There’s been a lot of turnover on the Pats roster since Christmastime, but the dust has finally settled.
A very eventful trade deadline went out like a lion with many of the Pats’ top rivals loading up and players going for steep prices across the league.
“For my four years, this is definitely an unprecedented amount of buyers and that’s what’s drove the market up,” said Pats head coach and general manager John Paddock on Wednesday.
Take the Pats Wednesday morning trade with Saskatoon for Cam Hebig as an example. Hebig was Paddock’s primary target, but along with sending forward Bryan Lockner to Saskatoon, the teams swapped goaltenders (Tyler Brown went to Saskatoon and Ryan Kubic came to Regina) and the Pats gave up a first-round pick in 2020, a second-round pick in 2020 and third-round picks in 2019 and 2021 in the trade.
Down the highway, Swift Current loaded up on Tuesday with a multi-player deal with the Lethbridge Hurricanes adding former Canes captain Giorgio Estephan, goaltender Stuart Skinner and forward Tanner Nagel to their roster in exchange for rookie forward Logan Barlage, goaltender Logan Flodell, forward Owen Blocker and defenceman Matthew Stanley. Lethbridge also received a first-round and a third-round selection in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft and a future conditional second-round pick in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft.
Meanwhile, the first place Moose Jaw Warriors picked up World Junior star defenceman Kale Clague in exchange for 17-year-old Luka Burzan, 18-year-old Chase Hartje, a second-round pick in 2018, a first-round pick in 2019, and a first round pick in 2021.
“It’s just sort of crazy. I talk to other managers, they’re just shaking their heads,” Paddock said, agreeing with a statement that prices at the trade deadline were “out of control.”
With all that said, Paddock is happy with where the team is at.
Right at the 4 p.m. deadline, the Pats finalized two additional trades that brought defenceman Aaron Hymen and Brady Pouteau into the fold.
Earlier trades brought in Libor Hajek, Austin Pratt, Jared Legien, Jonas Harkins and 20-year-old Jesse Gabrielle.
Paddock said despite an inflated market he doesn’t think he spent more than he anticipated spending.
“(Hebig) was like a possessed player to me, trying to make up for lost time of missing a full season and he got an NHL contract because of how he’s playing. We consider Libor a top defenceman. Aaron Hyman … to see him, game in and game out against us (in the WHL finals) he’s a really effective defender,” Paddock explained. “Those are key guys and obviously, Jesse (Gabrielle) and (Ryan) Kubic was good tonight, he works really hard in the net, so like we’re thrilled with them actually.”
Kubic was the backup goaltender in Saskatoon this season, so even after the trade that brought him to Regina many thought another had to be in the works to upgrade the team’s netminding – an idea Paddock shot down.
“We didn’t do these (trades) for goaltending, we did these deals for Cam Hebig so we’re perfectly comfortable with (Kubic),” he said, adding there were no goaltenders available.
Now, with the Memorial Cup roster set, Paddock said they will shift focus to getting the team playing together and building chemistry in the weeks and months ahead.
The Pats lost 4-3 in overtime on Wednesday night – mere hours after the trade deadline – but many of the newest members of the team hadn’t arrived yet, leaving Paddock optimistic.
“I think we saw enough good things to be encouraged and could certainly tell that some guys … are not used to doing what we like to do. We were not driving to the net or different things and holding back and just a lack of chemistry which is bound to happen. You take six or seven guys out of your lineup (that’s) going to be there. We still have to work on the chemistry. It’s just going to be a little bit, that’s all.”
The Pats are next in action on Friday night at the Brandt Centre at 7 p.m.
Along with some of the newly acquired players, Sam Steel is back for the first time since winning gold at the World Juniors.