Fresh off a three-in-three weekend in which the Ice notched 3 points of a possible six in losing against the Blades here on Friday, beating the Oil Kings Saturday in Edmonton and then losing in OT Sunday to the Oil, the Ice pulled off the biggest deal in a long time around these parts Tuesday morning.
Heading to Kamloops: F Colin Shirley, D Matt Thomas, 3rd round pick in 2014; 1st and 5th round pick in 2015.
Headed to Kootenay: F Tim Bozon and D Landon Cross - both 19.
Link to the deal is here
1. Clearly, the opponents' ability to key in on Kootenay's top line of Sam Reinhart, Jaedon Deschenaeu and whoever is on the wing to complete the threesome (sometimes Cable, sometimes Zbrorosky) was instrumental in pulling off this deal. Reinhart's been in on something 62%+ of Kootenay's scoring and was higher prior to the weekend. Acquiring Bozon gives the Ice some depth in the scoring department as the Swiss forward had 91 points last season (36g 55a). This season he has 7 points (3g 4a) in 13 games for the clearly rebuilding Blazers. Bozon also becomes the club's second import player.
2. Shirley and Thomas became expendable with the emergence of Zborosky - who they must be extremely high on given the ice-time he's received - and rookie Troy Murray, who, IMO, seems to get better every game. Does he have the upside of his brother - Ryan Murray currently of the Columbus BlueJackets? That might be a stretch but the genes are pretty good when it comes to composure of a 16-year-old on that blueline.
3. Acquiring Cross fills an immediate need for a stay-at-home D-man with some size and the arrival of D-man Rinat Valiev from Russia transforms this D-unit from a thin one to one that someone could work with. Dirk, Peel, Hubic (if he stays there?), Valiev, Murray and Cross, along with Filabrandt for now has much better ring to it until Faith's shoulder heels, which helps with the depth.
4. Valiev's first game with the Ice Saturday in Edmonton was a whirlwind as he came over from Russia once his paperwork was approved, in some 42 hours - Russia to Edmonton. He even notched an assist but it was the second game that had many in the junior hockey world chatting. Valiev scored his first WHL goal - except it was on his own net. Nice shot too. The video evidence is here.
5. Highlights of the weekend action is up. Here and here.
6. The Portland Winterhawks are here Friday night while the Moose Jaw Warriors are at the Plex Saturday.
7. If you're a follower of the Junior B Kimberley Dynamiters, you'll notice that former Ice assistant Jerry Bancks has that club in first place in the Eddie Mountain Division with a 9-3-1 record. Through 7 home dates the club is averaging 420 a game. Not a lot by hockey standards but you wonder if that's had an affect on Ice attendance, at least from Kimberley.
8. Through 7 dates the Ice are averaging 2188. Somebody asked where the Neidermayer brothers are in this scenario. Both are retired with Rob living in the area owning a ranch at Bull River while Scott still works in the front office for the Anaheim Ducks and lives there. While they still are 25% owners of the team they are silent partners for all intents and purposes. They have, or at least did have the last time I asked the question, first right of refusal if the team is offered to anyone else for sale. Right now, with those numbers, I'm doubt the Chynoweth's are breaking even, so it should be alarming.
9. Line Combos:
Reinhart - Descheneau - Bozon
Martin - Cable - Philp
O'Connor - McPhee - Vetterl
Hubic - Elyniuk - Zborosky
Dirk - Valiev
Murray - Cross
Peel - Steenburgen
I have Chynoweth out right now as I didn't see him return after the first period Friday night and he didn't play in Edmonton at all. I'll assume he's injured but he wasn't listed as such. Steenburgen I think could push Filabrandt and Murray for ice-time. When Faith comes back they'll have a decision to make as the club usually doesn't carry an extra D-man but you never know.
UPDATE - D Chad Filabrandt has been reassigned by the club to Junior A. That's solves that. Hollick also mentioned that the 5th round pick used to acquire Filabrandt from the Americans was the pick sent to the Blazers in the Bozon/Cross deal as that deal was conditional on Filabrandt sticking with the club.
10. I like the deal. Waiting too long to upgrade the line-up in a 22-team WHL doesn't work much anymore. If you can make the deal make sense, and in this case it clearly does, then the earlier the better. The club needed depth, this deal provides it. It's expensive with the Draft Picks but you never know what you're going to get with those and you can always find more of them. This also signals that the club recognizes that this season could be Sam's last with the club if he's taken top five - or first overall - in next June's NHL draft. That'll mean he's gone, for sure. Getting some depth signals the club is shooting for a playoff run other than the first round exits of the last two seasons.
And, although it might be a stretch, the Ice have still have the ability to add another 20-year-old if they see fit. Only Dirk and McPhee are the club's 20's.