It’s official. No other general manager was busier this season than Prince Albert Raiders general manager Curtis Hunt.
Hunt pulled the trigger on a whopping 16 deals since the start of the preseason, two more than the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who under Prince Albert’s Peter Anholt made 14 moves.
Hunt had a lot to deal with, with the absence of Reid Gardiner, and low number of D-men with WHL experience after the losses of Jesse Lees, Hunter Warner and Dalton Yorke from last year’s roster.
When asked about whether or not he thought he’d have to make 16 trades from September to the Jan. 10 deadline, Hunt cracked a wry smile and shook his head.
“No. And I wouldn’t recommend it nor do I ever want to have to do that ever again,” Hunt said at a post-deadline press conference Tuesday at the Art Hauser Centre. “When I looked at our list and maybe our depth, we had to chase to get some guys early. We wanted to bolster our list in terms of our draft picks in the future.
“It didn’t go anywhere near we thought in terms of players returning from pro, so because of that, we chased goal scoring. I feel now that where we are today, we have a strong list, we’ve got some great prospects in the organization and we have a lot of high picks... It’s a great day to be a Raider.”
Although he made the most WHL trades this year, the one deal that Hunt did not make was forward Simon Stransky. The 19-year-old playmaker, leads the Raiders with 30 points in 33 games. As the Raiders sit with an 8-31-1-2 record, he would have been a movable part to get future assets back.
Hunt explained why the Raiders ended up holding on to the smooth-skating winger.
“We explored [Stransky], but that’s a very limited market. First-year Europeans can’t be traded and part of that is usually taking a guy back,” Hunt said. “If we could have given Simon [Stransky] a chance somewhere where he could’ve helped the team, because we know he can. He’s a tremendous player, he’s a great person off the ice and he just loves to play, we would have done that for him.
“Part of that means a deal that was fair to the Prince Albert Raiders. In the end, the team comes first—I think that’s rule one. We weren’t able to find a fit that works for us as well as him.
The only deal the Raiders did manage to pull off on deadline day was acquiring Jordy Stallard and a seventh round pick from the Calgary Hitmen in exchange for Luke Coleman and a fourth round pick.
Hunt said that not only can Stallard help the team immediately on its top line, but he could also return next year and help the team as a 20-year-old.
“That’s kind of the thought process in him,” Hunt said. “He also brings a level of leadership, a level of skill and I think a good fit in our group as well.
On Monday, the Raiders added Brayden Pachal and a sixth round pick from the Victoria Royals for Prince Albert’s Loch Morrison and a fourth round selection.
“Our 'D' has struggled. He’s a very mobile 'D,'” Hunt said. “He plays a grittier type of game, right shot which is always a great asset to have, there seems to be a lot of left 'D.'”
With all the picks the Raiders have acquired in trades this season, they could be set for the next few years.
With the conditional first round pick the Raiders received from Kelowna, they will receive a first in either 2017 or 2018. If they choose 2017, the Raiders will have two first rounders in 2017, two second round picks and two third rounders. In 2018, they’ll have two first rounders, their second and a pair of thirds.
P.A.’s Hobson on the move
Prince Albert’s Jake Hobson is returning to his home province. The Portland Winterhawks shipped him to the Swift Current Broncos in exchange for a fifth round pick. Hobson played his minor hockey in Prince Albert, as well as two Midget AAA seasons with the Prince Albert Mintos. His father Doug won the Memorial Cup with the Raiders in 1985.
Get out there, kid
There won’t be a whole lot of time for the new-look Raiders to get acclimated with each other as they will take on Stallard’s old club in the Calgary Hitmen on Wednesday at the Art Hauser Centre.
On Twitter: @jeff_dandrea
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