The Kootenay Ice have acquired 18-year-old forward Jesse Zaharichuk from the Kamloops Blazers in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.
Zaharichuk, a 5-foot-8, 155-pound native of Sherwood Park, Alta., comes to the Ice with 65 games of WHL experience accumulated over the past two seasons in Kamloops.
“Jesse Zaharichuk is a skilled forward who brings WHL experience and depth to our roster,” said Jeff Chynoweth, president and general manager of the Kootenay Ice, in a team release. “He has been producing at nearly a point-per-game pace with Kamloops this season and given the injuries up and down our roster, Jesse will get every opportunity to step into the lineup and contribute right away.”
This season, Zaharichuk has registered four goals and 13 points in 17 games with the Blazers. He was a healthy scratch Saturday evening as the Blazers fell by a 7-3 final to the Prince George Cougars.
Zaharichuk is expected to join the Ice in time for Tuesday’s tilt against his former team — the Blazers.
During his rookie season in the WHL, Zaharichuk suited up in 48 games with the Blazers while contributing three goals and 12 assists.
Zaharichuk signed his WHL standard player contract with the Blazers back in August 2014 after beginning his junior hockey career with the Drumheller Dragons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
During the 2013-14 campaign with the Dragons, Zaharichuk posted four goals and 14 points in 48 games, before breaking out in the post-season with five goals and nine points in 15 games.
Zaharichuk helps bolster an Ice forward corps ravaged by injuries. He is expected to join the club for its five-game road trip through the B.C. Division, which begins Tuesday in Kamloops.
Captain Luke Philp (ankle) is out indefinitely, while right wing Jaedon Descheneau is expected to miss the duration of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Another top-six forward — Zak Zborosky — is week-to-week with a lower-body injury and right wing River Beattie has also been unavailable due to a head injury.
Finally, forward Shane Allan has been unavailable over the past three games as he serves a four-game suspension for charging.
Saturday against the Lethbridge Hurricanes, the Ice lined up defencemen Bryan Allbee and Jason Wenzel — who returned after five-game absence due to headaches — at forward. Even with the two typical blue-liners skating up front, head coach Luke Pierce was still one skater short.
The acquisition of Zaharichuk marked the second deal of the day for the Ice, with forwards Austin Gray and Reed Morison being acquired from the Portland Winterhawks in exchange for a 2016 seventh-round pick earlier in the day.