No one was safe at this years WHL trade deadline. We saw stars like Jake Bean, Kale Clague, Tanner Kaspick and Stuart Skinner all moved in or around the league’s deadline, plus there was a flurry of other moves.
In total, I counted 36 total trades in the week leading up to the deadline, some of them involving as many as ten different pieces going between the teams involved. An insane period of movement that shifted the landscape of the league. Simply put: it was an arms race.
While the Oil Kings only made one move, it was significant. They sent one of their longest serving players, David Koch, along with a conditional third-round pick to the Vancouver Giants in exchange for 1998 born forward Brendan Semchuk, goalie Todd Scott, and a third-round pick.
At first, I was disappointed in the deal. Koch is only 19 and I thought he might be able to come back to the team next year as an overage and help them as they turn a corner as an organization and make a push for the playoffs.
Oil Kings GM Randy Hansch said that Koch had requested a trade from the team, which obviously changes everything and at the end of the day, the Oil Kings got decent value given the fact their backs were up against the wall
For Koch, he’s going to get a chance to win with the Giants who are second in the WHL’s B.C. Division and he’ll be able to do so close to home. The veteran forward is originally from Surrey, B.C.
While the move does give them a good player in Brendan Semchuk, who could turn into a productive piece in the coming year, the Oil Kings will need to replace the point per game production of Davis Koch for the rest of this season and now that the trade deadline has passed, that hole will need to be filled internally.
For some of the teams younger players who have been bubbling in their bottom six, this is a golden opportunity to make a good impression heading into next year and show the team that they can produce against the oppositions best every night.
One of the names I’m looking at is Brett Kemp, who has scored the overtime winner on back-to-back nights for this team. The 17-year-old has just 11 goals and 20 points so far this season, but he’s been gaining more confidence as the year has gone on. He’s also one of the hardest working forwards this team has, so I’d love to see him get a crack with Soustal and Fix-Wolansky.
Kobe Mohr got the first look on the top line in the game against Regina last night and although he didn’t grab a point, he was +1 and had four shots on goal.
SECOND HALF SUCCESS
The Oil Kings have been rolling since coming back from the winter break and it’s great to see. They’re 5-2-2, which is just staggering when compared to the 7-22-4 record they held going into the break.
I’ve been harping on it all year, but this team is so young. It’s been clear all year that they have talent and they have the drive to compete with the best teams in this league, there were just some lessons they had to learn.
Well, it looks like they’ve learned them and they’re gaining confidence, which is probably the biggest factor. All year they’ve had a knack for staying in games when they fall behind, but as of late, when they go down it seems like they know that they have what it takes to not just keep it close, but to win the game.
The Oil Kings are back in action tomorrow against Moose Jaw. This will be a tough task as the Warriors are one of the teams that loaded up at the deadline. Most notably, they acquired World Junior standout Kale Clague from Brandon. Clague is expected to make his debut against Edmonton.
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