Tips sign Cochrane, who won’t join team until March

EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips made a move toward securing their blue line for the future, announcing Tuesday the signing of 17-year-old defenseman Carter Cochrane to a Western Hockey League education contract.

Cochrane, a native of Kamloops, B.C., is currently playing for the Chilliwack Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League. He will finish out his season with the Chiefs, then is expected to join the Tips sometime in early March.

“He’ll be a big part of our program moving forward into 2014-15,” Everett general manager Garry Davidson said.

Cochrane, who stands 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, went unselected in the 2011 bantam draft. He was added to Everett’s 50-player protected list during his 15-year-old season, then was a standout during training camp in 2012. However, he didn’t attend training camp prior to this season because of his commitment to the Chiefs, putting his status within the organization into doubt.

Cochrane has had an outstanding season in Chilliwack. In 42 games he has 12 goals and 22 assists to lead the Chiefs in scoring, despite being a defenseman, as well as the second-youngest player on the team. His 12 goals ranked second in the league among defensemen.

“He’s an offensive defenseman who plays with a little bit of an edge,” Davidson said. “He has some character, some grit and some abrasiveness. But he’s scored 12 goals in the BCHL as a defenseman and plays on the power play. He’s probably a guy who, with (overager) Matt Pufahl moving along, next year will have a chance to get a piece of that (power play) role.

“Carter is someone I actually tried to sign in the offseason,” Davidson added. “He and his family decided his development would make more sense if he spent a year in the B.C. Hockey League. So he didn’t attend camp this year — he did two years ago and we liked what we saw. I went out and saw him again this year, started to talk to him and his agent and his family about the possibility of signing a contract and being a part of our program at some point. They looked very hard at it and agreed to sign the contract. He’ll join us as soon as his commitment to the Chilliwack Chiefs is finished.”

Davidson said the impending commitment from Cochrane also played a role in his willingness to deal 17-year-old defenseman Micheal Zipp to Calgary in exchange for winger Zane Jones at last week’s trade deadline. Cochrane will help to fill the age gap created by Zipp’s departure.

“It certainly was put into the equation,” Davidson said. “Prior to Jan. 10 I knew Carter was going to be a part of our program going forward, so certainly it was a part of our long-term planning in the ability to move Micheal and acquire someone we need.

“I think (Cochrane) is going to be a nice addition at the end of the year, but a very nice addition for our group next year.”

Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.

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