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Barrie Colts receive 4th-rounder in 2018 for Cordell James

By Gene Pereira, Special to Postmedia Network

Barrie Colts captain Cordell James has been traded to the Owen Sound Attack. BARRIE EXAMINER/FILE PHOTO

Barrie Colts captain Cordell James has been traded to the Owen Sound Attack. BARRIE EXAMINER/FILE PHOTO

The Barrie Colts deal to send captain Cordell James to the Owen Sound Attack before Monday's noon trade deadline for overagers was as much about doing right by the player as it was for what they got in return.

Barrie got a fourth-round pick in 2018 for its first-line centre, but they're just as happy to give the popular four-year veteran an opportunity to play with a contending team in his final season of junior hockey.

"At the end of the day, as far as what we got for Cordell, that's part of this and not the most important thing," Colts general manager Jason Ford said minutes after the deal was approved by the OHL.

"It's about giving a kid a chance,” the GM added. “Cordell is a free agent and he's trying to get an NHL contract.

"That's not to say he couldn't have done that here, but at the same time he's going to be playing with a team in the west that has won 10 games in a row and is right in the thick of the battle for the Western Conference."

A strong two-way centre who is among the OHL's best in the faceoff circle, James is en route to enjoying a career-best offensive season with 13 goals and 12 assists in 36 games.

Barrie's fifth-round selection in 2012, James can play various roles, from providing traffic in front of opposing goaltenders and battling in front of the net to playing the role of a shut down centre and strong penalty killer.

"They really needed a player like Cordell and expressed a genuine interest, and they did a deal," Ford said. "There was other teams that expressed a lot of interest with Cordell as well, but at the end of the day this is where he went."

Sitting last overall with a 12-22-3-1 record and seven points behind North Bay for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the OHL's youngest club made it clear heading into the deadline they were looking to get younger and would try to recoup draft picks moved from previous years of contending.

"This was about the organization taking a step back, for this year anyways, and getting a little bit younger," Ford said. "This opens up ice time for some of the younger kids on the team and gives Cordell, who has been a tremendous kid on this team for the last three and a half years, a better opportunity somewhere else."

The Colts explored trade options for all three of their overagers, including Chicago Blackhawks prospect Roy Radke and Anthony Stefano, but most teams had overagers they were happy with.

For overagers, "it was a buyer's market," explained Ford.

"Teams that did have spots available, I guess you could say, could play the market and be picky and choosy," he said. "With us here we had three overagers and teams knew we were looking to get younger.

"If you look back the '96 draft was a pretty good draft, so a lot of teams had good '96s to begin with and have been able to play the market the last little bit,” Ford added.

While they didn't complete a deal involving Radke or Stefano, Ford believes the veterans will provide leadership and prove to be solid role models for their younger teammates moving forward.

Teams had expressed interest in both. Stefano told the Barrie Examiner recently he was more than happy to stay in Barrie.

"The fact that Anthony and Roy are here, you can ask them and I think they are just as happy staying here and helping the younger guys," Ford said. "(They'll) try to be leaders and show them work ethic moving forward."

 The OHL trade deadline for the rest of the non-overage players is set for noon on Tuesday.

Ford says he will continue to talk to other teams. With one deadline over and some of the bigger deals completed, there could be a trickle-down effect on down where teams could change their outlook after missing out on bigger moves.

Things could change by the minute.  

"Right now, I wouldn't say we're definitely going to do something or we're definitely not going to do something," Ford said. "It really changes by the minute, the last 24 hours here before tomorrow. We're listening to different things right now and whatever we do is about making this club better for now and the future, so we're just listening to everything right now."

A pair of big deals that were rumoured to go down came to fruition on Monday.

The battle in the Western Conference heated up in a big way with the Erie Otters, who had already landed overage centre Warren Foegele from Kingston last week, pulling off a blockbuster with the Oshawa Generals for Canadian national junior forward Anthony Cirelli.

In return, the Generals, who are hoping to host next year's 100th-anniversary Memorial Cup, get Erie 2016 first-rounder Allan McShane, along with a fourth-round pick in 2018, second-round picks in 2022 and 2023, and a conditional sixth-round pick in 2019 and 2second-round pick in 2024.

The London Knights beefed up their back end in a big way with the acquisition of blue-liner and New York Islanders prospect Mitchell Vande Sompel from Oshawa for young defender Ian Blacker and draft picks.

Other deals Monday saw Owen Sound move overage forward Justin Brack to the Niagara IceDogs for an 11th-round pick and a swap of defencemen, with the North Bay Battalion getting Jesse Saban and a 10th-round pick in 2017 from the Hamilton Bulldogs for Stephen Templeton, a fifth-round pick in 2017 and a conditional sixth-round pick in 2019. 

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