Over the past two weeks, the Raiders have made multiple moves while remaining unbeaten in regulation. First, the Raiders moved 20-year-old defenseman Max Martin to Kamloops for a second-round selection in this year’s bantam draft. The Raiders were forced to move a 20-year-old as the new captain of the Raiders, Zach Hayes, was returned from the San Diego Gulls. The pick gives the Raiders two second-round picks in this year’s draft. The trade also helps the Raiders rejuvenate their draft capital after losing their third-round pick in the Dante Hannoun deal last year.
Next, they acquired 18-year-old Daniil Stepanov from the Moose Jaw Warriors for a ninth-round selection in the 2023 bantam draft. The Raiders have seemed to take a liking to Belarusian players over the past couple years, starting with Sergei Sapego, then adding Aliaksei Protas last season. The Raiders also employ Belarusian-born but Colorado trained Ilya Usau, who has really opened eyes early in the season. Stepanov, Protas, and Usau all played together in the Under-18s for Belarus last season. All three should be on Team Belarus’s radar for their Division 1A world junior roster. In a correlating move, import pick Ivan Kechkin was placed on waivers and has since returned to Russia.
The Raiders then added 19-year-old goaltender Duncan McGovern from the Winnipeg ICE for an eighth-round pick in 2022. McGovern will remain with the Dauphin Kings in the MJHL but could be used as an injury replacement in the future. McGovern is the only goaltender signed outside of current Raiders Boston Bilous and Carter Serhyenko, who are entrenched as the Raiders top two netminders. Hours after acquiring McGovern, the Raiders traded recently reassigned Brett Balas to Spokane for a ninth-round selection in 2023.
Finally, the Raiders pulled off a blockbuster trade on Sunday, sending long-term mainstay Cole Fonstad to Everett for 18-year-old forward Reece Vitelli, a second-round and a fourth-round pick in 2021, and a conditional third-round selection in 2022. The deal came as a surprise to most as the Raiders are off to a torrid start, but they were able to stockpile some draft picks for potential future moves. The move leaves the Raiders with only two 2000-born players in Spencer Moe and Justin Nachbaur. That’s an area they should plan to improve over the next year as the Raiders are one of the youngest teams in the WHL.
In other news, it comes as no surprise that 16-year-old defender Nolan Allan was named to Canada’s 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge roster. Allan, who scored his first WHL goal on Saturday versus the Regina Pats, has looked like a very special player who should hear his named called early in the NHL draft next year.
In the latest NHL Central Scouting ranking, four Raiders were ranked. Kaiden Guhle was ranked as a potential first-round selection, and Ozzy Wiesblatt was ranked as a potential second- or third-round pick. Jakob Brook and Landon Kosior were ranked as potential fourth- to sixth- round selections. If Boston Bilous continues to play the way he was been playing early this season, I expect his name to be on the mid-term rankings.
After a successful homestand, the Raiders now begin the long trek to the U.S. Division for five games for the first time in two years. They enter the road trip as the third-ranked team in the CHL with a 7-0-2 record. They kick off the trip Saturday against Fonstad and the Everett Silvertips.