Jonathon Brodie – Recorder & Times
You need something like a police crime board to make sense of all the movements on the Brockville Braves roster over the last month. You need to have photos pinned up all over the place with lines of red string bouncing from one head shot to the next to connect each of them and show who has been moved and why.
There’s Sam Allison who was brought to Brockville from the Nepean Raiders to replace the skill of Philippe Gilmour and is a year younger. Gilmour was moved in a different deal that sent him to the Cornwall Colts in exchange for forward Justin McRae to add some grit to the team. Nicholas Wildgoose was shipped in and then shipped out a week later in order to make room for Mathieu Halle, who hasn’t played since mid-October because of a shoulder injury and was originally told he would miss the rest of the season, but started practicing this week with the Braves and is expected to play in the coming weeks when he’s comfortable.
Fingerprints of the moves are all over the Braves lineup. Allison is a top line player, while someone like Christophe Cote – who played last year with Brockville and started the season in the NCDC before rejoining the Braves on Nov. 16 – looks to be a role player on the depth chart. McRae seems to fit anywhere they need him.
Brockville has 16 different moves listed on the CCHL transaction page since the beginning of November and it’s actually missing a few things on there.
The overall motive for bringing in all the new players is to add an older veteran presence to the team. The roster, said Braves general manager Dustin Traylen, is being built to make a playoff run and added age is expected to help that.
The Braves were icing one of the youngest teams in the league when they started the season and now they have one of the oldest. In their first game of the season they had just six players born in either 1998 or 1999. In their last game they had 11 in their lineup.
Some eyebrows were raised when Traylen started changing his roster after the Braves rallied off 14 straight wins between Sept. 3 and Oct. 26, but it was that hot streak that helped influence the general manager to make the alterations. It opened his eyes to the potential his team has to challenge the best clubs in the league.
“People can question why would we change things up, but the reality is you have to be a little bit older and grittier to win in this league in the playoffs, especially in arena’s like Carleton Place and/or Ottawa,” said Traylen. “You have to have skaters, but you also have to have guys that are tough enough to bang with the big boys.”
The bulk of the changes that took place in the second half of November seem to be sticking. Players like Wildgoose, Curtis Abbott, and Spencer Cosway – all arrived in early November – are with other teams. Pieces like Allison, Cote, and defenceman Chace McCardle, who played his first Braves game last Friday, appear to be making an impact on the team and general manager.
Traylen, however, isn’t done yet and he plans to make more moves before the CCHL trade deadline comes early in the new year.
“I will continue to improve my team until I can’t,” said Traylen. “Until they tell me I’m not allowed to.”