Baptiste an Otter

Buffalo Sabres prospect Nick Baptiste has been traded by the Sudbury Wolves to the Erie Otters in exchange for forward Travis Wood, defenseman Cole Mayo, two second round draft selections, and two third round picks.

As a result, Baptiste's final year of junior hockey sees him go from the last place team in the OHL to one that is tied for first overall in the entire league.

Already signed to an NHL contract, Baptiste's acceleration and high-energy style helped him collect 45 goals last season with the Wolves. He was a named co-captain this season prior to missing Sudbury's first 11 games with a shoulder injury. He returned to score six goals and 11 points in a dozen games with the Wolves before the Monday trade.

There is no question that the move will prove positive for Baptiste's professional development. He's already a favorite to gain valuable experience as a member of Canada's 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship entry. With Erie, all signs point to more high-pressure exposure as the Otters are clearly well-positioned for a deep playoff run and potential Memorial Cup berth after having won 19 of their first 23 games.

And of course, there's the whole Connor McDavid factor. Baptiste is slated to play the right wing on McDavid's line when the phenom makes his return from a hand injury.

Stylistically, Baptiste is a great fit for McDavid, or perhaps in the interim, 2015 draft eligible Dylan Strome. His speed allows him to close gaps, cause turnovers and win 50/50 battles. He enjoys bumping and initiating contact to make plays. Bundle in a soft set of hands and a sharp one-on-one game, and he makes an already lethal Otters attack all the more scary.

Statistically, if Baptiste averaged .69 goals per game a season ago in Sudbury, it's reasonable to think that he'll at the very least equal that production in Erie. The Otters have 45 regular season games remaining. Considering that he could potentially miss 10 of those while away with Team Canada, Baptiste should easily score a minimum of 25 goals the rest of the way. In reality, the benchmark should be set at 30 and we'll leave it at that.

Otters owner and General Manager Sherry Bassin has made his intentions clear. The goal is the Memorial Cup, and Baptiste will be a big part of their mission.

Baptiste will likely make his Erie debut on Thursday when the Otters host Mississauga.
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