So the trade deadline ended with the Silvertips just making the one deal. Everett acquired 17-year-old defenseman Ayrton Nikkel from the Brandon Wheat Kings, along with a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. In exchange, the Tips gave up 18-year-old defenseman Nick Walters and 16-year-old forward prospect Taylor Sanheim. The conditions of the draft pick are if Sanheim plays for Brandon.
In Walters, who spent the past two-and-a-half seasons in Everett, the Tips give up one of their high-profile players. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound native of St. Albert, Alberta, was selected eighth overall in the 2009 bantam draft. With Ryan Murray out for the season, Walters was the only remaining NHL draft pick on Everett’s roster, having been selected in the fourth round by the St. Louis Blues in 2012. This season he had one goal, nine assists and 70 penalty minutes in 35 games, and he was recently elevated to the rank of alternate captain.
For Nikkel it’s the second time he’s been moved at the trade deadline in three years, as he was part of the infamous trade that sent Brayden Schenn from Brandon to Saskatoon in 2011 when Nikkel was a 15-year-old prospect. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder from Kelowna, B.C., was a second-round pick in the 2010 bantam draft, being taken 42nd overall. He was listed as a “C” skater in the NHL Central Scouting Service’s preseason list for this year’s NHL draft, though he wasn’t among the top 25 WHL skaters in the preliminary rankings. He had no goals, nine assists and 87 penalty minutes in 42 games for Brandon, his second season with the Wheat Kings.
This is pretty much a like-for-like deal. Walters and Nikkel are about the same size, have about the same statistics, and are both willing to drop the gloves. Everett general manager Garry Davidson said he though Nikkel had a little more offense to his game. However, the primary difference is that Everett gets a year younger.
That’s where Sanheim comes in. Sanheim is a good prospect. He currently ranks fifth in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League in scoring with 45 points in 32 games, and he attended both prospects camp with Everett in June and training camp in August, so he wasn’t a holdout. However, Everett is heavy in 1996-born forwards. Four are already on the roster (Tyler Sandhu, Ty Mappin, Dawson Leedahl, Mitch Skapski) and a fifth is signed (Kyle Raymond). With Josh Blanchard now in the conversation as well, the Tips were logjammed in that age group. This also gives Sanheim the chance to play much closer to home.
Everett once again finds itself stacked with 17-year-old defensemen, as Nikkel joins Mirco Mueller, Austin Adam and Cole MacDonald on the roster. The 95-born d-men, along with the 96-born forwards, will be the heart of the team moving forward the next couple seasons.
On a personal note, I’m sad to see Walters go. He’s a personable guy, and from a media standpoint he was always an easy one to work with. I wish him all the best in Brandon.
While this is the trade that happened, almost as interesting is the one that didn’t. Davidson revealed that earlier in the week he had a deal worked out with Lethrbirdge for 17-year-old center Jay Merkley. Merkley was the third-overall pick in the 2010 bantam draft, and a talented 95-born forward would have been a good fit with the Tips. However, Davidson said Merkley’s family wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause for Everett, and later in the day Merkley was shipped to Swift Current for what was seemingly a cut-rate price. So Merkley joins the, “what might have been,” list.
There were just a handful of trades made at the deadline this year. Pretty much all of them involved Saskatoon or Brandon, with the Blades buying like crazy and Wheat Kings selling furiously.
In non-trade Silvertips news, Everett captain Ryan Murray today underwent successful surgery to repair the torn labrum in his shoulder. Murray, who suffered the injury Nov. 16 at Victoria, was originally scheduled to undergo the procedure in December, but had it put off. He’s scheduled to be back in Everett over the weekend.
Also, 17-year-old winger Logan Aasman has earned a spot on the team for the remainder of the season. Aasman was called up following the holiday break to help fill in for bodies missing because of injury and international duty. However, he showed enough — including scoring his first career WHL goal at Portland last Saturday — to convince the Tips to keep him around for the long haul.