With the WHL trade deadline fast approaching, Kootenay Ice general manager Jeff Chynoweth is still waiting for the right dance partner.
While other teams have made some deals down the stretch, Chynoweth isn’t ready to sign off on anything unless the right terms come along.
“There is some interest in some of our older players, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get a deal done,” said Chynoweth. “There’s a lot of tire-kicking right now and we’re not going to make a deal for the sake of making a deal. We got to make the best deal for this organization moving forward.”
With a 2-1 win over Edmonton on Tuesday, the Ice have climbed out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, as the Wheat Kings now occupy the basement.
The key to the Ice right now is their potential—the club will that much more dangerous as those younger players in all areas of the roster continue to develop.
Despite their youth, the Ice have been playing well as evidenced by their six consecutive wins, which has been possible because of noticeable improvement individually and as a team.
When the Vancouver Giants began to struggle right out of the gate, head coach Don Hay and general manager Scott Bonner blew up the roster in an effort to build for the future, dealing away star defence man David Musil to the Edmonton Oil Kings for Mason Gersteen and a first-round draft pick.
Vancouver also sent away Austin Vetterl to the Ice in exchange for a pair of prospects, and also dealt away Nathan Burns to Saskatoon for Travis McEvoy and two draft selections.
While the Ice were struggling at the same time, including a season-worst eight-game losing skid, Chynoweth kept things intact, but added Vetterl and Zach McPhee, giving up a draft pick to Everett.
While coming down the deadline stretch, other teams have been busy with some notable recent trades involving Kamloops picking up a veteran 20-year-old in Kale Kessy to bolster their roster, giving up Rob Trzonkowski and a draft pick to Vancouver.
Swift Current also added some youth to their roster, picking up Jay Merkley from Lethbridge in exchange for Josh Derko and a draft pick.
“I think the prices are high,” said Chynoweth, pointing to the two Vancouver deals that sent Musil to Edmonton and Burns to Saskatoon. “I think the prices are there, but you also have to find a willing partner.
“One of the things that doesn’t help, is sometimes you have a limited number of teams you can deal with and that has separated itself in the last few days.”
For his part, Ice defenceman Joey Leach knows there is always the possibility of getting moved on deadline day, but doesn’t allow those kind of thoughts to cloud the way he wants to play.
“Obviously that January 10th date is in your head, but you can’t worry about it because you got to go out and play the game, so I think we’ve proven that,” said Leach, a 20-year-old in his final year of eligibility. “…You can’t have it in your mind otherwise you can’t play the game.”