Eric Veilleux’s squad lost two of its more prominent members today. Both Jonathan Lessard and Michael Pelech were shipped out in two separate trades.
Pelech is the bigger name at play here, as the center was second in points (9+29=38) on the team. Norfolk gets the better return in this deal, as they receive forward Robbie Czarnik and Sam Windle from Reading. The move is somewhat odd given Reading is currently 7th in the Eastern Conference and gave up their leading goal-scorer. Czarnik has (23+23=46) in 51 games, three points clear of current Ads leader Steven Whitney. Norfolk’s playoff chances are all-but-eliminated. Adding Czarnik does allow the Admirals the option to protect him for next year, which is an added boost. By the way, Czarnik played a few games for the AHL squad last season.
Windle is the bigger need for the Ads, who can now ice six skaters this weekend. It’s somewhat likely the Royals may have needed to send Czarnik out to make the money work (I guess?). Windle is a rookie from Bemidji State University who has never put up particularly big numbers. He has three points this year with Reading. Again, this is a bit of an odd move on Reading’s part but it works out well for an Admirals team possibly thinking about next year.
Jonathan Lessard is on his way to Rapid City, South Dakota in a trade for Danick Gauthier. If Gauthier sounds familiar, it is most likely because of his appearances with the Syracuse Crunch in the past few seasons. Gauthier was a Tampa Bay prospect before the organization declined to give him a qualifying offer in the offseason. Last year, he had a breakout ECHL year with Wichita, where he scored 68 points. Gauthier returned to Wichita this year, but with only 12 points in 30 games. He was eventually traded to the Rapid City Rush, where he scored 14 points in 29 games. Those numbers are not close to what he put up last year, but still solid.
Rapid City also received future considerations in the deal from Norfolk, which means cash. The Rush may not be as financially flush, and they also sent forward Daniel Barczuk to Fort Wayne for future considerations only. Lessard’s exit from the team is easy to see in hindsight. Despite being one of the Ads’ best scoring threats, Lessard was at times an extra forward and healthy scratched in the last game. I am not going to speculate here, but perhaps there was some disconnect.
The ECHL does not prioritize losing. There is no chance at a lottery prize to make your team better if you fail. If the team finishes in last (right now a battle between Wichita and Brampton), they have to try to pick it up again the next year. ECHL teams have some more agency than teams at the AHL level but are still dependent on their affiliates. Trades like these are one way to potentially make your team better for the next year. The ECHL trade deadline is tomorrow at 3 P.M.