The Wheat Kings send 20-year old import Rihards Bukarts to the Winterhawks in exchange for a pair of third round picks in upcoming WHL Bantam Drafts.
The deal alleviates a potential 20-year old glut for Brandon when Tim McGauley returned from injured reserve next month.
McGauley will join defencemen Colton Waltz and Macoy Erkamps as Brandon’s three 20-year old players for the rest of this season.
“Tim is a ways away still...the timing of the trade was based on just where it was at between two teams. Portland had an open 20-year old spot and if they weren’t going to acquire Rihards, then they were going to acquire another 20-year old,” said Brandon GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon, “Waiting put us at risk of running out of partners in order to make a deal...when we looked at it, it’s a good spot for Rihards, the return was fair. The timing maybe wasn’t perfect for us but, all things considered, this was the right time to do the deal.”
Bukarts had 66 goals and 137 points in 137 career games with the Wheat Kings over the last two-plus seasons and joins fellow Latvian Rodrigo Abols on the Portland roster.
From the Brandon standpoint, the two third round picks are the same return the Wheat Kings got a year ago when they shipped then 20-year old import Richard Nejezchleb to the Tri-City Americans.
“It gives us an asset to put into a deal, if we choose. If that doesn’t happen, it’ll strengthen our position at the draft,” said McCrimmon, “I think there’s great value in two third round draft picks.”
The Wheat Kings are ensured of a third round pick in 2017 (the third one the club holds), while the second third round pick is a conditional one for either 2016 or 2018.
Bukarts is expected to make his Portland debut Friday night when the Winterhawks visit the Everett Silvertips.
Brandon, meanwhile, will continue their eight-game road trip by visiting the Kootenay Ice on Friday (7:30 p.m., 880 CKLQ).