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Barrie Colts’ main focus is on their next season

By Gene Pereira, Special to Postmedia Network

If anyone has to draw some kind of conclusion on what the Barrie Colts goals are at this year’s OHL trade deadline, looking at what has happened so far it appears the focus is clearly on next year.

There is no doubt the Colts are left in somewhat of a bind on what to do with the uncertainty surrounding Mark Scheifele and whether he’s likely heading for good to the Winnipeg Jets.

The OHL’s decision to not push back Thursday’s OHL trade deadline has clearly thrown a wrench into what teams like Barrie are going to do. It’s hard to make a run for it when you’re not sure if your best player will be around.

Oshawa, with Boone Jenner and Sarnia, with Alex Galchenyuk, are in the same predicament as the Colts.

What adds to this whole deadline planning scenario for Barrie is the fact the club is hoping to win a bid to host next year’s Memorial Cup.

One would think the Colts should have a fair shot at hosting the Canadian Hockey League championship tournament, but commissioner Dave Branch and his Memorial Cup committee have passed on Barrie several times in the past and it’s not a stretch to think they will do so again this time.

Judging by what the Colts have done so far at this year’s deadline, it appears Barrie put its eggs in that Memorial Cup basket.

Despite leading the Eastern Conference standings and icing a talented club that will lose stars like Scheifele, Anthony Camara, Mathias Niederberger and Ryan O’Connor after this year, it appears the Colts are not interested in making any kind of extra push for this season.

Which, at least to this scribe, doesn’t add up.

Even without Scheifele, the current Barrie lineup, with some key additions and who were plenty available at this year’s deadline, had a pretty good shot at winning a league title.

Without some major wheeling and dealing next season, the Colts lineup next season will be nowhere as good as this year’s.

Wednesday’s trades for 19-year-old veteran Mitchell Theoret from Niagara and rugged Devon Rymarchuk from Owen Sound give the Colts two forwards that can help this season and next, but neither, with all due respect, are all-stars that will put Barrie over the top.

The price, especially for Theoret, is a steep one. At first glance, it appears the Colts have overpaid in giving up first-round pick Brendan Perlini.

Theoret had 18 goals this season with Niagara and should be a solid overager with Barrie next year. Perlini, while very raw, possesses high-end potential and should be a very good player in this league once he matures and gets stronger which he has plenty of time to do being only 16-years-old.

The last time the Colts traded their first-round pick to Niagara it was Ryan Strome. We all know how Strome has turned out, but at least the Colts got an all-star blue liner back in Alex Pietrangelo.

Now, there is no guarantee that Perlini will turn out to have the talent Strome has, but it’s because of that skill set he was a first-round pick in the OHL.

Rymarchuk comes at a low cost and will provide much-needed toughness for Barrie.

But neither is a Vincent Trocheck, Alan Quine, Josh Leivo, Brett Ritchie, Frank Corrado, Cody Ceci or Tyler Graovac — all of them star players who were traded or still could be acquired before Thursday’s deadline.

All this doesn’t mean the Colts still don’t have a chance this season. The Eastern Conference is more open than ever right now and only Belleville, with the addition of Graovac, has improved so far with a trade.

But Barrie, with the right additions, can be a serious contender not just for a conference title, but an OHL championship and earn a berth in this year’s Cup.

Instead, the Colts don’t seem interested in taking away anything from next year’s club to make this year’s better. What makes it stranger is they sacrificed a potential future star in Perlini for Theoret, who while again is a good veteran, is more of a complimentary player than an all-star.

If Barrie stands pat before Thursday’s deadline, they have sacrificed a very realistic shot at an OHL title for a long shot hope of hosting next year’s Memorial Cup.

If you want to take a serious run at next year’s CHL title, than why not go all in? Why not trade Camara, Niederberger and O’Connor to stock up for next season.

Hockey fans love winning titles. They appreciate a franchise that ices contending clubs, but they want to know the organization will commit itself to go for a championship when the opportunity arises.

The opportunity was there this season. It may not be next year.

Gene Pereira covers the Barrie Colts for the Barrie Examiner.

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