ECHL: Toledo Walleye Prepare for the Trade Deadline

Photo: Taylor Trebotte of Inside the Rink

The ECHL trade deadline is just days away on March 21st and teams are gearing up for the playoffs, trying to find that missing piece. The Toledo Walleye is one of those teams looking for players who could be a real asset. The question is, do they need to add at all?

Walleye looks at options to strengthen the roster

The Walleye made moves last season and have been active in past trade deadlines. Will the 2024 ECHL trade deadline be any different? When we look at the current roster, this deadline might be different this year. Toledo recently got two players back from call-ups to the American Hockey League (AHL) and has signed two players to fill out their forward position. They also recently acquired defenseman Jacob Graves from the Atlanta Gladiators for defenseman Jake Willets and forward Carson Denomie on March 11th.

With Graves on the roster, Toledo filled a void by acquiring a physical defenseman who can play the physical style of playoff hockey. The 6-foot-2 and 190-pound Graves has fit in well with the roster, grabbing six penalty minutes, and is a +1 in three games.

The roster has gone through some changes by way of additions in the past week. They added forward Noah Prokop from the University of St. Thomas on March 13th, and he has one assist in three games. Toledo also signed Army (U.S. Military Academy) forward Ricky Lyle. He is scoreless in two games for the Walleye but did produce ten goals and nine assists for 19 points and 33 penalty minutes in 34 games for Army last season.

The Walleye did get back the services of forward Orrin Centazzo from the AHL Belleville Senators and Trenton Bliss of the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins. These two additions further strengthened the forward group.

So the question remains, will General Manager Neil Neukam do anything to improve the team further, or is he happy with the on-ice product? The goaltending set with John Lethemon and Jan Bednar. The forward group added four pieces and looks to be set for the playoffs, which leaves the defense. With the addition of Graves, the defense may be the only sport that could use another upgrade, especially in the physical department. The playoffs are an intense, physical game that relies on plays in front of the net and the corners. Graves improved the defense, but it could use another physical body.

The Walleye do not need to do anything drastic at the trade deadline. However, if there is a deal for Neukam to make and put this team over the top then he should do anything to strengthen their chances at a Kelly Cup. If they stay put and do nothing, they could also raise their chances with the group they already have. Toledo is playing well heading into the last few weeks of the regular season and looks to put the foot on the pedal heading into the crucial time of the season.

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