As a few of you may recall, on Jan. 9, 2011, the Swift Current Broncos traded superstar 18-year-old Cody Eakin to the Kootenay Ice for a return that rocked the junior hockey world. Coming the other way were
Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, three first-round draft picks and $15 million in cash Colby Cave, Ryan Bloom, Steven Myland, Jarrett Zentner, Christian Magnus and three Bantam Draft picks.
To commemorate the 1,237-day anniversary of The Trade, junior hockey numbers guru Alan Caldwell followed up his analysis of the Brayden Schenn deal between Brandon and Saskatoon with a look at the impact of the Eakin deal three-and-a-half seasons later.
There’s no argument with his take that Zentner, Bloom and Magnus were essentially throw-ins – either to maintain enough healthy bodies to fill out a roster or on the chance that even one of them could become the kind of successful reclamation project GM Mark Lamb has become known for (see: Levi Bews, Graham Black, Coda Gordon, Ryon Moser). I do suspect they had higher hopes for Myland, given the state of the team’s goaltending depth at the time and especially after he had a couple pretty decent exhibition seasons. But still, the keys to the trade as Caldwell points out, were always going to be Cave and the draft picks.
On the drafting side I’m sure the Broncos would love a mulligan. The pick they used on Zack Gonek could have been spent on Brayden Point, Connor Bleackley or Jayce Hawryluk while the 39th overall pick could have gone to Haydn Fleury or John Quenneville. Yet even at that, if anyone knew for sure at the time how Cave would pan out, I’ll bet Lamb would make the same deal again, even as a one-for-one. Everything else was really just good PR.
Here’s the thing: The Swift Current Broncos were not going to win a championship with Cody Eakin in 2010-11, nor were they going to get him back in 2011-12 as the pros came calling. In his place they got a four-year player – a point-per-game centre, first-rate guy and probable two-year captain at that. Even though the 2011 draft as a whole was only marginally successful and 2013-14 was a big disappointment for the Broncos, it still has to be said that the club is better off today than it would have been by not trading Eakin (or by trading him to Saskatoon, as also nearly happened).
They were two teams headed in different directions. The Ice were gunning for a title (which they won) while Lamb was consciously starting a lengthy process to rebuild and change the identity of the Broncos – who should be an Eastern Conference contender for at least the next two years.