Bulls Trade Four Players to Utah

The San Francisco Bulls traded four players to the Utah Grizzlies today: forwards Jordan Clendenning, Jonathan Lessard, Sebastian Trudeau and defenseman Cody Carlson.  Jordan Clendenning has been with the Bulls from the start of the season.  Bulls GM Pat Curcio explained that this made his decision especially difficult:

There has been a lot of movement but I think the core has been intact for the most part… A guy like Jordan Clendenning, he was a big part of this and he’s a great hockey player and a great person and he cared about our team.  It was a hard move to make but to get those kind of players in return he was basically the asset we were giving up. At the end of the day it’s those tough decisions that are hard to make but we have to make them.

The Bulls will receive three players from Utah. 24 year old defenseman Mark Isherwood had 35 points in 70 games with the Alaska Aces in 2010-11, when that team also won the Kelly Cup. This season, in 37 games with the Grizzlies, he has 22 points.  In January, he played two games with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.

26 year old forward Kory Falite is playing his third season in the ECHL.  In his rookie season, along with Isherwood, he was a member of the Kelly Cup winning Alaska Aces.  Last season, he played 16 games with the Florida Everblades before joining the Grizzlies.  In 59 games this season, he has 11 goals and 32 points.

23 year old forward Ian Schultz played part of last season with the Wheeling Nailers.  He has played 27 games this season with the Grizzlies, earning 15 points and 139 penalty minutes.  His brother, Jeff, plays for the Washington Capitals of the NHL.

In addition to the players coming from Utah, Taylor Carnevale joined the Bulls this morning for practice.  Of the 22 year old center, Curcio said:

Carnivale was with the [Worcester] Sharks at the start of the year.  He got hurt, had a herniated disc.  He came off the IR so we brought him back.  We’re going to try to get him in the lineup but right now it will be a difficult lineup to get into.  He’s here, he’s working hard and he’s a good hockey player.  He’s still young so we hope to find him a spot here over the next thirteen games.

The ECHL trade deadline is Thursday at noon. The NHL trade deadline is much later. That could pose some real problems for a team trying to get organized for the playoffs, or even to make the playoffs. Apart from the usual concerns about losing players to injury, NHL callups later in the season could trigger AHL callups, which could leave an ECHL team with a short bench. Curcio explained that the conflict is inevitable:

It’s a unique year this year, usually our deadline corresponds within about a week of the NHL deadline. This year, with the lockout, we just couldn’t change our deadline to accommodate what would happen with that league, so it’s been a trying year.  We’ve made some moves that we think are best for the Bulls going forward.  They’re difficult at times but you always have to look at the big picture.

Jordan Clendenning clears traffic out of the crease in front of Taylor Nelson

Jordan Clendenning clears traffic out of the crease in front of Taylor Nelson

Curcio is not insensitive to how disconcerting so many roster moves are for fans. Before officially announcing the moves this morning, he gave Bulls’ fans a heads up:

@CurcioSFBulls: Some really tough decisions made this morning. I hope our fans understand we are doing what we feel is best for the SFBULLS
Go Bulls Go!!

As Head Coach and GM, Curcio has to manage many aspects of the team that he wouldn’t have to worry about if he only did one job or the other. If someone asked him today if they should be Head Coach and GM at the same time, what would he say?

The hardest part to that dual role is your feelings for the player. If you’re just a GM just from the outside looking in, you probably don’t care as much about making trades  like we did today, you’re just trying to help the team.  But as a coach, you know someone has worked so hard for you, it’s really difficult. I was up all night thinking about this [decision] and even this morning I was hesitant to make it, but at the end of the day it makes our team so much better.

As for who will play where, the morning practice gave some indication of tomorrow’s forward lines. Dean Ouellet was wearing a blue jersey, usually assigned to scratches and injured players. This was misleading, and Curcio clarified the color choice:

Dean-O’s fine.  We just wanted to get some synergy on the two other lines that will probably play together tomorrow.  We just spotted Dean in there to get a sweat.

Those other two lines were Jordan Morrison- Christian Ouellet-Peter Sivak, and Yanni Gourde-Tristan King-Bryan Cameron. In all, seven players will be new to the Cow Palace for tomorrow’s game, since Cameron, Tristan King and Gourde joined the team on the road.

The Bulls play the Alaska Aces tomorrow, puck drop at 7:15 PST. If you can’t get to the Cow Palace to welcome the new guys in person, listen online at KNBR or watch on America One Sports.

(Originally published at Inside Hockey)


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