The WHL trade deadline drops at 2 p.m. Thursday, and once again the Everett Silvertips find themselves in the market to buy. Everett headed into Wednesday night’s game at Kelowna at 31-8-1-1 and in first place in the Western Conference. However, the Tips can still use another top-six forward, preferably a center, and with second-place Portland making a big splash for goaltender Joel Hofer on Wednesday morning, Everett general manager Garry Davidson may feel greater impetus to get something done.
Somewhat lost in the intrigue of the trade deadline, however, is Everett’s remarkable track record of being a buyer. In the WHL teams tend to buy when they feel they can contend, trading future assets for players who can help now, then sell when they feel they can’t contend, recouping some of the assets they lost when they were buyers. It makes life in the league cyclical.
But that hasn’t been the case for Everett, at least in recent years. This is the fifth straight season the Tips have been significant buyers, executing deals to acquire impact players that involved surrendering major assets. Here’s Everett’s biggest deal (so far) from each of the past five seasons:
The deal: Everett acquired 19-year-old forward Nikita Scherbak from Saskatoon in exchange for 17-year-old goaltender Nik Amundrud, a first-round bantam pick in 2015 (forward Chase Wouters) and a second-round bantam pick in 2016 (forward Lukas Svejkovsky to Vancouver).
The impact: This deal happened at the beginning of the year, meaning the Tips received a full season of Scherbak. Scherbak led Everett in scoring with 82 points in 65 games, and the Tips won a shock U.S. Division title and their first playoff series in eight years. Wouters is a solid player for the Blades, and Svejkovsky is a promising young player for the Giants.
The deal: Everett acquired 19-year-old defenseman Brycen Martin and a third-round bantam pick in 2017 (forward Nathanael Hinds) from Saskatoon in exchange for 16-year-old prospect defenseman Jantzen Leslie (who was a former first-round bantam pick) and a second-round bantam pick in 2017 (defenseman Kurtis Smythe).
The impact: Martin’s acquisition didn’t really change Everett’s fate as the Tips, who were surprisingly in first place in the division much of the season, faded to second and were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. Martin had 13 points in 41 games with Everett. Leslie had an indifferent time in Saskatoon and later Edmonton and chose not to return to the league as a 19-year-old. Hinds and Smythe are 16-year-olds who have yet to crack the WHL.
The deal: Everett acquired 20-year-old defenseman Aaron Irving from Edmonton in exchange for 20-year-old forward Graham Millar, 16-year-old forward Brett Kemp and a first-round bantam pick in 2018 (defenseman Keegan Slaney).
The impact: Irving (15 points in 32 games) helped Everett hold off Seattle to win another division title. However, it was a hefty price for half a season of an overage defenseman. The T-birds swept the Tips when the teams met in the second round of the playoffs, and you can bet Everett wishes it had Kemp available as a productive 18-year-old second-line center right now.
The deal: Everett acquired 19-year-old forward Garrett Pilon and 19-year-old defenseman Ondrej Vala from Kamloops in exchange for 17-year-old forward Orrin Centazzo, 17-year-old defenseman Montana Onyebuchi, 15-year-old prospect forwards Nathanael Hinds and Kalen Ukrainetz, a first-round bantam pick in 2019 and a fourth-round bantam pick in 2019.
The impact: Everett’s contribution to 2018’s crazy trade deadline accomplished its purpose as Pilon (36 points in 30 games) and Vala (eight points in 28 games) put the Tips over the top for winning their third division title in four years and claiming their first conference championship since 2004. Kamloops is likely happy with the deal as well as Centazzo and Onyebuchi are productive members of the team, though Hinds and Ukrainetz are not on the team as 16-year-olds this season.
The deal: Everett received 20-year-old forward Zack Andrusiak from Seattle in exchange for 20-year-old forward Sean Richards, 16-year-old prospect forward Brendan Williamson (or a fourth-round bantam pick in 2022 if Williamson never signs), a second-round bantam pick in 2019 and a third-round bantam pick in 2021.
The impact: The effects of this trade are yet to be determined, but the Tips are hoping it gave Everett the additional elite goal scorer it needed. Seattle immediately turned around and sent what was essentially the same package it received from Everett (second- and third-round bantam picks along with a prospect forward) to Medicine Hat for 17-year-old forward Henrik Rybinski.