It was an active day for the Swift Current Broncos as they made a massive trade with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and then a smaller trade with the Calgary Hitmen to add some grit to the offence.
Skinner was traded to the Swift Current Broncos from the Lethbridge Hurricanes. This 19 year old goalie from Alberta is 205 lbs, and stands 6’3” tall. In 2013, he went from the SSAC Lions Bantam AAA to Lethbridge and has spent his entire career there until now. He was ranked number five by the NHL Central Scouting in 2017 and played in the Canada/Russia series this season. Skinner has a record of 14-15-2 with Lethbridge this year and a 3.38 GAA. His save percentage was 0.879 in 31 games. During playoffs last year, Skinner played 20 games with a GAA of 3.09 and a save percentage of 0.916. In 2017, the Edmonton Oilers drafted him, which tells us that he has the potential to make the professional hockey ranks. He’s a seasoned goalie who has a good potential to carry Swift Current through the playoffs with a talented team in front of him.
Estephan, a six-foot, 20 year old center was also traded from the Hurricanes. Drafted into the WHL in 2012, 4th overall, he was then drafted by the NHL Buffalo Sabres in 2015. That year, he had a taste of the AHL when he played six games for the Rochester Americans and notched a goal during his time there. Last season, with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Estephan garnered 89 points (35 goals and 54 assist) in 68 games played. In playoffs, he earned 24 points in 18 games. This talented forward is a play-maker with tons of potential to make an appearance in the NHL sooner rather than later. Not only is he a skilled skater, but his leadership qualities will only add to the already burgeoning offensive capacity on the Swift Current Broncos.
Nagel was another acquisition for Swift Current. This 19 year old from Mossbank, Saskatchewan has been a powerful force since he started playing with the Hurricanes in 2016. This year, he played 35 games and served 40 penalty minutes. Last season in Lethbridge, he played 72 games, earned ten goals, six assists, and 88 penalty minutes. It seems that the Swift Current Broncos have added some much-needed grit to the right-wing.
The Broncos didn’t just trade with Lethbridge today. They also added more grit to the front line with the acquisition of Andrew Fyten from the Calgary Hitmen. This 6’1” rugged right-wing was drafted by the Everett Silvertips in 2013 but didn’t play for them. Instead, he was traded to the Calgary Hitmen in 2015 and, last season, logged 63 games, six goals, six assists, and 75 penalty minutes. In four playoff games he earned another ten penalty minutes and two more points. His notable moment this season was in November when he went head to head against his now-teammate, Tanner Nagel.
With Andrew Fyten and Tanner Nagel in the lineup, Swift Current has gone back to old-school hockey, adding grit and truculence on the front lines to help protect the offensive skills of other players. As an added bonus for the Broncos, these two players can also score, adding to the powerful front lines. Swift Current now has a stacked offensive team and will be a force to reckon with during the rest of the season and throughout playoffs.
Involved in the trade with the Calgary Hitmen is Ethan Martini. The Hitmen have exchanged older grit in Andrew Fyten for younger grit. Martini is a 17 year old, 6’6” solid defence man from Trail, British Columbia who plays for his hometown team, the Trail Smoke Eaters. He was drafted by the Broncos in 2015 but has not played with them. Along with Martini, a conditional third-round draft pick in 2020 was also exchanged. The conditions on the 2020 pick depend on whether or not Martini signs a WHL contract.
Drafted in 2013 by the Swift Current Broncos, Matthew Stanley, the 19 year old defenceman from Manitoba, has been sent to the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Last season, Stanley played in 51 games and notched 1 assist among his 50 penalty minutes. This season, he earned four helpers and 40 penalty minutes. He’s a hard-hitting defender with a little bit of playoff experience.
Also with a few penalty minutes is Owen Blocker, the 17 year old forward that was drafted by Swift Current in 2015. In 44 games last year, Blocker spent 19 minutes in the penalty box and has already seen 20 minutes in 27 games so far this season with the Broncos. He has the potential to become a solid offensive threat to any team he plays for.
Much to the surprise of many Swift Current Bronco fans, Logan Barlage was also sent to the Lethbridge Hurricanes. This 16 year old center from Humboldt, Saskatchewan was drafted fourth overall by the Broncos in 2016. His scoring prowess and good skating skills made him an asset to the Swift Current team this season and he has the potential to become a well-rounded, impact player in the near future.
The trade that shocked me the most was Logan Flodell being included in the blockbuster trade with the Hurricanes. This 20 year old goalie with lots of WHL experience has been a stable acquisition since moving from the Saskatoon Blades to Swift Current this season. Since being drafted by the Seattle Thunderbirds in 2012, his stats have gotten progressively better with each passing season, these last two years being some of his best. In 35 games with the Swift Current Broncos, Flodell notched a 3.07 GAA and a save percentage of 0.913.
Included in this blockbuster trade were a few draft picks. Lethbridge has acquired a 1st round and 3rd round pick in the 2020 draft and a conditional 2nd round pick in the 2021 draft.
It’s been a pleasure watching the likes of Stanley, Blocker, Barlage, and Flodell this season with the Swift Current Broncos and I wish them all the best in their futures. It’s never easy to see players leave because we, as fans, get attached in such a small market. These guys have been a huge part of our community, our schools, and our events. They have never shy away from fans when approached. And they have helped the Swift Current Broncos become what they are today. I want to say a sincere thank you to all those players who are moving on.
As well, you can see what head coach and GM, Manny Viveiros, had to say about the trades on the WHL Swift Current Broncos website in this video by Ryan Switzer.
We all know that this year has been full of steep prices and big names thrown into the ring, but Swift Current has been able to beef up their offence while still maintaining a solid defensive core. It was a surprising move that had many fans of the WHL wide-eyed and stunned in response. The prices are not cheap this season, as was evident in the biggest move so far before the deadline. And Swift Current has made moves in the past few days as well as the past few months to acquire what I believe is a powerhouse of a team.
As the clock winds down on the 2018 WHL Trade Deadline, I’ll keep you updated if any more moves are made regarding the Swift Current Broncos.