The North Bay Battalion unveiled its newest member Tuesday morning in Matvey Guskov.
Guskov was acquired Monday by the Troops from the London Knights in exchange for two third-round picks in 2021, and 2023, and a 15th rounder in 2023.
“We’re thrilled to have Matvey Guskov,” Battalion general manager Adam Dennis said. “We’re very excited to have him come into our group. He has a lot of experience in our league, coming into his third season, and he has played on some good London teams the past two years and we look forward to having him on our club and bringing in some veteran leadership as well.”
For Guskov, a solid two-way centre, and a 2019 draft pick of the Minnesota Wild, the excitement level is mutual.
“I’m really excited to join such a great organization,” Guskov said. “It’s going to be fun here and I think it will be more of a young team, but everyone is hungry for wins and everyone is going into games like it’s their last game. Everyone is going to do their best to win every game and it will be a fun year.”
“Growing up I played in CSK, team Russia, and was always in the leadership group,” he added. “I didn’t have much ice time in London and I am looking forward to more ice time in North Bay and I am very happy about that.”
Before the trade was finalized, Guskov says he had the chance to talk to Dennis, which helped ease the news of the trade.
“I talked to Adam before,” he said. “We were figuring it all out, and I am excited we did the move and getting ready for next season.”
“When it comes to Matvey, it was something we felt that we were getting a lot of value,” Dennis said. “We’ve had talks with Minnesota and they see him as a centreman at the next level and that’s where we see him here. We also feel that there’s more untapped offensive potential within him.”
“We saw locally with a guy like Luke Moncada when given those opportunities, you can really flourish as a player,” Dennis continued. “There’s a really big mutual benefit between us and Matvey. He’s coming here with a goal of signing an NHL contract and for us, it’s important that we are moving guys to the next level and winning hockey games. We’re thrilled to have him and to have elite players like Matvey excited to come here is a great thing for us.”
When it comes to dealing with London, Dennis has a relationship with the Hunters (Dale and Mark) that goes back to his playing days when he won a Memorial Cup in 2005 with the Knights. With having a good on and off the ice relationship, Dennis says it can help play a role in deals. When it came to this deal, Dennis was approached by Mark Hunter on making something happen.
“Anytime that you have a player that wants an increased role, especially when it’s a guy that has done so many good things for your program, you look to find a good situation,” Dennis explained. “Just in conversations with Mark, he has a familiarity with us, and we have a familiarity with them and we saw it recently with Avery Winslow. When you get guys that grow up in a good program, you know they have been developed and they have been doing the right things before they got to you and that was important to us.”
“On the other side, I’m sure Mark didn’t want to play against Matvey too many times so we have become a good place,” he added. “Knowing that we’re going to treat him right, and develop him the right way, it gave some comfort to all parties.”
Guskov says being able to speak to Winslow, his former teammate in London, helped ease his mind in making the transition.
“I talked to him a couple of times and he told me he is excited to play in North Bay for the Battalion,” he said. “It pushed me forward to make that decision to go to North Bay.
As for the impending CHL Import Draft, one where North Bay holds the first selection, how does this change now that the team has one of its two import slots dedicated to Guskov?
“I don’t personally look at Matvey as a typical import player coming over,” Dennis said. “He’s coming into his third season, he speaks good English, he’s had experience at international levels and he’s seen things that our players are going to benefit from. Import draft aside, we’re thrilled to have an experienced OHL player coming in with a lot of leadership.”
“Having said that, it means we are going into the import draft with just the one pick and we’re looking for an impact player and we feel confident we can get someone in our lineup,” he added.
He adds, having a player like Guskov can help out with recruiting that next import player.
“It makes us more attractive, players want to come over to good teams,” Dennis said. “Matvey is going to be a big role model for all of our young players, and especially for somebody coming from overseas. He’s been through it, he knows what it takes, he knows the intricacies, knows what to order at Tim Horton’s.”
“All those fun things that come with coming to North America for their first time, he’s well versed in and I think it will be a great situation for anybody coming in,” Dennis continued.
The trade for Guskov wasn’t the only one made by the major junior team yesterday, however. Pacey Schlueting, the team’s first-round pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, and North Bay resident, was shipped to the Saginaw Spirit. Saginaw, the team formerly known as the North Bay Centennials, sent back a fourth-round selection in 2024, and a 12th rounder in 2023.
Schlueting, in two seasons in Battalion green, posted nine assists in 116 games.
“We just felt with drafting Ty Nelson and signing a guy like Tnias Mathurin, we had nine defenceman under contract coming into next year,” Dennis said. “Pacey is a guy that has put in a lot of hard minutes with our team and he has really grown as a person and he has been great for our team and our community.”
“As a hometown kid, there are tons of pressures that come with it but what this did is give Pacey an opportunity to grow as a person and a player with a team that values him,” he added. “It gives some of our younger players an opportunity to cut their teeth in the league and some guys that we have time for.”