The Timmins Rock have traded forward Tyler Planetta, shown here celebrating a goal with then teammates Josh Anderson, left, and Wayne Mathieu, centre, during an NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena on Nov. 25, to the Port Hope Panthers, of the PJHL. The trade freed up a roster spot that allowed the Rock to sign free agent 2000-birth-year forward Wesley Weir. Weir, a 2016 seventh round (130th overall) OHL Priority Selection pick of the Soo Greyhounds, started the season with the Stouffville Spirit, of the OJHL. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – The Timmins Rock added a player prior to the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s trade deadline on Wednesday and bid farewell — again — to the ultimate team player.
Tyler Planetta (32, 2-7-9, 10), the pride of Goulds, NFLD, was traded to the Port Hope Panthers, of the PJHL, in exchange for a player development fee.
“We brought him in here at the start of the season to help out with the room,” said Rock general manager Kevin Peever.
“When we had all our injuries this season, he really stepped up. He played big PK (penalty kill) minutes for us and blocked a lot of shots.
“That’s just the type of player he is. He came in here and did everything we asked of him.
“He adjusted his style of game and worked hard on and off the ice. He got himself in great shape this season.”
Planetta didn’t wear a letter with the Rock this season, but he played a leadership role on and off the ice.
Trading a team-first player like Planetta had more to do with freeing up a card and ensuring he gets a better opportunity for more ice time so he can further develop his game.
“With this move, he will be closer to family, as well,” Peever said.
“He has family down in that area and he will also get an opportunity to play more for the Panthers than he was able to here with us.”
Planetta, a 1998-birth-year forward, first joined the Rock at the start of the 2015-16 NOJHL season and he put up decent numbers (23, 2-6-8, 18) before being dealt to the St. John’s Maple Leafs (13, 7-3-10, 10), of the NLMMHL.
The Rock then reacquired Planetta (20, 0-3-3, 21) early in the 2016-17 campaign before dealing him and a player development fee to the French River Rapids (29, 2-4-6, 6) in exchange for goalie Albert Rogers.
Then, in June, the Rock reacquired Planetta from the Rapids in exchange for a player development fee.
With one more year of Junior ‘A’ eligibility left after this season, could Planetta see a fourth incarnation in a Rock uniform?
Only time will tell, as Peever would not speculate on the future of a player now signed to a card with the Panthers, but he did acknowledge the team appreciates everything Planetta brought to the organization in his first three times in a Rock jersey.
With the card freed up by the trade of Planetta, the Rock have signed 2000-birth-year forward Wesley Weir.
Weir (26, 7-4-11, 59), who was taken by the Soo Greyhounds in the seventh round (130th overall) of the 2016 OHL Priority Selection draft, started the season with the Stouffville Spirit, of the OJHL.
“Weir is a player we feel will be able to help us next year and also have an impact this year,” Peever said.
“He was averaging just under a half point a game this year in Stouffville on a team that really hasn’t had much success this year.”
In fact, with a record of 8-28-0-1, the Spirit have the second-worst record in the OJHL this season.
In 2016-17, Weir (36, 15-22-37, 88) was a point-a-game player with the Richmond Hill Coyotes, of the ETAHL.
“We have some players on our team who are very familiar with him,” Peever said.
“Will Caston played against him the (OJHL) development league. (Paul) Spadafora has also played with him in some summer tournaments and played against him in the OJHL.
“He comes highly recommended by some of the people in (Rock coach) Corey Beer’s hockey circle, as well as some guys I know.”
While Peever is confident the addition of Weir will help with the Rock’s push toward the 2018 playoffs, he definitely had an eye on 2018-19 — when the Rock hope to host the Dudley-Hewitt Cup tournament — when he made the transaction.
“He is another young OHL draft pick who we feel will be able to help us in the future,” he said.
That is the same logic the Rock employed when they acquired Tyler Gilberds from the Powassan Voodoos on Nov. 30.
Officially listed at 5-9 and 187 pounds, Weir will be far from the biggest player on the Rock roster, but he is no stranger to the penalty box.
“He does have a little bit of grit to his game,” Peever said.
“He doesn’t mind going to the dirty areas of the ice to score goals and we feel he has great speed, so he should be able to contribute right away. He is not a guy who we are really going to have to develop. We know he will be able to help us out this year, as soon as he pulls on his Rock jersey.”
This was Peever’s first CJHL trade deadline as general manager of the Rock.
“I took a lot of phone calls and made a lot of phone calls, as well,” he said.
“A lot of the guys who were available were in their last year (1997-birth-year), so we sat back and explored what our options would be.
“We were more interested in bringing in high-end younger players, who we would have for 2018-19. We did a lot of research and made a lot of phone calls, but in the end there was not that much activity. Most of the trades outside of our league happened before the trade freeze on Dec. 10. A lot of teams had already set up their squads and finalized their rosters.
“Even in our league, there were not that many player movements Wednesday.”
The biggest deal in the NOJHL was the one that saw the Rayside-Balfour Canadians acquire 2000-birth-year forward Christian Gaudreau (37, 14-18-32, 4) from the French River Rapids in exchange for 1997-birth-year defenceman Ronson Odjig (11, 0-1-1, 8) and 2000-birth-year goalie Matt Mayhew (532:00, 5-2-0-0, 1, 2.71, .913).
The Canadians also traded 2000-birth-year forward Darcy Winkler (34, 6-4-10, 10) to the St. Marys Lincolns, of the GOJHL, in exchange for a player development fee and acquired 1997-birth-year defenceman Scott Bagby (18, 0-5-5, 18) from the South Shore Lumberjacks, of the MHL.
Meanwhile, the Rapids dealt 1999-birth-year forward Shaun General (34, 0-2-2, 14) to the St. Marys Lincolns, of the GOJHL.
After acquiring 1998-birth-year forward Zach Hayes (19, 9-11-20, 10) from the Minnesota Iron Rangers, of the SIJHL, and 1997-birth-year forward Levi Johnson (40, 7-5-12, 86), from Drayton Valley Thunder, of the AJHL, earlier this month, the Cochrane Crunch shipped 1998-birth-year forward Austin Caza (31, 5-5-10, 15) to the Komoka Kings, of the GOJHL, and 1998-birth-year defenceman Braden King (23, 0-4-4, 27) to the Soo Thunderbirds.
The Blind River Beavers acquire 1998-birth-year forward Zachary Senecal (23, 1-12-13, 10) from the Trenton Golden Hawks, of the OJHL, and traded 1999-birth-year forward Michael Cabral (24, 2-4-6, 12) to the Ancaster Avalanche, of the GOJHL.
The Espanola Express traded a pair of players — 1999-birth-year defenceman Jake Mooring (30, 0-3-3, 35) and 1997-birth-year goalie Jacob Hutchings (1159:00, 0-19-0-0, 0, 5.80, .872) — to the St Marys Lincolns, of the GOJHL.
While CJHL teams are no longer able to complete trades, they are still capable of making additions to their rosters — if they have unsigned cards.
“In addition to free agents (who have been released by CJHL teams), there are guys playing in outlaw (non-Hockey Canada sanctioned) leagues, who could become available if they make an appeal to Hockey Canada to be reinstated,” Peever said.
“There are also players in the United States who are playing in unsanctioned hockey leagues, who would be available — if they have not played anywhere else in Canada before.”
With the addition of Weir, the Rock now have 14 forwards, six defencemen (not counting James Redmond, who is on injured reserve) and two goalies on their roster, leaving them one unsigned card.
“We don’t plan to rush into anything with that last card,” Peever said.
“We do have a couple of free agents we are currently speaking with, but we know we have the capability of moving (forward) Jace Soroko to the back end to help out on defence and even Riley Robitaille has the capability of playing defence in an emergency.
“So, if we bring somebody else in, we will look at the best player available and not worry about what position he plays.
“Another factor we have taken into account is the fact we have a very strong supporting cast with our affiliate players.
“The affiliate players we have used this year have been absolutely tremendous. The Timmins Majors coaching staff has really done a great job in developing their players and getting them ready for the next level.
“The same can be said for Glen Denney and his staff with the Kapuskasing Flyers.”
The Majors who have seen time with the Rock this season include goalie Jordan Yaremchuk (44:00, 0-0-0-0, 0, 2.73, .833), defencemen Frederic Leclair-Pouw (5, 0-2-2, 0) and Cameron Svec (1, 0-0-0, 0), as well as forwards Austin Holmes (5, 2-2-4, 2), Kobe Barrette (2, 1-0-1, 0), Riley Brousseau (4, 1-0-1, 0) and Dryden Rivet (3, 0-0-0, 0)
In addition, Flyers forward Blane Boissonneault (3, 0-0-0, 0) and defenceman Cooper Roussy (3, 0-0-0, 2) have seen action with the Rock.
KINGSTON, ON – NOV 2, 2017: Ontario Junior Hockey League game between the Kingston Voyageurs and the Stouffville Spirit, Wesley Weir #23 of the Stouffville Spirit skates with the puck during the second period. (Photo by Ian Dixon / OJHL Images)