Jesse Wallin was willing to dance, but he couldn’t find a partner.
Wallin certainly wasn’t a wallflower as Tuesday’s Western Hockey League trade deadline approached.
“I wouldn’t say it was quiet around here. It was a busy couple of days,” the Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach said Tuesday afternoon, just minutes beyond the 3 p.m. deadline.
“But ultimately there was nothing we were able to get done. We talked to every team in the league at some point, but there always has to be two willing participants in order to get something done.”
Wallin admitted his preference — if the market was right — was to add a younger player who would help the team both now and in the future, even it meant giving up a veteran impact skater. While he wasn’t identifying any of the players whom he considered moving for a nice price, all-star defenceman Alex Petrovic — probably the most coveted of the Red Deer assets since the club would not likely consider dealing Mathew Dumba — had to be on the list.
“We were looking at a lot of different areas. We looked at things on both sides,” said Wallin. “We looked at improving our team with something that would help us this year but also down the road as well. I guess that was basically the gist of it. We were hoping to improve our team in some way both for the short and long term and also listen to offers the other way as well. But ultimately there wasn’t anything significant enough (in terms of offers) that made sense for us either way.”
Wallin admitted that the potential season-ending wrist injury to veteran defenceman Justin Weller entered into his approach at the trade deadline. Still, there’s a suspicion that he was willing to deal the likes of Petrovic for the right price and was offered nothing but futures, a potentially nice nugget for down the road but a return that would do nothing for the Rebels in their hunt for a playoff berth this season.
“Yes, we looked at things on both sides of the fence, but we feel that we’re a playoff-calibre team and we have a road to climb here to do that,” said Wallin, whose club sits six points outside of the final post-season berth in the Eastern Conference.
“Without Wellsey (Weller) it’s going to be a challenge, but I think it’s a challenge that this group can still take on. We still want to be a playoff team this year and we want to be a strong team over the next couple of years, so we weren’t in a position where we were going to sell anything off strictly for draft picks.”
Wallin and his coaching staff are confident that the Rebels can get back to the level they played in October and early November when at one time they owned the league’s best winning percentage before being stricken with a run of key injuries and suspensions.
“We played some pretty good hockey there for a while before everything fell apart,” said the Rebels bench boss. “But outside of Weller we pretty much have our lineup back together now and we feel we have a fairly strong group. We have a lot of young players who we weren’t going to part with and we have some guys in the older group who are going to be back here next year.
“We think we have a good mix here and feel we can still be a good hockey team this year. Obviously we have to get on a roll and put some wins together, but we still see ourselves as being a playoff team and that’s the goal we’re pushing for.”
Wallin, whose club takes on the Kootenay Ice tonight at 7 p.m. at the Centrium, said newly-minted assistant coach Josh Cowen, an oft-injured forward by trade, will not be reinstated as a player to fill Weller’s overage spot.
“Cowey’s health was a factor in the decision for him to discontinue his playing career,” said Wallin.
While the Rebels were inactive at the trade deadline, the likes of the Brandon Wheat Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors and Regina Pats made some noise Monday and Tuesday.
Brandon added scorer Kevin Sundher from the Victoria Royals, while the Warriors acquired overage forwards Cam Braes and James Henry from Lethbridge and Vancouver, and Regina picked up impact rearguard Martin Marincin from Prince George.
The Monday and Tuesday deals are as follows:
– The Vancouver Giants traded G Brendan Jensen (18) to the Portland Winterhawks in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2013 WHL bantam draft.
– The Vancouver Giants traded D Eric Walker (18) to the Swift Current Broncos in exchange for an eighth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft. – The Seattle Thunderbirds traded F Marcel Noebels (19) to the Portland Winterhawks in exchange for F Seth Swenson (18), and first-round picks in the 2012 and 2013 bantam drafts.
– The Prince George Cougars traded the rights to F Brett Connolly (19) to the Tri-City Americans in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2013, a conditional first-round pick in 2013 and a conditional second-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft.
– The Kootenay Ice traded F Brendan Hurley (18) to the Medicine Hat Tigers in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft.
– The Medicine Hat Tigers traded F Reid Petryk (18) and a conditional bantam draft pick to the Everett Silvertips in exchange for the rights to F Miles Koules (17).
– The Moose Jaw Warriors traded F Brett Lyon (20) to the Kelowna Rockets in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2014 and a seventh-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft.
– The Vancouver Giants traded F James Henry (20) to the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for a second-round pick in 2012 and a third-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft.
– The Prince George Cougars traded D Martin Marincin (19), a fourth-round and seventh-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft and a fourth-round pick in 2013 to the Regina Pats in exchange for D Ricard Blidstrand (19), a first-round pick and a second-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft, and a fifth-round pick in 2013.
– The Victoria Royals traded F Kevin Sundher (19) to the Brandon Wheat Kings in exchange for D Jordan Fransoo (18), F Dakota Conroy (17), and a first-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft.
– The Edmonton Oil Kings traded the rights to F Cam Reid (20) to the Portland Winterhawks in exchange for and eighth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft.
– The Vancouver Giants traded F Levi Bews (17) to the Swift Current Broncos in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft.
– The Lethbridge Hurricanes traded F Cam Braes (20) to the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft and a second-round pick in 2013.
– The Tri-City Americans traded D Riley Guenther (17) to the Prince Albert Raiders in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft.
– The Moose Jaw Warriors traded D Tyler Vanscourt (19) to the Vancouver Giants in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2012 Bantam Draft.