It’s the thick of the NHL season and teams are busy with roster transactions and rumors suggest starting to look toward the trade deadline. The season will now continue unabated as well, since the league pulled out of the upcoming Winter Olympics. Yet, the 2022 Games will still be the next-biggest focus of the hockey world behind NHL action, if not on par for a few weeks. However, there are still notable moves being made around the globe at both the pro and amateur levels. Here is a look at some “minor” transactions worth attention:
- For many teams, especially in the Eastern Conference, the season is far enough along for teams to realize that they are not postseason contenders. As those clubs look ahead to the trade deadline, they know that the top prize for an elite rental is usually a late first-round draft pick. And as teams evaluate who they might be able to select with a late first-rounder, they are no doubt discussing Swiss defenseman Lian Bichsel. In a draft class that is short on high-caliber left-handed defenders, Bichsel is a rising name given his play in the SHL this season and could sneak into the first round. Interested suitors should know though that the big, two-way blue liner will not be immediately available next season, as Leksands IF plans to keep him in Sweden. Impressed with his play so far, Leksands offered Bichsel a permanent contract for this season that included an extension through the 2022-23 campaign as well. It remains to be seen if Bichsel will remain in the SHL beyond that point, but it is a good spot for the mature defender to develop anyhow.
- An NHL legacy has selected his next team. Chase Dafoe, son of former All-Star goaltender Byron Dafoe, has committed to Providence College and is expected to enroll next year. Dafoe, a forward, is currently playing in the BCHL with the West Kelowna Warriors and enjoying the best season of his junior career. Dafoe has 11 goals and 18 points in 28 games thus far and has maintained his solid two-way game. Though he was not selected in the 2021 NHL Draft, it was his first time through and Dafoe will be eligible again this year.
- A rare ECHL trade has been completed and it involves a name familiar to NHL fans. Veteran defenseman Steven Oleksy has been dealt to the Orlando Solar Bears by the Toledo Walleye in exchange for young power forward Ian Parker. Oleksy is still going strong at 35 years old, recording eight points in 16 games so far this season despite taking last year off. Oleksy, who has 73 NHL games to his credit and a surprising 20 points in those games, will be a big boost to the Orland blue line. Meanwhile, Toledo lands the 6’9″, 250-lb. Parker, a unique prospect out of the University of Windsor. The 25-year-old rookie has 12 points in 30 games this season.