Warriors swap touted talents

Matthew
Matthew Gourlie
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Moose Jaw acquires Olynek from Canes for Warkentine

The best trades are the ones that benefits both teams and the players involved.

Lethbridge Hurricanes goaltender Teegan Sacher looks up at the puck above his head as Hurricanes forward Kolten Olynek tries to keep Prince Albert Raiders forward Tim Vanstone from pouncing on the rebound during WHL action last season in Prince Albert.

The Moose Jaw Warriors and Lethbridge Hurricanes feel they did just that Monday after swapping a pair of highly touted 18-year-old forwards who both look like they could use a fresh start.

The Warriors dealt left winger Miles Warkentine to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for Kolten Olynek.

"I think this is a deal that comes down to two good prospects who both went high in the 2011 draft and things haven't necessarily gone exactly the way that some people anticipated for both players," said Warriors general manager Alan Millar. "They're both still young, they both still have an opportunity and I think a new start will benefit both Miles and Kolten."

The Warriors selected Warkentine 16th overall and the Canes took Olynek 26th overall in the '11 draft.

Warkentine played 106 games over two seasons with the Warriors. He had four goals, 16 points and 28 penalty minutes over that time.

Last season was Olynek's first full season in the WHL. He scored four goals and added eight assists in 57 games. The five-foot-nine, 165-pound centre also had a goal and an assist in four games as a 16-year-old call-up.

"He's a guy who has a good skill set. He's a very good skater. We like the tenacity in his game — he competes," said Millar.

While Olynek didn't offer much production for the struggling Hurricanes, he was second in scoring in the Sask. Midget AAA Hockey League in 2012-13 with 69 points in 38 games with the his hometown Saskatoon Contacts. He also had 50 points in 42 games in his rookie season with the Contacts.

"There's a history of offence there," said Millar. "You go back to his bantam year and he put up big numbers. He had a very successful two years with the Contacts. He played in two Telus Cups."

Olynek was named the top forward at the 2013 Telus Cup as he tallied seven goals and 11 points in seven games. He also had a pair of goals at the 2012 Telus Cup.

"He's excited. He's a Sask. kid who is two hours away from family and friends and he's really excited about the new opportunity," said Millar. "He's a guy that we think is going to make things interesting at camp and we think he can compete for a spot in our top-six or our top-nine.

"We'll see if he can benefit from a fresh start with our hockey club."

Whether Olynek can be a point-per-game player in the WHL remains to be seen, but the Warriors feel that the gritty speedster can bring more than just offence to the table as well.

"Doug Gasper, our assistant head scout, is based in Saskatoon. He speaks very, very highly of Olynek as a young man in terms of his character and his work ethic," said Millar. "We're adding good character. He brings a good hockey IQ and a good skill set. We can't anticipate players will match the numbers that they put up in midget or bantam, but we know he has that skill set and we know he has that compete level."

Expectations were high for Warkentine after the Warriors made him a first round pick. Warkentine missed 15 games in the first month of his rookie season after Prince Albert's Tim Vanstone checked him from behind head-first into the boards. He had two more stretches where he missed more than two weeks of action with injuries and never really got on track.

In his second season, Warkentine was still being primarily deployed in a fourth line role though he was a regular on the penalty kill.

Organizations: Lethbridge Hurricanes for Kolten Olynek, Telus, AAA Hockey League Prince Albert

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Sask., Saskatoon

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