The last couple of weeks since the roster freeze was lifted have been eventful. Lets take a look at what each team did over that span and where that sets them up for the rest of the season and beyond.
First, the Eastern Conference:
Brandon Wheat Kings 16-16-3-3-38 points. Six points out of the last wild card spot.
Outgoing: (D) Schael Higson (98) to Kelowna, (D) Chase Hartje (99) to Kootenay.
Incoming: (D) Braydyn Chizen (98) from Kelowna, Kelowna’s 5th round pick in 2019, Kootenay’s 3rd round pick in 2019.
Analysis: Easily one of the most puzzling teams to figure out over the prime trading period. They seemed to be selling again this season with the trading away of 19-year-old d-man Hartje on the deadline, but they held onto what had to be one of the biggest fish out there in 19-year-old star Stelio Mattheos. They were in a much better position standings-wise last season and decided to sell off Kale Clague and Tanner Kaspick. Why they held onto a player who could get a return similar to what they got for either of those two is anyone’s guess. If Mattheos does not come back as an overage and they miss the playoffs this season, not trading him will be a big missed opportunity.
Calgary Hitmen 20-16-3-1-44 points. In the second wild card spot, three points back of Medicine Hat for the first wild card and five points back of Edmonton for the three-seed in the Central.
Outgoing: (F) Bryce Bader (01) and a conditional sixth round pick to Prince Albert.
Incoming: (F) Quinn Olson (01) and a conditional sixth round pick from Prince Albert.
Analysis: The Hitmen seem primed for a run next season and didn’t impact that much at the deadline. I was expecting them to make a move for a goalie with Carl Stankowski sidelined, but rookie Jack McNaughton has been playing so well, they didn’t necessarily need to do that and can now get him playoff experience if Stankowski can’t go.
They get the rights to the unsigned Olson, a former sixth round pick by the Raiders. Olson, who is the younger brother of Tri-City’s Kyle Olson, has verbally committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth. If Calgary can get him to sign, this would be a big help for when they expect to need him more next season. Olson has 42 points in the AJHL so far this season.
Edmonton Oil Kings 21-14-4-3-49 points. In the third seed in the Central Division. Tied with Red Deer for the two-seed, but have played three more games. They are three points behind Lethbridge for first in the Central.
Outgoing: (F) Brett Kemp (00) to Medicine Hat, (G) Boston Bilous (01) to Prince Albert.
Incoming: (F) Josh Williams (01) from Medicine Hat, sixth round conditional pick in 2022 from Prince Albert.
Analysis: Getting Williams is one of the bigger moves that happened on deadline day. He was a key part of Canada’s U18 team that won gold over the summer and figured to be a 40-goal scorer this season or close to it. Williams has just nine goals though, despite possessing a ridiculous one-timer that would make any penalty kill cringe. He is primed for a breakout once placed in the right situation and that could very well be Edmonton, especially with Trey Fix-Wolansky passing him the puck, he leads the WHL in assists with 48.
They did have to give up Kemp who has 39 points in 40 games this season, but gain another year in Williams.
They had to deal a goalie with all three of Dylan Myskiw, Boston Bilous and Todd Scott around, so they moved Bilous over to the Raiders to slot in as Ian Scott’s backup.
Kootenay ICE 8-28-6-1-23 points. The ICE are 21 points out of the playoffs.
Outgoing: Third round pick in 2019 to Brandon, Ninth round pick in 2019 to Moose Jaw, (F) Cyle McNabb (00) to Saskatoon, (D) Dallas Hines (98) to Vancouver, (F) Blake Allan (01) to Regina, (F) Nick Bowman (00) to Tri-City.
Incoming: (D) Chase Hartje (99) from Brandon, (D) Brenden Kwiatkowski (00) from Moose Jaw, Cyle McNabb from Vancouver (and then out again), (F) Brandon Machado (00) from Saskatoon, (D) Marco Creta (00) from Regina, sixth round pick in 2021 from Tri-City.
Analysis: ICE bring in three defensemen who can all come back next season, improving their depth there. Their young stars in Payton Krebs and Connor McClennon will get plenty of playing time as the season winds to an end.
News of an impending move to Winnipeg will surely follow this team the rest of the 2018-19 campaign.
Lethbridge Hurricanes 22-10-4-4-52 points. The ‘Canes are three points up on Red Deer for the Central Division lead, they have played one more game than Red Deer.
Outgoing: Third round in 2019 to Regina, (G) Reece Klassen (99) to Spokane, (F) Keltie Jeri-Leon (00), (F) Michael Horon (01), fourth round in 2019 to Seattle.
Incoming: (F) Scott Mahovlich (99), eighth round pick in 2019 from Regina, seventh round pick in 2020 from Spokane, (G) Liam Hughes (99), eighth round pick in 2019 from Seattle.
Analysis: Adding Hughes was big for the ‘Canes who have experienced inconsistency in net so far this season. Hughes came right in and won two games last weekend. He is an upgrade in net for them and pairs well with the other 99s they brought in earlier this season.
Those 99s were Nick Henry and Jake Leschyshyn from Regina and possibly the two biggest traded assets out there.
Medicine Hat Tigers 22-16-1-2-47 points. The Tigers are two points behind Edmonton for the three-seed in the Central and three points ahead of the other wild card team, the Calgary Hitmen.
Outgoing: (F) Josh Williams (01) to Edmonton, (F) Henry Rybinski (01)
Incoming: (F) Brett Kemp (00) from Edmonton, unsigned (D) Aidan Brook (03), second round pick in 2019 and third round pick in 2020 from Seattle.
Analysis: Kemp is a key addition to the Tigers and vaults up to third on the team in scoring. He is a play maker who works well off the rush and that should fit nicely in Medicine Hat’s system. Losing both of their prized ’01 forwards, who showed tons of potential for them last season has to hurt. If they are able to get Brook in though, that cold take some of the sting out.
Moose Jaw Warriors 21-9-5-2-49 points. Moose Jaw is eight points behind Saskatoon for second in the East and 11 points ahead of Brandon for the three-seed.
Outgoing: (F) Tyler Smithies (00), fourth round 2020, fifth round in 2021 to Swift Current, seventh round in 2019, (D) Brenden Kwiatkowski (00) to Kootenay.
Incoming: (F) Alec Zawatsky (99) from Swift Current, (F) Carson Denomie (00) from Kamloops, ninth round pick in 2019 from Kootenay.
Analysis: The Warriors addressed their forward depth and went in as a bit of a buyer instead of a seller of players like Josh Brook like some may have expected. With the surprising season they have had so far and the memory of a lower-seeded team nearly taking them down in last season’s playoffs, they know that they could do the same thing this season. Zawatsky and Denomie could play roles in that upset.
Prince Albert Raiders 35-5-0-1-71 points. 14 points up on the Saskatoon Blades for the East Division lead.
Outgoing: Conditional sixth round pick in 2022 to Edmonton, eighth round pick in 2019 to Seattle, (F) Quinn Olson (01) and a conditional sixth round pick to Calgary, (F) Kody McDonald (98), (F) Carson Miller (00), third round in 2020 to Victoria.
Incoming: (G) Boston Bilous (01) from Edmonton, (D) Loeden Schaufler (00) from Seattle, (F) Bryce Bader (01) and a conditional sixth round pick from Calgary, (F) Dante Hannoun (98), fourth round in 2019, eighth round in 2019 from Victoria.
Analysis: The top-seeded Raiders snagged one of the biggest available overage players in Hannoun and then added some depth, replacing goalie Donovan Buskey with Bilous.
Hannoun is an elite play maker and is now tied for fifth in scoring on a team that has found plenty of producers. They didn’t need to do much, just look at their record.
Red Deer Rebels 23-13-2-1-31 points
Outgoing: Unsigned (D) Nicholas Draffin (01) to Vancouver.
Incoming: Seventh round pick in 2021.
Analysis: They kind of avoided the deadline rush and got their deals in early. The Rebels had already brought in Brett Davis and Cameron Hausinger from Kootenay and goaltending depth in the form of Eric Ward from Seattle.
Regina Pats 12-28-1-1-26 points. 18 points behind Calgary for the last playoff spot.
Outgoing: (F) Robbie Holmes (99) to Everett, (F) Jadon Joseph (99) to Vancouver, fifth round pick in 2021 and eighth round pick in 2019 to Spokane, (F) Scott Mahovlich (99), eighth round pick in 2019 to Lethbridge, (D) Marco Creta (00) to Kootenay.
Incoming: Unsigned (F) Sloan Stanick (03), second round pick in 2020 and sixth round pick in 2022 from Everett, second round pick in 2019, sixth round pick in 2020 from Vancouver, (D) Tyson Feist (01), 10th round in 2019 from Spokane, (F) Blake Allan (01) from Kootenay, third round pick in 2019 from Lethbridge.
Analysis: The sell off continued with Regina moving out three more 19-year-old forwards and bringing in more picks, a prospect and a couple 17-year-olds. They now have just two 1999-born players left to come back as overage players next season in Sebastian Streu and Austin Pratt. They seem to be trying to build up that ’01 group in hopes of being more of a contender for a playoff spot next seaosn. I like that they committed to a plan and stuck with it, getting assets for players who showcased their skills in the increased playing time since Henry and Leschyshyn were moved.
Saskatoon Blades 26-12-5-0-57 points. The Blades are 14 points behind Prince Albert for first and eight points ahead of Moose Jaw for second in the East Division.
Outgoing: (F) Josh Paterson (99), second round pick in 2020 and fourth round pick in 2021 to Portland, (F) Brandon Machado (00), fifth round pick in 2021 to Kootenay, (D) Seth Bafaro (00) to Vancouver, (F) Zach Ashton (01), fifth round in 2022 to Seattle.
Incoming: (F) Ryan Hughes (99) from Portland, (F) Cyle McNabb (00) from Kootenay, fifth round pick in 2021 from Vancouver, (D) Reece Harsch (99) from Seattle.
Analysis: The Blades got some talented play makers in Hughes and McNabb with Hughes being a high end scorer who could play with Kirby Dach and Max Gerlach on the Blades top line.
Saskatoon also gets Harsch, who has championship experience and can both shut down the opposition and provide offense from the back end.
Swift Current Broncos 8-29-2-1-19 points. 25 points out of the playoffs.
Outgoing: (F) Alec Zawatsky (99) to Moose Jaw, (G) Joel Hofer (00) to Portland, ninth round pick in 2021.
Incoming: (F) Tyler Smithies (00), fourth round 2020, fifth round in 2021 from Moose Jaw, first round pick in 2019, third round pick in 2019, second round pick in 2020, fourth round in 2020, fifth round pick in 2020, first round pick in 2021 from Portland, (F) Tyler Lees (00) from Victoria.
Analysis: Swift Current now has just three players who played any games in their playoff run last season in Tanner Nagel, Connor Horning and Ethan Regnier.
Talk about roster make over the @SCBroncos now only have three players left who played any games in their playoff run last season… Nagel, Horning and Regnier.
— Shawn Mullin (@shawnmullin) January 9, 2019
They get some pieces for Zawatsky after snagging him off the waiver wire in August and cash in on Hofer. Dean Brockman has done an excellent job of getting back picks considering they did not get 1999-born import Aleksi Heponiemi back this season to trade.