The Alaska Aces and Wichita Thunder, two reeling ECHL hockey teams, engineered a four-player trade Tuesday in which each club moved a defenseman and a forward.
The Aces said they shipped defenseman Landon Oslanski and winger Dean Chelios -- both were acquired in trades late last season -- and received defenseman Daniel Johnston and forward Anthony Deluca.
The trade technically is the ninth deal Aces head coach Rob Murray has made since the end of last season, and given the way his club has struggled this season, it is unlikely to be the last.
At 6-12-2, the worst start in Alaska's 13-season ECHL history, the Aces sit 26th on the 28-team circuit, based on winning percentage. Wichita (6-12-1) sits 27th.
The Aces have struggled since Murray guided them to the franchise's third Kelly Cup in 2014. Last season, they failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in their ECHL tenure. Last weekend, they lost two of three home games to the Evansville IceMen and have gone 2-10-1 in their last 13 games. And earlier this season, the Aces endured a franchise-record, eight-game winless skid (0-7-1).
"We need to make a change, get some fresh bodies in here,'' Murray said. "It's an opportunity to get some new bodies in here and kind of jump-start our team.''
Oslanski earned 3-4—7 totals and a minus-1 rating in 18 games this season and was a healthy scratch in the series opener against Evansville last weekend. Chelios, who was in and out of the lineup this season, owned 2-3—5 totals and a minus-5 rating in 14 games.
The 6-foot-2, 211-pound Johnston, who like Oslanski shoots right, was acquired by Wichita in a trade with Idaho recently. In 10 combined games this season – three with Wichita, seven with Idaho – Johnston compiled 1-2—3 totals and a minus-4 rating. Both he and Oslanski join their fifth ECHL team.
"I remember him from (the Colorado Eagles), and I really like him,'' Murray said. "He shoots the puck well. What I saw from him with Colorado, I'm hoping we can rekindle that.''
Deluca, a 5-8, 205-pound rookie who delivered big numbers in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, for Wichita went 1-5—6 and minus-8 in 16 games.
In Deluca's last two junior seasons with Rimouski, he generated 79-90—169 totals in 135 games.
Murray said Johnston and Deluca were scheduled to arrive in Anchorage on Tuesday night and will be available Wednesday night, when the Aces open a three-game series against Colorado (7-10-2) at Sullivan Arena.
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sullivan Arena, 7:15 p.m.
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