MUSKEGON, MI- The Muskegon Lumberjacks have made three trades, and headlining the moves is the acquisition of defenseman Clayton Phillips from the Fargo Force.
Phillips was a 1st-team USHL All-Rookie selection last year, totaling seven goals and 13 assists in 57 games. Following his fantastic rookie year, Phillips was selected in the third round of the NHL draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In three games this season, Phillips has three points, including two on the power play. Muskegon’s power play has scored just one goal so far this season, and Phillips is poised to give the man-advantage an immediate boost.
The Edina, Minnesota native stands 5-foot-11, weighs 188 pounds, and is committed to the University of Minnesota.
Along with Phillips, the Lumberjacks grabbed Fargo’s ninth-round, Phase I pick in the 2018 USHL draft.
In return, the Lumberjacks sent two second-round picks and a player to be named later to Fargo. The picks are both in the 2018 USHL draft, one in Phase I and one in Phase II.
General manager John Vanbiesbrouck was excited to have the deal completed.
“I’ve been working really hard on this,” said Vanbiesbrouck. “We had an opportunity to get a top defenseman in this league in Phillips and we were able to make it happen. I’m pretty excited.”
In what was a hectic day, Vanbiesbrouck also made two more deals, another with Fargo and also one with the Omaha Lancers.
In the deal with the Lancers, Muskegon acquired Omaha’s 3rd round, Phase II pick in the 2018 USHL draft and affiliate player Nic Belpedio in exchange for defenseman Travis Mitchell.
Mitchell departs Muskegon having played in 41 games and scored six points.
“Mitchell is developing nicely,” said Vanbiesbrouck. “He wants to play top-six minutes and he’ll have that opportunity in Omaha.”
Belpedio, a 16-year-old defenseman, was the 4th-overall pick in the 2017 Phase I draft. He hails from Skokie, IL, stands 5-foot-9, and weighs in at 175 pounds. He currently plays for the Chicago Mission and will start on the Lumberjacks’ affiliate list.
In Muskegon’s second move of the day with the Force, the Lumberjacks sent cash and a conditional draft pick to Fargo for forward Dante Sheriff. Sheriff, 18, is a Toronto, Ontario native and checks in at 5-foot-9, 165 pounds.
Last year Sheriff played for the Brampton Bombers in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League and scored 44 points in 46 games while racking up 100 penalty minutes. This year in Fargo, the right-handed-shooting Sheriff played four games and tallied one assist, a +1 rating, and four PIMs.
Lastly, forward Donovan Ott has been placed on waivers. Ott had not registered a point in five games this season.
The new-look Lumberjacks, who also added goaltender Keegan Karki yesterday, will face the Youngstown Phantoms at home this Saturday at 7:15pm. Tickets are now on sale at the LC Walker Arena box office!