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Battalion acquires Cameron

NORTH BAY, Ont. – The North Bay Battalion has acquired overage defenceman Cole Cameron in a trade with the Owen Sound Attack, the Ontario Hockey League club announced Thursday.

North Bay gave up its fourth-round pick in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection for Cameron, a five-foot-11, 175-pound right shot who signed with Owen Sound as a free agent in 2016.

In 127 OHL games over two seasons, Cameron, a Johnstown, Ont., resident who turned 20 on May 9, has scored two goals and earned 14 assists for 16 points while accumulating 42 penalty minutes. In 28 playoff games over two years, he has one assist and 11 PiM.

With the Battalion set to open a home-and-home exhibition series with the Attack at Memorial Gardens at 2 p.m. Saturday, it’s likely there’ll be no delay in Cameron facing his former teammates. Overager Justin Brazeau will be available as well, Stan Butler, Battalion director of hockey operations and head coach, said of the right winger who led North Bay in scoring in 2017-18.

Defenceman Nick King and centre Matthew Struthers, obtained in separate deals last season, are other Troops who once skated for Owen Sound. Goaltender Christian Propp, a onetime member of the Barrie Colts who never played for the Attack, was acquired from the club last Oct. 22.

Butler was in the market for an older defenceman after the likes of Riley Bruce and Adam Thilander graduated last season.

“Everything is a process in life, and people that rush usually make poor decisions,” Butler said earlier. “We’re going to evaluate. We’ve got a very young group of D that have got an opportunity. But I don’t think there’s any doubt that, if an overage defenceman is there that we feel can help our team, we’ll definitely do something.”

Holdover rearguards are King, who’s 19, Braden Henderson and Travis Mailhot, both 18, and 17-year-old Simon Rose and Payton Vescio, the latter of whom played one game last season. Austrian import David Maier enters his first OHL season at 18, and Pacey Schlueting, 16, was the Battalion’s first-round pick in the OHL Priority Selection last April.

Mailhot has yet to play in the preseason after suffering an injury in training camp. The Battalion visits Owen Sound at 2 p.m. Sunday for a fifth and final exhibition game. The team won one of three games at the Preseason Showcase at Kitchener from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2.

“I think he brings some physical presence,” Butler said of Mailhot. “But we’re not going to be a typical Battalion defence with big, big defencemen that are really physical. We’ll hopefully be a quick, puck-moving, smaller defence.

“The game has really changed, and I think if we’re going to be successful we’ve got to adapt. The only challenge we’ve got there is we do have a real young D, but that’s going to happen sometimes. It’s evolution. Somewhere along the line you’ve got to go with a young defence, so I think this year is probably the year.”

North Bay still has a fourth-round pick in 2019, having acquired the Flint Firebirds’ selection via trade. The Battalion has 16 picks in the 15-round process.

Butler said that Brazeau, who led the Troops with 39 goals and 36 assists for 75 points in 68 games last season, was to return Thursday from the camp of the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks, who had invited him to their rookie camp as a free agent. Brazeau scored four goals in the games at Kitchener.

“Obviously, Braz had a great weekend in Kitchener and he’s a big part of our team,” noted Butler. “I’m glad that he’s got the opportunity to move on from the rookie camp to the main camp. It’ll obviously give him some good experience.”

Propp, Struthers and centre Kyle Potts already had returned from the rookie camps of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers respectively.

With goaltender Joe Vrbetic having been assigned to the affiliated junior A Powassan Voodoos, the Battalion roster now stands at 25, consisting of 15 forwards, eight defencemen and two goaltenders.

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