By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – If Timmins Rock general manager Kevin Peever keeps up this pace fans will have to start calling him Monty Hall.
More modern fans of the popular game show Let’s Make A Deal might consider Wayne Brady — current host of the television program — a more popular choice.
Regardless, the GM who is quickly earning the nickname ‘Trader Kevin’ continued his wheeling and dealing on Thursday — banishing both forwards who skated with Stewart Parnell and Alexandre Brisson on the Rock’s super third line last season.
Shortly after formally announcing he had shipped forward Cole Gilligan to the Mississauga Chargers, of the OJHL, Peever confirmed he has traded forward Jacob Shankar and cash considerations to the Rockland Nationals (formerly the Gloucester Rangers), of the CCHL, in exchange for 19-year-old defenceman James Redmond and a player to be named later.
“I know we are giving up a little bit of offence, but we had quite a few graduates on our back end this year,” Peever said.
“So, we needed to look after our own end before looking for offence. We had the opportunity with this trade to acquire James Redmond (34, 1-3-4, 16), who is very much a defensive defenceman.
“He put up some numbers in Gloucester, but his role was more focused on defending against goals. We jumped at the opportunity to have a player of his calibre coming back.”
Redmond is a close friend of new Rock forward Eric Hulford, who the Rock acquired from the Athens Aeros, of the CCHL2, earlier this month.
“That should help them both be more comfortable up here,” Peever said.
“They won’t just be strangers in the community.”
New Rock coach Corey Beer, who made the trek up to Timmins to check out the McIntyre Arena and meet with team officials after attending the NOJHL’s two-day scheduling meeting in Sudbury earlier in the week, is quite familiar with Redmond.
“He is going to come in and play in some key situations for us,” he said.
“He is a good two-way defenceman who has that physical edge we are looking for from our players. Kevin has done a ton of homework on him.
“He comes highly recommended and we think he is a guy who going to fit into our group of defencemen and be a contributor.”
With only three blue-liners — Jared Hester, who has committed to returning, Grant McClellan and James Watier — eligible to return for the 2017-18 campaign, it was imperative for the Rock to bolster that group.
“It is always important to solidify your back end,” Beer said.
“You look at teams that are successful in the long run, they don’t just have one or two key defencemen, they have a group of let’s call it four main ones and then their five, six and seven guys are able to slide up and down the roster.
“Bringing guys in who have Junior experience is of key importance, as is having guys who fit in and know their roles.”
Redmond, who stands 5-11 and weighs 174 pounds, spent the 2015-16 season with the Stittsville Royals (19, 4-4-8, 2 ), of the CCHL2, and also spent part of the 2016-17 season in that league, with the Richmond Royals (10, 2-2-4, 6).
Shankar (46, 21-22-43, 44), whom the Rock acquired from the Brockville Braves, of the CCHL prior to the start of the 2016-17 NOJHL season, turned in an impressive rookie campaign.
He continued that success during the 2017 playoffs (9, 3-4-7, 22), although he did have a knack for taking some untimely penalties.
Peever acknowledged the Rock moved Gilligan to accommodate the player’s request to play closer to home in 2017-18, his final year of junior eligibility.
“Last year, his dad was only able to watch games when he played in Powassan or French River,” he said.
“This deal will allow his family more of an opportunity to watch him play as a 20 year old.”
Trading away a player who showed so much growth as a 19 year old wasn’t a easy decision to make.
“That third line last year was excellent for us and Cole was a big part of that,” Peever said.
“He always seemed to score some key goals. He really stepped up his game last year and put up some great numbers.”
At 6-4, 182 pounds and with a condor-like wingspan, Gilligan (55, 22-20-42, 4) came into his own during 2016-17 NOJHL season playing on a line with Parnell and Brisson.
The trio combined for 124 points during the regular season, but earned as much — if not more — praise for their defensive efforts.
Gilligan’s most productive game in a Rock uniform came on Dec. 3, 2016, in Kirkland Lake when he scored twice and set up two other goals in a game the Rock lost 6-5 in double overtime.
Near the end of the 2016-17 season, Gilligan was shuffled off the Rock’s third line and replaced by Jacob Shankar.
During the 2017 playoffs, Gilligan (8, 0-0-0, 4) played in eight of the Rock’s 10 games, but he struggled to earn ice time when he did dress.
In his first season with the Rock, Gilligan (44, 6-6-12, 6) played mainly on the fourth line.
Before joining the Rock, Gilligan spent parts of the 2014-15 season with the Blind River Beavers (4, 0-0-0, 0) and the Mattawa Blackhawks (7, 1-0-1, 0).
Peever provided little input on who the player to be named later in the Shankar transaction might be, but did admit he has a number of other irons in the fire as he attempts to shape the Rock’s roster.
“I am going to turn over every rock to try to make our club that much better,” he said.
“We have a lot of feelers out there right now, not necessarily in the trade department, but more so in a recruitment effort.
“There are a lot of high-end guys we are looking at who we feel would be great impact players for our team.”
NOJHL NOTES — The Hearst Lumberjacks have announced the return of forward Wade Auger for the 2017-18 season. Auger (47, 15-19-34, 22), a Gravelbourg, Sask., native enjoyed a solid 2016-17 campaign with the Iroquois Falls Eskis. He followed that up with an even more impressive 2017 playoffs (3, 2-2-4, 0) … The Cochrane Crunch have also announced the arrival of a new player, with the signing of defenceman Quinton Maddock. Maddock, who stands 6-2, weighs 220 pounds and will turn 18 in August, spent the 2016-17 season with the Pelham Panthers (43, 2-8-10, 73), of the GOJHL.