San Francisco Bulls trade captain in five-player swap 

The first team captain in San Francisco Bulls history, Justin Bowers, is headed to the Gwinnett Gladiators in exchange for three players: Rylan Galiardi, Cody Carlson and Christian Ouellet.

The Gladiators also obtained the rights to defenseman Sacha Guimond in the deal. Guimond was called up to the Worcester Sharks last week.

Coach and president Pat Curcio said he executed the team’s first blockbuster trade to obtain roster depth in the wake of the NHL’s return from a 113-day lockout.

“This is a deal that had to happen,” he said. “It makes sense for our hockey club.”

Bowers is the team’s third-leading scorer with 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) and he was the ECHL’s No. 3 scorer last season, collecting 78 points (19 goals, 59 assists) as a member of the Greenville Road Warriors. Bowers picked up 10 points in his first eight games with the Bulls, but then he tailed off, scoring 19 in his last 29 games with the club.

Curcio said the Bulls (13-19-1-4) needed to part ways with Bowers to add goal scoring after the departures of Daniil Tarasov, Andrew Cresecenzi, Jamie Devane and Guimond to the AHL last week.

“He was our only asset,” he said. “To get players of value, you have to give up something.”

With Galiardi, brother of San Jose Sharks forward T.J Galiardi, the Bulls obtained a forward who can get the puck across the line. Galiardi, 26, netted 18 goals in 61 ECHL games last season and he’s scored 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) in 39 games this season.

Goalie Bryan Hince opposed Galiardi last year as a member of the Road Warriors.

“He’s a big power forward who can put the puck in the net. It’s a great acquisition,” he said. “It will be nice to have him on my team as opposed to going against him.”

Ouellet, no relation to the Bulls’ Dean Ouellet, is a rookie who provides energy and will play on the club’s special teams units. He’s collected 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in 31 ECHL games.

The Bulls also obtained a defenseman in the deal. Curcio said Carlson, 21, is a strong puck-handling defenseman who can push the rubber through the neutral zone.

“He’s just coming into his own,” he said. “I tried to recruit him last summer.”

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Paul Gackle

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