Blazers make big trade
It's a trade that screams, "We want to win now!"
The Kamloops Blazers have acquired 19-year-old defenceman Joel Edmundson from the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for Tyler Bell, 18, and Jayden Halbgewachs, 15, the Blazers' first-round pick in the 2012 WHL bantam draft. The teams also exchanged draft picks, with the Blazers giving up a first-round selection in 2015 in return for a fourth-rounder in the same draft.
"We feel like we have as good a chance as anybody to have success this year," Blazer GM Craig Bonner told KTW.
"When we found out [injured Columbus Blue Jackets' blue-liner Austin Madaisky] wasn't coming back, we knew we needed to add a defenceman.
"We felt Joel was the best guy available in the market and we went after him.
"He's a big, tough, physical defenceman who plays both sides of the puck really good."
Edmundson was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the second round of the 2011 NHL draft.
The 6-foot-4, 208-pound rearguard has two goals, eight points and 70 penalty minutes this season.
He was minus-11 after 31 games with the Warriors, who are tied for second in the East Division with an 11-13-3-4 record.
Kamloops had to give up a lot to get what it wanted.
Halbgewachs registered 55 goals and 89 points in 24 games with the Prairie Storm of the Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League before the Blue and Orange drafted him 19th overall earlier this year.
"You never want to give up your first-round pick, but the emergence of Jesse Shynkaruk (Saskatoon Contacts, Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League), Mitchell Lipon (Regina Pat Canadians, SMHL), JC's younger brother, and Tyson McLellan (under-16 San Jose), we felt we have enough undersize forwards that could come in and play," Bonner said.
"Did we want to move Halbgewachs? No, but that was the price we had to pay to get the deal done."
In Bell, the Blazers traded away one of their brightest young defencemen.
He was the piece of the puzzle other teams could not offer Moose Jaw, Bonner said.
"Moving Bell is probably what enabled us to get the deal done."
On Oct. 31, the Vancouver Giants traded defenceman David Musil, 19, to the Edmonton Oil Kings in exchange for 17-year-old blueliner Mason Geertsen and a 2013 first-round bantam selection.
"The price was set in the Musil deal," Bonner said. "And, bringing in another D-man, we were going to have to move a defenceman out."
The Blazers have 24 players on their roster — two goaltenders, eight defencemen and 14 forwards.
Kamloops (22-7-1-2) sits tied with the Portland Winterhawks (23-4-1-0) atop the WHL standings.