It was an unusual position for Brandon Wheat Kings' general manager Kelly McCrimmon.
The club was a 'seller' rather than a 'buyer' at Thursday's Western Hockey League trade deadline for the first time in a number of years -- and sell they did.
"We've been pretty fortunate over many years to be contending teams and this day was always about trying to make your team better so," said Brandon general manager Kelly McCrimmon following Thursday's trade deadline, "From that standpoint, disappointing that this was our course of action but, at the same time, we felt we made progress going down that road."
The Wheat Kings made three deals:
- 20-year old Michael Ferland goes to the Saskatoon Blades for a first round pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft.
- 19-year old Alessio Bertaggia was dealt to the Spokane Chiefs for 19-year old F Marek Kalus, 16-year old prospect Rhett Gardner and third and fifth round picks in the 2013 Bantam Draft.
- 17-year old defenceman Ayrton Nikkel and a conditional sixth round pick in the 2015 Bantam Draft traded to the Everett Silvertips for 18-yaer old defenceman Nick Walters and 16-year old prospect Taylor Sanheim of Elkhorn.
"We knew draft picks would be part of the return. You hope for prospects because they're a little more of a known quanity and a little closer to playing on your team," said McCrimmon when asked about what he was looking for going into the trade deadline, "Across all the deals, I think we got a pretty good cross section and I think, in the process, made our organization deeping which is what we intended to do."
Of the three deals the Wheat Kings completed Thursday, the Ferland deal was the one which came as no surprise.
The Brandon product was 'found gold' when he was returned to the junior ranks by the NHL's Calgary Flames just after Christmas and will get a chance to play in a second Memorial Cup with the Blades along with his good friend and another former Wheat King in Brenden Walker.
There was no doubt Bertaggia was a hot commodity, as evidenced by the package the Chiefs gave up in return to acquire the Wheat Kings' leading scorer.
The 6-foot-2, 185 pound Kalus has just four assists in 11 games this season after missing the first ten weeks of the season with an upper body injury. He had 20 goals and 42 points in 68 games with the Chiefs last season.
Gardner played with Team West at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, with the 6-foot-2, 180 pound left-winger that's described solid power forward-type with good skating ability, a deceptive second gear, good shot and good offensive sense.
He's currently tied for 13th in the Saskatchewan AAA Midget Hockey League scoring race with 15 goals and 31 points in 20 games with the Moose Jaw Generals.
As for the Nikkel deal, that one probably caught a lot of people off-guard, including myself, but Nick Walters is a 6-foot-2, 200 pound blueliner who was a fourth round pick of St. Louis in the 2012 NHL Draft so he obviously has some abilities and the addition of a local prosect in Elkhorn's Taylor Sanheim can't hurt.
The 5-foot-10, 172 pound Sanheim is currently fourth in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League in scoring with 22 goals and 45 points in 32 games.
He has good speed, is a playmaker and plays with a little bit of an edge and grit.
The Wheat Kings currently sit in last place in the WHL's Eastern Conference with a 14-25-2-2 record, nine points out of a playoff spot.
McCrimmon was asked what his expectations were for the rest of the season.
"There's a lot of pressure on players to show what type of commitment, what type of sacrifice, what type of effort they want to put into improving and being part of the organization moving forward," said McCrimmon, "Part of getting better is pushing people, being demanding, holding people accountable and I think that's what the second half of the year is going to be about for our team."
Here's the rest of the moves around the Western Hockey League on trade deadline day:
- Saskatoon trades F Adam Kambeitz, 20, to Seattle for a 2014 third-round bantam draft pick.
- Kootenay trades F Erik Benoit, 19, to Saskatoon for a 2013 fourth-round bantam draft pick.
- Spokane trades F Collin Valcourt, 19, to Saskatoon for 2015 first-round and 2013 fifth-round bantam draft picks.
- Regina trades F Colten Mayor, 19, to Calgary for F Carson Samoridny, 18, and a 2013 fourth-round bantam draft pick.
- Moose Jaw trades F Andrew Johnson, 18, to Seattle for a 2013 fourth-round bantam draft pick.
Chaff...the Wheat Kings also made two rosters moves Thursday, bringing up 17-year old F Quintin Lisoway from the MJHL's Steinbach Pistons for the rest of the season while assigning 16-year old D Riley Van Horne to the AJHL's Grande Prairie Storm...Thursday's transactions mean the Wheat Kings have eight more picks in the first five rounds of the 2013 Bantam Draft than the Portland Winterhawks (2 1st, 1 2nd, 2 3rd, 1 4th and 2 5th)...my collegue in Cranbrook, Jeff Hollick, reported the Kootenay Ice wanted to claim former Wheat Kings' D Ryley Miller off WHL waivers but Miller preferred to join the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League...the Kings also acquired the MJHL rights to Wheat Kings' D Rene Hunter from the Portage Terriers on Thursday...former Wheat King Brendan Rouse was released by Seattle after they acquired Kambeitz, and then he was claimed off waivers by the Vancouver Giants...former Wheat King and Kamloops Blazer Jordan DePape had his MJHL rights traded Thursday from the Virden Oil Capitals to the Dauphin Kings...should be interesting the rest of the regular season considering the Wheat Kings and the Blades play six more times.
And in closing, a great tweet from former Brandon Wheat King Matt MacKay, who was acquired by Brandon along with a fourth round pick in the 2012 Bantam Draft (D Mark Matsuba from Spruce Grove, Alberta) from Vancouver in January of 2011 for D Darren Bestland.
2 yrs ago I was on my way to the @bdnwheatkings missed my flight but didnt tell anyone.payed $100 of my own money. Best money I've ever spent
MacKay had 17 goals and 52 points in 31 games with Wheat Kings after being acquired during his 20-year old season from the Giants.
He's currently playing with the Schwenninger Wild Wings in the German Second Division.
Matsuba, by the way, is playing with the St. Albert Flyers of the Alberta Minor Midget Hockey League (Alberta's league for 15-year old players).
He has three goals and nine points in 21 games.