Warriors trade Wapple; Sawchenko earns role
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Moose Jaw Warriors goalie Daniel Wapple sprawls to rob Red Deer's Brooks Maxwell in close during second period action Friday night.
Justin Paulic’s play at the start of 2013 made Tuesday’s Moose Jaw Warriors trade inevitable.
Warriors goalie Daniel Wapple missed the final two months of the season due to injury and Paulic started 26 straight games in goal and cemented his place as the Warriors’ goalie of the future.
Wapple was traded Tuesday to the Medicine Hat Tigers which will leave rookie Zach Sawchenko to back up Paulic for the up-coming season. In return the Warriors picked up a fourth round bantam pick in 2015 and a conditional ninth round pick in 2016. Wapple was originally a fourth round pick.
“When we signed Paulic and Wapple at 16, it was our intent that we would run with those two guys through them being 18 and then have Sawchenko come in as a 17-year-old,” said Warriors general manager Alan Millar.
“We felt that those two guys would compete for two years and almost share the net. Up until January of last year that was the case. Then, unfortunately, Wapple got hurt and during that time the balance of power changed. Paulic really took off. He established himself as a leader and as our No. 1 goalie.”
Wapple appeared in 20 games last season and posted a 3.61 goals-against-average and .886 save percentage. He will battle with 19-year-old Czech goalie Marek Langhamer for the Tigers’ starting job.
“Based on what happened over the last year we really felt that Paulic was clearly the number one guy. With Paulic getting the bulk of the games for a couple of years here it made sense to move Wapple,” said Millar.
The trade was also a vote of confidence that Sawchenko — the Warriors first selection in the 2012 bantam draft — was ready to make the jump. Sawchenko spent a lot of time in Moose Jaw after Wapple was injured a year ago, but never saw the ice. He won’t turn 16 until Dec. 30 and will be the youngest player in the WHL this season.
“Zach Sawchenko is very good goalie and we believe he is mature beyond his years,” said Millar. “He’s mentally focused. He’s a competitive kid. We feel that Justin Paulic can be a very good mentor for him over the next couple of years.”
Millar said that he was confident Sawchenko would log enough minutes in goal to continue developing.
“We feel that Sawchenko will compete and earn his way into the net more often then you may think for a 16-year-old,” said Millar who said the Warriors coaching staff has shown that they’re not afraid to play young players.
Tribe tidbits ... the Warriors also had defenceman Travis Brown returned to them Tuesday afternoon from the Chicago Blackhawks ... Tanner Eberle sat out practice for precautionary reasons, but is expected to be ready to play in Friday’s home opener.