F Garrett Mitchell (Regina, 2006-11) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with the Hershey Bears (AHL), he had seven goals and one assist in 47 games. He was the Bears’ team captain.
The Kamloops Blazers’ new braintrust waited until the regular-season was one-third done before acting.
On Monday, the Blazers moved out two veterans — F Luc Smith and D Nolan Kneen — in exchange for two players and four selections in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft.
Smith, 20, was dealt to the Spokane Chiefs for F/D Jeff Faith, 20, a third-round selection and one in the sixth round.
Kneen, 19, went to the Saskatoon Blades for D Jackson Caller, 19, who is from Kamloops, a second-round pick and a third-rounder. The second-rounder was acquired by the Blades from the Regina Pats on Jan. 10, while the third-rounder originated with Kelowna, moving to Saskatoon on Oct. 11 in a deal that had F Michael Farren go to the Rockets.
Interestingly, the Blades are scheduled to visit the Blazers on Friday night.
The Blazers traded away two players with 12 goals and 27 assists between them, getting three goals in exchange.
Obviously, this trade wasn’t made for this season, nor was it made because general manager Matt Bardsley is infatuated with either Faith or Caller. Bardsley replaced the displaced Stu MacGregor — he now scouts for the NHL’s Dallas Stars, who are owned by Blazers’ majority owner Tom Gaglardi — on June 1. And, 22 games into this season, Bardsley has seen enough.
Still, Bardsley is adamant that he hasn’t given up on this season.
“I’m not suggesting that we’re selling,” Bardsley told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week for a story that is right here. “I don’t believe we’re selling. Some people are probably going to look at it like we are.
“We’re a bit inconsistent, not so much in how we play, I guess a little bit, but also just with where we’re at. I just felt for the organization it was time to make a change.”
As of now, according to Alan Caldwell, who tracks these things right here, the Blazers hold two firsts and two fourths in the 2019 draft, and they have two seconds and three thirds in 2020. In 2019, they hold Everett’s first- and fourth-round selections. In 2020, the Blazers have Regina’s second-rounder, and third-round picks that originated with Kelowna and Spokane.
At the same time, Bardsley and head coach Serge Lajoie, who also is in his first season with Kamloops, are trying to figure out this edition of the Blazers, a team that is 2-6-1 on home ice and 7-5-0 on the road.
Still, at 9-11-1, the Blazers are only three points out of third place in the B.C. Division and three points shy of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot.
“I believe we should be further up in the standings,” Bardsley told Hastings. “I’d like to see our team more consistent in how we play night in and night out.
“I wanted to address it now, rather than wait to closer to the deadline. By that time, we might have a better feel about where we’re at. I want to correct it and we still give ourselves time to do anymore changes. If we need to add or whatever, then we can do that, as well.”
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Smith is from Stony Plain, Alta. He was a third-round selection by Regina in the 2013 bantam draft. In 270 regular-season WHL games, he has 47 goals and 53 assists. This season, he has eight goals and 11 assists in 22 games. Last season, he had career highs in goals (21) and assists (23) in 62 games.
Smith will bring some offence and a lot of physical play to the Chiefs’ forward ranks, especially on the forecheck.
Faith, 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, is from Wilcox, Sask., and has played his entire career with the Chiefs, who picked him in the first round of the 2013 bantam draft. This season, he has one goal in 24 games. Last season, he had five goals and 12 assists, both career highs, in 60 games. A defenceman by trade, he has been playing up front this season.
The Blazers selected Kneen, who is from Kelowna, with the third overall pick of the 2014 bantam draft; that is the earliest selection they have made in the draft’s history. The 6-foot-0, 190-pounder is off to a fine start this season, with four goals and 16 assists in 22 games, after finishing last season with seven goals and 30 assists in 68 games.
This season, Kneen’s 20 points have him eighth among all WHL defencemen. In Saskatoon, he will be reunited with D Dawson Davidson, with whom he partnered at times in Kamloops. Davidson has 26 points, leaving him fourth among defencemen.
Kneen should be in the Blades’ lineup tonight as they meet the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. The Blades are scheduled to play in Victoria on Wednesday, before heading for Kamloops and Friday’s engagement.
Caller, 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, was a seventh-round pick by the Portland Winterhawks in the 2014 bantam draft. He was in his third full season with the Blades; in 157 games, he had five goals and 27 assists. This season, he had two goals in 20 games.
“There’s always a significant price to pay to add a top-end 19-year-old, but we still have Regina’s first, Swift’s second and our third-round picks in 2020, so we feel we had the assets to make a deal like this happen,” Blades GM Colin Priestner said in a news release.
The Tri-City Americans have acquired D Aaron Hyman, 20, from the Regina Pats for F Brett Clayton, 20, and a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.
Hyman had five goals and 19 assists in 25 games with the Pats this season. A 6-foot-5, 220-pound Calgarian, he was a third-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in the 2013 bantam draft. The Hitmen dealt him to the Seattle Thunderbirds, and he helped them win the Ed Chynoweth Cup in the spring of 2017. Seattle traded him to Regina last season and he played in the Memorial Cup with the Pats, who were the host team.
In 189 career regular-season games, Hyman has 11 goals and 45 assists.
Hyman could make his Tri-City debut tonight against the visiting Prince George Cougars.
Clayton, from Abbotsford, B.C., was picked by the Saskatoon Blades in the 10th round of the 2013 bantam draft. In 163 regular-season games, he has nine goals and 21 assists.
The Pats next play Friday when they travel to Brandon to face the Wheat Kings.
The Americans also placed D Anthony Bishop, 20, on waivers.
Bishop played Saturday night for the first time since Sept. 22. His return left the Americans with four 20-year-olds, one more than the mandated maximum.
Bishop has two goals and 23 assists in 174 career regular-season games.
By putting him on waivers, the Americans are left with Hyman, F Nolan Yaremko and F Parker AuCoin as their 20s.
The Pats’ three 20s now are Clayton, D Brady Pouteau and D Liam Schioler.
After Daniel Carcillo’s stirring weekend tweets detailing the bullying and hazing to which he was subjected during his freshman season with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, John Chidley-Hill of The Canadian Press did a deep dive into the story. Thankfully, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen a whole lot these days, but it used to be pretty standard behaviour, at least in junior hockey. . . . Chidley-Hill’s story is right here and it’s well worth your time.
D Gianni Fairbrother of the Everett Silvertips has drawn a two-game suspension after taking a headshot major and game misconduct during a 2-1 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Saturday night. . . . The penalty came after a hit on Kelowna F Kyle Crosbie. . . . Fairbrother sat out Sunday’s 5-3 victory over the Winterhawks in Portland and will miss Wednesday’s rematch in Everett.
The Vancouver Giants have dropped F Tyler Ho, 18, from their roster, and he is expected to join the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. Ho, who is from North Vancouver, had one goal and one assist in 12 games with the Giants this season. . . . Ho was a third-round selection by the Prince George Cougars in the 2015 WHL bantam draft. In 76 regular-season games, he has two goals and 10 assists. Last season, he had one goal and eight assists in 57 games with the Giants.
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