The London Knights traded Remi Elie to the Belleville Bulls last week for an overaged defenseman (Brady Austin). This move is likely to help Remi Elie's development into a solid prospect for the future. Why is this?
The London Knights are an incredibly deep team throughout and one of the best teams in the OHL. While being on a very good team might help with how many junior wins Elie has in his OHL career,, there is one significant limitation. He didn't get much ice time when he was with the London Knights. He ended up playing the bottom six and moving up only if there were injuries. In Belleville this isn't the case.
In his first game for the Bulls, he started on their top line. They scored, and Elie got an assist, within the first minute of the game. In London, he wouldn't have had that opportunity. In Belleville he can develop his offensive game. In his first three games with the Bulls, he got nearly double the amount of points he had with the Knights in half the games.
When it comes to the development of players, the amount of ice time they have has an impact on how they develop. It may sound simple, but his development will take a completely different path playing for Belleville than it would have done playing for London.
In London he would have been relied upon for those defensive minutes. He would be molded in juniors as a checking forward who wasn't needed for scoring and could perform a bottom six role well.
In Belleville he will be on the top line, receiving top line minute,s and given the opportunity to hone his offensive talents. Remi Elie has those basic skills to be a bottom six player but has unpolished offensive talent. Only with the opportunity to play offensively will he get the chance to bring that talent to fruition.
Remi Elie was a rookie in the 2012-2013 OHL season and, because of his late birthday, will have to play another season after this one until he is eligible for the professional leagues. (I am making the assumption he won't make the jump straight to the NHL). Two years on the Bulls top line getting lots of ice time will help shape and mold the offensive talent that he has. It doesn't necessarily mean he will become a scoring machine, but it's more likely that he will be able to become an offensive threat in Belleville than with the London Knights.
Elie in Belleville has a better chance of realizing the upside that the Stars saw in him when they took him 40th in the 2013 NHL Draft than he had in London. Lots of ice time, even on a team that isn't in its glory days, can help the development of a prospect. Just look at Jyrki Jokipakka.