DULUTH — On the eve of today’s ECHL trade deadline, the Gwinnett Gladiators dealt forward Evan Bloodoff and defenseman Rob Kwiet to Florida.
In exchange, the Gladiators got forward Mike Merrifield, defenseman Eriks Sevcenko and future considerations from the Everblades.
In addition, Gwinnett picked up forward Mike Seidel from the Evansville IceMen to complete a previous deal and defenseman Matt Ridley from the Orlando Solar Bears.
“It’s obviously not something that any organization wants to do, but sometimes you have to make a trade in order to build for the future,” Gladiators President Steve Chapman said. “That is absolutely the case at this time. Obviously, the future considerations portion of this agreement is the kicker for us in the long run.
“We hope that those pieces, which we cannot name at this point, will help us build further towards our goal of competing again for championships next season.”
Bloodoff and Kwiet, both skilled playmakers, skating in practice Wednesday morning before news of the trade broke.
Bloodoff had 17 goals and 12 assists in 55 games with the Gladiators and appeared in 52 games with the team last season. Kwiet had 23 points in 33 games with Gwinnett this season. He came to the Gladiators as part of a five-player trade with Fort Wayne on Dec. 12.
“The difficult part, obviously, is that to get quality, you have to give up quality,” Chapman said. “Evan Bloodoff is a player and a person that we think very highly of both on and off of the ice. We are going to miss his speed and his scoring ability on the ice and we are going to miss him in our organization.
“Rob Kwiet has certainly been a solid presence for us in his time with us this season as well. Florida will benefit tremendously from his shot and his play-making abilities.”
Merrifield has 30 points in 54 games with the Everblades this season, his second campaign with the team. As a rookie, he had seven goals and nine assists over 36 games in a Florida sweater, not including a goal and an assist in four playoff appearances. The 24-year-old played collegiate hockey at Michigan State, where he set career highs in goals (11) and assists (6) over 31 games his senior year.
Sevcenko, 22, has made three stops so far in his rookie season. The Latvian played 20 games in Norway prior to a nine-game stint with the now-defunct San Francisco Bulls and nine games with the Everblades. In 2010-11, he was a part of a gold medal winning Latvian team in the Under-20 World Junior Championship.
“Merrifield brings us a solid forward with some maturity and scoring potential and Sevcenko is a young defenseman looking to prove his place in pro hockey,” Chapman said. “Our goal at the trade deadline was to continue to put pieces together so that the team can maintain the strides that we have taken in the last month.
“We have a strong core of character and talent that have not given up on this season and continue to battle each night. This trade provides us the opportunity to continue to compete this season while building for next season.”
The arrival of Seidel, 25, completes a Feb. 13 trade that sent defenseman Antoine Corbin to Evansville. Seidel scored 11 goals to go with 17 assists in 57 games with the IceMen this season. Prior to that, Seidel spent a season in Sweden after wrapping up a four-year career at the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he won a national championship in 2010-11. The Darien, Ill., native racked up 88 points in 150 NCAA games.
Ridley, 23, was picked up from the Solar Bears in exchange for cash. The third-year defenseman out of Kelowna, B.C., did not register a point in two games for Orlando, but did have 16 points in 42 games for the Fayetteville FireAntz of the Southern Professional Hockey League this season.