With the WHL trade deadline a week away teams are already starting to make some moves. Three trades have occurred since new year’s day and there can be some more expected. Who are the remaining buyers? Sellers? And who might be on the market?
Deals so far
The biggest trade so far happened on new year day as Medicine Hat and Prince Albert hooked up for a five-player deal that included a couple of future draft picks. Going to Prince Albert were 19 year-old Defenseman Dylan Busenius (37 games, 6-20-26, -22), 18 year old forward Jayden Hart (18 games 5-5-10) along with a 2014 sixth-round draft pick.
In return the Tigers pick up 18 year-old forward Logan McVeigh (40 games, 10-14-24), 19 year-old defenseman Zach Hodder (27 games, 2-1-3, -3), 15 year-old forward Connor Hobbs (Saskatoon Blazers) and a second-round pick in the 2013 draft pick.
The Raiders made the move to keep their first place lead in the East Division where Saskatoon is ten points behind them. Busenius and Josh Morrisey now give the Raiders a little more offense on their back end. Hart had asked for a trade out of Medicine Hat and if he can stay healthy will give Prince Albert more balance on offense.
The Kamloops Blazers have been looking to fill one of their 20 year-old slots for a month or so now and after playing the Vancouver Giants on January 2nd decided to make a move with them to pick up forward Kale Kessy (27 games, 7-9-16) for 18 year-old forward Rob Trzonkowski (41 games, 2-1-3). The Blazers are feeling the heat coming from the Kelowna Rockets, who now trail them by two points in the standings and will be in a dog fight the rest of the way.
Victoria and Everett made a minor deal as well as the Silvertips sent 18 year-old Trent Lofthouse (34 games, 9-3-12) for a 2014 sixth-round draft pick.
Perhaps the biggest name that is available is Prince George’s 17 year-old forward Alex Forsberg. Forsberg did not return to the Cougars after the Christmas break and has reportedly asked for a trade. The first overall pick in the 2010 Bantam Draft has a lot of talent but has struggled this year only scoring 19 points this year.
With teams knowing he wants out it might be hard for Prince George to get much for him but there are rumors that they would like a first round pick and a young center in return. There will be suitors for him and Saskatoon and Seattle may be the two that make the most sense. Saskatoon has players that might interest Prince George and Seattle is looking for a forward and acquired Forsberg’s brother, Jesse, from Prince George this summer already.
Among the 20 year-olds who may be on the move the best is Brandon forward Michael Ferland who returned to the Wheat Kings after spending most of the season in the AHL with the Abbotsford Heat. Ferland potted 47 goals last year for Brandon and with the team in last place they could pick up some good return for an overage goal scorer. Will a contending team like the Edmonton Oil Kings make a move for him? Ferland is the kind of talent that could swing division races in the WHL.
The trade deadline is always a fun time to see how teams jockey for position. Will there be any surprises this year? Will Moose Jaw move Morgan Rielly and set themselves up for the future? Will Kootenay be willing to part with 2014 eligible Sam Reinhart? Chances are there won’t be any big block-buster moves involving those guys, but stranger things have happened. No player is untouchable, if the loot coming back is big enough.