Hockey Canada

Analyzing the bizarre scenario that saw Ethan Morrow traded twice

On June 1, the Cowichan Valley Capitals completed a trade that was made at the January trade deadline. The Capitals acquired 2004-born forward Matheson Mason and 2004-born goaltender Ethan Morrow from the Wellington Dukes of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

At the same time, the Dukes traded Morrow and 2003-born forward Edward Moskowitz to the Blackfalds Bulldogs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. If this is confusing, you are not alone.

Now that the B.C. Hockey League is independent of Hockey Canada, players must decide if they will play for a non-sanctioned league. At the same time, incomplete inter-provincial trades must be finalized.

It’s resulted in Morrow having two different sets of playing rights. The Dukes completed an outstanding trade with the Capitals and used the same player to gain future considerations from the Bulldogs.

Instead of this being a unique instance, this could occur more often. Before I explain why, I will analyze both trades separately.

Wellington-Blackfalds trade

Moskowitz is a forward from Toronto entering his final season of junior hockey. During the 2022-23 season, Moskowitz played 53 games for the Dukes, scoring 33 goals and 71 points. He also has experience in the National Collegiate Development Conference in the United States as well as in the Central Canada Hockey League.

As for Morrow, he’s a 19-year-old goaltender from Kingston, Ontario. Over the last two seasons, he played 54 games for the Dukes. His overall record was 38-13-1 with a 2.42 goals-against average, a .913 save percentage, and five shutouts.

Moskowitz is an offensive forward and veteran player. Morrow is a veteran goalie with two seasons of junior experience. Both are critical additions for Blackfalds while the Dukes’ future considerations could be a player or players to be named later or a player development fee.

Cowichan Valley-Wellington trade

Mason split the 2022-23 season split between the Dukes and Aurora Tigers. He played 14 games for the Tigers and 28 games for the Dukes, combining for 22 goals and 45 points.

Mason is an offensive forward that can provide needed depth scoring for the Capitals. Last season, only two players on Cowichan Valley’s roster scored 30 points or more. Since I’ve already examined Morrow, I’ll focus on 2002-born forward Luke Strickland. The Capitals traded him to Wellington at the Jan. 10 trade deadline.

After being sent to Wellington, Strickland played 14 regular season games in the OJHL and tallied seven goals and seven assists. The Dukes had a deep playoff run and Strickland scored nine goals and six assists in 14 post-season appearances. As for the Dukes, they were eliminated in the OJHL conference finals by the Trenton Golden Hawks. Strickland will attend Long Island University for the 2023-24 season.

Morrow to Blackfalds and dual player rights

As stated above, the Dukes essentially traded the same goalie twice to two different teams. In Morrow’s case, I think he’ll probably join Blackfalds instead of Cowichan Valley. He will do this because he can be the starting goaltender in Blackfalds. That, and the Capitals have already signed 2003-born goaltender Emerik Despatie from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

In Wellington, Morrow split starting duties with goaltender Jacob Osborne. During the 2022-23 season, Osborne played 26 games while Morrow got into 27 games. As for dual player rights, Morrow’s situation will repeat itself, but just not in this way.

Many players who play in the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, or QMJHL have separate junior A rights. Former Victoria Royals goaltender Campbell Arnold originally saw his junior A rights belong to the Penticton Vees. Before joining the Alberni Valley Bulldogs last October, they had to acquire his junior A rights from Penticton.

Adopting a similar setup is the next logical step for the BCHL and Hockey Canada relationship. The BCHL will become another league, like the Canadian Hockey League member leagues Hockey Canada must deal with.

Players who chose an NCAA path will have two sets of rights. One set of rights is for Hockey Canada-sanctioned leagues that are part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. Another set of player rights is for the BCHL. Morrow is the first player in this situation and there will most likely be more to follow.