Sawyer Hunt is going home.
Derek Stuart, head coach and general manager of the Kimberley Dynamiters, announced the trade of Hunt (1997) to the Nelson Leafs in exchange for forward Nicholas Ketola (1997) and future considerations Tuesday afternoon.
“With the amount of guys that are leaving, [Ketola] has a great opportunity to take a top spot and be a guy who can be relied on offensively and defensively,” Stuart said Tuesday. “I’ve been told he’s a good skater and a very good kid and good teammate.
“He seems excited to come here. Fitting in, he won’t have a problem and he has a chance to be a real impact player, both this year and next year.”
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Hunt is a native of Nelson. According to Stuart, Hunt requested a trade home in May and after some extended conversation, a deal was struck with the Leafs to make that possible.
Key to the transaction for Stuart was the inclusion of Ketola, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound native of Mead, Wash., who posted five goals and seven assists in 46 regular season games before adding a goal and an assist in four playoff games during the 2015-16 campaign with the Leafs.
“[Getting a serviceable roster player] was very important,” Stuart said. “That’s why it took probably five or six weeks to get this deal done. With Hunt leaving and probably being one of our team’s top forwards, it was very important to get something we could show [in return] for him.
“[Ketola] is definitely a player that has been in the league, but was also excited to come and is going to report and be a Dynamiter for two years. That was extremely important.”
Hunt emerged as an effective top-nine threat for the Dynamiters last season, producing career highs across the board, including 14 goals, 21 assists and 35 points in 45 regular season games.
During the Nitros run to the 2016 KIJHL final, the gritty Hunt was often one of the best forwards on the ice for head coach Jerry Bancks. Through 19 post-season outings, the good-natured Hunt registered five goals, 11 assists and 16 points.
Hunt was around for the Dynamiters 2015 KIJHL championship and subsequent silver-medal performance at the 2015 Cyclone Taylor Cup.
He is expected to attended training camp with the Surrey Eagles of the British Columbia Hockey League this coming fall, so there’s a chance he might not suit up in the KIJHL this season.
Should he not make the grade at the Junior A level, Hunt’s trade request came in hopes of finishing out his career and schooling at home in Nelson.
The speedy forward attended camp with the Canmore Eagles of the Alberta Junior Hockey League in 2015-16 and made the team out of camp, staying for a short stint before being returned to Kimberley.
In 89 career KIJHL regular season games from 2013-14 through 2015-16, all with the Nitros, Hunt amassed 20 goals, 32 assists and 52 points, while adding five goals and 19 points in 35 career KIJHL post-season contests.
The 2015-16 campaign marked Ketola’s rookie season in the KIJHL.
Stuart still has plenty of work to do as he retools a Dynamiters roster that is in the midst of massive turnover, with key cogs like Jason Richter, Jared Marchi, Eric Buckley, Jordan Busch, Justin Meier, Tyson Brouwer and now Hunt striking out new paths.
Richter, Buckley, Meier and Brouwer are all set to join the upstart ACHA Div. 1 men’s hockey program out of the University of Jamestown, while Busch is headed to Concordia University of Edmonton. Marchi aged out at the conclusion of 2015-16.
In addition to the acquisition of Ketola, Stuart also indicated the Dynamiters will co-host an invite-only showcase camp with the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks from Aug. 12 to 14 in Calgary.
“We’re sending invites out and being a little selective,” Stuart said. “I’ve sent out about 20 to 30 invites myself and I think the Canucks have sent over 50 [invites].
“If any of the kids might not be of interest to the Canucks, they might be of interest to us and we get the chance to look at some players we might not have been able to get to main camp or maybe didn’t even know about.
“On the other hand, there are some top-end recruits that I’m trying to get to our camp that are going to come to this camp. So I’ll get a better idea on them as well. It gives us an early look at some of our guys and gives us [an opportunity] at any of the players the Canucks aren’t interested in.”
Stuart served on the coaching staff of current Canucks head coach James Poole during his time as the head coach of the Okotoks Oilers.
Stuart was hired May 9 as the new head coach and general manager of the Dynamiters, taking over from Bancks, who retired at the conclusion of 2015-16.
Matchsticks: In addition to the acquisition of Hunt, the Leafs swung one other deal Tuesday, sending G Patrick Ostermann (1997) to the Creston Valley Thunder Cats in exchange for cash considerations. Ostermann, a native of Calgary, went 11-13-0 with a 3.18 GAA and .896 SP with the Leafs in 2015-16…