After Christmas, a couple of items remained on the Kamloops Blazers’ wishlist. The team had a roster chock-full of skill but lacking in the size department. The team needed a well-rounded right defenceman capable of top-four minutes, a bigger forward that can play in the heavy matchups while also keeping up with the skill guys, and some experience. The Blazers addressed these needs with some low-risk moves.
Tyler Carpendale (LW, Seattle) for Conditional 2020 third-round pick
Carpendale has been sidelined all season with a shoulder injury but is aiming to return in the next month or so. The 6-foot-4, 19-year-old winger is a capable bottom-six winger that will complement the young forwards well. While the conditions are currently unknown, they must be tied to the number of games in which he is able to suit up and contribute.
Given the plethora of skilled forwards on the team and the performances of the 2003-born group, the Blazers had the ability to move out a skill guy to round out their backend. It is difficult for teams to move on from their imports, but the Blazers likely wanted to send Lang somewhere he would get more opportunities.
Zabransky brings a little bit of everything to the Blazers. The 19-year-old Czech captained the host Czech Republic at this past World Juniors. Libor brings a little bit of everything to the Blazers backend as a competent two-way player with experience and leadership. The Blazers will largely be able to roll three consistent pairings the rest of the way with this addition. Zabransky split time last season with the Fargo Force (USHL) and the Kelowna Rockets before being released by Kelowna. Look for Libor to leverage his learnings from the defence factory in the Okanagan and his determination to prove the Rockets wrong, especially if the two teams meet in the playoffs.
Brett Balas (G, Spokane) for 2021 ninth-round pick
The Blazers acquired the 2001-born goaltender as an insurance policy should they need to call up a goaltender.
Luke Rybinski for 2020 sixth-round pick (Medicine Hat)
To make room for Carpendale, the Blazers moved out prospect Luke Rybinski for a pick in this year’s draft. Rybinski is a defenceman with St. George’s Midget Prep team in the CSSHL and had a solid showing during Blazers training camp. The 6-foot-3 defenceman has shown potential to be a WHL player given his two-way play and adequate mobility. The Blazers’ previous regime selected Luke Rybinski in the seventh round of the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.
The Blazers are largely happy with their young and talented core. The club managed to add complementary pieces to bolster the lineup without spending much in the way of draft capital. The Blazers take on the Kelowna Rockets tonight in the first game of a doubleheader.