Through the first eight games of the 2019-20 Western Hockey League season, Everett Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson consistently said his team needed to add more offense to have any chance of being successful.
On Sunday, Davidson addressed that need in a big way.
The Silvertips acquired Montreal Canadiens prospect Cole Fonstad from the Prince Albert Raiders for center Reece Vitelli, a second-round bantam draft pick in 2021, a fourth-round pick in 2021 and a conditional third-round pick in 2022. The latter is contingent on Vitelli playing his overage season.
“I think I identified, even before the summer was out, that we might be a little shy on offense, which we started to see in the preseason and obviously the first eight games here. We’ve not scored enough goals,” Davidson said. “We’re still sitting at 5-3-0, which is a real positive. But (Fonstad) was available and has certainly driven offense there in Prince Albert on a good team. It’s hard to find those type of players, not very often are they available and we were able to make the deal happen.”
— The WHL (@TheWHL) October 13, 2019
Fonstad, a 2000-born forward, has point-per-game pedigree in the WHL. He finished last season with 73 points (29 goals, 44 assists) in 67 games with the Raiders, the league champions. Fonstad has nine points (two goals, seven assists) this season.
“He’s going to drive offense,” Davidson said. “He’s going to be a real important piece on our top couple of lines and he’s certainly going to be a factor on the power play as well.”
Entering Sunday, Everett was tied for the top spot in the U.S. Division with 10 points, but it hasn’t been because of a prolific offense. With just 21 goals in eight games — a 2.63-goals-per-game clip — Everett ranked 14th in the WHL.
Davidson said Fonstad can play center or on the left wing. A native of Estevan, Saskatchewan, Fonstad was taken by the Canadiens in the fifth round of the 2018 NHL Draft.
Vitelli, a 2001-born forward, was expected to take a huge jump for Everett this season and assume a top-six forward role. He goes to a team that’s taking a presumed step back after a Memorial Cup run last season. He’s scored three points, all assists, in eight games this season.
“Obviously when you make a deal happen like this, it can be costly, which it was,” Davidson said. “We gave up Reece, who was a good solid Silvertip player for the last couple of years and we had to throw in some picks as well.”
Prince Albert plays its bi-annual game in Everett on Saturday to begin its annual U.S. Division road trip.
As for the Silvertips moving forward, the trade seems to suggest Everett will be a buyer for the rest of the season, but Davidson wouldn’t speak in absolutes with the WHL trade deadline — Jan. 10 — still three months off.
“I don’t think we’re a buyer yet,” Davidson said. “I think what we were doing is to address a need within our group there. I’ve said from day one, we have to play a number of games to see where we fit in this league, but to have success, whatever that level of success is, we had to add some offense.”
Josh Horton covers the Silvertips for the Herald. Follow him on Twitter, @joshhortonEDH