While the WHL’s trading deadline doesn’t arrive until Jan. 10, the 22 general managers know that it really is closer than that because of the Christmas moratorium that runs from Dec. 15 through Dec. 26.
At the same time, the 2018-19 regular-season is about one-third completed, and that’s enough for each general manager to have a pretty good idea how things are shaping up — with his team and how it stacks up against the competition.
For some of them then, there isn’t any sense waiting until January. That’s why general manager Matt Bardsley of the Kamloops Blazers made two deals on Monday.
This season’s arm’s race isn’t expected to be anything close to what went on a year ago. Back then, you may recall, things started to heat up on Nov. 13 when the Regina Pats acquired D Cale Fleury from the Kootenay Ice for D Jonathan Smart, F Cole Muir and two 2018 bantam draft picks — a second and a sixth.
Twelve days later, the Calgary Hitmen shipped F Matteo Gennaro, F Beck Malenstyn and a 2018 fifth-rounder to the Swift Current Broncos for five players — F Conner Chaulk, G Ethan Hein, F Josh Prokop, D Dom Schmiemann and F Riley Stotts — and a 2018 second-rounder.
From that point on, the WHL experienced its silliest silly season yet. In fact, before this season arrived, the WHL rewrote the regulations that govern trades. Now there are restrictions on the trading of 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds players.
Because of the new rules, it’s going to be interesting to see what transpires between now and Jan. 10.
On Monday, Bardsley traded away two players — a 20-year-old and a 19-year-old — and got back two players, one 20 and the other 19, and four bantam draft picks.
“You’re not allowed to trade a signed 15- or 16-year-old and the 17-year-olds have to agree to a trade,” Bardsley told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV in Kamloops. “So you have a pretty small group of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds that you’re allowed to trade.
“Last (season), with all those major trades, a lot of them included signed 15- and 16-year-olds. (Now) teams are going to have to make up it with the draft picks . . . so whether we use those to select a player or use those drafts to acquire a player — it gives some options of what you can do to improve your team.”
Who knows? Maybe we’ll see trades like the one in the OHL last week in which one team gave up two players and got back two players and 11 — count ‘em, 11 — draft picks.
F Cam Hausinger and F Connor McClennon, both of whom were injured on Saturday night in a 5-1 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders, didn’t practice with the Kootenay Ice on Tuesday, indicating they won’t play tonight against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . However, F Peyton Krebs, who has missed four games, and D Valtteri Kakkonen, a Finnish freshman who has sat out five games, were on the ice Tuesday. . . . On the WHL’s weekly roster report, McClennon is listed as being out four-to-six weeks, with Hausinger out week-to-week. . . . Also on Tuesday, the Ice brought in F Skyler Bruce and F James Form. If both players make their WHL debuts tonight that will give the Ice 12 available forwards. . . . Bruce, 15, has 16 goals and 18 assists in 19 games with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy Elite 15s. He was a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Form, 16, is from Saskatoon where he plays for the midget AAA Blazers. He has seven goals and four assists in seven games. The Ice selected him in the third round of the 2017 bantam draft. . . . If Bruce and Form play tonight, they will become the 34th and 35th players to have suited up for the Ice this season. The Ice (7-16-4) is seven points away from the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.
The Calgary Hitmen are listing G Carl Stankowski as being out week-to-week with a lower-body injury. . . . As you no doubt are aware, Stankowski, then 16, came off the bench to backstop the Seattle Thunderbirds to the WHL title in the spring of 2017. He didn’t play at all last season due to injuries, including hip-related woes, and illness, then was acquired by the Hitmen during the off-season. . . . Stankowski went the distance in Calgary’s second-last game, stopping 24 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., on Friday night. . . . This season, Stankowski is 6-6-2, 3.72, .879. . . . With Stankowski out, freshman Jack McNaughton will take over the starter’s role. In 12 appearances, he is 4-6-1, 3.35, .890. . . . G Matt Armitage, who was with the Hitmen earlier in the season and has been playing with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, will join Calgary for three weekend games. . . . The Hitmen, who just came off a U.S. Division trip on which they went 3-1-1, are next scheduled to play on Friday when they visit the Red Deer Rebels.
Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post filed a piece on Tuesday that began like this:
“At an altitude of 38,000 feet, Brad Watson expressed his appreciation for a late, great friend who was always so down-to-earth.
“While flying from Denver to Detroit, Watson wrote a tribute to a fellow Regina-born NHL referee — Mick McGeough — and, upon landing, kindly shares the heartfelt sentiments with us.”
It’s all right here, and it’s the best tribute to McGeough that I’ve read since his death, at 62, last week.
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Simon Black, an assistant professor of labour studies at Brock U in St. Catharines, Ont., writes in the Toronto Star:
“Major junior hockey is big business. Everyone from coaches to Zamboni drivers to concession stand workers gets paid and protected under labour laws. Everyone, that is, but the players.”
Some of what he writes involves the CHL claim that major junior players are amateur student athletes.
However, as Black points out, “There’s also legal precedent dispelling the amateur myth. Hearing a case about whether the Brandon Wheat Kings should pay employment insurance and Canada Pension Plan assessments, the Tax Court of Canada ruled in 2000 that the relationship between club and players is indeed one of employer-employee.”
Simon’s complete piece is right here.
F Nick Bowman, who left the Kootenay Ice earlier in the month, has joined the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. Bowman, 18, is from Sherwood Park. . . . He was a sixth-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. He had 13 goals and 13 assists in 117 games with the Oil Kings when they dealt him to the Moose Jaw Warriors prior to this season. . . . After recording one assist in 10 games with Moose Jaw, he was traded to the Ice on Oct. 22, along with a sixth-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft, for F Kaeden Taphorn and his twin brother, Keenan, also a forward. . . . After scoring twice in 10 games with the Ice, Bowman chose to leave the club.
Brad Moran, who won a WHL scoring title while with the Calgary Hitmen, has been promoted from assistant coach to head coach of the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. He takes over form Darryl Olsen, who was fired on Nov. 22. . . . Moran, 39, is from Abbotsford, B.C. He spent five seasons with the Hitmen. He totalled 450 points, including 204 goals, in 357 regular-season games. Moran won the WHL’s 1999-2000 scoring title, with 120 points. . . . The Canucks are 4-22-1, 20 points out of fifth-place in the AJHL’s Viterra South Division.
The Prince Albert Raiders ran their winning streak to 17 with a 4-3 victory over the Rebels in Red Deer. . . . The Raiders (24-1-0) are 2-1-0 against the Rebels, having lost 4-3 in Red Deer on Oct. 6 and won 2-1 at home on Oct. 13. . . . Prince Albert set a franchise record with its seventh straight road victory. It had shared the record with the 1985-86 team. . . . The Rebels (16-7-1) have lost two in a row. . . . The visitors jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from F Spencer Moe (4), at 2:59 of the first period, and F Parker Kelly (11), at 4:11. . . . D Ethan Sakowich (1) scored for Red Deer at 5:27, but F Cole Fonstad (7) got that one back for the Raiders at 9:07. . . . F Zak Smith (4) pulled the Rebels to with a goal at 9:43 of the second period. . . . F Brett Leason scored his WHL-leading 26th goal, on a PP, at 14:27, to restore Prince Albert’s two-goal lead. . . . F Jeff de Wit (16) counted on a PP, with G Byron Fancy on the bench for the extra attacker, at 19:01 of the third period for Red Deer’s third goal. . . . D Sergei Sapego had three assists for the winners. . . . Leason ran his point streak to 25 games — yes, every game this season — with an assist on Kelly’s goal. . . . Leason leads the WHL in goals and points (56). . . . Leason went into this season with 24 goals and 27 assists in 135 regular-season games. . . . The Raiders were 1-2 on the PP; the Rebels were 1-7. . . . Sakowich’s goal was his fourth in 161 career regular-season games. He didn’t score in 72 games last season; in fact, his last goal came in a 6-1 victory over the visiting Kootenay Ice on March 11, 2017. . . . The Rebels were without their best defenceman, Russian Alex Alexeyev, who is out with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Raiders are back at it tonight when they meet the Oil Kings in Edmonton. This will be the first meeting of the season between these teams.
The Tri-City Americans erased a 2-1 deficit with the game’s last four goals and beat the Prince George Cougars, 5-2, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (14-9-0) has won two in a row. . . . Prince George (10-12-3) has lost two straight. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (6) scored his second goal of the game, on a PP, at 4:09 of the second period to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. . . . F Isaac Johnson (9) tied the score, on a PP, at 9:51, and F Krystof Hrabik (7) snapped the tie at 18:42. . . . Tri-City put it away with third-period goals from F Sasha Mutala (6), at 6:00, and D Mitchell Brown (3), into an empty net, at 18:02. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 39 shots for the Americans. . . . D Aaron Hyman, who was acquired Monday from the Regina Pats, was in Tri-City’s starting lineup. He had one assist and it came on a PP. . . . The Americans lost F Kyle Olson to a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 19:19 of the first period.
F Davis Koch figured in three of the game’s last four goals to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 5-3 victory over the Saskatoon Blades in Langley, B.C. . . . The Giants (17-6-2) have won three straight. . . . The Blades are 1-1-0 on a B.C. Division tour that continues tonight in Victoria. . . . Saskatoon scored all three of its goals in the game’s first 10 minutes, F Max Gerlach (16) giving it a 3-1 lead at 9:56. . . . Koch scored, on a PP, at 1:49 of the second period to get the Giants to within a goal. . . . F Aidan Barfoot (1), playing in his third game of the season and first since Sept. 22, tied it at 3:51. . . . F Milos Roman (13) gave Vancouver a 4-3 lead, on a PP, at 3:21 of the third period. . . . Koch scored his eighth goal into an empty net at 19:46. . . . Koch has 13 points, including five goals, in a six-game point streak. . . . D Nolan Kneen, who was acquired Monday from the Kamloops Blazers, made his Saskatoon debut.