The 2019 trade deadline has come and gone, and all questions have been answered as to what the Prince Albert Raiders will look like from here on out.
The Raiders have added forwards Dante Hannoun and Bryce Bader, defenceman Loeden Schaufler, and goaltender Boston Bilous. Leaving the team were forwards Kody McDonald and Carson Miller (traded to Victoria), defenceman Lane Kirk (re-assigned to Swan Valley, MJHL), and goaltender Donovan Buskey (re-assigned to Trail, BCHL).
Further to that, the Raiders have added a conditional sixth-round pick and a third-round pick in 2020, while parting with a fourth-round pick in 2019, two eighth-round picks in 2019, two conditional sixth-round picks, and the rights to unsigned forward Quinn Olson.
The big question I’ve been hearing among Raider fans is whether the team will follow the trend led by teams like Swift Current, Regina, and Moose Jaw last year to make big moves ahead of the deadline. The Hannoun trade was no doubt a big one, but here’s what Curtis Hunt had to say about the balance of “going all in” and sticking with what got the team here.
“You know what? It’s hard not to get caught up in it. You look at it, but the truth is, we’re the rabbit. You can see whenever we slow down, we get bit, and it’s happened a few times here. I liked our group, our guys have grown up together, they’ve been through the war together, they’ve gone through a little bit of adversity. They’ve had some success and some near misses, and I think that’s the core of who we are. I didn’t want to play with it too much,” Hunt said.
“I think Marc [Habscheid] and the coaching staff have done a tremendous job of mentoring those kids for one, and two, the kids have done a tremendous job of taking ownership and making it their room and accepting the fact that it’s a privilege to be there.
“They come hard to play against every day, they’re looking for solutions every day and ways to make themselves better all around, and that’s important. I like our group, I really do.”
Now that the deadline has passed, everybody in the room can focus on the next few months and set any uncertainties aside.
Milestone watch for Hannoun
There wasn’t a lot of positive out of Wednesday night’s loss to Seattle, but one was certainly Dante Hannoun picking up his 250th career point with an assist on Jeremy Masella’s goal. Hannoun is also two goals away from 100, and 11 games played away from 300.
Thursday night Hannoun joined me and Jeff D’Andrea on our trade deadline special edition of Face Off on CKBI. We asked him if the 2013 bantam draft where he was selected 11th overall by Victoria feels like yesterday.
“Honestly, yes. When you come into the league all the 20-year-olds say to cherish every moment, and the five years goes by so fast,” Hannoun said. “At this point, I look back, and you literally just flip a switch and it just flew by. All the young guys that I’ve been talking to on the previous team and here, I say just take it one day at a time because it flies by.”
Hannoun has a great opportunity here in Prince Albert to end his WHL career on an excellent team with a chance to go deep into playoffs.
One of the hardest parts of the game is saying goodbye to good people.
Lane Kirk had terrible luck with injury this year and that has prevented him from getting on the ice with the Raiders. Despite that, he’s been incredibly positive the whole time and I hope he’s able to get going again in Swan Valley with his hometown team.
Donovan Buskey has been a complete professional since arriving in September. He’s mature beyond his years and took his role very seriously. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Donovan and hope he finds success in Trail this season.
Time to settle
Friday night against Moose Jaw was really the first chance to see this Raider team all together with Hannoun making his debut, and Brett Leason and Ian Scott returning from the World Juniors.
That game and Wednesday’s loss to the Thunderbirds did not look good for Prince Albert, but I think there’s a bit of an adjustment period for everything to click. That’s not to mention the looming spectre of the trade deadline on Thursday maybe making players a little uncomfortable.
The last month has been tough on the Raiders, who sent more players away to the World Juniors than any other team in the West.
Since losing Sapego and Protas in early December and counting right up to the trade deadline, the Raiders have posted a record of 9-4-0-1. Compared to the two losses in 27 games prior to that, this is obviously a big step back, but this 14-game “rough stretch” is still the pace of a 43-win team. Keep in mind that the last time the Raiders had that many wins in a season was in 1998-99, when the green and gold won 45 in a 72-game schedule.
Losing two of three since everybody has returned has no doubt been a concern for fans, but I think this team has earned the right to get some slack considering how many points they’ve put in the bank so far.
If we’re still talking about 2019 struggles at the end of January, then maybe there’s reason to be concerned, but I think this team just needs a chance to settle in and find their groove with everybody in the fold. A two-week trip through B.C. will be a good start to build some cohesiveness with the new additions.
On Twitter: @Trevor_Redden
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