The 2018 WHL Trade Deadline has come and gone. As we often see in junior hockey, the contenders have really loaded up, while those further down the standings have gone into full sell and rebuild move. With the Regina Pats hosting the 2018 Memorial Cup, most expected that they would load up, and they did. What are the other Western Hockey League contenders doing to make a statement in the second half of the season and playoffs?
Breaking Down the Biggest Moves of the 2018 WHL Trade Deadline
The Brandon Wheat Kings were one of the most intriguing teams heading into the trade deadline. They had high-end talent on the roster, but not as much as in previous years. They were also sitting in the middle of the pack in the standings. The Wheat Kings decided to sell their big pieces, acquiring draft picks and youngster for the future.
Brandon Wheat Kings trade Kale Clague to the Moose Jaw Warriors
TRADE: The Warriors have acquired Kale Clague from Brandon in exchange for Luka Burzan, Chase Hartje, a 2nd in 2018, a 1st in 2019, and a 1st in 2021 pic.twitter.com/FEzT3DeIFz
— Moose Jaw Warriors (@MJWARRIORS) January 10, 2018
Moose Jaw is already one of the WHL’s best teams. They have added a player who is arguably the best defenceman in the WHL to the club. He joins Josh Brook, Jett Woo, Dmitri Zaitsev, and Brandon Schuldhaus on what is arguably the league’s best defence. Add in an offence that has 226 goals for as of this writing (no other team is over 190) and it’s easy to see why the Warriors are league favourites right now.
Brandon Wheat Kings trade Tanner Kaspick to the Victoria Royals
— The WHL (@TheWHL) January 10, 2018
Kaspick was the Wheat Kings captain this year and had 12 goals and 37 points in 35 games. Drafted by the St. Louis Blues in 2016, he adds to an already strong Victoria Royals offence. With Matthew Phillips, Noah Gregor, and Tyler Soy the Royals already have plenty of firepower up front. The additions of Kaspick and Lane Zadlocki (discussed below) give the Western Conference’s highest scoring team even more offence. They will hope that will be enough in a tight race with Vancouver and Kelowna for the B.C. Division Crown.
Lethbridge Hurricanes Trade Lane Zablocki to Victoria
The Hurricanes moved three draft picks, including a second and third rounder to Lethbridge for Zablocki. A third rounder of the Detroit Red Wings in 2017, Zablocki moves to his third team this year. He had 25 points in 40 games prior to the deal. Expect him to also play big penalty killing and defensive minutes for the Royals.
Victoria Trades Eric Florchuk to the Saskatoon Blades
Among the four trades today, the @victoriaroyals dealt 2000 born forward Eric Florchuk to the @BladesHockey, Royals GM Cam Hope talks about the tough decision to trade away one of the team's young stars. #WHL #yyjsports pic.twitter.com/3nAVJN0xTd
— Tyler Bennett (@TBennz) January 11, 2018
The Royals made a surprising move in trading Eric Florchuk, a 2018 NHL Draft eligible to the Saskatoon Blades for two first round picks (2019, 2021) and a fourth-round pick (2018). With 28 points in 41 games, Florchuk was doing everything asked of an 18-year-old. He joins midget teammate Kirby Dach in Saskatoon. They will be a duo to watch in the coming years.
Prince George Trades Dennis Cholowski to the Portland Winterhawks
— The WHL (@TheWHL) January 10, 2018
The Portland Winterhawks are in a battle with the Everett Silvertips for first place in the WHL’s U.S. Division. They made a big move, adding 2016 Detroit Red Wings first-round pick Dennis Cholowski. Cholowski had 13 goals and 39 points in 37 games for the Prince George Cougars this season. He joins Henri Jokiharju (Chicago Blackhawks first rounder) and Keoni Texeira on the Winterhawks blueline. The blueline provides is plenty of offensive support for Portland’s forwards.
Lethbridge and Swift Current Make a Blockbuster Deal
Swift Current picked up Edmonton Oilers goalie prospect Stuart Skinner, Lethbridge captain Giorgio Estephan, and forward Tanner Nagel from Lethbridge. The Hurricanes added goaltender Logan Flodell; forwards Logan Barlage and Owen Blocker; defenceman Matthew Stanley; first and third-round draft picks in 2020; and a conditional-second-round draft pick in the 2021 Draft.
The Broncos are all in with this move. They add a top-notch number one goalie, Estephan’s 58 points in 39 games this year, and grinding winger Nagel to the lineup. The only question is if it will be enough in a tough conference that features Moose Jaw and Regina.
Swift Current Adds Josh Anderson
The Broncos weren’t done there though. They added Colorado Avalanche draftee Josh Anderson from Prince George for a pair of first-round picks (2018 and 2019). The Avs 2016 third-round pick is a stay at home defenceman. He has strong physical skills and good defensive instincts, but only seven points in 25 games this season.
Everett Silvertips Acquire Garrett Pilon and Ondrej Vala
The Silvertips also added talent for their battle with the Winterhawks. They pick up Washington Capitals forward prospect Garrett Pilon and Dallas Stars defensive prospect Ondrej Vala from the Kamloops Blazers. Kamloops picks up Orrin Centazzo, Montana Onyebuchi, Kalen Ukrainetz, Nathanael Hinds, as well as first and fourth round picks in the 2019 WHL Draft.
With Carter Hart returning from the World Juniors, the Silvertips have the best goalie in the WHL. They look to capitalize on that by adding offense in Pilon (44 points in 39 games) and a puck moving defenceman in Vala (20 points in 31 games). Adding offence will help the Silvertips to capitalize on Hart’s stellar play.
Tri-City Americans Add Jake Bean
Tri-City is not content to say that the U.S. Division is a two-horse race. They pick up Carolina Hurricanes 2016 first round pick, and Canadian World Junior team defenceman Jake Bean. Bean is an elite offensive catalyst on the blue line, with 27 points in 25 games this year.
#WHLHitmen acquire 17-year-old F Carson Focht, 18-year-old D Dakota Krebs, a second-round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, a first-round selection in 2019 and a 2020 second-round pick from the Tri-City Americans in exchange for 19-year-old D Jake Bean ~ https://t.co/xIiu9NWRfd pic.twitter.com/ksJvIWXYLs
— Calgary Hitmen (@WHLHitmen) January 7, 2018
Meanwhile the Hitmen get a boat load of future assets for their best player.
Other Significant Moves
Vancouver Giants add Davis Koch and a 2019 third round pick from the Edmonton Oil Kings. In return, Edmonton gets goalie Todd Scott, forward Brendan Semchuk and a 2018 third round pick.
Giants get 2002-born defenceman Joel Sexsmith from Swift Current for a first round pick.
The Prince Albert Raiders pick up defenceman Konrad Belcourt from the Kelowna Rockets in exchange for a pair of middle round picks in the 2019 WHL Draft.
The Kootenay Ice acquire goalie Matt Berlin from Seattle for a fifth-round pick in the 2018 WHL Draft.
And now a look at what the Pats did. The Memorial Cup Hosts made a number of significant acquisitions.
Saskatoon Blades trade Libor Hajek to the Regina Pats
— CTV Regina (@ctvregina) January 8, 2018
The Blades give their best defenceman, Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Libor Hajek to the rival Pats. In return, they get defenceman Dawson Davidson, forward Tristen Robins, and a 2019 first round pick.
Hajek was the Czech Republic’s best defenceman at the recent World Junior Championships. He has also put up eight goals and 25 points in 33 games for the Blades this season. Hajek is one of the better two-way defencemen in the WHL, and a major add for the Pats as they try to win the Memorial Cup on home ice.
Regina Pats add a pair of experienced defencemen
The Regina Pats have acquired 19-year-old defenceman Aaron Hyman from the Seattle Thunderbirds and 19-year-old defenceman Brady Pouteau from the Lethbridge Hurricanes ahead of Wednesday's trade deadline. https://t.co/3wKzcQXV9N
— 980 CJME (@CJMENews) January 11, 2018
Looking to load up for the Memorial Cup, the Regina Pats added some experience to the defence, adding a pair of 19-year-olds. In Aaron Hyman, the Pats get a player who went to the Memorial Cup last season, with Seattle. At 6’5″ he is big and physical defensive defender, but don’t expect much offensive production. In Brady Poteau, they get back a defender who they traded to Lethbridge last season. While he brings a bit more than Hyman at the offensive end, his biggest use will be in adding more defensive stability on the Pats blueline. They slot in behind Hajek, Josh Mahura and Cale Fleury on the Pats depth chart.
Let the debate begin, who has the better defence, Regina or Moose Jaw?
Regina adds Cameron Hebig and Ryan Kubic
It was a three-way blockbuster, as the Pats added more experience. They acquire goalie Ryan Kubic and forward Cameron Hebig. Meanwhile, Saskatoon gets Tyler Brown, Max Gerlach, a first-round pick, a second round pick and two third rounders. Medicine Hat adds Bryan Lockner, a first-round pick in 2020 and a second rounder in 2021.
Kubic wasn’t having the best season, with an .871 save percentage and 3.96 goals against average with Saskatoon. However, the 20-year-old is a proven WHL netminder, and takes over as the Pats top goalie. Hebig, had 30 goals and 58 points in 40 games for the Blades. The right-handed centre adds another scoring threat to a deep Regina team.
Other Pats Moves
The Pats added forward Austin Pratt from Red Deer sending a third-round selection in 2019 in return.
The Pats added Boston Bruins prospect Jesse Gabrielle and defenceman Jonas Harkins from Prince George for forward Kjell Kjemhus, defenceman Ethan McColm and two picks in the 2018 WHL Draft (third and fifth-rounds).
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