The Everett Silvertips acquired 2000-born goaltender Max Palaga from the Kamloops Blazers in exchange for a sixth-round bantam pick in 2020, the team announced Monday.
“We were able to agree to a deal with Kamloops there and we’re hoping we’ll get him to report this week and be one of our two guys moving forward, at least for the next little bit,” Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson said.
Palaga, 18, played in 17 games last season for the Blazers, posting a 3.71 goals allowed average and a .875 save percentage. He was reassigned to the Venom Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) at the start of this season. He’s recorded a 1.77 (GAA) and a .943 save percentage for the Vipers. Palaga didn’t make the team out of training camp, as Kamloops features overage netminder Dylan Ferguson, a Vegas Golden Knights prospect, and 16-year-old rookie Dylan Garand, who some view as a rising star.
Palaga deal allows Max to play back at WHL level. Gets an opportunity in Everett. With the goaltender duo of veteran Dylan Ferguson and rookie rising star Dylan Garand, Blazers pretty comfortable in the crease.
— Jon Keen (@JonKeenNLSports) October 29, 2018
The Kamloops native will slide in as Dustin Wolf’s backup, either for the remainder of the season or until 16-year-old goaltender Blake Lyda returns from an upper-body injury sustained during a morning skate before the Silvertips’ 5-3 win over Edmonton on Oct. 12. Initially, the Silvertips were optimistic Lyda would return in two to four weeks, but he will be out “at least another month,” Davidson said Monday.
The acquisition of Palaga provides Everett a seasoned backup behind Wolf, who has played every minute of Everett’s 15 games this year.
“As of right now, Mr. Wolf has been carrying the load and I’m sure he’ll continue to,” Davidson said. “But this guy here in Max Palaga is a someone that’s already played in a number of games in the league and he’s a year older than both Wolf and (No. 3 goalkeeper Danton) Belluk, so we feel comfortable that he can come and challenge for some minutes.”
Davidson said he’s not sure what will happen when Lyda returns and the Silvertips will address who sticks as Wolf’s backup when the time comes.
“It’s a short-term fix,” Davidson said of the trade. “I’m not sure what’s in store for the long-term.”
Belluk, who was recalled for the Silvertips’ Eastern Conference road trip after Lyda’s injury, was reassigned to his midget team, the Eastman Selects. He did not appear in a game while on the Silvertips’ roster.
“He needs to be playing somewhere,” Davidson said.
— Wolf was named the Western Hockey League’s goaltender of the week Monday after posting a 3-1 record in the final portion of Everett’s Eastern Conference road trip. The 17-year-old netminder posted a 1.00 goals allowed average in four games while stopping 93 of 97 shots, a .958 save percentage.
— Rookie defenseman Ronan Seeley and head coach Dennis Williams have departed for New Brunswick for the U-17 World Championships. Seeley is playing for Team Canada White and Williams will coach Team Canada Black during the tournament, which begins Saturday in Saint John and Quispamsis and ends Nov. 10. The Silvertips play four games during that span — at home against Tri-City on Friday, at Spokane on Saturday, at Kamloops on Nov. 9 and at Seattle on Nov. 10.
— After capping a six-game Eastern Conference road trip with three consecutive wins, Everett sits atop the U.S. Division standings with 20 points. Just five points separate Everett and from the division’s the last-place club, Portland.