Niagara IceDogs trade for 5 players in one day under new GM

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June 30, 2022 at 7:07 pm

Trading for an entire unit of seasoned players is one way for Darren DeDobbelaer to illustrate that the Niagara IceDogs are under new management.

The Ontario Hockey League had a one-day trade window on Thursday ahead of the import draft, and DeDobbaeler took advantage of it, to put it mildly. The new proprietor of the St. Catharines-based club, who bought the team from Bill and Denise Burke in mid-May, acquired a pair of overage defencemen and three forwards who are 19 or older. One of the latter is Pasquale Zito, who was an alternate captain for the OHL runner-up Windsor Spitfires and is also a draft choice of the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL.

The IceDogs’ longtime TV play-by-play commentator said he had never seen anything like that in 15 years of covering the team.

“Haven’t seen an OHL non-trade deadline day with any team like this since I started calling games in 2007,” said Steve Clark, who calls IceDogs home games on YourTV Niagara.

Here are the Niagara-bound new faces, who are joining a team which has nowhwere to go but up following a finish in the league cellar:

  • The 19-year-old Zito was the highest scorer of the newcomers last season, with 42 points across 49 games for Windsor, plus seven in the playoffs. The Red Wings sixth-round choice also has a rugged element to his skillset. The ante for Zito included four guaranteed priority-selection choices, including second-rounders in 2023 and ’24 that originated with the Oshawa Generals.
  • Nathan Ribau, a right-shot defenceman who was also part of the Windsor playoff run, is a potential overage defenceman. The Oakville native has also been part of a leadership group as a one-time alternate captain with the Sudbury Wolves. Getting Ribau came at a cost of third- and fourth-round choices, neither of which are in the next two drafts.
  • David Jesus, who is also a 20-year-old, is a six-foot-four defenceman who played major minutes last season with the Oshawa Generals. Jesus also doubled his point total last season over his OHL rookie season in 2019-20.

    Oshawa received two picks  for Jesus— a fifth in 2023 and a third in ’25.

  • Papais, a candidate for an overage forward role, had 19 goals and 40 points across 67 games for the Guelph Storm. The five-foot-11, 188-pound left wing helped Guelph to a solid 80-point campaign. Adding Papais involved parting with a fourth-round choice in ’24 and a third in ’25.
  • The other incoming forward is 19-year-old centre Vsevolod Gaidamak, a Russian import who debuted in the OHL last season with the Ottawa 67’s. Gaidamak had 16 goals and 33 points across 60 games for Ottawa, and was also one of the 67’s frequent faceoff takers. Niagara sent a 2023 fourth-round choice to the 67’s to seal that deal.

The former partners in the IceDogs put the team on the market after the coach and GM were suspended from the league for making abusive comments in a team group chat.

The furore came at the tailend of a season where Niagara was a well-supported team but had the fewest wins (22), fewest wins in regulation (14), fewest points (48), fewest goals (212) and most goals against (315) in the 20-team OHL.

DeDobbelaer is a longtime junior hockey general manager who hails from Norfolk County, and operates two teams in Brantford.

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