When Jesse Wallin could not get the proper return for any of his proposed WHL deadline deals earlier this week, he did the right thing.
After acquiring centre Charles Inglis and winger Marc Mackenzie over the previous two weeks, Wallin was seeking a deal that would keep his club competitive over the second half of the season while adding promise for the future.
He wasn’t identifying anyone by name, but it’s no secret that all-star defenceman Alex Petrovic was his biggest bargaining chip, a player no doubt coveted by several of the active buyers and potential buyers.
But the wanna-be trading partners were offering strictly draft picks for the impact blueliner, while Wallin needed a younger player in return, a player who, say, could step into a top-four role now and develop into a top-pairing defender in the near future.
The Rebels GM/head coach likely had no problem with accepting draft picks, but those had to be accompanied by a younger, talented roster player if he was indeed considering moving Petrovic to a WHL rival.
That need was not forthcoming in any trade offers, so Petrovic and any other players who were at least potential trade bait remain with the club.
It was the right move, considering dealing the likes of Petrovic for draft picks who may never develop into legitimate WHL players would have hurt the team’s current pursuit of a playoff berth.
Wallin is convinced that his club, which excelled through October and the first half of November before being ravaged by injuries to key personnel, can not only qualify for the playoffs but make some significant noise in the post-season. Trading someone of Petrovic’s ilk for strictly futures would have seriously hindered those hopes.
• • •
The Moose Jaw Warriors, Brandon Wheat Kings and Regina Pats landed the so-called ‘impact’ players at or before the trade deadline.
The Warriors looked at leadership qualities as well as skill when they acquired Cam Braes from Lethbridge and James Henry from Vancouver.
Both were captains with their former teams.
“Bringing in Henry and Braes we feel that when it comes to the most important time of the year, both of these guys will do what it takes to win. They play hard and do the little things well,” Warriors director of hockey operations Alan Millar told the Moose Jaw Times-Herald.
Both Braes and Henry brought proven scoring ability to Moose Jaw, although the latter had struggled somewhat in that regard this season. The veteran duo also possesses excellent wheels.
“They increase our team speed. They’re both fast, they’re good skaters and they increase our goal-scoring,” added Millar. “They’re both point-per-game guys. Henry is more of a play-maker, but he’ll chip in and Braes comes in with 24 goals.”
Meanwhile, the Wheat Kings got offensive star Kevin Sundher from the Victoria Royals and the Pats picked up dandy defenceman Martin Marincin from the Prince George Cougars.
Sundher, Brandon GM Kelly McCrimmon hinted, could be the difference between the Wheat Kings being a contender or pretender.
“I think the conference is up for grabs a little bit,” McCrimmon told the Brandon Sun. “Certainly Edmonton and Moose Jaw have established themselves in their respective divisions, but . . . I’ve felt all along that the team that improves the most in the second half is going to be the team that wins . . . and I think this is a big step in terms of adding a star player to our team that’s really going to complement our forward group very well and that was the motivation for the move.”
As for the Pats, Regina GM Chad Lang is convinced he landed the best defenceman up for grabs in Edmonton Oilers prospect Marincin.
“If we were going to stay with the (current) players, the (Jordan) Weals and the (Brandon) Davidsons, we wanted to add a piece,” Lang told the Regina Leader-Post. “We liked our back end going into it. When you add Marincin it really solidifies that back end. He was the best D available in the league and we were fortunate enough to get him.”