Minneapolis, MN - The Minnesota Rink Rats brought in a familiar face last week when they acquired forward Patrick O'Sullivan from the Grand Forks Gorillas. O'Sullivan, a former 1st round selection, was of course traded to the Rink Rats in what was considered arguably one of the worst deals GM Tyler LaDouceur had made at that point when he moved Marc Savard, Nikolai Zherdev and a 4th round pick for O'Sullivan and a 2nd round pick which turned out to be TJ Hensick. Hensick and O'Sullivan have taken similar career paths. Both were considered full of offensive potential, but have failed to live up to those high expectations. O'Sullivan's best season came in WHL14 with the Rink Rats when he scored 32 goals and 30 assists. O'Sullivan was also a key cog in the Rink Rats' run to the Cyber Cup Finals that season against the Icedogs. He scored 9 goals and 16 assists in 22 post-season games en route to leading the league in playoff scoring that year. Rink Rats management hopes he can regain that form this season.
"He's a kid that we still have a lot of faith in," stated GM Greg Sherman. "We're confident that we'll be able to re-sign him this offseason to a new deal and that he can regain the form he had for us in WHL14. He's got a lot of offensive talent. A combination of great speed and hands; he just needs to regain some of his confidence and consistency. Those are big things in this league and once he's able to do that, he'll get minutes and goals."
O'Sullivan may not be the only familiar face coming back to Minnesota. There are rumors that Minnesota has been approached on a deal that would send them one of the more prolific scorers on this team, but it's unknown if they're willing to give up what the other club is asking for, which is rumored to be a package of Viktor Stalberg and Tomas Fleischmann.
"We're certainly going to evaluate things here over the next couple of weeks," stated Sherman. "We don't want to do anything that doesn't make sense for our club. Our goal is to continue to improve and make the playoffs this season. We think very highly of Stalberg's potential in this league with his combination of size, speed and skill, and we already know what Fleischmann can do. We'll see what happens."
And when we asked Sherman about his recent trade to bring in goaltender Semyon Varlamov, and starting next season with 4 rookie goaltenders he responded by saying, "This will be an improved club next season; no question about it. With the moves we've already made to bring in Hejduk and Brown, we'll be a better club. I like our goaltending situation going into next season. Between Varlamov, Schneider and Bernier there should be competition, and there's no questioning those guys' talent. They may not have a lot of experience, but they've all proven they can win and play that tough position. We may have to bring in an experienced goaltender at some point, but right now I'm happy with what we have."
More News & Notes:
Minnesota will introduce O’Sullivan and Varlamov to the media Tuesday afternoon. There will also be an autograph session with Drew Stafford, David Krejci, TJ Oshie and Erik Johnson afterwards.
The Rink Rats are rumored to be working on a new deal for O’Sullivan as well as long-term extensions for Stafford and Johnson. No details have been finalized as of yet.
When asked about the constant turnover, and lack of team chemistry on the Rink Rats, GM Greg Sherman replied, “That’s going to change. There are a few guys on this team that I could see their numbers hanging from the rafters. We are in a good place financially and you’ll start to see us hanging onto our guys and reinvesting in the future of this club.”
The WHL is expected to announce the award winners from the past season this week. There were some intriguing decisions to be made by many of the WHL’s GMs so it’ll be interesting to see how everything goes.