Nikkel adjusts to life with Silvertips

EVERETT — Being traded always requires an adjustment. The player not only has to deal with off-ice changes, he has to get used to new coaches and a new way of playing.

In Ayrton Nikkel’s case, at least his new teammates are going through the same thing.

Nikkel is the newest member of the Everett Silvertips, having been acquired at last Thursday’s trade deadline. But because of Everett’s recent coaching change, which came just two days earlier, Nikkel has plenty of company when it comes to trying to figure things out on the ice.

“All the guys are in the same boat as me, getting used to a new coach, so I can kind of relate to them with that,” Nikkel said following Everett’s practice Monday afternoon at Comcast Arena. “It’s what everyone’s talking about.”

Nikkel, a rugged 17-year-old defenseman, was acquired by Everett in the deal that sent defenseman Nick Walters to the Brandon Wheat Kings. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder from Kelowna, B.C., arrived late Thursday evening, then was thrust straight into the lineup Friday night in Everett’s home game against Victoria.

“I thought he did fairly well for a fellow who hardly had a chance to put his skates on, let alone have a practice,” said Everett general manager Garry Davidson, who took over behind the bench after firing coach Mark Ferner last Tuesday. “I liked what I saw. He’s fairly mobile, he showed some good aggression. He has a few things he’s going to have to work on, as all these young guys do, but for the most part I thought it was a pretty good first weekend for him.”

Said Nikkel: “I played OK. I’m still trying to get used to some of the systems, and the guys were helping me out a lot, and so were the coaches. It’s going to take some getting used to, but so far it’s been a lot of fun.”

Nikkel is the latest building block added in Everett’s youth movement. The Tips already had one of the youngest teams in the league, and now Everett’s roster includes 12 players who are in their 17- or 16-year-old seasons.

Nikkel arrived with some measure of fanfare. He was originally a second-round pick in the 2010 bantam draft by the Saskatoon Blades, then he was one of the prize prospects included in the deal that sent superstar center Brayden Schenn from Brandon to Saskatoon at the 2011 trade deadline. He had a solid rookie campaign with the Wheat Kings last season, tallying three goals, seven assists and 72 penalty minutes in 59 games. Before this season began he was identified by the NHL Central Scouting Service as a player to watch for the upcoming NHL draft.

This season Nikkel had nine assists and 87 penalty minutes in 42 games for the Wheat Kings. But Nikkel said he was ready for a change.

“I was excited to get a fresh start here in Everett,” Nikkel said about his reaction to the trade. “I’ve heard nothing but good things about the organization, and I’m seeing that now.

“We were struggling a little bit (in Brandon),” Nikkel added. “The team morale over there was a little low. I figured a fresh start would be good for me. Being a little closer to home is nice as well.”

Nikkel had a positive first impression of his new team.

“I like it,” Nikkel said. “It’s a lot of fun here, a really good group of guys and a really nice city. All the facilities are top notch and the coaching staff is really good. I like the crowd here. It’s really upbeat and really loud, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Now he just wants to help the Silvertips in their drive to make the playoffs for the 10th straight season.

“I just want to help the team finish the season strong and hopefully make a playoff run,” Nikkel said about his goals for the remainder of the season. “Then hopefully I can go into the (NHL) draft and get my name called.”

Slap shots

Everett will be without defenseman Mirco Mueller for tonight’s home game against Tri-City. The 17-year-old defenseman departed Monday for Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he will participate in Wednesday’s CHL Top Prospects Game. Mueller just returned last week from the playing for Switzerland at the World Junior Hockey Championships. He’s expected to be back in time for the upcoming three-in-three weekend. … Tips winger Dawson Leedahl is nearing a return. Leedahl, who hasn’t played since Dec. 11 because of a knee injury, has rejoined practices, though he’s wearing a no-contact jersey. Davidson said Leedahl is ahead of schedule with his recovery and could return as soon as next week.

Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Marysville Pilchuck’s Christian Van Natta lifts the ball in the air to celebrate a turnover during the game against Marysville Getchell on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 29

Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 29: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Monroe’s Mason Davis (1) celebrates with Trent Bublitz (11) after Bublitz’s touchdown reception against Edmonds-Woodway on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, at Edmonds School District Stadium in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Reader poll: Make your picks for Week 6 prep football games

Do you think you can beat the experts in our weekly high… Continue reading

Who’s that frog? A local high school tennis player, that’s who

Arlington tennis player Robbie Balderas worked as AquaSox mascot Webbly this season, and the busy junior also runs a landscaping business.

Mountlake Terrace’s Zaveon Jones is pulled to the ground by a diving Nicholas Mouser of Monroe on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, at Monroe High School in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Swarming Monroe defense keys win over Terrace in Wesco 3A South showdown

The Bearcats slow down the Hawks’ potent ground game, and quarterback Blake Springer tosses three TDs in a 35-10 victory.

Arlington players lift the Stilly Cup in the air after beating Stanwood on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Arlington reclaims Stilly Cup after short hiatus, routs Stanwood 42-7

Leyton Martin registers 277 yards, 4 TDs as Eagles notch fifth straight game with at least six TDs.

Fall prep sports roundup.
Prep results for Saturday, Sept. 30

Prep results for Saturday, Sept. 30: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Marysville Pilchuck’s Dominik Kendrick (9) runs with the ball during a football game between Marysville Pilchuck and Stanwood at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. Marysville Pilchuck takes the win, 36-7. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Marysville Pilchuck proud of 4-0 start, but has loftier goals

The Tomahawks aren’t listening to the outside noise, including a No. 1 WIAA RPI ranking, as a tough stretch lies ahead.

Houston Astros relief pitcher Hector Neris (50) gestures to Seattle Mariners' Julio Rodríguez (44) after striking Rodríguez out to end the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
MLB investigating Astros pitcher’s alleged use of homophobic slur

The incident occurred during a heated exchange between Houston’s Hector Neris and M’s star Julio Rodriguez on Wednesday night.

Prep roundup for Friday, Sept. 29

Prep roundup for Friday, Sept. 29: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Most Read