St­ing trade for big winger

Six-foot-five Tabak ac­quired from Wolves for picks at dead­line

The Observer (Sarnia) - - SPORTS - MARK MALONE [email protected]­media.com

New Sar­nia St­ing for­ward An­thony Tabak is big, and so is his po­ten­tial.

The St­ing ac­quired the six­foot-five, 204-pound Tabak from the Sud­bury Wolves just be­fore Thursday's trade dead­line for Owen Sound's 2020 fourth-round draft pick and a con­di­tional pick in 2023.

The 17-year-old left-winger from Oakville is ex­pected to be in the lineup Fri­day when the OHL-lead­ing Ot­tawa 67's visit Progressive Auto Sales Arena at 7:05 p.m.

Tabak has one goal, eight as­sists and 12 penalty min­utes in 34 games this sea­son.

“He's a player with a lot of up­side and still hasn't fully peaked at this level the way we think he po­ten­tially can,” St­ing gen­eral man­ager Nick Sin­clair said. “He's ob­vi­ously a big kid with good size. He gets around the ice well. He's got a nice skill el­e­ment to his game.

“We think he could evolve into a top-six for­ward in this league as time goes on. We're ex­cited to get him here and work with him and give him an op­por­tu­nity to grow and gain con­fi­dence and hope­fully get to that stage.”

Tabak was a third-round draft pick by the Wolves in 2017. He had six goals and eight as­sists in 51 games as a rookie last sea­son.

The trade was the sec­ond in two days be­tween Sar­nia and Sud­bury. On Wednesday, the St­ing sent 19-year-old cen­tre Adam Ruz­icka of Slo­vakia to the Wolves for three draft picks: Sud­bury's 2020 thir­dround pick, Erie's 2021 sec­on­dround pick and Sud­bury's 2021 third-round pick.

“We had a plan in place as we went through the dead­line,” Sin­clair said. “We wanted to get a lit­tle bit younger if we could and re­coup some draft picks. We've ob­vi­ously lost quite a few of those in the last three years, just in deals we made tak­ing a run at things.

“A big part of the goal was to re­coup some high draft picks, which we did in the Ruz­icka deal, and then to be able to still add a young for­ward at what we thought was a rea­son­able cost was an­other pri­or­ity for us.”

The Wolves were tied for fourth in the East­ern Con­fer­ence go­ing into Thursday's games, but they'd scored the third-fewest goals in the OHL. Ruz­icka (37 points) adds some much-needed of­fence.

“Sud­bury's a team that added some pieces,” Sin­clair said. “They've got a pretty solid group this year and one of the top goal­tenders in the whole league, which gives them a chance to win on any given night. As their in­ter­est re­ally started to pick up in Adam and po­ten­tially do­ing some­thing to get him there, it just started to go down a road that made sense for us for now and for the fu­ture.”

Ruz­icka, a Cal­gary Flames draft pick, was un­likely to re­turn to Sar­nia for an over­age sea­son. Im­ports tend to play pro­fes­sion­ally in Europe or in an NHL team's sys­tem as 20-year-olds.

Sin­clair doesn't know if St­ing lead­ing scorer Hugo Leufve­nius, 19, of Swe­den will be back for an over­age sea­son in 2019-20.

“That will have to play it­self out over prob­a­bly the off-sea­son,” Sin­clair said. “Is it a pos­si­bil­ity? You know, it is. But that'll be up to Hugo at the end of the day.”

The St­ing chose to stick with the sta­tus quo with their over­agers. They kept for­ward Franco Sproviero and de­fence­man Mitch Eliot, and didn't add a third over­ager.

“If there was some­thing that made sense, whether it was bring­ing in an­other one, it's some­thing we would have looked at,” Sin­clair said. “But, in a sense, where we are – try­ing to re­coup picks and maybe bring in a younger player or two, which we did – it just didn't fully make sense to go out and spend more picks on an older player.”

The St­ing are left with 21 play­ers: 12 for­wards, seven de­fence­men and two goalies. They also have three signed 16-year-olds – for­wards Nolan Burke and Owen Saye and de­fence­man Nolan Dilling­ham-Morelli – who can be called up.

They dressed only 18 play­ers Wednesday at Sault Ste. Marie af­ter trad­ing away Ruz­icka. For­ward Ryan McGre­gor and de­fence­man Colton Kam­merer are day-to-day with mi­nor in­juries, Sin­clair said.

FILES

The Sar­nia St­ing ac­quired sec­ond-year for­ward An­thony Tabak (26) from the Sud­bury Wolves just be­fore Thursday’s trade dead­line.

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