It turns out the Tips had more in the works today than just the import draft.
Everett added a veteran presence on the blue line by acquiring defenseman Matt Pufahl along with a fifth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft from Saskatoon in exchange for defenseman Ayrton Nikkel.
Pufahl, a 6-foot-2 and 198-pound native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is heading into his 20-year-old season. He’s played three seasons in the WHL between Saskatoon and Red Deer. Last season he had six goals and 37 assists in 69 games with the Blades, doing most of his damage on the power play.
Nikkel’s stay in Everett proved a short one. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder from Kelowna, B.C., who’s heading into his 18-year-old season, was acquired at the Jan. 10 trade deadline from Brandon in exchange for defenseman Nick Walters. He appeared in just seven games before suffering a finger injury in a fight. He had no points and 30 penalty minutes in those seven games. He’s rejoining the team that took him in the second round of the 2010 bantam draft.
Well, if there was any doubt before, this indicates the rebuilding is over in Everett and it’s time to win now. Last season the Tips committed 100-percent to the youth movement. But Everett got two years older with this deal. It also balances out the ages of Everett’s defensemen, as the Tips had four 1995-born d-men prior to the trade.
What it does, however, is muddy Everett’s overager situation. The Tips seemed set for the coming season with forwards Joshua Winquist, Reid Petryk and Manraj Hayer as the three overagers. Now Everett has one too many. The deal serves as insurance in case Petryk, who’s attending development camp with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, earns a pro contract. But if that doesn’t happen, then the Tips will eventually have a decision to make. General manager Garry Davidson made it sound like he’s more inclined to go with two forwards and one defenseman as the overagers rather than three forwards.