The Moose Jaw Warriors added some big pieces for their future Thursday.
Still, it wasn’t an easy day at Mosaic Place.
The Warriors traded popular veteran defenceman Joel Edmundson and a fourth round WHL bantam draft pick to the Kamloops Blazers in exchange for 18-year-old defenceman Tyler Bell, 15-year-old prospect Jayden Halbgewachs and a first round pick in 2015.
“We just felt the deal was good for the young man, in Joel Edmundson, and his future and it was the right move for our hockey club in the big picture,” said Warriors general manager Alan Millar.
While Edmundson, 19, moved to a title contender, the Warriors add a former first round pick in Halbgewachs and get younger on the blue line with Bell.
“The opportunity for us to add a big, solid defenceman in Tyler Bell — who is a year younger and certainly fills a hole for us a year from now,” said Millar. Next season, the Warriors will lose captain Kendall McFaull from the blue line and Edmundson was also unlikely to be back as a 20-year-old. Reid Jackson was expected to be a 20-year-old next season, but Millar conceded that Jackson “probably (won’t) be able to return as a 20-year-old with his concussion situation.”
Edmundson has not been able to sign with the St. Louis Blues due to the lack of a CBA, but is expected to ink a deal when the NHL lockout is resolved.
Bell is six-foot-two and hails from Regina. He is in his second season with the Blazers. Millar likes that Bell has played in key situations late in close games and plays on the penalty kill for the Blazers.
“He’s improved in the year-and-a-half he’s been in the league,” said Millar. “He’s not going to go end-to-end or quarterback our power play, but he’s certainly a guy who is a big body and will play physical.”
Bell has two goals and 16 points in 83 career games. He’s a plus-19 this season and has 61 penalty minutes in 54 games. His only goal of the season came against the Warriors.
The Warriors traded their first round pick in last year’s draft to Lethbridge in the Cam Braes deal. In Halbgewachs, they add the player who was taken one spot after their original selection in the first round.
“He was a guy who had to be part of the deal,” said Millar. “There’s a lot I like about him. I got to see him play last year in bantam — 55 goals in 24 games is good playing street hockey, never mind playing at the bantam level.
“His skills are great. He’s a very skilled player and we think that as he progresses at 18 or 19 years old he will be an impact player in this league.”
Halbgewachs is 5-foot-7 and 145 pounds and is from Emerald Park, Sask. He played his minor hockey in Balgonie and last year with the bantam Prairie Storm he finished with 89 points. He has signed a WHL player contract.
This season he has eight goals and 14 points in 19 games with the Regina Pat Canadians in the Sask. Midget AAA league.
While adding two quality young players and a first rounder is a good day of business, Millar said it wasn’t easy dealing Edmundson.
“Joel Edmundson has been nothing but a great Warrior,” said Millar who praised Edmundson from developing from a sixth round bantam pick who didn’t play in the league as a 16-year-old to being a second round NHL pick of St. Louis after his first full WHL season.
“He’s done everything we could ask of him as an organization. He’s a great leader, a great teammate and a great kid,” said Millar.