By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
Everett Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson was faced with a difficult decision Thursday. He took the choice he believes helps the Tips become a better hockey team.
Everett shuffled its overagers at Thursday’s cutdown deadline, acquiring defenseman Connor Cox in the overager draft and releasing popular winger Cody Fowlie.
Thursday was the deadline for WHL teams to get down to the limit of three overagers. Everett already had three overagers in Fowlie, winger Ryan Harrison and defenseman Landon Oslanski. However, when Cox became available in the dispersal draft after being waived by Saskatoon, Davidson felt he had to make the upgrade. Fowlie ended up the odd-man out.
“I think Cox can bring something to the table and will help us in the short term,” Davidson said. “Subsequently, we had to drop someone and it ended up being Cody. That’s the hard part of it as Cody is a young man who is well respected by his teammates and the coaches. But in the end I felt we were getting an upgrade in our hockey program.”
Fowlie was not picked up by another team after he was released by Everett.
Cox, a 5-foot-10 and 185-pound native of Lethbridge, Alberta, is in his fifth season in the WHL, splitting the previous four between Saskatoon and Moose Jaw. Last season the puck-moving specialist had three goals and 38 assists in 65 games with Saskatoon, and this season he had three assists in seven games with the Blades.
Cox found himself squeezed out in Saskatoon when the Blades traded for winger Adam Kambeitz from Red Deer to be the team’s third overager. Cox was placed on waivers earlier this week when the Blades were unable to trade him. Everett, because it has the second-worst record in the league, had the second pick in Thursday’s overager draft. Kootenay, with the first pick, decided not to use its pick. That gave the Tips the opportunity to pick Cox. After a couple hours of consideration Davidson decided to pull the trigger.
“He’s a puck-moving defenseman who makes very good decisions with the puck,” Davidson said of Cox. “He’ll help us get the puck out of our own end and he can contribute on the power play.
“I don’t think you can have enough of that element,” Davidson added. “It was something both (Everett coach) Mark Ferner and I discussed today. There’s always a shortage of quality defensemen, he was sitting there, so we decided to grab him.”
Fowlie, a 6-foot and 205-pound native of Airdrie, Alberta, spent the past two-plus seasons with the Tips. Last season he appeared in all 72 of Everett’s games, notching 14 goals and 26 assists. This season he had two assists in seven games.
“I think it comes down to what a player can contribute,” Davidson said about why Fowlie ended up the odd-man out. “It’s difficult because he’s a quality person with a good work ethic and a good character. He was well-regarded by everyone. The toughest part of this business is making decisions where you have to eliminate someone who everyone views as a positive.”
The swapping out of a forward for a defenseman leaves Everett with 13 forwards and nine defensemen, which makes the Tips a tad heavy at the back. The crowding is somewhat mitigated by Austin Adam’s broken hand, which will keep him out another month. Also, captain Ryan Murray is expected to move on to the NHL once the NHL work stoppage ends.
“If all nine are healthy and playing then we probably have too many,” Davidson said. “But we’re concerned with how long Ryan will be with us, and Austin Adam is still out for a few weeks. So with that, along with seeing a good player available, we figured we’d use our option.”
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.