Kootenay Ice captain Luke Philp is on the move.
The 20-year-old native of Canmore, Alta., has been dealt to the Red Deer Rebels in exchange for 20-year-old forward Presten Kopeck, 17-year-old defenceman Ryan Pouliot, the rights to 16-year-old forward Tanner Sidaway, along with a second- and third-round pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.
“I can’t say enough good things about Luke Philp, both on and off the ice,” said Jeff Chynoweth, president and general manager of the Kootenay Ice. “He’s left a lasting impression and hopefully some of the younger players have learned from that what it takes to be successful.
“He’s a leader, both on and off the ice, and has been through his tenure with our organization. He is a warrior. He has played through a lot. He’s played in the shadows behind Sam Reinhart for a number of years.
“It’s always tough when you have to move any player, let alone probably one of the top-10 players to ever play for our organization.”
The deal was announced Sunday morning, one week in advance of the WHL trade deadline.
Philp leaves the Kootenay Ice tied for sixth among franchise leaders in assists (140) and points (235), and ninth in career leaders in goals (95) over 247 games.
“I kind of knew I was on the trade block, but I didn’t really know where I was going, so I was really excited [to hear it was Red Deer],” Philp said over the phone Sunday afternoon.
“The Kootenay Ice is a top-class organization. I have nothing but good things to say about it, from the management — Jeff [Chynoweth] — to the coaching staff over my last four years here and to the training staff as well.
“I’m going to miss everyone. I’m going to miss the players, especially. I’ve made some lifelong friends over these past four years, so it’s tough to say goodbye. But at the same time, in my position, I get a chance to go play for a Memorial Cup, so I’m really excited.”
The Ice selected the 5-foot-10, 174-pound pivot with the 59th-overall pick (third round) at the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.
From there, Philp did nothing but endear himself to coaches, management, teammates and fans in Cranbrook, being recognized as the team’s most valuable player in 2015. In both 2013-14 and 2014-15, Philp was also recognized with the Ice Players’ Award, as voted upon by Kootenay Ice players.
During 2014-15, he set a career high with 82 points in 71 games to lead the team in scoring.
To this point in the 2015-16 WHL campaign, Philp has registered 13 goals and 29 points through 22 games, as he has battled injury for the first time in his major junior career.
Philp missed a pair of games in mid-November as he dealt with an upper-body injury suffered Nov. 13 in a 6-0 loss at Calgary. Upon returning, he suited up in two games before sustaining an ankle injury Nov. 21 in a 2-1 home win over Swift Current.
The shifty centre underwent surgery in an effort to repair the damage and has yet to suit up since.
“[Philp] is walking and the cast is off, the walking boot is off,” Chynoweth said. “He had a follow-up appointment Dec. 30 and everything went well. If everything continues to go the way it has so far, he should play the weekend of Jan. 22.”
It has been a busy week for Rebels head coach and general manager Brent Sutter as he loads up for a Memorial Cup run.
The wheeling and deal began last Sunday, Dec. 27, when the Rebels acquired Boston Bruins first-round pick Jake DeBrusk from the Swift Current Broncos in exchange for forward Lane Pederson, a first-round pick (2017) and a third-round pick (2016).
The following day, Red Deer acquired the rights to forward Taden Rattie, the brother of St. Louis Blues prospect Ty Rattie, from the Portland Winterhawks in exchange for a fourth-round pick (2016).
On New Year’s Day, Sutter made another big splash as he went out and snared 20-year-old forward Adam Helewka from the Spokane Chiefs, shipping off captain Wyatt Johnson, prospect Eli Zummack, a second-round pick (2016) and a fifth-round pick (2017).
Only two days after bringing in Helewka — a San Jose Sharks prospect with 93 goals to his credit in 210 WHL games — Sutter added the former Kootenay Ice captain, Philp.
“Everyone’s goal playing junior hockey, I know it’s been mine, is you want to win a championship and you want to get to the Memorial Cup,” Philp said. “I think going to Red Deer, they’ve just made some big trades and the team’s looking really good. I’m very excited.”
While Philp heads to Red Deer to compete for the Memorial Cup — the Rebels host the 2016 edition of the Canadian Hockey League’s annual championship — the Ice welcome Kopeck and Pouliot to the fold, while also adding future assets to aid in retooling a club that has battled to a 6-31-3-0 record through 40 games this season.
“The draft picks were very important, first and foremost,” Chynoweth said of the pieces coming his way. “This now gives us eight draft picks in the first five rounds [of the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft].
“That gives us an opportunity to restock the cupboards, so to speak, even though those players are two to three years from playing on our team.”
Kopeck, a native of Medicine Hat, was an alternate captain with the Rebels this season, posting five goals and 18 points in 34 games.
The 6-foot, 170-pound centre was originally selected right after Philp at the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft, tabbed by the Portland Winterhawks with the 60th-overall pick (third round).
The Winterhawks dealt Kopeck to the Rebels on Dec. 10, 2013. In 221 games split between Portland and Red Deer, Kopeck has amassed 46 goals and 115 points.
Pouliot, a native of North Vancouver, is in his first WHL season, having skated in 14 games with the Rebels. He was originally an 11th-round pick (228th overall) of the Saskatoon Blades at the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft.
“Pouliot is a defenceman our scouting staff really liked,” Chynoweth said. “He gives us four in that  age group. With the uncertainty on [1999-born defenceman] Griffin Mendel and whether or not we’ll ever see him, this gives us more depth to maybe leapfrog a year.
“[Pouliot] hasn’t played a lot, he’s been injured, but he’s excited about the opportunity.”
Sidaway, a native of Victoria, has spent the 2015-16 season with the Westshore Wolves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. In 24 games, he has tallied five goals, seven points and 122 penalty minutes.
“Sidaway gives us some more depth,” Chynoweth said. “We watched him play at the Tri-Cities tournament and we liked him. He plays hard. This gives us another signed prospect in the 1999 forward age group.”
The Kootenay Ice are in action Sunday afternoon, visiting the Swift Current Broncos at 3 p.m. (Mountain).
The WHL trade deadline is set for Jan. 10.