It’s often said in sports that a team wins a trade when they receive the best player.
If Vince Trocheck’s first two games with the Plymouth Whalers are any indication, the Whalers win—short-term—over the final 30 games of the regular season, and hopefully, deep into the 2013 Ontario Hockey League playoffs.
A few hours before the OHL’s Final Trade Deadline on January 10, Plymouth general manager Mike Vellucci acquired Trocheck (19-years-old) from the Saginaw Spirit in exchange for 17-year-old center Zach Bratina, second and third round draft choices in 2015 and a third round choice in 2016.
Trocheck – from Pittsburgh, PA – left Saginaw as the second leading scorer in franchise history with 94 goals and 146 for 240 points in 236 games. He’s one of the best face-off men in the Ontario Hockey League and was considered the face of the franchise as captain in Saginaw.
Trocheck was originally selected by Saginaw in the second round (24th overall) of the 2009 Ontario Hockey League Draft. Later, Trocheck was taken by the Florida Panthers in the third round (64th overall) of the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft and has been signed by the Panthers.
“We are very excited to be able to acquire Vince,” said Vellucci. “He is someone we’ve coveted since his minor midget draft year (Detroit Little Caesars). Vince and Ryan Hartman are coming here just having helped the United States win a gold medal in the World Junior Championships. I am looking forward to seeing Vince in the lineup this weekend.”
Trocheck didn’t score a goal in his first two games with the Whalers, but he dished out five assists and was prominent in all areas of the ice in two Plymouth victories. He also won 20-of-27 face-offs over the two games for a success ratio of 74.1 percent.
The line of Trocheck, Hartman and Cody Payne figured in on all four goals on Jan. 12 in the Whalers’ come-from-behind, 4-3 overtime win over Erie. Hartman scored the hat trick in the game (including the game-winner 20 seconds into overtime), while Trocheck contributed three assists and Payne scored the equalizer in the third period to tie the game at 3-3.
VIDEO - See the highlights of the game.
"It's easy playing with a guy like Vince," Hartman said. "He was a captain in Saginaw. He has 50+ plus points (24 goals, 31 assists for 55 points in 37 games) and he has those points for a reason. He's a hard-nosed player and he knows what to do on the ice. Payne brings a little bit of grit and he's a smart player, too. He can get the puck to you and he can score goals like he did tonight."
The victory concluded a whirlwind couple of weeks for Trocheck and Hartman, who were part Team USA who won the gold medal in the 2013 World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia.
After battling the Whalers over three-an-a-half years with Saginaw, Trocheck was asked if it was a little strange wearing a Plymouth uniform.
“It is a little strange,” Trocheck admitted. “They've been my rivals for three-and-a-years and I think I’ve won just once in this building (Compuware Arena) during that time. But I wanted to come here. Plymouth has always been a hard team to play against, so I have a lot of respect for them. I'm happy to be here. I pride myself as a guy that does a little of everything. I take pride in the penalty kill and the power play as well.”
As the National Hockey League lifts the lockout and teams are working in training camp, the Whalers come into mid-January playing without NHL first round picks Stefan Noesen (Ottawa), Tom Wilson (Washington) and Rickard Rakell (Anaheim) – all invited to NHL training camps.
If Wilson, Rakell and Noesen all return to Plymouth, Trocheck won’t have to be a face of the franchise – just an important contributing member of the team.
And don't feel too sorry for Saginaw. Immediately after trading Trocheck, the Spirit defeated Erie last Friday and London on Saturday to run their current winning streak to five games.
#21 IS #25 - Ryan Hartman of the Whalers is rated 25th overall among North American skaters up for the 2013 National Hockey League Entry Draft, which will be held June 28-29 in New Jersey.
Hartman will be playing tonight in Halifax, NS in the 18th annual Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.