Tips acquire Zane Jones to add punch up front
Manraj Hayer cleared to resume skating
The Tips have long been searching for some additional offensive punch up front, and in Jones they're hoping they found it. Jones, a native of Olds, Alberta, is a big body (6-foot-3 and 209 pounds) who general manager Garry Davidson said possesses a good shot. Jones had 11 goals and 13 assists in 42 games with Calgary this season, and he had 21 goals and 23 assists in 69 games last season.
Davidson said the team is trying to get Jones to Everett in time for Friday night's game against Tri-City. However, that's complicated by the fact that Jones was with the Hitmen as they traveled to Regina today, and his passport was still in Calgary.
Secondary scoring has been an area of concern for Everett, especially with the entirety of the team's top line (Joshua Winquist, Manraj Hayer, Tyler Sandhu) out injured of late. Jujhar Khaira and Carson Stadnyk have picked up their production, but the Tips have had difficulty scoring goals lately. Davidson said he expects Jones to be a part of Everett's top six, and presumably he's a candidate to slot alongside Khaira and Stadnyk.
Jones attended training camp with the NHL's Minnesota Wild before the season, so it's a possibility he'll be playing professionally next season. Still, the deal was made with the thought Jones might serve as an overager for the Tips next season.
In return, the Tips were forced to part with Zipp. The Edmonton, Alberta, native was a fourth-round pick in the 2011 bantam draft, and he was in his second season with Everett. This season he had one assist in 23 games.
Davidson had nothing but glowing praise for Zipp, saying he was reluctant to part with a player who has the potential of becoming a solid stay-at-home defenseman in the WHL, as well as being a great character guy. But Zipp was stuck at No. 8 on Everett's defensive depth chart, and Davidson said the Hitmen were in the market for a defenseman.
Davidson also said he may not be done dealing. He said there was nothing specific in the works, but that the Tips would remain in play up to Friday's 11 a.m. PST deadline.
The other significant news of the day concerns Hayer. The overage center has been out since Dec. 11 because of a concussion. However, he was cleared to resume skating and apparently was back on the ice today. Hayer didn't take part in practice and he won't be playing this weekend. However, Davidson said he was hopeful Hayer could be back by next weekend.
Getting Hayer back, along with the addition of Jones, could provide a big boost for the Tips. Everett's in a rut, having lost nine of its last 11. But all of those losses were close games, and it wouldn't have taken much to turn the tide. Getting those two into the lineup could make the difference.
Finally, in all the commotion of the trade, I forgot to ask about the status of center Brayden Low, who was assessed a major penalty for checking to the head Wednesday night against Portland. There's nothing on the WHL website indicating a suspension, but given that Low was used as a fill-in defenseman during practice today, I'd say it's a good bet Low won't be in the lineup Friday.
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