Matthew Wedman was traded to the Kelowna Rockets on Dec. 5. (Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds)

Matthew Wedman was traded to the Kelowna Rockets on Dec. 5. (Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds)

Rockets add size and strength via trade for T-Birds’ captain

Kelowna brings in Seattle's Matthew Wedman and trade away Leif Mattson

The brass for the Kelowna Rockets made another roster addition late Thursday night.

Ahead of the start of a six-game road trip, the Rockets traded away three future draft picks in acquisition of the Seattle Thunderbirds’ captain Matthew Wedman.

With the 2020 Memorial Cup coming closer on the calendar, Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton is hoping the numerous changes, including the recent addition of Jadon Joseph, will give the team what they need heading into the playoffs and the CHL championships.

“We feel that we’ve really strengthened our hockey club with Wedman and Joseph down the middle,” said Hamilton.

“(Wedman) is going to elevate our team in leadership and scoring. He’s the captain of the Thunderbirds, he brings leadership and a big physical presence. He scored 40 goals last season, we’re looking for him to add some offence to our team and help him pursue his career to become a pro player.”

This season, Wedman has six goals, 17 assists and 41 penalty minutes in 19 games.

Hamilton said they’ve been looking to add Wedman for the past month and knew that the cost would include multiple premier picks, but knew the cost would be worth it. The Rockets will send the T-Birds their 2023 first-round pick, 2022 second round pick and a 2020 fifth round pick.

READ MORE: Six games in 8 days: Rockets embark on Western Canada road trip

In result of the trade, Hamilton traded away long-time Rockets player Leif Mattson to make space for Wedman’s addition.

Mattson has been with Kelowna since 2016 and played 203 regular season games for the Rockets, racking up 61 goals and 94 assists. He was traded to the Spokane Chiefs in exchange for a third round pick at the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.

“Leif has been a great player for us, he competed hard and is a solid person,” said Hamilton.

“We’ve made a move that I think will be good for him, he’ll fit in well in Spokane. I think if there’s a place to go, this is a great place, he’s going to slot right into their top-six.”

The 20-year-old Wedman is coming off a career season last year with Seattle where he notched 40 goals and 37 assists in 66 games and was also part of the T-Birds’ 2015 WHL Championship team. The experienced, six-foot-three centre was drafted in the 7th round of the 2019 NHL Draft by the Florida Panthers.

Wedman will join the Rockets Friday night as Kelowna kicks off their road trip against the Prince Albert Raiders.

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