The goal of the Steinbach Pistons at the start of every season is to make it to the RBC Cup national championships.
With that in mind, the Pistons took a huge step towards next year’s ultimate goal by pulling off a massive trade this week with the Winnipeg Blues that will go down as one of the largest trades in Manitoba Junior Hockey League history.
Pistons’ General Manager Paul Dyck and Blues GM Taras McEwen, new to the position after taking over from Billy Keane, pulled the trigger on a deal that involved 10 players as well as Future Considerations.
For Dyck and company, it’s as if Christmas has come early for the Steinbach Pistons.
In return for a whole passel of Pistons’ prospects (seven to be exact) plus Future Considerations, the Pistons received three players from the Blues who will all have an instant impact on the Pistons next season, in particular giving them some scoring punch that was absent in the second half of the campaign last season.
In addition to the seemingly obligatory Future Considerations, coming to the Pistons from the Blues will be veteran 20-year-old defenceman Dylan Cassie, 19-year-old forward Codey Behun and 18-year-old forward Ty Naaykens. All three of these players had strong seasons for the Blues last year and were on full display for Pistons’ fans during the playoffs as the Pistons survived a tough six-game series against the Blues.
In exchange for the Blues’ trio, which have made the Pistons a better hockey club overnight, the Pistons surrendered the MJHL rights to seven of their future prospects, including defencemen Carter Bateman, Connor Tyhy and Austin McIvor; and forwards Logan Danis, Brayden Clark, Aeden Loschaivio and Tayem Gislason.
Clearly, the Blues are building for the future, while the Pistons are bolstering their club for next season as they will make another determined drive for a third MJHL title.
Cassie, the veteran rearguard, had 30 points, including seven goals in 57 regular season games for the Blues last year.
Behun played in all 60 regular season games for the Blues last year, garnering 19 goals and 39 points. And he stepped it up in the playoff series against the Pistons and was a factor with seven points in the six-game series.
Both Behun and Naaykens should be able to add some considerable scoring punch to the Pistons this year. Last year as an MJHL rookie with the Blues, Naaykens had 15 goals and 40 points in 55 regular season games and then four points in six playoff games.
Asked how a trade of this magnitude occurred, Dyck said, "I’m actually not sure, it just kind of evolved, initially when our conversation first started about three weeks ago, it was going to be one player for two prospects, and it just grew from there."
He says he had been having regular conversations since the initial one and Dyck says in the day before the trade was finalized, he and McEwen spent five or six hours on the phone.
Dyck says ultimately both teams got what they wanted in the trade, "both teams will benefit."
Dyck noted the trade was made easier as there is a familiarity with those three players they have acquired as well as them "being familiar with the Pistons and the rink we play in."
"I talked to all three of them Tuesday morning before the official announcement was made, and they were all excited to come here."
All of the prospects that the Pistons gave up are part of the RHA program in Winnipeg, the same entity that purchased the Winnipeg Blues at the end of the season as well as the Western Hockey League’s Winnipeg Ice, formerly the Kootenay Ice.
Former Pistons’ assistant coach and Steinbach native Rob Smith continues to be the head coach of the midget program at the Rink Hockey Academy.