EVERETT — Everett Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson said last month that he planned to buy – rather than sell – in the run-up to Wednesday’s WHL trade deadline.
He meant it.
On Sunday the Silvertips announced a blockbuster deal in which they acquired 1998-born center Garrett Pilon and 1998-born defenseman Ondrej Vala from the Kamloops Blazers.
In exchange Everett sent 2000-born forward Orrin Centazzo and 2000-born defenseman Montana Onyebuchi, the rights to 2002-born forwards Kalen Ukrainetz and Nathanael Hinds, along with first- and fourth-round picks in the 2019 bantam draft, to the Blazers.
“Just adding one piece didn’t make sense,” Davidson said. “So we added the two of them, and if we can add on to that we will… (but) those are some pretty good pieces going the other way.”
As they are still high school students both Onyebuchi and Centazzo had to waive their no-trade clauses.
Everett was thought by many to be in “selling” mode entering this season despite having arguably the league’s top goalie in Carter Hart, and perhaps the best overage trio in team history in defenseman Kevin Davis and forwards Matt Fonteyne and Patrick Bajkov.
The team’s success thus far implored Davidson to add pieces in search of a long playoff run. The Tips have reached the Western Conference semifinals three straight seasons, but have not advanced beyond since 2006.
Pilon, a native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and the son of former NHLer Rich, was a third-round pick of the Washington Capitals in the 2016 NHL draft. Pilon led Kamloops in goals (18), assists (26) and points (44) while playing in 30 games.
“Pilon is a real solid two-way, 200-foot player,” Davidson said.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Pilon’s statistics are below:
Everett’s depth at center was taxed before the season began when Brian King opted to retire for academic opportunities, and then during the season when rookies Ethan Browne and Mark Liwiski each were placed on the suspended list.
The Tips have now added two centers in the past week after acquiring Ethan O’Rouke from Prince George on New Year’s Day in exchange for Browne.
Back on the blue line, Vala is a 6-foot-4, 210-pound native of Kolin, Czech Republic, has seven goals, 13 assists in 31 games for the Blazers. He went undrafted in 2016, but has since signed an entry-level contract with the Dallas Stars.
“Vala is a big, strong player with international experience,” Davidson said. “He’s a quality player and has quality character from all indications.”
He has represented the Czech Republic each of the last years at the World Junior Championships and tallied an assist in seven games this year. His statistics are below:
Both Pilon and Vala would be eligible to return to Everett next season as overagers though their status as signed NHL prospects makes that somewhat unlikely.
Davidson certainly gave up plenty to acquire the new-found depth.
Onyebuchi is a bruising, 6-foot-3, 210-pound blueliner from Dugald, Manitoba, who had three goals and seven assists in 38 games this season. He was a third-round pick by Everett in the 2015 bantam draft and is eligible for the 2018 NHL draft. His statistics are below:
The diminutive Centazzo recovered from a broken collarbone that cut his rookie season short a year ago and had six goals and five assists in 40 games this year. The 5-foot-8, 160-pound native of Marwayne, Alberta, was a fifth-round pick by Everett in the 2015 bantam draft. His statistics are below:
Hinds is a 5-foot-10, 150-pounder from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who has 20 points in 27 games with the Winnipeg Bruins midget AAA team. He won a bronze medal with Team Manitobal in this year’s WHL cup and was a third-round pick by Everett in last year’s bantam draft.
Ukrainetz is a 5-foot-9, 145-pounder from Wynyard, Saskatchewan. He has 19 points in 28 games with the Tisdale Trojans. Ukrainetz was a ninth-round pick by Everett in last year’s bantam draft.
“Both of them came to camp and they both have good, positive futures ahead of them too,” Davidson said. “We’ve given up youth to make us older and more experienced.”
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