Thursday, 17 January 2013 10:59

Broncos’ Merkley deal will pay dividends

Written by  Brad Brown, A Bard's Eye View
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Not to say I told you so ...

As predicted in the Prairie Post before Christmas, the Swift Current Broncos acquired an established 17-year-old right-shooting scorer (Jay Merkley) and made a (failed) bid for a 1993 or 1994 defenceman prior to the WHL’s Jan. 10 trade deadline. The Merkley deal is a big one that will pay dividends for years to come.
But in talking with a handful of people around the league after the deadline, it was surprising to hear the Broncos news that generated the most discussion wasn’t the move they made but the one (or two) they didn’t.
How, they asked, could Swift Current afford not to trade Adam Lowry or Reece Scarlett?
Let me answer your question with a question.
Or five of them.
1. Who could possibly step up to replace Lowry or Scarlett in the Broncos’ current lineup?
Graham Black has the wheels. Coda Gordon has the vision. Levi Bews has the finishing touch. Colby Cave has the tenacity. None of them bring the total package like Lowry does. Scarlett’s value can’t be understated either, as he anchors a blue line already featuring three rookies on a regular basis.
2. With that said, why would the Broncos jeopardize a playoff appearance (and possibly more) by trading two of their three most important players?
They wouldn’t. To beat a broken record with a picture of a dead horse on the cover, this year is about next year and the year after that.
General manager Mark Lamb has already assembled a solid mix of players and what appears to be an exceptional group of prospects. What the Broncos need now is experience, not more futures.
3. Who was going to pay market value for either Lowry or Scarlett anyway?
Since mid-November, Lowry’s value has gone through the roof.
For the deal to make sense in Swift Current’s eyes, he would have had to bring Cody Eakin or Brayden Schenn-like returns, except with more emphasis on roster players. A less-valuable version of Scarlett — Joel Edmundson — brought Moose Jaw a depth defenceman, a top prospect and a first-round draft pick. That’s a big price to pay no matter who you are.
4. With no one willing to pay those prices, how would the Broncos’ fanbase have reacted to another firesale?
The Eakin trade in the mirror is closer than it appears, and the Credit Union iplex hasn’t hosted a WHL playoff game since 2009.
 (The last time the Broncos made the playoffs, in 2010, their “home” games were played elsewhere to make room for the world women’s curling championship.) With the Broncos’ hockey operations already losing in the high six figures annually, and attendance at its highest point since 2009-10, the timing couldn’t be worse to begin yet another rebuild.
5. What is the value of chemistry?
You don’t need Bill Nye the Science Guy to tell you that this year’s Broncos are as tight-knit a group of players as you’re going to find. These guys will go through a wall for each other and will win a few games they shouldn’t as a result.
Lowry is the glue that holds them together. And with one alternate captain (Josh Derko) already out the door, losing another (Scarlett) for no good reason would have been tougher to take than the next Rihanna single.
Be patient, grasshoppers. Patience is a rare commodity in today’s hockey world, but Lamb’s is already starting to pay off and the returns on his investments (or lack thereof) are only going to get better.

Read 11534 times Last modified on Thursday, 17 January 2013 16:18

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