In a stunning, and somewhat baffling move, the Watertown Wolves and Port Huron Prowlers shook up the Federal Hockey League with a three-player trade Thursday morning.
The trade is as follows: Watertown sends goalie Cody Karpinski and defenseman Bryan Parsons to Port Huron for forward Yianni Liarakos.
The Wolves officially announced the trade on their new Twitter page (which you should go follow) roughly an hour ago.
We have a trade with @phprowlers
We are sending:
Cody Karpinski (G)
Bryan Parsons (D)
In exchange for:
Yianni Liarakos (F)
— Watertown Wolves (@WolvesWatertown) February 7, 2019
The trade comes after it was confirmed that Liarakos had been re-assigned from his team in the Hungarian League, Dunaujvarosi. Liarakos struggled in Hungary, going pointless in eight games and posting a -4. At the time he left the Prowlers following their game on December 26th against Danville, he was leading the Prowlers in scoring with 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points in 20 games. Over his FHL career he has skated in 66 games, netting 71 career points.
However, Liarakos will NOT be in the lineup this weekend when the Wolves take on first-place Carolina, as confirmed by Watertown’s Assistant Director of Hockey Ops, Shawn Johnson. Liarakos is expected to join the Wolves next weekend against Elmira.
In return, the Prowlers get the veteran Karpinski, who has battled injuries of late, starting just three of their past 12 games in Watertown. Karpinski comes to Port Huron with 7-5 record in 13 appearances this season, and a 3.86 GAA, and .915 Sv%. Over 35 appearances in the FHL, Karpinski has a 23-9-0-2 mark with a 3.47 GAA and .909 Sv%. Where he really shined was last season in the playoffs, going 5-1 with a 2.67 GAA and .931 Sv%, helping lead the Wolves to the Commissioner’s Cup.
In addition, defenseman Bryan Parsons comes to the Prowlers, Parsons is in his rookie season in the FHL, appearing in all 32 Watertown games, registering seven assists, 43 penalty minutes and a -13 ranking. Parsons brings a strong skating ability to the back end, listed at just 5-11 and 160 pounds.
The trade is kind of baffling because on the surface it doesn’t make a ton of sense for either team. Watertown can score at a decent rate, but with a ton of call-ups of late, the roster had become VERY top-heavy on offense, so Liarakos should provide a boost and give the Wolves scoring depth. But the Wolves have struggled on defense of late, despite giving up the third fewest goals in the league, though they have played fewer games than Port Huron and Danville, so it cuts into their already thin depth at goalie and defense.
It also leaves the Wolves with just one active goalie at the moment, Jared Rutlege, who has struggled mightily in three appearances this season. The team is also just one day from those games against Carolina, so it will be interesting to see who the team brings in as a backup or long-term solution going forward.
For Port Huron, they lose a guy who was arguably their best player before departing Hungary, and they get back a decent defenseman, and a decent goalie who, at least this year, isn’t that much of an upgrade over their other backup goalies. Even with the trade, Cory Simons likely remains the starter for the Prowlers, he has posted a 3.26 GAA and .916 Sv% this season. And the Prowlers now have a very crowded crease with Karpinsi, Ryan Hubbard, and Chris Paulin all still listed on the Prowlers active roster in addition to Simons. My guess is that at least Hubbard will be sent packing.
Yes, Karpinski got hot in the playoffs last season, but that was a 6-game stretch, and as we noted over the course of his career, he’s around a 3.50 GAA and .910 Sv%, solid, but not amazing and probably not worth trading your best scorer for, unless Liarakos wanted out and you wanted to get anything for him before losing him in the off-season.
And as for Parsons, it remains to be seen what he can do in the FHL, but with no goals on the year, the Prowlers have to be banking on his defensive play being major boost on the back end for a team that has given up the second most goals in the FHL this season, because otherwise, you just traded a guy who might be able to win you games with his offensive talents.
If you made us pick a winner for this trade, I would have to say it’s Watertown. Turning a struggling goalie who is likely the backup for his new team and a rookie defenseman with seven points into a forward who has averaged over a point per game in his FHL career, is a major upgrade, even with the questions it leaves the Wolves on defense and in net.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see if the trade can kickstart either team, particularly Watertown, who has just one win in its last 10 games, and has seen their lead for third-place shrink to just three points over the Prowlers.