The Hamilton Bulldogs entered the second half of the 2022-23 Ontario Hockey League season hoping to rebuild the franchise and win another OHL championship.
As of January 12, the Bulldogs are seventh in the Eastern Conference, however they are only two points ahead of eighth-place Sudbury and four points ahead of their archrival Oshawa Generals.
Regardless of their ranking, the Bulldogs’ path to successfully defending their title appears to be more tough. In the weeks building up to last Monday’s trade deadline, top Eastern Conference teams Peterborough, Ottawa, Barrie, and North Bay made crucial acquisitions in preparation for a long playoff run.
Hamilton lacked the necessary resources and draught stock to be competitive, having given up a big amount of their draft cupboard to acquire Arber Xhexaj and Mason McTavish for their eventual championship run. Standing pat with the returning core from last season would have had serious implications for their future.
With that in mind, Bulldogs General Manager Matt Turek and management made the decision to build the groundwork for the future by selling many key pieces for higher-level talent and restocking their draught.
In the ten-day span, Turek traded Ryan Humphrey, Ryan Winterton, Avery Hayes, Gavin White, Brendan Anderson, and team captain Logan Morrison. In exchange, the Bulldogs acquired Luca Testa, Carson Lloyd, Nick Lardis, Sahil Panwar, Ben Bujold, and Cedricson Okitundu, as well as seven draught picks from 2023 to 2026.
For the remainder of the season, I expect the Bulldogs to remain competitive and pursue a playoff spot. With the two-year temporary relocation pending, Bulldogs fans must respect the process and continue to support the team through this important time in their history.