Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter paid a steep price but is confident he landed a blue-chip defenceman Sunday.
“He’s a player we’ve had our eyes on for well over a year now, and yet we knew there would be a price,” said Sutter, after sending forward Mason McCarty and first- and second-round draft picks to the Saskatoon Blades in exchange for defenceman Nelson Nogier and forward Austin Adamson, both 18.
“Those are the stakes in poker. It takes a first-round and a second-round pick to get a player like that.”
The Blades will get the first-round pick in 2016 and the second rounder in 2015.
Nogier is a six-foot-three, 203-pound Saskatoon native who was in his third season with the Blades. He has played in 128 WHL games, scoring two goals and collecting 18 points while recording 75 minutes in penalties.
Selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the fourth round of June’s NHL entry draft, Nogier should be a top-four pairing rearguard with the Rebels.
“He’s just a real solid, two-way guy. He’s a very good hockey player,” said Sutter.
Adamson, a five-foot-11, 198-pound winger, hails from Vancouver and this season — his second in the league — has produced three goals and five points in 31 games.
“With Adamson we’re getting close to a six-foot, 200-pound player who is a good skater,” said Sutter. “We’re hoping he’ll be a good role player for us, someone who can play on the third and fourth lines. They are both good kids and we’re excited about bringing them on board.”
McCarty, a five-foot-10, 176-pound winger, appeared in only nine games with the Rebels this season, collecting two assists in the process. The 17-year-old approached Sutter with a trade request two weeks ago.
“Carts asked me if I could find him a place in the league where he can be an every-day, every-game type of player,” said the Rebels boss. “He could see the (forward) depth we have on our team.
“I told him he just needed to be patient and I’d work through it and see if I could find something that made sense for both himself and ourselves.”
Blades GM/head coach Bob Woods told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that the Rebels offer was too good to pass up.
“This was an opportunity for us as an organization to really improve our future,” said Woods. “When you get picks like that you can really find some pretty good players.
“In the situation you’re in, if you get those types of opportunities, you have to take them. I wouldn’t pick Nelson as my guy to move, but you’re not going to get those types of offers for anybody else.”
The Blades have struggled mightily this season while posting a mere seven wins, including just two in their last 20 games.
“It’s been a tough year,” said Nogier, in conversation with Nugent-Bowman. “It’s been frustrating and disappointing.
“As much as it’s hard to leave, I wish the Saskatoon Blades organization nothing but the best as they get through this rebuild process. I’m excited for my new journey ahead.”
Nogier said he never saw the trade coming, but he’s welcoming the opportunity to compete in a second Memorial Cup tournament. Nogier was 16 when the Blades hosted the Memorial Cup in 2013 and will be 19 when the Rebels host in 2016.
“It’s going to be a good opportunity,” he said. “Definitely having that experience as a young guy, I got to see how the 19-year-olds and 20-year-olds handled it when they were playing. I’m going to try to use what I learned. Hopefully things go as planned.”
The addition of Nogier will give the Rebels 10 defencemen once Nick Charif comes off the injury list this week or next.
“It does give us some flexibility moving forward, after the freeze comes off,” said Sutter, hinting that one or more of the rearguards will be dealt before the Jan. 10 trade deadline. “The bottom line with this trade is we waned to improve our back end . . . our top four to five defencemen. That was our focus.”
The WHL trade freeze went into effect at midnight Sunday and will be lifted at midnight on Boxing Day.