Nickel Barons’ Bell still committed to RPI, but calls Wolves’ overture ‘interesting’

Article courtesy Sudbury Star

Bell still committed to RPI, but calls Wolves’ overture ‘interesting’    

By Ben Leeson, Sudbury Star

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bradley Bell got a little more to think about last week.

The local defenceman, who currently skates for the Sudbury Nickel Barons of the NOJHL, saw his OHL rights traded from the Mississauga Steelheads to his hometown Sudbury Wolves in the pre-deadline deal that brought big-named blueliner Trevor Carrick to the Nickel City.

Bell was a third-round pick of Mississauga in 2012, but has since made a verbal commitment to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on a full scholarship in 2014-15.

Reached on Friday, he was still taking in the sudden change in his situation.

“I don’t really know what to say,” said Bell, 17. “It happened so quickly.

“Right now, I’m still committed to RPI and that’s my focus right now, so I’ll just go from there.”

It’s up to Wolves general manager Blaine Smith, architect of the trade, to change Bell’s mind.

Successfully selling Bell on the Wolves’ program would help make up for the loss of promising defenceman Stefan LeBlanc, who was shipped to Mississauga in the Carrick trade.

“Stefan went later in the draft than he would have because there was word he might go the college route, no doubt,” Smith said. “But I thought we sold our program well to him and we hope to do that will Bradley as well. He’s from Sudbury and we’d love to see him in a Wolves uniform. The good news is we’ll have open spots.”

Carrick, and Carolina Hurricanes prospect, and Kevin Raine and Craig Duininck, both overagers, will graduate from the Wolves defence corps at the end of 2013-14. Sudbury will attempt to rebuild its blueline around Jeff Corbett, should he return as an OA, as well as Evan de Haan, Conor Cummins, Kyle Capobianco and possibly Bell.

“He has a very hard shot, he’s a great skater, he’s physical,” Smith said of Bell. “We see him as a prototypical OHL defenceman with a lot of offensive upside, as well.”

Bell called the Wolves’ move “interesting.”

“It was kind of last-minute, you know, I wasn’t expecting them to acquire my rights,” Bell said. “But it’s nice to know they think so highly of me, that they want me.”

He spoke briefly with Ken MacKenzie, the Wolves’ assistant GM, last week.

“He just said they want to talk with me,” Bell said.

In the short term, he’s focused on playing for the Nickel Barons, and helping that team overcome a difficult start to the season.

The Barons own a 10-20-0-6 record, good for seventh in the eight-team NOJHL.

The team recently hired a new head coach, former Wolves player and assistant coach Jason Young.

“Things are looking brighter,” Bell said. “The new coach is good, we’re more disciplined now. It’s a fresh start and I think we’ll only keep improving.”

Twitter: @ben_leeson