KIJHL: UPDATED: Leafs trade Steger, acquire two players

The three-team deal brings forward Logan Wullum and defenceman Brennan Grocock to Nelson.

Sean Dooley hopes the end result of a complicated trade helps break the Nelson Leafs out of a month-long slump.

The Leafs general manager traded defenceman Austin Steger to the Osoyoos Coyotes in a three-way deal Monday involving former Nelson player Austin Anselmo, who is currently playing in Northern Ontario. Once the paperwork was signed, Dooley acquired forward Logan Wullum and defenceman Brennan Grocock from the Creston Valley Thunder Cats.

Dooley believes the new additions will kick start a team trying to recover from a seven-game skid that ended with Friday’s 4-0 win in Golden. One day later, however, the Leafs dropped 7-4 on the road against the Columbia Valley Rockies.

“We were hurting a bit during the skid, we were pretty shorthanded, and we figured we wanted to add a little bit of character, a little bit of energy into the lineup,” said Dooley.

The Leafs also sent goaltender Ben Kelsch to the Kamloops Storm on Tuesday in exchange for future considerations. The Nelson native had a 2-3 record with 3.51 goals-against average and a .872 save percentage in seven games this season.

There was nothing straightforward about the Steger deal.

Initially, the Leafs had agreed to send Steger to the Osoyoos Coyotes in exchange for forward Carter Shannon. That deal was scrapped, however, when Shannon indicated he didn’t want to play in a city where he had no family. So both teams went back to the drawing board.

Meanwhile, Creston Valley had interest in Anselmo, who is currently playing in Junior A for the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. Osoyoos held Anselmo’s rights, so Dooley flipped Steger for Anselmo’s paperwork, which he then forwarded to Creston Valley in exchange for Wullum and Grocock.

The deal at first glance makes little sense, and Dooley acknowledged Creston Valley’s gamble trading for a player they may never see. The Leafs, he added, thought about keeping Anselmo’s rights but needed players in the locker-room.

“There’s the side that, why would he want to return to Junior B?” said Dooley. “But that’s the risk [Creston] is running. I would say in my talks with Austin it wasn’t a closed door in returning to Junior B.”

Steger, who led the Leafs’ defencemen in points with two goals and eight assists, was one of the team’s marquee acquisitions during the off-season.

But Dooley said the coaching staff, which includes head coach Mario DiBella and assistant coach Isaac MacLeod, didn’t think Steger was fitting in well with the team’s defensive corps.

“I think with Austin Steger, probably one of the most skilled defencemen to come through our program in a long time, but was he flourishing in Nelson? No, I don’t think he was. That’s something we had on our minds.”

His replacement, Grocock, was recently acquired from Golden where he also played last season. The 19-year-old has one assist in 17 games this season, and 13 points in 52 assists. Dooley said Grocock caught the team’s eye last season.

“He wasn’t putting up a ton of points but he’s a quick moving defenceman, makes a good first pass, he’s a heads-up player, he’s smart, he’s got a lot of skill,” said Dooley. “We thought in our lineup he would fit well with the guys we have on defence.”

Wullum, meanwhile, is in his third full KIJHL season. The 18-year-old has two goals and one assist in 12 games this season, and Dooley compared his hustle to Leafs forward Sam Weber.

“Logan’s someone we look to to add a little energy in the lineup,” said Dooley. “A guy who will pursue the puck. He’s physical, he’s not a huge guy but he just brings a kind of offensive spark to the team. We wanted another guy like that.

“Just looking at our record, we have all the pieces in our lineup. We’ve got guys who can score, we’ve got guys who are physical, we’ve got guys who grind it out. Some of the combinations just weren’t binding, so we wanted to add that little bit extra on our back end and up front to complete what we were looking for as how we want our team structured. So we’re pretty excited about those two guys.”

Just Posted

Kootenay fires grow — more evaucation alerts

Syringa fire prompts evacuation alerts plus HWY 3 closure and U.S. fire crosses into B.C.

Evacuation alert for Syringa and Deer Park

The Syrigna Creek Fire grew Saturday resulting in evacuation alerts.

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Smoke scraps MS Bike Challenge

The annual fundraising event cancelled its cycling Saturday because of poor air quality

Nelson’s mural festival: scenes from opening night

Crowds wandered the streets and alleys finding delightful surprises in unlikely places

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

VIDEO: Ground crews keep a close eye on largest B.C. wildfire

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, officials said more accurate mapping shows smaller size

Most Read