With their playoff hopes all but gone, and the ECHL trade deadline offering one last chance to re-shape the roster, the Reign made two trades before noon Friday.
Center Dusty Collins, an original member of the team who’s split the last three seasons between Ontario and the ECHL, was traded to the Florida Everblades for goalie Jase Weslosky.
Weslosky was just traded from the Idaho Steelheads to the Everblades on March 1, but he didn’t appear in a game for Florida. The 22-year-old rookie out of St. Cloud State went 7-6-3 with a 2.94 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in 20 games with Idaho. His last appearance came Feb. 23 — in Ontario, of all places — when he stopped 22 of 26 shots in a 4-3 overtime win by the Reign.
Collins has nine goals, 26 points and a minus-15 rating in 43 games this season. He was also among the team leaders in faceoff percentage (a stat that isn’t officially recorded by the ECHL) and a regular on the penalty kill.
“Honestly, I was a little surprised this morning that it did go down, but it’s obviously a part of the game, a part of the business we’re in,” Collins said. “Fortunately, Karl traded me to a good team that’s in a playoff run, that’s in a good place, a good organization, with apparently a good coach (Greg Poss) that Karl’s familiar with. No hard feelings. It’s a part of the business. I’ve enjoyed my time that I’ve had here in Ontario.”
Collins hadn’t seen any decrease in his playing time, or any other indication that he might be on his way out.
“Things have gone very well for me this year,” he said. “I played my stint in the American League, did well when I was up there. I played well personally here in my role – playing defensively, killing penalties, winning faceoffs. There was really no sign of it but that’s part of the business. When Karl explained the situation it made sense. … I knew he was looking for a goaltender. What I got out of the deal is (the Everblades) were looking to make a playoff push, make some additions to their team.”
Florida is currently in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and third place in the South Division, four points behind second-place South Carolina.
In a separate trade, the Reign acquired defenseman Craig Gaudet from the Alaska Aces for future considerations. Gaudet had been buried on the Aces’ depth chart, having not appeared in a game since Feb. 2. He has a goal, two assists, a plus-1 rating and 16 penalty minutes in 19 games this season.
Gaudet might be needed right away; defenseman Jordan Hill signed a tryout contract Thursday with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs for the third time this season.
The Reign host the Las Vegas Wranglers tonight. I’ll get comments from Karl Taylor on both deals after the game.