Tony Ferrari analyzes some of the CHL’s biggest recent moves, including Wright, Zellweger, Mintyukov, Ostapchuk, Del Mastro and much more.
The CHL trade deadline was bananas.
There were big transactions involving massive hauls of draft picks, younger players getting swapped for game-changing talent and NHL teams assigning their players to major junior.
We saw players from the World Junior Championship moved for a half-dozen assets and high-end skill players moved in the hope that the collection of picks would net them something close to a player of that quality.
It’s silly season in Canadian junior hockey, so let’s break down some of the biggest moves.
Shane Wright to Windsor
After leading Canada to a World Junior Championship gold medal, the Seattle Kraken immediately loaned Wright back to the Kingston Frontenacs. Unfortunately, due to the CHL-NHL Transfer Agreement, Wright is ineligible for assignment to the AHL beyond a conditioning stint. He may be one of the rare cases of not being ready for NHL minutes but also being too good for junior. The AHL would be his best development spot, but he went back to the OHL.
The expectation was the fourth overall pick in the 2022 NHL draft would be traded. After a couple of days of speculation – including an “all but done” deal sending him to London – Wright was sent to the Windsor Spitfires for a package featuring forward Ethan Miedema, defender Gavin McCarthy and seven draft picks.
Wright joined a Windsor team that’s outperforming expectations despite missing last year’s top CHL scorer, Wyatt Johnston, who surprisingly made the Dallas Stars. Windsor loaded up at the deadline, adding forwards Brett Harrison and Aidan Castle as well as defenders Jacob Holmes and Rodwin Dionicio. Windsor is all in on this year’s squad.
With the Spitfires loading up while leading their division and sitting second in the Western Conference, they will look to Wright to put them over the top. Wright has been a dominant two-way presence at the OHL level in the past, and despite his lackluster world juniors, he was still able to make an impact in the gold medal game and show up when it mattered.
Windsor looks like one of the best teams in the OHL. Wright makes them a legitimate Memorial Cup contender.
Olen Zellweger Blockbuster
The Kamloops Blazers host the Memorial Cup this year, and they were expected to make some moves. They made one of the biggest moves across the CHL in acquiring a two-time gold medallist with the Canadian world junior squad, defenseman Olen Zellweger.
Ryan Hofer should help provide veteran leadership, solid two-way play and premier faceoff results in the WHL. Adding Hofer is an underrated part of this deal, but Zellweger is the prize.
The newly acquired defender will step in as one of the team’s most dynamic players on the back end, likely asserting himself on their power play quickly. Zellweger is a high-level skater with insane skill and NHL-level passing ability. He could be electric when working in the offensive zone with some of the talents in Kamloops, including Canadian world juniors teammate Logan Stankoven.
Ottawa Adds Pavel Mintyukov and Logan Morrison
The Ottawa 67’s were active over the last few days in the trade deadline lead up. They added two of the OHL’s top scorers in forward Logan Morrison (58 points) and defenseman Pavel Mintyukov (54 points). The 67’s were one of the league’s surprise contenders early in the season. They have maintained their strong play through the new year as they currently have a five-point lead in the standings on the next closest team league-wide.
Ottawa gave up no roster players in either trade but gave up a haul of draft picks. The Morrison deal cost them two second-rounders, two third-rounders and two fourth-round picks. Mintyukov cost them three second-rounders, four third-rounders, and two fourths. The 67’s sent out 15 picks for two of the league’s best players to challenge for an OHL title.
Morrison, 20, will bring his experience from last year’s OHL championship run with the Hamilton Bulldogs and offensive pop. Ottawa felt his playmaking in his first game – a three-assist performance – with the 67s.
Mintyukov is the OHL’s front-runner for the top defenseman award at the end of the season, thanks to his double-digit scoring lead amongst blueliners. He’s been a true difference-maker every time he stepped on the ice this year. The Anaheim Ducks prospect has also taken major strides in rounding out his game defensively. A large part of it comes from realizing the more he thwarts the opposing team’s offensive chances, the more he creates offense going the other way.
Winnipeg Snags Ostapchuk
The Winnipeg Ice have been one of the WHL’s top teams this season, currently sitting atop the league in points percentage. They have tweaked their roster and made minor additions over the last month. But the biggest move came when they added Canadian world juniors member Zack Ostapchuk in a deal that sent the Vancouver Giants two young forward prospects and three first-round picks.
Ostapchuk fetched the Giants an absolute haul. His 29 points in 21 games aren’t anything to brag about, but the full package makes the Ottawa Senators prospect a valuable addition. Ostapchuk plays a high-energy game and uses his excellent hands to create space for himself. The Ice have the offensive firepower to score, and Ostapchuk certainly brings a bit of that, but his 200-foot game and sandpaper will be a welcome addition.
Riley Kidney Moved for Bobby Orr (Not That One) and More
It was assumed the Acadie-Bathurst Titan would move Riley Kidney. They finally did as they sent him to the Gatineau Olympiques. They got a big return in a 2025 first-round pick, Donovan Arsenault and Robert Orr.
Kidney had been one of the final cuts from Team Canada’s U-20 camp and was a candidate to be their injury replacement after Colton Dach went down, but an injury kept him off the squad. Now that he’s been moved in the QMJHL, he’s been off to a hot start in Gatineau. The Canadiens prospect could be a sneaky good addition for Gatineau as they look to challenge for a QMJHL title.
Ethan Del Mastro and Luca Del Bel Belluz to Sarnia
Mississauga was ready to hit the reset button and sent three of their best players out of town.
The Sarnia Sting received two of those three players in defender Ethan Del Mastro and forward Luca Del Bel Belluz. The Sting sent 16-year-old forward Porter Martone, 17-year-old Angus MacDonell and three draft picks in return.
Martone is a solid young player who was recently the top-scoring Canadian at the U-17s. He is a 2025 NHL draft-eligible player, so he should be in the fold for a few more years after this one. McDonell is a good young goal-scorer who could play a more prominent role on a depleted Mississauga team.
Del Mastro has won two gold medals at the World Junior Championship, playing a bit role in the summer before showcasing his game as Canada’s most consistent defender at the 2023 event. He should provide the Sting with a two-way game, showcasing a bit of offensive pop and the ability to play on the power play if needed. He’ll also bring solid, steady defensive play.
Del Bel Belluz is one of the OHL’s premier offensive players and centered the Stings’ top line in his debut. Del Bel Belluz is a true dual-threat attacker who can snipe a goal or thread the needle for an assist on any given play. He should see a boost to his goal-scoring now that he will likely pair with Ty Voit, the OHL’s points and assist leader.
Peterborough Lands Owen Beck
With Mississauga looking to dismantle their roster, Owen Beck became a key trade chip in their pursuit of collecting younger assets. The Montreal Canadiens prospect was a late add to Canada’s world juniors roster and played a minimal role en route to capturing the gold medal. Still, he’s been one of the best players in the OHL this year.
Beck went to Peterborough in exchange for 19-year-old Justin Dezoete, 16-year-old Jack Van Volsen, two second-round picks, a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick. Beck will bring quite a bit to the Peterborough lineup and could be back with the team next year. He is one of the best faceoff takers in the league while being on pace for more than 80 points.
Beck plays a sound and intelligent game while flashing some impressive offensive tools. His shot is undoubtedly an asset at the OHL level, and he rarely lacks a high-level work rate. The Petes will need all the help they can get as they look to challenge Ottawa and North Bay in the Eastern Conference.
Jakub Brabenec Sent to Sherbrooke for Picks
While he helped Czechia to a silver medal at the World Junior Championship, Brabenec was sent from the Charlottetown Islanders to the Sherbrooke Pheonix. The move boosted one of the best teams in the QMJHL. Charlottetown’s return included Joel Marchon as well as five draft choices.
Brabenec is an excellent playmaker who anticipates passing lanes opening and pinpoints his passes to put teammates in a position to succeed. He won’t be a massive difference-maker, but with significantly more talent around him, we could see a pop in his offensive numbers.
Jets Send Brad Lambert and Chaz Lucius to the WHL
The Winnipeg Jets’ have assigned two of their top prospects to the WHL, sending forwards Brad Lambert to Seattle and Chaz Lucius to Portland. Both players were with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose to start the season as Lambert was drafted out of Finland and Lucius was drafted and signed out of the NCAA. Neither player had to deal with the NHL-CHL Transfer Agreement and could have remained in the AHL for the rest of the year.
Winnipeg’s decision to send them to junior hockey is about long-term development and allowing them to hone their offensive skills against their peers. The Seattle Thunderbirds and Portland Winterhawks are two of the WHL’s best teams, sitting first and second in the Western Conference.
Lambert joins a powerhouse Seattle team that plays an uptempo style of hockey, prioritizing skill, speed, and the transition aspects of play that suit him. The skill and pace of the game that Lambert thrives in should be massive for his development. It could even mean we see Lambert at the height of his offensive abilities over a consistent stretch, which hasn’t been the case recently.
Lucius will step into a Portland Winterhawks lineup that could use his offensive chops. Lucius is a high-end goal scorer with a great shot and wicked hands. He evades pressure and scores from high danger with regularity. It should be an exciting mix as he joins the Winterhawks mid-season, bringing his flashy skill and intelligent offensive play.