WICHITA, Kan. – Heading into the ECHL Trade Deadline, Wichita Thunder Head Coach Bruce Ramsay went with a strategy of allowing the players on the ice to dictate the fate of the roster. A good stretch of games that put the Thunder back into playoff contention meant he would ride the roster to the end of the season. A poor stretch of play meant moves were coming.
After allowing 19 goals in three games to the Idaho Steelheads last week, and mired in an 0-6-1 slump since returning from their nine-day “spring break” in mid-March, Ramsay has seen enough. On Tuesday, he took a wrecking ball to the roster, making two trades and waiving two more players. Additionally, the team released player/assistant coach Stefan Fournier last Friday, who signed with the Trois-Rivieres Lions on Tuesday.
The most significant move is a three-team deal involving the Thunder, Florida Everblades, and Rapid City Rush. Wichita sent Matteo Gennaro to the Everblades for Avery Peterson & future considerations. Peterson was then flipped to Rapid City in exchange for Jake Wahlin & future considerations.
In a separate deal, defenseman Sean Allen was moved to the Cincinnati Cyclones in exchange for defenseman Justin Bean and future considerations.
Finally, the team released defenseman Nick Minerva and netminder Bailey Brkin.
“Dealing players like Sean and Matteo is not something I take lightly,” Ramsay said. “Making these moves will help us prepare for next season with the goal to get back into the postseason. We are getting two solid and young prospects in Jake and Justin to go with three future considerations that will be completed over the summer.”
Potentially, there could be three additional players added to the roster in exchange for an ECHL contract (Allen) and an AHL/ECHL deal (Gennaro). Not a bad haul for the third-year Thunder bench boss.
Since his return to the Thunder lineup from callup to Bakersfield on March 17, Gennaro had four points (2G, 2A) in five contests but was a minus-8. Allen was the Thunder’s leader in penalty minutes with 189 and will be serving a two-game suspension when he arrives in Cincinnati.
Bean is a rookie defenseman who signed with the Cyclones at the beginning of the year. The 25-year-old defenseman posted nine assists in 30 games played this season with an even rating. He joined the Cyclones out of York University in the Ontario University Athletics Association, where he played five seasons. His best season came in 2017-18, when he posted 14 points (2G, 12A) and a +18.
Wahlin joins the Thunder in the middle of a very solid season. The 5-foot-10 forward has posted 35 points (15G, 20A) in 59 games with the Rush, including four points in nine contests against the Thunder this season. He is projected by Elite Prospects to finish with 40 points this season, which would be a career-high.
Wahlin played the majority of last season with the Pensacola Ice Flyers in the SPHL, where he posted 37 points in 37 games en route to a President’s Cup championship. He was also named to the league’s All-Rookie and First All-Star teams.
There are still 40-plus hours until the ECHL’s trade deadline, and it remains to be seen if any additional moves will be made.
Wichita returns to action on Friday night, when they travel to Tulsa for the first game of the weekend.
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