Everyone knew it was coming, it really was just a matter of when the trigger was pulled, and we all knew it was going to be sooner rather than later, but it doesn’t help the situation.
Today, Nick Baptiste, leaves behind the only club he has played in his four years in the OHL, and makes the move to the West, to the power house, Erie Otters. What do you even call the team? 2015 Memorial Cup Champs might be fitting. They have the key pieces. Connor McDavid is the run away, at least that’s the consensus, for the 1st overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, add in Dylan Strome, who is tied for first in league scoring, with none other than McDavid. Then you have the top rookie in Alex Debrincat, who as of today sits 5th in scoring having already notched 40 points in 23 games. For fun, we throw in Williams, who although does not have the best save percentage, has won 12 of 16 games he has started in. Now you add in Baptiste, game over. This leaves every other coaching staff in the OHL waiving the white towel in defeat. How do you even begin to develop a game plan to stop that? Erie Otters will not only be making a run for the Memorial Cup, they will be hoisting it come May. That’s a bold statement to make, but if everything goes the way it should, Erie will be having one hell of a party.
As for Nick, his season did not begin the way he wanted it to, after suffering a shoulder injury during pre season action, that kept him out for 6 weeks. He was being treated by Buffalo Sabres medical staff, as they were keeping a close eye on their 69th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Since his return though, the 6’1, 190 lbs, power forward has registered 11 points in 12 games. Put that in perspective as he played those 12 games on a losing team. A team who has struggled not only on the ice but off this season. So being almost a point a game player and going to Erie will make for a very interesting scenario.
The Otters are happy to have Nick and why wouldn’t they be after compiling two players and four top draft picks in order to land him. “Nick’s a high end player that you know wasn’t finishing the year in Sudbury. (It was) Kind of a no brainer targeting him.” said Otters assistant coach Jay McKee. The Otters knew obtaining Nick’s services would not be cheap and they did not expect to land a player such as Baptiste for anything less than they did.
Otters GM Sherry Bassin stated that Connor McDavid’s injury did not force their hand and quicken trade discussions. The talks with Sudbury regarding Baptiste have now been going on steadily now for weeks. Bassin went on to say “I can’t wait to see them (McDavid, Debrincat, Baptiste) play together.” If you can I recommend taking a little road trip and watching this team play, because it will be worth every dollar.
There were a lot of teams interested in Baptiste’s services, Oshawa was in it to the last few seconds, Mississauga held talks with Blaine Smith, to name a few, but in the end, the opportunity to play in Erie was just too good to pass up. Nick waived his no trade, and now becomes the newest member of the Otters.
Nick has been a leader both on the ice and off, and has been actively involved in the community since he joined the Wolves. I don’t doubt he’ll continue to be heavily involved off the ice during his time as an Otter.
Baptiste and the McDavidless Otters are home to Mississauga on Thursday night then travel to London Friday night before returning home on Saturday in time to face the Belleville Bulls.