Everett’s Olen Zellweger against the Portland Winterhawks at the Angel of the Winds Arena on January 1, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Everett’s Olen Zellweger against the Portland Winterhawks at the Angel of the Winds Arena on January 1, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Tips blockbuster: Everett deals Zellweger, Hofer to Kamloops

The Silvertips received a gigantic haul that includes four players and 10 draft picks.

EVERETT — The Olen Zellweger era is over in Everett. But the Everett Silvertips received an enormous haul in exchange for arguably their two best players.

With Tuesday’s WHL deadline looming, the Tips executed the biggest trade in the franchise’s 20 years, sending reigning WHL Defenseman of the Year Olen Zellweger and star two-way center Ryan Hofer to the Kamloops Blazers for a package that included four players and 10 WHL prospects draft picks, four of which are first rounders.

Everett, sitting at .500 and with the CHL’s top-ranked team in its division in the Seattle Thunderbirds, elected to be a seller at the trade deadline. It’s the first time in franchise history the Tips, who have made the playoffs in every season of their existence, have been a true deadline seller.

The full trade saw the 19-year-old Zellweger and 20-year-old Hofer sent to Kamloops in exchange for two roster players in 20-year-old forward Drew Englot and 17-year-old defemsemen Kaden Hammell; two prospects in 17-year-old defenseman Rylan Pearce and 15-year-old forward Jack Bakker; and 10 draft picks: first rounders in 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026, a second rounder in 2023, a third rounder in 2025, a fourth rounder in 2023, a fifth rounder in 2024 and a sixth rounder in 2026. It also includes a conditional second rounder in 2026.

The trade is among the biggest in WHL history. Kamloops, which is in first place in the B.C. Division, had additional motivation to upgrade its team as the Blazers are hosting this year’s Memorial Cup and therefore are an automatic qualifier for the CHL championship tournament.

“It was a very tough decision to part with Olen and Ryan as players who we’ve coached and developed from day one here in Everett,” Everett general manager Dennis Williams said in a press release. “At the end of the day, we’re able to bring in players with valuable experience and good battle level in Drew and Kaden while putting us in a good position to grow and compete as an organization for the next few years.”

Zellweger is one of the greatest players in Everett franchise history. The 5-foot-10, 182-pound Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, native was a second-round pick in the 2018 prospects draft, and he was a standout from the moment he arrived as a 16-year-old rookie in 2019. In 148 games with the Tips he racked up 28 goals and 103 assists, and he became the first Everett player to win the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy as the WHL Defenseman of the Year after tallying 14 goals and 64 assists in 55 games last season. This season he had 10 goals and 18 assists in 23 games with Everett, and he just helped Canada win the gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships, the second time he claimed World Juniors gold. He was selected in the second round of the 2021 NHL draft by the Anaheim Ducks.

While Zellweger is the headliner of the deal, Hofer is no throw-in. The 6-foot-3, 192-pound Winnipeg, Manitoba, native, who was added to Everett’s protected list as an undrafted player in 2020, had 54 goals and 49 assists in 125 games over three seasons wth the Tips. This season he had 23 goals and 13 assists in 36 games while also being a top defensive forward. He was taken in the sixth round of the 2022 NHL draft by the Washington Capitals.

Englot, a native of Candiac, Saskatchewan, is in his fourth season in the WHL. In 34 games this season the 6-foot-2, 198-pounder has three goals and 11 assists.

Hammell, a native of Langley, B.C., was a first-round pick in the 2020 prospects draft. This year the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder has six goals and four assists in 36 games. He was rated by NHL Central Scouting as a “B” prospect for the 2023 NHL draft.

Pearce, a native of Martensville, Saskatchewan, was a fourth-round pick in 2020 who appeared in eight games with the Blazers at the start of the season, registering two assists before being reassigned. The 5-foot-9, 165-pounder has played in four games with the Flin Flon Bombers of the SJHL without scoring.

Baker, from White Rock, B.C., was a third-round pick in the 2022 prospects draft. This season with the Delta Hockey Academy’s under-18 team the 5-foot-11, 155-pounder has 11 goals and four assists in 13 games.

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