LETHBRIDGE – The Western Hockey League trade deadline came and went on Thursday, Jan. 10, and the Lethbridge Hurricanes didn’t complete any additional moves.
That’s due in part to a pair of significant deals they made early in the season. Lethbridge acquired forwards Jake Leschyshyn and Nick Henry from the Regina Pats for Jadon Joseph, Ty Kolle and a slew of draft picks back in November and grabbed goaltender Liam Hughes from the Seattle Thunderbirds in exchange for forwards Keltie Jeri-Leon, Michael Huron and a 4th round pick on Jan. 1.
Hurricanes General Manager Peter Anholt says they did their deals early, and despite continuing to try and maybe see if something works, nothing really stood out.
“We weren’t able to do anything of any significance today, but we’re going to add Rylan Thiessen from Midget AAA in Brandon. He’s a 17-year-old, so much the same as we did with Nolan Jones last year which helped him get a kick start for this season.
“I think when you add Henry and Leschyshyn, those are two big adds for us and very important adds. Then, of course, Hughes was an important addition, and it looks like the [Scott] Mahovlich deal has been an important deal too because Barlage’s line has been much better since too,” Anholt said, jokingly adding that he basically sat on his butt for nine hours and accomplished nothing.
The Hurricanes haven’t lost a game in regulation since Dec. 28 and are currently riding a three-game win streak. When asked if that play of late factored into not feeling the need to make another move, Anholt said yeah but added he went into today not feeling he had to make a deal.
“We thought that if we could add to our defence core in some way, shape or form we wouldn’t have minded doing that,” Anholt continued. “But that being said you gotta give up something to get something, and I didn’t like maybe hurting the chemistry that we do have in our group [by making a move]. By just adding a player that’s within our system, it doesn’t cost us anything and we know what we’re getting.”
The battle lines are now drawn in the Central Division, with the Hurricanes holding down first place as of today. The Red Deer Rebels and Edmonton Oil Kings are in second and third place respectively, and the Medicine Hat Tigers and Calgary Hitmen currently hold the two wildcard spots in the Eastern Conference.
Anholt was asked about the state of his club moving forward and was quick to praise the competition in the division.
“I think our Central Division is so much better this year, so it’s going to be a real challenge to get out of our division this year. Edmonton is a real good team, Red Deer is a really good team, you look at Calgary’s record the past 20 games or so it’s been very good and because of our rivalry with Medicine Hat we always have our hands full with them.”
It looks like five teams in the Central Division could very well make the playoffs, and Anholt believes it’s going to be hard to get out of the division once the playoffs roll around.
“That being said, if we get to the conference final it looks like there’s going to be some real dogfights on that side too. I think it’s exciting for the fans, that our Central Division has gotten better so fast is a real credit to the organizations. We’ve got our hands full, but our expectations don’t change,” Anholt stated.
A couple of notable deals were swung today in the WHL, but nothing like the blockbusters from a season ago at this point, and Anholt says the new rules put into place certainly makes it harder to make deals.
Before this season, the WHL imposed new trade restrictions that prohibit teams from trading signed 15-year-old and 16-year-old players, as well as only being able to a trade 17-year-olds if they requested a trade.
“There’s more draft picks that come into play which changes things a little bit, there weren’t any big deals of significance today and I think that’s a case of it being harder to make deals.”
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