Prince Albert Raiders general manager Bruno Campese definitely has a unique way of bringing in the New Year.
Rather than being out with family and friends, Campese is burning up the phone lines. The result is a second straight year where a blockbuster trade has been made and oddly enough, Logan McVeigh was involved in both deals.
“It’s been in the works for a couple of weeks,” admitted Campese on Tuesday night. “I’ve had conversations with the Tigers about seeing what kind of possibilities there were. It wasn’t just overnight.”
The 18-year-old McVeigh, who was acquired from the Kamloops Blazers for five-year veteran Brandon Herrod on New Year’s Eve last year, is now a member of the Medicine Hat Tigers. Defenseman Zach Hodder also heads to Medicine Hat along with prospect Connor Hobbs and a second-round pick in the 2013 WHL bantam draft.
Coming to Prince Albert is 19-year-old defenseman Dylan Busenius and 18-year-old winger Jayden Hart in addition to a sixth-round selection in the 2014 draft.
“We felt we had to solidify the backend with an experienced defenseman,” says Campese. “He has played 23 games in the playoffs and we don’t have a lot of playoff experience. We need more depth on the backend to assist with situational play.”
Busenius has more than 200 games of experience and this year he is having his best season offensively having scored six times and setting up 20 others in 37 games. Campese says the Sherwood Park native will help strengthen the Raider power play, which presently is in the lower third of the league for efficiency.
The swap of 19-year-old defensemen certainly benefits the Raiders as Hodder, who will now be with his fourth WHL team (Vancouver, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Medicine Hat), has just two goals and one assist during his time with the Raiders.
The shuffling of 18-year-old forwards, however, is not as clear cut although Campese says Hart brings come components to the team that McVeigh couldn’t.
“He will add a little more size and some grit,” says Campese. “If he can stay healthy we believe he can fit in a top-six (forward) role.”
Hart is in his second season in the WHL and the younger brother of former Raider Tyler Hart has had his struggles this season. With injuries limiting his time to just 18 games, the Spruce Grove, Alta., product has managed just five goals and five assists and during the Christmas break he notified the Tigers that he wouldn’t be returning to the team.
Campese says that is always a concern, but he is confident that the right move was made.
“Medicine Hat made us aware of the situation and the reasons why,” says Campese. “We know him and we know the family. After talking to him this morning (Tuesday) he is extremely happy to be coming to Prince Albert.”
McVeigh’s move comes at a time when he and linemates Dakota Conroy and Anthony Bardaro were firing on all cylinders as the trio combined for 17 points in a pair of victories over the Saskatoon Blades on the weekend.
“Multiple guys play with others during the course of a season,” says Campese. “They (players) will find a lot of chemistry with a lot of different people.”
“To get a quality player you have to give up a quality individual,” added Campese. “It’s never easy to do these things.”
The trade deadline is a week away and Campese says, for now, the Raiders are happy with where they are at.
“The things we wanted to accomplish we’ve accomplished, but certainly we will still listen,” says Campese.
Hodder and McVeigh were both in a Medicine Hat uniform on Tuesday afternoon as the Tigers visited the Blades in Saskatoon. The wait to see their old teammates will be short as the Tigers are in Prince Albert tonight at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
Busenius and Hart will be wearing their new uniforms tonight as well as the Raiders look to extend their winning streak to four games. The newest Raiders will have to wait until early next week to meet the remainder of their new team as Mark McNeill and Leon Draisaitl are still at the world junior championships in Ufa, Russia, while Reid Gardiner and Tim Vanstone are in Quebec competing with Team West at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
RAIDER NOTES: Prince Albert’s Anthony Bardaro has been named the WHL’s Denny’s Player of the Week after collecting four goals and three assists in the two wins over Saskatoon. Bardaro is now second in team scoring with 14 goals and 22 assists and trails McNeill by just three points for the overall lead…With the Raiders missing four regulars, they have filled their roster with three prospects as Luke Mahura, Spencer Meyer and Brendan Guhle have been with the club since the Christmas break and will remain with the Raiders until the end of the week. Goaltending prospect Nick McBride, a 15-year-old from B.C., is also with the team this week to get some practise time at the WHL level while he is on a school break…Tonight is another Las Vegas Night promotion with all fans over the age of 21 eligible to enter a draw for a trip for two to the Nevada gambling centre.