Unless a rival GM does his best Don Vito Corleone impersonation and makes Jesse Wallin an offer he can’t refuse, the Rebels head coach/VP of hockey operations won’t be changing the makeup of his team on a grand scale prior to or at Monday’s WHL trade deadline.
With easily five or six teams looking to upgrade over the next few days, it’s become a sellers’ market, to the extent that any of the ‘impact’ players available will come with big-time price tags. The Rebels, simply put, aren’t interested in paying a king’s ransom for the likes of a Brayden Schenn, Scott Glennie, Cody Eakin or Ryan Howse, if in fact any or all of those forwards are on the block.
Wallin sees what the Tri-City Americans and Portland Winterhawks shelled out to acquire Carter Ashton and Craig Cunningham, and is almost certainly hesitant — make that downright obstinate — to surrender the resources it would take to land a forward of similar or perhaps greater talent.
Could the Rebels be working on a bid to host the 2013 Memorial Cup tournament? If so, it would make no sense to give up a pair of early-round draft picks and, say, a pair of prime prospects for a rental player who won’t come with any guarantees.
Regardless of their Memorial Cup plans, the Rebels are now in the infant stages of what the franchise hopes is a reversal-of-fortunes phase and aren’t interested in halting that forward movement by acquiring a supposed over-the-top skater, at least not at the going rates.
That doesn’t mean Wallin won’t explore every option with the intent of making his club — which currently stands as at least an outside contender — better. He would likely be interested in adding a player who could strengthen the club both now and in the future, but again, the asking price would have to be right.
Perhaps the Rebels’ window of opportunity — with Darcy Kuemper between the pipes and no clear No. 1 stopper confirmed for next winter — might be more open this season than next, but Wallin has to be looking at the even bigger picture.
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If the Kamloops Blazers think they’re helping their cause by refusing veteran beat writer Gregg Drinnan access to players and coaches, they’re sadly mistaken.
The Blazers delivered a three-page letter to Drinnan late last month, informing the Kamloops Daily News sports editor that he was no longer allowed to interview anyone connected with the team, due to “negative reporting.”
It’s downright difficult to believe that, in this day and age, a WHL team would take such a stance, basically demanding that a reporter be more cheerleader than factual, more rah-rah than observant.
This is clearly a lose-lose scenario that will hopefully be solved next week when representatives from the Blazers, the Daily News and the league meet to discuss the ban. Drinnan continues to cover the team, albeit from the outside looking in.
The Blazers, who for several years have struggled to at least maintain their fan base, are fortunate they are still being by promoted by Drinnan’s paper.
On the move: The Brandon Wheat Kings and Vancouver Giants got a jump on what may or may not be a trade frenzy by finalizing a deal involving 20-year-olds Wednesday night. The Wheat Kings picked up forward Matt MacKay and a fourth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft in return for defenceman Darren Bestland. MacKay scored 12 goals and notched 28 points and 32 penalty minutes in 40 games with the Giants this season, his third in the WHL. “We wanted to add a centreman to our lineup and I think this strengthens us up at the forward position,” Wheat Kings GM/head coach Kelly McCrimmon told the Brandon Sun. “And we felt on the blueline that we have created more opportunity for our younger defencemen, which we felt they were ready for.” Bestland has four goals, 16 points and 69 penalty minutes in 40 games this season and owns a mimus-24 plus/minus rating . . . The previous day, the Giants turned a deal with the Moose Jaw Warriors, acquiring 17-year-old forward Nathan Smith in return for rugged left winger Brett Lyon, 19. Lyon has three assists and 105 penalty minutes in 25 games this season. Last season he had three goals and eight assists and was second in the WHL with 198 penalty minutes. “We’ve targeted some areas where we wanted to improve our team leading up to the deadline,” Warriors director of hockey operations Alan Millar told the Moose Jaw Times Herald The five-foot-eight Smith, the Warriors’ third-round pick in the 2008 WHL Bantam draft, is currently playing with the Drayton Valley Thunder of the AJHL and has 13 goals, 35 points and 90 penalty minutes in 39 games.