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Shane Wright of Team Canada holds up the IIHF World Championship Cup after Team Canada defeated Team Czech Republic 3-2 in overtime to capture gold at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship at Scotiabank Centre on Jan. 5, 2023 in Halifax.Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

When Windsor Spitfires general manager Bill Bowler learned that Shane Wright might be coming back to the Ontario Hockey League, he knew he had to start making some inquiries.

Wright, who had been drafted fourth overall by the Seattle Kraken in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, was sent back to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs on Jan. 6, a day after he won gold with Canada at the world junior hockey championship. Kraken GM Ron Francis said at the time that reassigning Wright from Seattle back to Kingston would give him the opportunity to win a Memorial Cup.

Bowler also wanted to see Wright win a Memorial Cup, just in a Spitfires jersey. He contacted the Frontenacs to tell them he was interested and then started looking at what assets Windsor could send east in a deal.

“When you’re sitting where we were as a hockey club in the standings, and a Shane Wright is available, you just weigh the options and make some decisions,” said Bowler on Tuesday shortly after the OHL’s trade deadline passed. “You take all the information in and to me it’s a calculated risk that our team and our management felt made sense.

“It gives our fans and our city and our team a real good boost here to have some real fun here for a good playoff run.”

Wright and a conditional 14th round pick in 2025 belonging to Kingston were sent to Windsor on Monday night for forward Ethan Miedema, defenceman Gavin McCarthy and seven draft picks, two of which are conditional.

With the Spitfires (23-9-4) sitting atop the OHL’s West Division, Bowler said it was time to get aggressive, even if it seemed like Windsor was giving up a lot of its future potential.

“There’s risk in any transaction but ultimately, it makes sense to our organization at this time to do this,” said Bowler. “I’m confident we’ll have a very good hockey club next year.

“There’s ways to recoup picks. Obviously, the draft cupboard is a little empty, we’d like to stock it and get some of our picks back, but we will.”

Windsor wasn’t the only team that had to weigh the pros and cons of trading a raft of picks.

The Ottawa 67′s (28-6-2), currently first overall in the OHL, acquired defenceman Pavel Mintyukov from Saginaw on Tuesday morning, sending nine draft picks to the Spirit. That move came three days after Ottawa got forward Logan Morrison from the Hamilton Bulldogs for six picks.

Morrison and Mintyukov are second and third on the OHL’s points list with 58 and 54 respectively.

“Although it’s quite an extensive array of draft picks, we haven’t had to substitute a player out of our lineup, our team is intact,” said 67′s GM James Boyd. “We’re adding in two premier players in our league. We’re strengthened moving forward.”

In the Western Hockey League, the Kamloops Blazers (22-8-6) got defenceman Olen Zellweger – another member of Canada’s world junior team – and forward Ryan Hofer, both NHL prospects from the Everett Silvertips on Sunday for forward Drew Englot, defencemen Kaden Hammell and Rylan Pearce, prospect Jack Bakker, and nine selections in future WHL Prospects Drafts as well as one conditional pick.

As Memorial Cup host, Kamloops has an automatic berth in the national major junior championship.

Earlier that same day, the WHL-leading Winnipeg Ice (29-5-0) traded for Ottawa Senators prospect Zack Ostapchuk, who had been Wright’s teammate on the junior champions. Winnipeg sent forwards Skyler Bruce and Connor Dale, prospects Owen Brees and Hudson Landmark, as well as four draft picks to the Vancouver Giants in return.

Vancouver assistant GM Peter Toigo said the Giants weren’t considering trading Ostapchuk until the offers became too good to pass up.

“Perhaps that’s why it ended up costing so much to acquire Zack, because we really didn’t want to trade him,” said Toigo. “We weren’t actually shopping (Ostapchuk), it was just people kept bugging us about him.

“We kept saying, ‘Oh, we don’t really want to trade him’ but the offers that came in just got to a place where it’s kind of hard to not look at how that helps set up future teams in future years.”

Creating a competitive team in major junior is a very different task than in the NHL because clubs only have players for five years at most. There’s no building a team around a core of players for a decade especially because the better a player is the more likely they will be called up to the professional level.

“If you have an elite player usually it’s one or two years and they’re gone to the National Hockey League,” said Boyd. “So we’ve got to be able to evaluate not only our team now, but next year and the year down the road and plan accordingly.”

Bowler agreed with Boyd and noted that every level of hockey faces different challenges.

“There is a short window here in the Ontario Hockey League or in the CHL,” said Bowler. “So when to strike or when you think you might have a chance is important, the window can close and things can happen that are out of your hands.”

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