EVERETT — There are two teams against which Garrett Pilon has never scored in his WHL career.
One, of course, is the Kamloops Blazers, as Pilon spent his career thus far skating for Kamloops. He will get one chance to rectify that on Feb. 18.
Pilon is destined to end his career never scoring against the other. That’s because the only other team the newest Everett Silvertip has never scored against is the Silvertips.
“The team has always been a tough team to score against —that’s one of the biggest things I noticed coming down here,” said Pilon, who was acquired along with defenseman Ondrej Vala from Kamloops on Sunday. “It’s a good team to be on because you don’t have to get too many, you just have to score a couple.”
Pilon and Vala were both in town Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. puck drop against Tri-City at Angel of the Winds Arena.
The acquisition of both was a signal that the organization believes it can contend for the Western Conference title this season and comes right before Wednesday’s 2 p.m. WHL trade deadline.
POLL: What do you think of the Silvertips’ blockbuster trade to acquire forward Garrett Pilon and defenseman Ondrej Vala from Kamloops? Full context here: https://t.co/jXu3bA1cok
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) January 8, 2018
One reason the Tips brought in the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Pilon is his scoring ability. Pilon was leading the Blazers in goals (18), assists (26) and points (44) prior to the trade. He was a third-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the 2016 NHL draft and has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the team.
Pilon said he thought he might be traded, but he was surprised about the destination.
“I wasn’t expecting Everett,” he said. “I figured that something was in the works for me to be moved somewhere. I wasn’t sure it was going to be Everett, but once I heard it was Everett I guess it was a relief to stay in this conference so that’s good and there was a lot of excitement.”
Vala is a 6-foot-4, 210-pound defenseman from the Czech Republic who has a booming shot from the point and had seven goals and 13 assists in 31 games with Kamloops this season. He competed for the Czech team at the World Junior Championship each of the past two seasons. Vala has also signed an entry-level deal with the Dallas Stars.
“I was surprised,” Vala said. “I didn’t really expect that. I spent a couple years in Kamloops so it’s kind of hard for me. But I’m trying to move on and come in here and make a run to the playoffs.”
Both players have spent the prior two seasons with the Blazers. That means they faced their new teammates four times each previous season and three times this year. The Blazers, who acquired defenseman Montana Onyebuchi and forward Orrin Centazzo plus two picks and two prospects in the deal, visit Angel of the Winds Arena on Feb. 18 for the final time this season.
“I like the fans when I played here,” Vala said. “It’s a good crowd here so that makes me happy… It’s really tough to play against (the Tips). They really check and play defense. They can really block shots. That was tough to play against them. We never scored many goals against them.”
Added Pilon: “There’s tons of energy down here. That’s one thing whenever you come down to the states you know it’s going to be pretty loud down here.”
Vala skated alongside Wyatte Wylie at Tuesday’s practice, but it remains to be seen which pairing Vala will play with.
Pilon figures to center Everett’s second or third line. Riley Sutter has centered Everett’s second line this season, but missed all three games last weekend due to a lower-body injury. Sutter was a full participant on Tuesday’s practice.
“A 200-foot player — that’s one thing I want to be,” Pilon said. “I think sometimes I’m mostly there. But I think I have lots of offensive upside so that’s my role … more of an offensive player, so that’s what I want to bring here.”
Pilon will never score against the Everett Silvertips. But the Tips now hope he’ll tally plenty of goals at Angel of the Winds Arena.
For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.