The Federal Prospects Hockey League has been turned on its head this Monday afternoon, when it was officially announced that the Watertown Wolves had traded the team’s all-time leading scorer, and the league’s current leading scorer, Tyler Gjurich to the Elmira Enforcers for five players.
The full trade is as follows: Elmira Enforcers acquire Tyler Gjurich of the Watertown Wolves for Forwards Tanner Hildebrandt, Dustin Skinner, Gavin Yates, Eli Kinsman, and Goaltender Michael Stiliadis.
Gjurich, as noted earlier, tops the FPHL in points with 54 in 29 games, is third in the league with 25 goals, and is fourth in assists with 29. For his career, Gjurich has played in 181 games and racked up 356 points, including two 100-point seasons. He’s as prolific a scorer as there is in the FPHL, and now he gets to skate alongside the league’s all-time leading scorer in Ahmed Mahfouz, giving the Enforcers a duo with the most offensive talent since the Akwesasne had former NHL player Pierre Dagenais and Sylvain Deschatelets combine for 247 points during the 2011-12 Fed season.
Our quick reaction: This is robbery in favor Elmira. Two of the guys heading to Watertown, Yates and Hildebrant, haven’t played for the Enforcers in like a month. A goalie in Stiladis who has appeared in just five career FPHL games, only two of which he started, a really good veteran in Skinner, and a wild card in Klinnsman, all for the league’s leading scorer.
Yates is a solid player who has 99 points in 76 career games, including 57 games previously in Watertown, so maybe he comes back to play for them. Hildebrant has 12 points in 12 career games, but again, hasn’t played in a bit. While Skinner is a veteran forward whose Fed career dates back to the league’s first season, amassing 241 games and 262 points, including 16 in 25 this year. Kinsman has nine points in 12 career Fed games across three teams this season in the Fed. Stiladis in those five games has decent numbers, including a .926 Sv%.
Honestly, it’s not a bad haul on the whole for Watertown if you can get Yates and Hildebrant to actually play, but you’re trading one of probably the three best players in Fed history, and the face of the franchise in Watertown, for one pretty good player, two guys off to OK starts in their Fed careers, and two guys who may or may not actually show up to play for the Wolves. You’re never going to be able to get fair value for Gjurich, but maybe this gives the Wolves more depth across the board down the stretch, but again, that’s dependent on two of the guys actually showing up and playing, and they also lose one of the two most potent scorers in the league. That’s hard to replace.
But for Elmira, it’s a no-brainer for all the reasons mentioned above, and they win the trade just going by the old rule of, “Who got the best player?” because in this instance, it’s Elmira and Gjurich hands down, and there’s really no arguing that, no matter what you think of any of the players involved.
Our other thought as soon as we took a deeper look at this trade: something is up in Watertown to make this move. The team just got crushed on home ice this weekend by Columbus, falling 7-3 and 7-0, so maybe that’s part of it, and the team thinking it needs a shakeup. But they’re in second place in the East, just four games back of Danbury, so it’s not like they’ve been terrible all season. They had also made a number of trades recently, sending out goalie Blake Scott, Preston Kugler, and Cameron Dimmitt, all for cash in the past month. So you wonder if it’s a trade strictly from a financial standpoint, but to bring back FIVE players for just one, even if Gjurich was the highest paid player in the league, you have to imagine five salaries would be more than he makes.
And to make an inter-divisional trade, between two teams who are just one point apart in the standings is even more bizarre, so there was clearly something going on in Watertown to make move like this out of nowhere. Oh, and if that’s not crazy enough, the two teams will play each other on Wednesday night in Watertown. Needless to say, that matchup just got a whole lot more interesting.
So to sum it up, Elmira gets one of the league’s all-time greats in Gjurich, while Watertown gets what could be five good pieces that gives them more depth, but it is without a doubt one of the biggest trades in league history, and probably the biggest since Mahfouz was traded to Elmira.
The FPHL, it’s certainly never boring.