photo by Aaron Bell
Michael Dal Colle woke up New Year’s day to a new beginning after sleep walking through the first half of the OHL season in Oshawa. If he doesn’t know it already, #71 will find out quickly he is Kingston’s new white knight; joining a franchise with more playoff baggage than terminal one at Pearson International airport over the holidays.
Dal Colle knows he is here for one reason, to lead the Frontenacs to an extended playoff run and erase almost 20 years of futility in KTown. He has the pedigree to do it, a first round pick of the NY Islanders (5th overall in the 2014 NHL draft, right behind Sam Bennett) , he led Oshawa to the Memorial Cup last spring and I was in Quebec City to witness part of it.
Dal Colle is an elite player, a difference maker, the kind of player you need to win in the post-season.
In last year’s OHL playoffs he had 31 points.
To put that in perspective, it would have put him among the Frontenacs top ten scorers during the entire 68 game regular season.
But he hasn’t been that player this season.
After back to back 39 and 42 goal seasons, Dal Colle has looked very ordinary, scoring just 8 goals for a Generals team that is a shadow of last year’s Memorial Cup team. The New York Islanders are likely more thrilled with this move than Kingston is, having spent a high first round pick to get a player who has really struggled this season when he should be one of the league’s leading scorers.
The Frontenacs are banking on a change in scenery and new linemates will help Dal Colle regain his previous form, after being cut for the second straight year by Canada’s World Junior team.
As a rental player he didn’t come cheap.
Kingston gives up their first round pick in 2015, Robbie Burt, along with two second round picks and two third round picks. Back in November the Fronts acquired 19 year old defenceman Stephen Desrochers from Oshawa, giving them 2 key pieces from a Memorial Cup winning team, but they also parted with a lot of their future; 10 draft picks ( two are conditional) to get two final year players.
This is the second straight year Kingston GM Doug Gilmour has traded away his first round draft pick. Robbie Burt could be an elite player in 2 or 3 years and Dal Colle will be a distant memory.
Dealing your first round pick every year likely doesn’t sit well with your scouting staff and is no recipe for long term success. Last year they traded their top pick, defenceman Reagan O’Grady, to Sudbury. And of course who can forget in 2011 top pick Max Domi refused to come to Kingston and was traded to London. But in his 8th year in Kingston and with zero playoff series wins to show for it, for Dougie G the future is right now.
Ask Blue Jays fans whether they were upset when Toronto traded away most of its top prospects last summer , in return for a memorable playoff run after 20 plus years of being a mediocre .500 team.
It’s long overdue for Kingston to be bold and to make a run.
They already have four elite players in their lineup; Peressini, Crouse, Watson and McKeown. Add Dal Colle to the mix and now there are no excuses for not going deep in the playoffs this spring.
The Fronts are saddled with the baggage that comes from their last playoff win dating back to after the ice storm in ’98.
They have mortgaged the future and the time is now.
Mr. Dal Colle, welcome to Kingston, now just win us a friggin’ playoff series.