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Wednesday, 19 December 2012 15:15

Broncos well-positioned as trade deadline approaches

Written by  Brad Brown, A Bard's Eye View
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They’re not really buyers and they’re not really sellers, but for the second time in three seasons the Swift Current Broncos could be among the Western Hockey League’s biggest players at the Jan. 10 trade deadline.

“The players we have on our team have value, so they are tradable,” said Broncos head coach and general manager Mark Lamb. “When you have players that aren’t tradable that’s when you’re in trouble. All these players are tradable.”
In a word: Youth.
More specifically, they’d be well-served to add one or two right-handed shots to their forward ranks. Levi Bews is currently the only one.
Those right-handed forwards should be 1995 or 1996-born and include one high-end player and one depth guy. Currently the Broncos top prospects in those age groups (Dillon Heatherington, Brycen Martin, Zack Gonek) are all on defence.
And with only four 18-year-olds on the roster – none of them defencemen and one, Shea Howorko, out indefinitely with a concussion – the Broncos may also want to bolster this age group, particularly on the blue line.
A foursome of NHL-drafted 19-year-olds.
The Broncos have eight 1993-born players and cannot carry more than three next year.
Complicating things, all four draftees (plus goalie Eetu Laurikainen) could end up in the pro ranks or none at all, though even that assumes there’s a 2013-14 NHL season to begin with as a prolonged lockout would make it tougher yet for new blood to crack the top minor league.
Adam Lowry would be the most prized of them, though on a team lacking consistent scoring finish he’d have to bring a monster return for Lamb to even consider moving him before the end of the year. Ditto for centre Graham Black, one of the fastest players in the WHL.
That would leave defencemen Reece Scarlett and Richard Nedomlel as the most likely to get shipped.
Martin and Heatherington appear ready to take the reins on D, and the Broncos with their sixth-ranked defence are well-positioned to take a short-term hit to their back end in return for some of the assets listed above.
Over-agers Ryon Moser and Dalton Reum could also be in play, though more likely as part of a larger package deal if at all.
With no fourth or sixth-round picks in next summer’s Bantam Draft, Lamb won’t likely want to give much in that area.
Consider today’s Mayan apocalypse more likely than the Broncos trading any of Heatherington, Martin, Laurikainen, Coda Gordon or Colby Cave before the deadline.
There are at least eight teams looking to win now, which not only leaves the Broncos plenty of potential trading partners to get what they want, but also to drive up the price on any assets that do get moved.
Who are the probable players?
Prince Albert – Excited about their first winning season in nine years, and ten, 1994-born players on the roster.
Calgary and Edmonton – Teams in NHL markets fighting tooth-and-nail for the Eastern Conference title and looking to capitalize on the NHL lockout.
Portland – The Western Conference’s top team, four 19-year-olds and an “us-against-the-world” mentality after getting mollywhopped by the WHL for player recruitment violations.
Kamloops, Kelowna, Spokane and Tri-City – In hot pursuit of Portland for the conference title and 28, 17-year-old roster players between them.
Saskatoon of course is hosting the Memorial Cup but has already made two deals with the Broncos and is sporting 13, 19-year-olds so the odds of future deals between the teams look slim.
The Broncos don’t need to force a deal, so their most tradable assets should command blockbuster prices – as the Kamloops Blazers found when they traded for Moose Jaw’s Joel Edmundson.
Up front that could mean players like Greg Chase (Calgary), Curtis Lazar (Edmonton), Matt Needham (Kamloops) or Tyson Baillie (Kelowna) coming to Swift Current in return.
On the back end, it could be Kelowna’s Jesse Lees or Damon Severson, Spokane’s Reid Gow or Edmonton’s Griffin Reinhart.
Or what about Calgary winger Jake Virtanen, Kamloops defenceman Landon Cross, or Spokane Chiefs players Tyson Predinchuk and Tyler King?
Generally speaking they’re all big bodies who meet the criteria listed above.
“Any deal we do will be something that will help us now and in the future,” said Lamb.
This year, that might be even easier done than said.

Read 2867 times Last modified on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 15:16