The Sea-to-Sky Boner Report: Jan 13th, 2014

That's Offside!
January 13 2014 09:25AM

 

The WHL trade deadline has come and gone and the Vancouver Giants were reasonably active, dealing away a couple of players, and adding 19-year old import forward Dominik Volek from the Red Deer Rebels. Read past the jump for a look at Vancouver's deadline day and what it means for the Giants going forward.

After dealing defenseman Blake Orban to the Edmonton Oil Kings for a second round pick, GM Scott Bonner continued to accumulate draft picks by trading the rights to overage import F Marek Tvrdon to the Kelowna Rockets for a 2nd round pick. Tvrdon has yet to join the Rockets and had spent the majority of this season with the ECHL's Toledo Walleye, registering 8 goals and 3 assists in 19 games. He was Vancouver's 2nd leading scorer in his 18-year old season, picking up 74 points in 60 games, but was limited to just 18 games of action last year due to injuries. Now that he's been dealt out of Vancouver, he'll be returned to the WHL to help the Rockets on their playoff run.

Scott Bonner also traded F Anthony Ast to the Medicine Hat Tigers for a 3rd round pick in 2016. Ast never found a consistent spot in the Giants lineup and battled constant injuries, before requesting a trade. The former 19th overall pick probably underperformed during his time with the Giants, as some of the players taken after him in the 2010 bantam draft included Greg Chase, Madison Bowey, Cole Ully, Tristan Jarry, Tyson Baillie, Jaedon Desheneau, Shea Theodore and Chase Witala. Regardless, Ast had just 8 points in 25 games which was 18th on the Giants in scoring, so getting assets in exchange for a player who had fallen into disuse is a shrewd move.

Vancouver spent some of these acuumulated picks to acquire 19-year old Czech forward Dominik Volek from the Red Deer Rebels. Despite having a year of WHL eligibility left, this is probably a straight rental for Vancouver, as Volek has stated that he'd like to play pro hockey next year, whether it's in the AHL or back in Europe. Volek is a definite major upgrade on Ast in Vancouver's top-6 as he had 15 goals and 9 assists in his 34 games with the offensively challenged Rebels, and has already added 2 goals and 1 assist in his first two appearances with the Giants. Red Deer will recieve a 4th round pick next year and a 3rd round pick in 2016 from Vancouver.

Also in a minor move, the Prince George Cougars acquired the rights to 19-year old G Adam Beukeboom from Vancouver in exchange for a 7th round pick in 2016, making the Giants deadline moves look like this:

In isolation, that's a pretty good deadline. Scott Bonner moved one significant piece out (Blake Orban) that can probably be replaced by committee, brought in an upgrade in the top-6 forwards, and acquired some early-round draft picks for relatively little. Marek Tvrdon is definitely the best player in that group, but he was not going to be returned to the WHL unless Vancouver traded him, so the 2nd round pick from Kelowna is essentially found money.

But in the big picture, I don't think the Giants did enough. I had a discussion with Steve Ewen, and he explained some of the Giants' reasoning to me:

I don't disagree with Steve on the last point, but it's widely known that the Giants are building towards a 2016 Memorial Cup bid, and the core of this roster isn't a collection of talented 16, 17 and 18 year olds. The key players on this Giants team, like Dalton Thrower, Cain Franson, Brett Kulak, Tim Traber, Joel Hamilton, and now Dominik Volek are all 19 or older. Thrower, Franson, Traber and Volek all will not be returning, and Kulak will only spend another year in junior should he not make the Abbotsford Heat next season. 

This collection of players may be good enough to make a push for the WHL title this year, but not with the goaltending they have, and they probably aren't quite deep enough to beat out a Portland or Kelowna. With this, along with a set target year in which you want to compete in mind, why not give yourself the absolute best chance to win the Memorial Cup in the season you plan on competing for it? Playoff experience is fine, but it's ultimately meaningless if you're not good enough.

The goal should always be to win the Memorial Cup. As Billy Beane so elegantly puts it, "we're either all-in or we're all-out." If 40 more games of Dalton Thrower and Cain Franson only get you to lose a week later, what's the point of having them when you could have assets that better fit where you want to be down the road? Over the summer, Thrower cost Vancouver a 2nd round pick in 2014, but not acquiring more support cost a chance at winning this year, and not trading him cost the Giants the opportunity to acquire assets down the road. Unless you truly believe that 4 to 10 extra games of experience for three guys is worth more than a potential future core player to compliment those same guys, either of these costs outweigh the benefits of keeping Thrower, Franson, et al.

And with that in mind, let's look at this week's WHL fancystats, courtesy of Josh Weissbock:

Look for Everett and Vancouver to make gains in the standings in the 2nd half of the season, while Victoria and Calgary should cool off, despite significant trade deadline acquisitions (like Travis Brown, Connor Rankin and Adam Tambellini). Kelowna and Portland have also bolstered their squads with returning pros (Tvrdon and Mat Dumba), but the Edmonton Oil Kings are still the cream of the crop by my estimation. Good goaltending and exceptional puck possession makes them extremely difficult to score on, while Henrik Samuelsson and Curtis Lazar lead a potent offense.

The Giants picked up 3 of 4 points this weekend, beating Prince George 6-4, and losing to Portland 5-4 in a shootout. Kulak and Thrower each had a goal and two assists over the weekend, while Volek scored twice and added an assist of his own.

Around the B.C. Division

Kamloops Blazers: Acquired G Justin Myles, D Austin Douglas, and a 4th round pick from Seattle in exchange for G Taran Kozun...Acquired F Matt Bellerive and a 3rd round pick from Red Deer in exchange for F Aspen Sterzer...Acquired F Matt Revel, a 3rd round pick, and a conditional 2nd round pick from Saskatoon in exchange for D Jordan Thompson, F Mitch Lipon, and a 1st round pick...Head coach Dave Hunchak has taken a "leave of absence" and will be replaced by Guy Charron, who returns after stepping down last year.

Kelowna Rockets: Acquired F Marc McCoy from Regina in exchange for a 5th round pick...F Marek Tvrdon will reportedly join the Rockets next weekend.

Prince George Cougars: Acquired the rights to G Adam Beukeboom from Vancouver in exchange for a 7th round pick.

Other WHL News and Notes:

  • Portland acquired Corbin Boes from Lethbridge in exchange for Steven Alldridge, the rights to Shane McColgan, and a 2nd round pick.
  • Seattle acquired Russell Maxwell from Lethbridge in exchange for Michal Holub, Seth Swenson, and a 4th round pick.
  • Calgary acquired Michael Zipp from Everett in exchange for Zane Jones.
  • Calgary acquired Connor Rankin from Tri-City in exchange for Josh Thrower.
  • Lethbridge acquired Jarrod Schamerhorn from Portland in exchange for a 7th round pick.
  • Regina acquired Logan McVeigh and Daniel Wapple from Medicine Hat in exchange for Nick Schneider and a 3rd round pick.
  • Spokane acquired Marcus Messier from Tri-City in exchange for Jackson Playfair.
  • Saskatoon acquired Ty Mappin from Everett in exchange for a conditional 7th round pick.
  • Swift Current acquired Geordie Maguire from Regina in exchange for a 6th round pick.
  • Calgary acquired Adam Tambellini from Portland in exchange for a 1st round pick and a conditional 4th round pick.
  • Everett's Brayden Low and Tri-City's Matthew Gelinas both served two-game suspensions for checks to the head.
  • The Top Prospects game takes place this Wednesday at 6:00 PM PST on Sportsnet. Rosters can be seen here.
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Rhys Jessop - CanucksArmy's resident CHL buff/hater of prospects, depending on who you ask. Follow my ramblings on Twitter: @Thats_Offside. Email contact: thats.offside.hockey[at]gmail.com
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