USHL Trade Roundup: Chicago Steel Acquire Quinn Finley

USHL Trade Roundup: Chicago Steel Acquire Quinn Finley

In advance of the USHL’s Feb. 27 trade deadline, the flip of the calendar saw several teams make significant roster additions.

Feb 9, 2023 by Ryan Sikes
USHL Trade Roundup: Chicago Steel Acquire Quinn Finley

In advance of the USHL’s Feb. 27 trade deadline, the flip of the calendar saw several teams make significant roster additions. 

In recent weeks, the Western Conference dominated the headlines, with teams in playoff spots making splashes for what they hope will make them the team to beat in the postseason.

Teams selling off their prized assets at this time of the year signals they are focused on the future, acquiring young players and Phase I or II draft picks.

The USHL Draft is split over two days, with Phase I consisting of U17 players drafted over the course of 10 rounds. Phase II is players of all ages who are eligible to play junior hockey and aren't protected by another USHL team.

Here’s a look at some of the major trades that already have gone down.

The Trade: Chicago Steel Acquire Quinn Finley From Madison Capitols

Chicago Received: Quinn Finley (NYI)

Madison Received: Jack Brandt, 2023 Phase II 1st-round pick, 2023 Phase II 2nd-round pick.

Analysis: The Steel made a big splash, re-acquiring forward Quinn Finley, who won a Clark Cup with Chicago during the 2020-2021 campaign after being selected in the Dispersal Draft. 

The University of Wisconsin commit collected 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) with Madison and has nine points in only eight games with the Steel.

With over 100 games of experience, including appearances in the last two Clark Cup Finals, Finley gives Chicago another offensive weapon to add to the league's highest-scoring offense. 

In an elevated role with Madison, Brandt has accumulated five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games, including his first career USHL goal coming against his former team. 

Capitols head coach and general manager Corey Leivermann will look to use the high draft picks from Chicago to bring in talent that can contribute immediately.

The Trade: Waterloo Black Hawks Acquire Miko Matikka From Madison Capitols

Waterloo Received: Miko Matikka (ARI)

Madison Received: Oliver Flynn, 2023 Phase I sixth-round pick, 2023 Phase II second-round pick.

Analysis: Two days after parting with Finley, the Capitols sent Miko Matikka to the Western Conference. 

The Finnish forward – a third-round pick by the Arizona Coyotes in 2022 – led all Madison skaters with 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) in 28 games. 

He wasted no time in making an impact, collecting an assist in the Black Hawks’ stunning comeback against the Steel. 

In seven games with Waterloo, Matikka has six points (three goals, three assists). Since his arrival, the Black Hawks’ offense has risen to the second-most goals scored (153) in the USHL.

In addition to the two draft picks, Oliver Flynn has two goals in six games with the Capitols, one shy of his total with Waterloo. 

The University of Connecticut commit will have the chance to carve out an expanded role for the remainder of the season and next year, should he choose to return.

“Hopefully, this is an opportunity where he can continue to grow his game and maybe find a different role than he had with us, which is a good thing,” Black Hawks head coach Matt Smaby said of losing a player like Flynn.

The Trade: Waterloo Black Hawks Acquire Nate Benoit From Omaha Lancers

Waterloo Received: Nate Benoit (MIN)

Madison Received: 2023 Phase I fifth-round pick, 2023 Phase II first-round pick, 2023 Phase II second-round pick, 2024 Phase II fifth-round pick, 2024 Phase II sixth-round pick.

Analysis: In addition to acquiring some offensive firepower in the Matikka deal, the Waterloo Black Hawks have bolstered their blueline with Minnesota Wild 2021 sixth-round pick Nate Benoit. 

The 20-year-old was the Lancers team captain and will bring a strong, veteran presence to a Waterloo squad looking to gear up for what they hope is a long postseason run. 

Benoit, 20, had 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 37 games for Omaha this season. He’s expected to play in his 100th career game and his original USHL club (Tri-City).

“Nate was wearing a 'C' for Omaha, and we are bringing him in because we believe he can join this team and immediately be one of our leaders,” Black Hawks general manager Bryn Chyzyk said in a release. “There's a lot to like about Nate with his skill and size. Coupled with his maturity and experience, he is a player who makes us a better team the first time he steps onto the ice.”

With five draft picks, including a fifth-round in Phase I, the Lancers will focus on adding several high-end players in May’s USHL Draft.

The Trade: Fargo Force Acquire Owen Mehlenbacher from Muskegon Lumberjacks

Fargo Received: Owen Mehlenbacher (DET)

Muskegon Received: Ty Henricks, Future Considerations

Analysis: Omaha wasn’t the only struggling squad to trade away their team captain, as Muskegon parted with forward Owen Mehlenbacher. The Red Wings’ 2022 seventh-round pick was in his third year with the Lumberjacks. 

While he got off to a slow start, the University of Wisconsin commit collected 24 points in 31 games prior to the trade. 

Fargo has held the top spot in the Western Conference for most of the year, and the addition of Mehlenbacher gives them another scorer and a veteran presence. In his Fargo debut, the 19-year-old tallied an assist.

Muskegon gets younger in this deal – an area the new coaching staff was focused on – with the acquisition of Henricks, who scored a goal in his Jacks debut.

“The future for us is important, but we also took stock of the development of some younger guys and how far they have come along,” said Lumberjacks Coach Parker Burgess in a recent release. “When you have really good older players who play a lot of minutes, it's tough to get those younger players ice time. We needed to provide opportunities for those younger players.”

The Trade: Tri-City Storm Acquire Jake Richard From Muskegon Lumberjacks

Tri-City Received: Jake Richard (BUF)

Muskegon Received: 2023 Phase II second-round pick, 2023 Phase I third-round pick, Future Considerations.

Analysis: The Storm acquired the Lumberjacks' top points producer in Richard, who had 35 points (18 goals, 17 assists) in 30 games prior to the trade. 

The Buffalo Sabres 2022 sixth-rounder comes to Tri-City with nearly 100 games of USHL experience, including a deep postseason run for Muskegon a year ago. In nine playoff games, Richard collected four points (two goals, two assists). 

The Jacksonville, Florida, native has three assists in three games with Tri-City thus far.

Muskegon will look to bring in young talent with two high-end draft picks.

The Trade: Tri-City Storm Acquire Alex Bump From Omaha Lancers

Tri-City Received: Alex Bump (PHI)

Omaha Received: Haden Kruse, 2023 Phase I fifth-round pick, 2023 Phase II second-round pick, 2023 Phase II sixth-round pick, 2024 Phase I fourth-round pick, 2024 Phase II second-round pick, 2024 Phase II fifth-round pick.

Analysis: In addition to acquiring more offense in the Richard deal, Tri-City brought in Omaha’s top points-getter, Alex Bump. The Philadelphia Flyers 2022 fifth-rounder had 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 32 games in his second year with the Lancers. 

Bump will look to provide more scoring to an Omaha squad with the fifth-fewest goals scored (117) and power play conversion (19.6%) in the league.

Haden Kruse figures to have an expanded role in Omaha after accumulating three points in 23 games for Tri-City this year. 

With a plethora of picks, the focus is on the future for this Lancers squad.

The Trade: Cedar Rapids RoughRiders Acquire Jack Musa From Madison Capitols

Cedar Rapids Received: Jack Musa

Madison Received: Phase II second-round draft choice, 2023 sixth-round draft choice, Phase 1 fourth-round draft choice.

Analysis: Jack Musa had the second-most points on the Madison roster, collecting 17 goals and 16 assists in 38 games. 

He joins a RoughRiders squad still very much in the Eastern Conference playoff conversation but one that could use consistent scoring. 

While he can’t do it alone, Musa should give Cedar Rapids’ power play – one that had the third-best conversion rate (26.4%) in the league – a boost, collecting seven goals and 10 points in that department.

The Trade: Lincoln Stars Acquire Tyler Dunbar From Muskegon Lumberjacks

Lincoln Received: Tyler Dunbar

Muskegon Received: 2023 USHL Phase I third-round pick, 2023 USHL Phase II sixth-round pick.

Analysis: Tyler Dunbar led all Muskegon with 22 points in 39 games. 

A left-shot defenseman, the Colorado College commit was in his fourth year with the Lumberjacks, playing in nearly 190 games, including two postseason appearances. 

Dunbar will bolster the Stars' backend, one that already had given up the league's second-fewest goals (105). With his playoff experience, Dunbar will be a vital piece of the Lincoln roster down the stretch.

“He was a plus player on a team that was below .500,” Stars head coach Rocky Russo said of adding Dunbar. “He’s generated a lot of offense and made an immediate impact for us last week, even without more than one practice with our team.

“We’re really excited about what he’s going to bring to us long-term. I think he’s stabilized our D corps in a very good way and gave us some depth that maybe we didn’t have prior just because of his experience.”

Muskegon acquired two more high-end draft picks in May's USHL Draft.

Notable Late-Season Additions

Lincoln Received: F, German Yavash

Fargo Received: D, Marian Mosko

Tri-City Adds: G, Cameron Korpi – The Western Michigan commit has stabilized the goaltending situation for the Storm, earning wins in six of his eight starts. 

Korpi recently was named the USHL’s Goalie of the Week.

Youngstown Adds: F, Martin Misiak – The Slovakian forward tallied a goal in his USHL debut and figures to give the Phantoms a nice boost offensively for the second half.

Omaha Adds: F, Libor Nemec – The Lancers parted with Alex Bump and Andon Cerbone, but Nemec will be a player to watch for Omaha. 

The 19-year-old wasted little time acclimating to his new team and has four points (three goals, one assist) in six games.