By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
Defenceman Nick Hautanen, shown here in action against the Abitibi Eskimos during a Sept. 19 game, has been acquired by the Eskimos, along with forward Cosimo Amore, in exchange for defenceman Jamey Lauzon.
IROQUOIS FALLS - The Abitibi Eskimos have acquired defenceman Nick Hautanen and forward Cosimo Amore from the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in exchange for defenceman Jamey Lauzon.
Hautanen (18, 0-3-3, 8), an 18-year-old Timmins native, was in his first year with the Gold Miners.
The left-handed shooting defenceman, who is 6-2 and 185-pounds, spent the 2013-14 season with the Timmins Majors of the Great North Midget League.
“I have known Nick for most of his minor hockey career,” said Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne.
“He has been in my hockey school, so I know quite a bit about him.
“He is a nice player. He is a good skater. He moves the puck well. He is big and strong and is only going to get stronger. This is just his first year of junior hockey.
“He has got a lot of upside and we are really, really happy to have him on our team.”
Amore (17, 2-5-7, 19), an 18-year-old Hamilton native, was also in his first year with the Gold Miners.
The left-handed shooting forward, who is 6-2 and 195-pounds, split the 2013-14 season between the Dundas Blues, of the NDJCHL, and the Caledonia Corvairs, of the GOJHL.
“Here is a kid, who again has a presence out there on the ice,” Gagne said.
“For the last two weeks, we have talked about what we want in players, a little bit of toughness.
“We want players who can can get to the corner, or get to the net, be a good forechecker, finish their checks and that is exactly what this guy does.
“We watched him play a few games on FastHockey and that is exactly what he does. He just forechecks and makes things happen.
“I watched the game against Cochrane and he was really involved in the forecheck.”
This trade with the Gold Miners, and the earlier deal with the Fort Frances Lakers of the SIJHL, goes a long way towards increasing the size and the grit of the Eskimos roster.
“Hopefully, we will be able to play a little tougher and grind it out a little bit more.
“We are happy with our first two lines and right now I am happy with our next two lines.”
Lauzon (15, 1-4-5, 24), a 17-year-old Kapuskasing native, was in his second season with the Eskimos, but had left the team earlier this month and requested a trade.
The left-handed shooting defenceman, who is 5-11 and 168-pounds, had a solid rookie season with the Eskimos in 2013-14 (49, 2-16-18, 82), playing as a 16-year-old.
“They are getting a player who likes to play physical, who likes to move the puck,” Gagne said.
From a Gold Miners’ perspective, coach and general manager Marc Lafleur couldn’t be any happier.
“Obviously, to get quality, you have to give up quality,” he said.
“That’s what we had to give up in Nick and Cosimo Amore.
“Obviously, everybody in the Timmins area is aware of Nick Hautanen, from his days with the Majors.
“There is definitely a lot of potential there, especially offensively, in Nick. He has good size and plays well at both ends of the ice.
“He has got some offensive instincts he didn’t get to show here, but I think he will get to show in Abitibi.”
Finding ice time on a blue-line stacked with veterans like Jeremy Picard-Fiset, Ethan Strong and Dylan Rosen proved difficult at times for the rookie.
“It was tough for Nick to come in and play the minutes he was used to, but he played well,” Lafleur said.
“We definitely were not displeased at all with his game.”
Lafleur agrees with Gagne’s assessment of what Amore can bring to the Eskimos lineup.
“I know they were looking to get a little bit more grit up front and that is exactly what they are going to get out of Cosimo,” he said.
“He is a terrific forechecker and an incredible skater for his size and he is definitely not afraid to mix it up and get his nose dirty.
“They (the Eskimos) are definitely going to be pleased with these two guys.”
Lafleur is also confident that Gold Miners fans will be pleased with what they see from Lauzon.
“Jamey came in last year as a 16-year-old and I am not a big proponent of having 16 year olds, whether it is on our team or junior hockey in general, unless they really deserve to be at that level, but Jamey impressed everybody last year,” he said.
“He plays older than his age dictates and what I love about his game is that he is somebody who is tough to play against.
“He grinds it out every shift.
“He is just somebody that you know every time he is out there.
“He is a very sound two-way defenceman.”
Lauzon was scheduled to join the Gold Miners for practice Thursday and then play his first game in a Kirkland Lake uniform Saturday night in Powassan.
Hautanen and Amore were on the ice for practice with the Eskimos at the Jus Jordan Arena Wednesday night and were expected to be in the lineup against the Crunch in Cochrane Friday night.