The WHL trade deadline came and went with little fanfare on Sunday afternoon. Oh, there were some minor moves as teams shore up their depth, but no fireworks.
In Moose Jaw, the Warriors ended any speculation – or hope – that Brayden Point was going to get traded as they were in Swift Current for a matinee. Before the game, the lineups were posted and Point was in it, which was the only announcement the Warriors needed to make – he’s not going anywhere.
There was some wonder if Edmonton would move one of their top 19-year-olds. Guys like Dysin Mayo and Brent Pollock were names that the rumour mongers said could be on the move. But the only deal the Oil Kings made was to send fourth-liner Garan Magnes to the Seattle Thunderbirds for a seventh-round draft pick.
With most of the meaty moves completed earlier in the week and month, the drama of the trade deadline had already come and gone. With so many teams still in playoff contention, the prices were just too high and therefore, most of the big names stayed where they were.
The deadline at noon Sunday was more of a starting gun than it was a final horn. It was the start of the stretch run with everyone’s rosters set, for better or worse. With tight races in each conference, we could be looking at a race that will make up for any lack of trade deadline drama on Sunday.
Who helped themselves the most?
Red Deer Rebels
There is no trophy for winning the trade deadline but if there were, Rebels general manager and head coach Brett Sutter would be hoisting it. As the Memorial Cup hosts, Red Deer had the pressure on them to do something big and they did just that. Adding Boston Bruins prospect Jake DeBrusk from Swift Current was the start but then they nabbed Adam Helewka from Spokane and Luke Philp from Kootenay. That’s over 100 goals to their lineup in a matter of days.
But was it enough? Reports were that the Rebels still wanted to try to add a defenceman and possibly a goalie but they weren’t able to find the right trading partner. Adding the goal scorers makes them a contender in the Memorial Cup tournament but it may not be a ticket to winning the WHL title.
Lethbridge is still a threat to the Rebels in both the Central Division and the Eastern Conference. The Hurricanes are up by two points right now and went into Red Deer on Saturday and came out with an entertaining 4-3 shootout victory. That gives the Hurricanes a 4-0 record against their division rivals this season and that has to worry the Rebels. Then of course there is still Brandon, Calgary and Prince Albert, who all are in the hunt out East.
Nobody made as big a headline as Red Deer did this trade deadline but Seattle made perhaps the next most significant move. They made three separate trades early in the week and all were centered around landing goalie Landon Bow from Swift Current.
Looking to improve their situation in net, Seattle sent over-age winger Jamal Watson and goalie Taz Burman to the Broncos in exchange for the big netminder. Bow was perhaps the top goalie that was available at the deadline and the early returns for the Thunderbirds were good. He allowed only three goals in back-to-back starts this weekend as Seattle picked up two big division wins against Portland and Everett.
Bow, who saw more rubber than the Indianapolis Speedway with the Broncos, should benefit from a stronger defence in front of him and his addition may give Seattle the edge in the U.S. Division. But don’t count out the Everett Silvertips just yet. Everett is up on the Thunderbirds by four points and has their own top goalie in Carter Hart. They play a tough, disciplined defensive game and are coming off a weekend full of long bus rides that saw them pick up five points out of a possible six.
That Kamloops in your mirror is really close
Don Hay’s Blazers stumbled out of the gate and it looked like you could start to write them off early. But since the first month of the season they’ve quietly climbed up the Western Conference standings. After taking two games in Portland over the weekend, they own the first wild-card spot in the West but have pulled to within four points of Prince George for third in the B.C. Division.
Collin Shirley continues to lead them and already has tied his career high in goals (26) and has set a new high in points (50). Like the team, goalie Connor Ingram got off to a tough start but has rounded into the form that made him one of the best young goalies in the league. He went 6-3-0-1 in December and has yet to lose in regulation so far in January.
With the Blazers getting hot the B.C. Division is getting tighter. The Kelowna Rockets, who are going without goalie Jackson Whistle at the moment, still lead the division but Victoria, Prince George and now Kamloops are only separated by six points.
Player of the week
Carter Hart, G, Everett Silvertips
Hart was in net for a gruelling three-in-three road trip this weekend for Everett. His only blemish was a 3-2 overtime loss but overall he was stellar as the Silvertips picked up five points in the standings over the three road games. Hart won twice and had a save percentage of .930 and a goals-against of 1.97. In his last five starts he is 4-0-1 with a goals-against of 1.57 and is the main reason that Everett is leading the U.S. Division.