Having lost their last four games, the Sherwood Park Crusaders made a monster move today, sending Merritt Oszytko to the first-place Fort McMurray Oil Barons in exchange for forward Ryan Cox.
This move is a huge surprise based on the conversations I had. Oszytko was in his third season with the club and had already put up 19 points in the first 17 games of the year. Another big factor in this is that Oszytko had spent long stretches of the season on the top line with Ty Readman and to say the two were close would be an understatement. Oszytko told me during a recent interview that him and Ty were “best buddies” and they’ve been that way for a long time. On the ice, I was and still am a big fan of Oszytko’s game. I felt like he was growing into a real impact player. Not to mention his chemistry with Readman is something I feel will be tough to replicate.
On the other hand, Ryan Cox is no a consolation prize. He’s a slightly undersized yet skilled forward who was played in well over 100 AJHL games over the past three seasons. He comes with experience, which I still believe is very important to this team. Cox should have no problem fitting in with the team either. The St. Albert product played Midget AAA with captain Brendan Kallis as well as Kole Bryks and Josh Dechaine. He’ll be an impact player who can come in and help this team win.
“He’s a skilled forward who works hard in both ends of the ice,” said new goaltender Josh Dechaine, “I’m excited to have him on the team”.
That praise was echoed by captain Brendan Kallis, “We’re excited to have him. He’s going to have a big impact on our team. He’s a great guy on and off the ice and will fit in great with our group”.
I’ll be interested to see if the familiarity translates to on-ice success.
The other benefit to this deal is that Cox is a 19-year-old, which means there’s probably a good chance he’s back with the team next year, which is when I believe the Cru will make a big push.
The team also sent veteran forward Ryan McKinnon to the Camrose Kodiaks. McKinnon had five points in 16 games this year, and his departure will allow younger players like Marco Runco, Deklan Williams and Chase Anderson to get more meaningful minutes.
The Cru are back in action on Friday against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, so not only will fans get a chance to see Ryan Cox make his Cru debut, they’ll also get to see Merritt Oszytko in his new blue threads.