Friday, December 09, 2005

Whalers deal Nie to Toronto for Peters

The Plymouth Whalers pulled off two trades today and in one swapped goaltenders with Toronto.

In the first deal, the Whalers acquired defenseman Steve Spade from the Belleville Bulls in exchange for two draft choices – Belleville’s own fourth-round draft choice in 2006 and Plymouth’s fourth-round pick in 2007.

In the second deal, Plymouth acquired 19-year-old goaltender Justin Peters (pictured right) from the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors in exchange for Spade and 20-year-old goaltender Ryan Nie.

Peters, a second round pick (38th overall) of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2004, is expected to be in the Plymouth lineup Saturday night when the Whalers host Owen Sound.

“Ryan Nie’s been a quality goaltender for us and his statistics speak for themself,” Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci said. “But with this move, we free up an overage spot and get a quality goaltender in Peters, who could come back to play next season for us. Being a Carolina Hurricanes draft pick, we’re very familiar with him. His playoff statistics are outstanding.”

Nie, selected by the Whalers in ninth round (179th overall) in the 2001 OHL Priority Selection, has played his entire career in Plymouth, playing in his 100th career game for the Whalers Thursday night in a 6-3 victory in Sarnia against the Sting. Nie has played in 21 games this season with a 3.24 goals-against average and .915 save percentage. In 100 games with Plymouth, Nie has posted a 2.75 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

As Vellucci said, the trade alleviates Plymouth’s overage situation. OHL teams can play just three overagers (1985 birthdays). With Tuesday’s acquisition of defenseman Derek Merlini (Clinton Township) from Erie and now the trade of Nie, the three Whaler overagers are Merlini, defenseman Mike Letizia and left wing John Vigilante, currently playing with the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. Vigilante is expected to be back in Plymouth on Dec. 28.

Peters was selected in the third round (59th overall) by Toronto is the 2002 OHL Priority Selection and has been Toronto’s No. 1 goaltender for the last two-and-a-half seasons. Peters has a 2.92 career goals-against average in 154 games played for Toronto.

Peters has sparkled in the playoffs. In 35 playoff games, Peters has a 2.25 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and a 15-12 won-loss record for Toronto, who went to the Eastern Conference finals in 2002-03 and 2003-04 and the Eastern Conference semifinals last season. In 2004, he became only the second goalie in league history to score a goal during a playoff game when he connected in Game 7 of the Majors' first-round playoff series versus Sudbury on March 30, 2004.

Plymouth beat the Majors and Peters in a shootout back on Nov. 5 and play in Toronto on Dec. 18.

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