It’s my Parting Shot to chat about player movement in the Western Hockey League over the next six weeks…
There were three deals yesterday, including the Saskatoon Blades sending veteran defenceman Jackson Caller and a couple of Bantam Draft picks to Kamloops for fellow 19-year-old blueliner Nolan Kneen. Why?! Because, Kneen is a right-hand shot and has more upside to his game…hence the need for the Draft picks to go to the Blazers. It’s tough to see Caller leave because he’s a good kid and has been a great warrior for the Bridge City Bunch for two years. But, the Blue and Gold are a better team today, in my humble opinion!
What about moving forward?
Well, this isn’t a Memorial Cup year with two W-H-L teams in the season-ending C-H-L championship tournament. Based on the first two months, or 20-to-25 games of the 68-game schedule, it would appear as though the Prince Albert Raiders are a lock to be W-H-L champs for the first time since 1985. That doesn’t mean the other 21 should just give up, hand over the title to the Raiders and get ready for next season. But, there also shouldn’t be an insane number of teams being “buyers” before the January 10th trade deadline as there was last season when no less than seven teams made blockbuster moves in an attempt to bolster their lineups in advance of a playoff run!
This season, aside from P-A, the only teams who should be thinking that way are out this way in the Western Conference…Everett for sure and, maybe, Vancouver, Portland and Spokane. Plus, possibly Red Deer in the Eastern Conference. The rest?! Stand pat, or tinker a bit if you must, but don’t do anything crazy!
That goes for the Blades. I said before this season started that getting to the playoffs and getting a taste for some of their young stars is important…so that they know what to expect when they put on a bigger push next season!
That’s my Parting Shot, I’m Les Lazaruk in Langley, B-C…