Saturday, 16 November 2013

Wheat Kings Acquire Pilon in 5-Player Deal

Ryan Pilon
  The Brandon Wheat Kings completed a five-player trade with the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday, acquiring defenceman Ryan Pilon and the rights to forward Colt Conrad from the 'Canes in exchange for Nick Walters, Taylor Cooper and prospect Tanner Browne.

  The 17-year old Pilon is the prize of the deal from a Brandon standpoint.

  He's a 6-foot-2, 212 pound blueliner who was the third overall pick in the 2011 Bantam Draft and was a teammate of Wheat Kings' forward Jayce Hawryluk on the Canadian team that won gold at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament this past August.

  The Duck Lake, Saskatchewan product had requested a trade from Lethbridge and left the team back on November 6th.

  "There was a lot of interest in him because he's a premier young player and we paid, I think, a high price," said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon, "We just really felt this was a chance that we couldn't pass up when we could add a young players that among the best players in his age group to our team."

  The deal makes a lot of sense for Brandon for a number of reasons aside from the fact Pilon is considered one of the top defencemen in the 1996-born age group.

  The Wheat Kings had three 19-year old blueliners (Walters, Ryan Pulock and Eric Roy) along with 20-year old Rene Hunter playing in their top four.

  The trade for Pilon evens things out on the back end from an age grouping standpoint, with Brandon having one 20-year old, two 19-year olds, two 18-year olds and two 17-year olds.

  Pilon fits in with what I think is a team that should peak in two years time (2015-2016) when Pilon, Hawryluk, Queneville, Papirny et al are all 19 and this year's picks in the 2013 Bantam Draft (Patrick, Clague and Kaspick most notably) are all in their 17-year old seasons.

  "He'll make a big impact on our team immediately and then, obviously, being a younger players he's going to part of our teams here for the next few years," added McCrimmon, "He's going to compliment the young players that we have coming into our organization.  For our team, it fit so well that we could justify making the move that we made because of how well he'll compliment not only this year's team but our teams down the road."

  Another benefit from the deal is that it drops Brandon down to 14 forwards and will allow this year's crop of rookie forwards a chance to get into the lineup a little more often.

  As for Colt Conrad, the St. Alphonse, Manitoba product tied for the league scoring lead in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League last season as a 15-year old, scoring 25 goals and 67 points in 39 games as was also captain for Team Manitoba at the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup last fall.

  This year, Conrad has 18 points in 16 games with Shattuck St. Mary's Prep Team in Minnesota and verbally committed to Western Michigan University in September.

  If Conrad eventually choose the WHL route, McCrimmon feels he can be an impact player.

  "He's an extremely skilled offensive player, and he also very competitive," said McCrimmon, "He's got grit and I think would be a great player in our league if that's the route that he chooses to go at some point."

  If Conrad ever reports to the Wheat Kings, Lethbridge would receive a fifth round pick in the 2016 Bantam Draft.

  Pilon, by the way, is expected to practice with the Wheat Kings on Sunday and make his Brandon debut on Tuesday when the club opens a four-game road trip in Swift Current.

  Here's my full interview with Kelly McCrimmon regarding the five-player trade with Lethbridge...

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