Presten Kopeck’s time as a member of the Kootenay Ice was pretty brief.
Just how brief was it?
The 6-foot, 174-pound Kopeck was on the Ice roster for all of 25 hours, landing there following a trade from Red Deer, announced at 10 a.m. Sunday morning, before being shipped off in another deal announced at 11 a.m. Monday morning.
For the second time in two days, the 20-year-old native of Medicine Hat is on the move after Ice president and general manager Jeff Chynoweth shipped Kopeck south across the border to the Spokane Chiefs in exchange for 20-year-old forward Riley Whittingham and a fourth-round pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.
“It was an opportunity to acquire a comparable 20-year-old in Riley Whittingham and also get a draft pick for down the road,” Chynoweth said of flipping Kopeck. “It was a no-brainer for us that way.
“I’m quite familiar with Riley Whittingham, both as a person and as a player. Looking at the situation and looking our team, we’re not the biggest team up front and we have trouble scoring goals. He provides both of those and has throughout his WHL career with Spokane.”
Kopeck was originally acquired by the Ice in the deal that saw Luke Philp become a member of the Rebels.
In Whittingham, a 6-foot-2, 196-pound native of Calgary, the Ice get a player with 228 games of WHL experience.
Interestingly enough, the two transactions involving Kopeck see a shuffling of three 1995-born players selected consecutively at the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.
Whittingham, 20, was the 58th-overall pick of the Spokane Chiefs and now finds himself a member of the Kootenay Ice.
Philp was the 59th-overall selection of the Ice and now finds himself a member of the Red Deer Rebels.
Kopeck was the 60th-overall selection of the Portland Winterhawks and now makes his return to the U.S. Division as a member of the Chiefs.
“We feel this trade will help our depth with our forwards as Presten Kopeck can play all three positions,” said Tim Speltz, general manager of the Spokane Chiefs, in a team release. “We will use [Kopeck] to kill penalties and he will also contribute offensively. He is a leader and a competitor.”
Kopeck has amassed 46 goals and 115 points in 224 career WHL games with the Winterhawks and Rebels.
The Chiefs expect he will be available in time for a Jan. 9 home date against the Regina Pats.
Having spent his entire career with the Chiefs, Whittingham has registered 46 goals and 95 points, including eight goals and 18 points in 34 games this season.
He is expected to be in Cranbrook in time for practice with the Ice on Tuesday afternoon.
Recently-acquired defenceman Ryan Pouliot is also expected to be in Cranbrook in time to practice Tuesday.
With the WHL trade deadline coming up Jan. 10, Chynoweth is still taking calls.
“We’ve got too many players. We’ve got 25 players right now and we want to get down to 22,” Chynoweth said. “In an ideal world, it would be 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goalies, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do something different. We’ll do everything we can to get down to 22 players by the time Sunday [Jan. 10] comes around at noon.”
As it stands, the Ice are carrying 14 forwards, nine defencemen and two goaltenders, including three 20-year-olds in Whittingham, defenceman Tanner Lishchynsky and goaltender Wyatt Hoflin.
“The 20-year-olds are a tough market…There’s an overabundance in that age group,” Chynoweth said. “If the right deal came along, I would definitely look at moving both Wyatt and Tanner, but right now it’s early in the week and there’s nothing going on.”
The Ice are also carrying 20-year-old forward Jaedon Descheneau, though he is on the long-term injury list after undergoing shoulder surgery earlier this season and is not expected to return to action before the campaign comes to a close.