By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
The moment of truth has arrived for the Everett Silvertips and the rest of the Western Hockey League.
The trade deadline is set for 2 p.m. today, meaning this is the last chance for teams to upgrade their teams for a potential run at the WHL title.
And for the rebuilding Silvertips, who sport the league’s worst record, this could be an active day.
In the cyclical nature of the WHL, teams that aren’t contenders tend to deal their veterans to contenders at the trade deadline in order to amass assets for future seasons. Everett has never pulled the plug on the season in its nine years of existence. Is this the year that changes?
For Everett’s players, these are tense times.
“Whatever happens happens, it’s out of your control,” Everett captain Ryan Murray said following Sunday’s 5-3 loss to Spokane. “Nobody’s really talking about it right now.”
Everett has a handful of players who could generate interest from other teams.
By far the most desirable player Everett has is Murray. The 18-year-old defenseman is one of the league’s premier players, and since there’s a good chance that Murray will be playing in the NHL next season rather than returning to the WHL, there’s an argument to be made that the Tips should cash in. However, Everett general manager Doug Soetaert has stated categorically that he will not trade Murray.
Among Everett’s other veterans, perhaps the player who would generate the most interest is 20-year-old center Josh Birkholz. Birkholz is in the midst of a breakout season as he leads the Tips in scoring. His combination of speed and shooting ability could help a contender.
Everett already made one deal leading into the deadline, sending 19-year-old enforcer Jesse Mychan to Tri-City on Saturday in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. The Tips need to make at least one roster move as Everett is still one player over the 25-player limit.
As of Monday, there had been several trades completed in the run-up to the deadline, but none of the blockbusters one is accustomed to seeing. The most significant deals were when Moose Jaw acquired 20-year-old forward Cam Braes from Lethbridge for first- and second-round bantam picks, and when Kamloops picked up 20-year-old forward Brandon Herrod from Prince Albert in exchange for 17-year-old forward Logan McVeigh and a second-round pick.
Around the WHL
Edmonton added a potential impact player when the Oil Kings signed 17-year-old forward Henrik Samuelsson away from playing professionally in Sweden. Samuelsson doesn’t count as an import player because he was living in the U.S. when Edmonton added him to its 50-player protected list. … Red Deer released overage forward Josh Cowen in order to accommodate defenseman Aaron Borejko coming off the long-term injured list. Cowen is remaining with the Rebels in a coaching capacity. … Victoria’s Jesse Pauls announced his retirement from the team. The 19-year-old defenseman was forced into retirement because of chronic pain as the result of a broken leg. … Vancouver’s Brendan Gallagher was named the WHL Player of the Week. The 19-year-old forward had three goals and four assists in Vancouver’s 8-4 victory over Portland on Saturday. … Edmonton’s Michael St. Croix was named the WHL Player of the Month for December. The 18-year-old forward had 10 goals and 16 assists in 12 games.
Points—Ty Rattie (Portland) 73; goals—Rattie 37; assists—Jordan Weal (Regina) 44; penalty minutes—Cody Beach (Moose Jaw) 140; wins —Adam Morrison (Vancouver), Mac Carruth (Portland) 24; goals against average—Ty Rimmer (Tr-City) 1.85; save percentage—Rimmer .938.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.