The WHL trade deadline is a month away, but the wheeling and dealing has begun as teams either load up for a lengthy playoff run or sell off their veterans in an attempt to build for the future. The Kamloops Blazers were the first contender to make a big move, acquiring 19-year-old defenseman Joel Edmundson from the Moose Jaw Warriors.
The Blazers paid a high price for Edmundson and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. Kamloops gave up 18-year-old defenseman Tyler Bell, as well as 15-year-old prospect forward Jayden Halbgewachs and a first-round pick in 2015. Halbgewachs was Kamloops' first-round pick in this year's bantam draft.
In Edmundson the Blazers, who have the second-best record in the WHL, received a big, rugged, veteran defenseman who had two goals, six assists and 70 penalty minutes in 29 games with the Warriors. Edmundson was a second-round pick in the 2011 NHL draft by the St. Louis Blues.
"He's a veteran guy, a drafted player," Kamloops coach Guy Charron told the Kamloops Daily News about Edmundson. "We've added more experience at the back end.
"He's got a great shot," Charron added. "Right now we've experimented with everyone at the top end of the power play. so I'm sure he'll get an opportunity."
Now that the first domino has fallen, how soon before other contenders, including Memorial Cup host Saskatoon, try to answer? The trade deadline is Jan. 10, and there is a trade moratorium from Dec. 16-26 during the Christmas break.
Around the WHL
Two veteran players were forced to announce their retirements because of injuries. Prince George lost its captain when overage forward Brock Hirsche was forced to retire. Hirsche recently underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder, his second major shoulder surgery in the past two years. Meanwhile, Seattle lost 19-year-old forward Tyler Alos after doctors advised Alos not to return to the ice this season. Alos suffered multiple concussions during his career. ...Saskatoon subtracted and added to its defense. First the Blades dealt 17-year-old Brett Lernout to Swift Current in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. Then Saskatoon acquired 18-year-old Shane Gwinner from Prince Albert in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2014. Gwinner had been sent home by the Raiders to await a trade. ...Lethbridge's Jamien Yakubowski was named the WHL Player of the Week for the second straight week. The 18-year-old forward had six goals and three assists as the Hurricanes went 2-0-0-1. Yakubowski had a five-goal effort in an 8-7 shootout loss to Medicine Hat. ... Portland's Brendan Leipsic was named the WHL Player of the Month for November. The 18-year-old forward had nine goals and 21 assists in 12 games.
Points -- Colin Smith (Kamloops) 59; goals -- Josh Nicholls (Saskatoon), Todd Fiddler (Spokane), Smith 23; assists -- Smith 36; penalty minutes -- Jamien Yakubowski (Lethbridge) 87; wins -- Luke Siemens (Prince Albert) 20; goals against average -- Tristan Jarry (Edmonton) 1.62; save percentage -- Mac Carruth (Portland) .936.
Check out Nick Patterson's Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.
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