of rumours out there including a couple of pretty specific ones over at the message board. It's silly season and you can't take everything you read seriously. You also can't rule it all out.

To me the team best positioned to sell off some very valuable pieces is Prince George. All of the top guys on that roster are either 20 years old or leaving after this season for a scholarship. It's one thing to be a young squad in the bottom few teams of the conference, but if you're a veteran team something has to give. Take a look at the roster and tell me there aren't a couple of guys (especially those who wouldn't take up 20 year old spots) that would fetch a giant price from a team with championship ambitions. Of the teams near the bottom they have the most to offer (at least in terms of guys they would lose for nothing otherwise) and have the most to lose from doing nothing. Ed Dempsey is a sharp and experienced hockey man. I'm sure he's at least listening.

Williams Lake has already done some selling so I suspect they could make some more moves if there is interest in their guys. They could be this year's Merritt in that way. However, they do still have to field a roster so they can't move too many guys.

I think Quesnel's schedule (all those games against their northern partners) and recent roster upgrades make them the favourite to finish 5th in the Interior. After several years on the outside looking in I can't imagine them being a seller with that possibility staring them in the face. If they do sell there are six 89s on that team who could all help a contender. Of course the demand for 20 year olds is somewhat limited depending on how man of those slots are open. Vernon is full and Penticton only has one 89 spot open for example.

Merritt has a couple of 20 year olds that could be of interest. However, Coach and GM Luke Pierce told me in a recent interview that he didn't intend to sell at the deadline. The Cents have a very good shot at a playoff spot in what is an incredibly important season for the viability of the franchise. I doubt they'll make any moves that could put their playoff hopes at risk. I could even see them adding an 89 or two.

Who is buying? Vernon may be getting some help up front with Robinson coming in and a chance Sahir Gill could come back. If Gill does return maybe there's another deal involving a forward and a younger D-man to bring in an 18 or 19 year old vet on the back end with a physical edge. I don't expect much more than that.

Penticton has some roster space and may need to fill Filiou's spot depending on how long he'll be out sick. I expect them to make some noise.

Westside is a very good team despite being young. Should they sacrifice much of what looks like a very bright future to go for it now? Tough decision for their management I'd say.

To me the team that should be trying to buy is Salmon Arm. This is a club that will lose the likes of Zengerle, Chakeen, Gubb, Lipsett and Ierfino after this season. I'd be shocked if Kilip and Noyes didn't get the chance to go to school next season too. However, SA is also a couple of pieces away from being able to take Vernon or Penticton in a 7 game series in my view. They did beat Vernon twice this past weekend, but do the Silverbacks have the same depth as those clubs? To me when you have talent like that going out the door you have to do everything you can to make a run. If they add a couple of key guys (especially a veteran defenceman) we could put them in the same category as Vernon and Penticton. For now I think both the Silverbacks and Warriors are a step or two behind.

I could see a big trade between Salmon Arm and Prince George that involved multiple players heading south. If those two clubs pulled off a blockbuster deal the balance of power could change at the top of the Interior. I have no "inside" information here, but I think it would make a ton of sense.

Of course those are just the Interior clubs I'm talking about. I could also easily see the Bulldogs, Eagles, Chiefs and Kings making a big push for whatever players the Interior clubs are willing to part with. The Coast is wide open (outside perhaps of the very top spot in the standings) so any big move could propel one team out of the pack. I also feel like all of those teams need a couple of big pieces if they hope to give the Interior winner a real challenge. Teams in the BCHL could also move some of their vets to contenders in the other Junior A leagues east of Trail.

I'll have more thoughts on the trade deadline and the moves we've already seen tomorrow. I may also have some video from the Salmon Arm game. I'd like to get highlights up from the Penticton game but my copy of it cuts off mid-way through the third period.


Anonymous said...

Shawn, I am a Vipers fan, but I love to read your blogs and even follow your live blog. I am looking forward to your live blog after trade deadline! thanks for all your thoughts and great comments ... GREAT JOB, lots of us enjoy reading your STUFF!! all the best... A Vipes Fan

Shawn said...

Thank you very much for the kind words.

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