Portland’s Gabe Klaassen scores a goal past Everett’s Koen MacInnes during a game at the Angel of the Winds Arena on Jan. 1, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Portland’s Gabe Klaassen scores a goal past Everett’s Koen MacInnes during a game at the Angel of the Winds Arena on Jan. 1, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Silvertips stand pat at WHL trade deadline

Western Conference-leading Everett decided not to make any moves and will go forward with its current pieces.

EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips like what they have.

The WHL trade deadline came and went Monday, and the Western Conference-leading Tips decided to stand pat.

Everett, coming off a 3-1 week, sits atop the conference at 26-7-2-2, eleven points ahead of B.C. Division leader Kamloops (which has three games in hand) and 12 points ahead of U.S. Division rival Seattle (which has four games in hand). Therefore, the Tips profiled as a team that might be a buyer at the trade deadline.

However, Williams is happy with the way the team has developed over the course of the season, particularly on the offensive end as Everett now ranks second in the league in goals (158) and has seven players scoring at a point-per-game pace or better. Add in the concerns about whether the coronavirus pandemic could impact the postseason, as well as a limited amount of trade resources, and Williams elected not to reinforce the roster.

“We tried to go down a couple roads, but it didn’t line up for us,” Williams said. “It wasn’t just about making a move, it was about making the right move. If you look at where we have come since the beginning of the year, we have a team that I’m really proud of. I feel really good and optimistic as we move forward, and now we can just play.

“I’ve said all along that you want to try and make your moves earlier in the year so you can work with those players and develop them into the culture,” Williams added. “If you look at (Alex) Swetlikoff, (Jonny) Lambos, (Koen) MacInnes (who were all acquired in the offseason), those were just as important as any trade deadline moves.”

This was Williams’ first time handling the trade deadline in his dual role — Williams had been Everett’s head coach, and he added the general-manager duties during the offseason when the Tips chose not to renew then-GM Garry Davidson’s contract. Therefore, it was delicate balance between the coach’s instinct to win immediately, versus the general manager’s need to look at the long term.

“It’s a juggling act and you can’t let your emotions sneak in,” Williams said. “It would be easy Saturday night to be upset after the Seattle game (a 5-1 loss in Kent in which the Tips were thoroughly outplayed) and think that the trade deadline is 48 hours away and we have to do this and that. Then you wake up the next day and realize it’s not as bad as you thought.”

It was a relatively quiet trade deadline across the league, with none of Everett’s direct rivals making upgrades, either. Indeed, the impact players who were traded — most notably Vancouver forward Justin Sourdif (to Edmonton) and Kamloops forward Josh Pillar (to Saskatoon because of a private medical situation) — tended to move out of the Western Conference and to the Eastern Conference. The most active teams in upgrading their rosters were Eastern Conference heavies Edmonton and Winnipeg (adding depth in the form of forward Chase Wheatcroft from Lethbridge and defenseman Tanner Brown from Vancouver), which have been involved in an arms race all season long.

Three stars of the week

Third star: Ryan Hofer. The 19-year-old center appeared in three of Everett’s four games and scored four goals, including his first WHL hat trick in Sunday’s 6-3 home victory over Tri-City.

Second star: Ronan Seeley. The 19-year-old defenseman registered two goals and four assists in the four contests, including a four-point night in Wednesday’s 6-2 home victory over the Americans.

First star: Jacob Wright. The 19-year-old winger had four goals and one assist across the four games. He now has eight goals and six assists over his past nine games, emerging as yet another scoring option.

The week ahead

The Tips get a chance to catch their breath as they have their first two-game week since early November. Both games are against B.C. Division foes as Everett welcomes Kelowna (18-10-1-3) to Angel of the Winds Arena on Saturday, then hops on the ferry to face Victoria (12-16-4-0) on Sunday.

This begins a lighter part of the schedule for Everett, as the Tips don’t have a weeknight game for more than a month, and Everett has only one three-in-three weekend during that stretch. Everett still has three postponed games to make up, so it’s possible these next few weeks will provide the opportunity to squeeze those into the schedule.

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