ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans made a trade yesterday acquiring forward Daniel Leavens from the Wheeling Nailers for defenseman Jaynen Rissling.
There are many reasons to make a trade and sometimes fans want to read something negative into a player being traded. While this may be the case in some trades, more often than not the reason for a trade is an effort to improve the team. Both coaches mentioned in their press release on this trade, “you have to give up a good player to get a good player.” Wheeling needed a big tough defenseman and coach Steve Martinson was looking for a right shot puck carrying forward.
I doubt this was a factor in the trade, but Rissling is a fourth year professional while Leavens is a rookie so there is some salary cap savings for the Americans. It is expected Leavens will be in the line up for Allen when they take on Utah Wednesday night.
– Leavens is a 24-year-old, 200-pound 6-foot-1 rookie who is from Thornhill, Ontario. He played his collegiate hockey at Robert Morris University where he majored in Sports Management. In his senior season (2016-17,) he was an alternate captain on the team and finished with 49 points (14 goals, 35 assists). The 49 points was the fifth best individual season in program history. His 35 assists is the team record for an individual season. A clutch performer, Leavens had five game-winning goals his senior season.
– Leavens career totals in college were 40 goals and 68 assists in 136 games. He played in all situations including power play and penalty kill. He had 10 power play goals, two shorthanded goals and blocked 67 shots.
– Daniel was named to the Atlantic Hockey Conference All-Academic Team as a freshman, sophomore, and junior. As a senior, he was selected as the Robert Morris University Presidential Scholar Athlete across all men’s sports. The honor is bestowed on a senior student-athlete who combines both academic and athletic excellence throughout their respective careers.
– Alex Lavoie set all Allen rookie scoring records in 2013-14 with 76 points (25 goals 51 assists) in 60 games and was the Central Hockey League’s (CHL) Rookie of the Year. Alex was the leading scorer on that Americans team as a rookie and they went on to win the CHL championship. Alex has been playing in Europe the last two seasons.
Last season he played in Sweden and this season he signed in Finland. It was announced yesterday he was leaving his Finnish team. Today, it was announced he will be returning to Sweden. I had a chance to talk to Alex’s mom to ask what had happened. Christine shared with me the style of play on the team in Finland was not a good fit for Alex so he decided to make a change. Alex is headed back to the same Swedish league he played in last season (Allsvenskan) and has signed with the first place team (Timra IK) in the 14-team league.
As Christine said, “This new start with a great team will be amazing for Alex.” Everyone that follows the Allen Americans and Steve Martinson knows how important it is to play in the right system to live up to your potential. There are so many examples of players struggling elsewhere that thrive in Allen. It sounds like Alex is headed to a team that better fits his strengths as a hockey player.
DID YOU KNOW: Daniel Leavens is from Thornhill, Ontario (northern suburb of Toronto) and went to college at Robert Morris University (RMU) which is in the Pittsburgh area. Steven Tarasuk who played for Allen briefly in 2013-14 and 2014-15 is also from Thornhill. Former Americans that played hockey at RMU include defenseman Chris Kaufman who was in Allen in 2009-10 and goalie Eric Levine who was in Allen in 2013-14 for a brief period.