© Daily Herald staff
Raiders GM Bruno Campese
The Prince Albert Raiders lineup is set.
GM Bruno Campese chose not to make any last-minute deals as the Western Hockey League trade deadline hit at 1 p.m. after making four separate deals since Dec. 27.
“Honestly, we took care of our business early, which I prefer so that it’s not a big panic,” Campese said. “Leading up to the deadline the last few days has been the quietest I’ve encountered in the seven years I’ve been doing this.”
There were seven deals on Friday around the WHL after seven on Thursday, six on Wednesday, two on Tuesday and one on Monday.
Campese notes the last two weeks have been hectic for the Raiders since the Christmas trade embargo was lifted.
“You’re always trying to improve your team,” he says. “We had made several significant deals. You have to remember that we’ve brought four kids in, we’ve brought four out and we’ve added a prospect and had a couple of picks swap back and forth. We haven’t been active today but we’ve been very active.”
The team now has two goalies, seven defencemen and 14 forwards on the 23-man roster. There are three 20-year-olds, seven 19-year-olds, seven 18-year-olds, three 17-year-olds and three 16-year-olds.
Campese says that there haven’t been any real blockbusters across the league this year that could hobble teams in the future.
“If you look at (the Eastern Conference), there are nine teams so closely clustered. I think teams are wanting to get better without having to mortgage the future. I think all teams are in that cautious mode.”
Campese says trades are always a two-step process in which GMs identify strengths and weaknesses both on their team and around the league.
After making a short-list of potential players of interest, it’s a matter of contacting other GMs around the league to see if there is the potential for a deal.
If there is interest, the bartering begins.
“It’s a lengthy process,” Campese says. “Anyone who thinks deals are made in five minutes … it’s not true. The deals we made were all lengthy conversations over days and weeks.”
Still, Campese admits that his last conversation with another GM was about 10 minutes before the deadline.
No other GMs even asked about Raider stars Josh Morrissey or Leon Draisaitl, something Campese says comes out of respect.
For a known player like 19-year-old second round NHL draft pick Mike Winther to be traded, Campese put the word out that he was available for the right price.
“In Mike’s situation, he hadn’t had any traction here this year,” he said. “He was injured and then he got suspended and then got injured again. For Mike, a chance of scenery was needed.
“We had let some teams know that there could be a possibility if it made some sense of moving a name player.”
Campese likes who he has received in the last two weeks.
• Calder Brooks
“He is a 19-year-old player that is very versatile. He can play centre, he can play wing, he has very good speed, he’s quick on his feet, he’s good in faceoffs,” Campese said, noting the teams centres also include Draisaitl, Jayden Hart, Matteo Gennaro and Shane Danyluk.
“What this has allowed us to do is move Danyluk to the wing to take the pressure off him. He’s very responsible but we feel there’s more to his game.”
Brooks can also play left wing if needed and Danyluk could be shifted back into the middle.
• Collin Valcourt
“We felt we needed a different mix in our 20-year-olds; we felt we needed to upgrade,” Campese says. The team was looking for a top-six forward who could integrate with Draisaitl or Hart.
“Collin Valcourt can fill that void. He’s a consistent points producer in our league over the last few years. He’s big, he has a presence on the ice. We think down the stretch and if you get in the playoffs he could be the type of player who would be hard to play against.”
• Ryan Coghlan
After giving up 20-year-old defenceman Dylan Busenius to get Valcourt, the team needed a defender back.
“He’s a decent skater with mobility, he’s a thick kid. He provides us with some different options as far as where he can play in the lineup. He adds some depth to our back end.”
Campese says he hopes it allows the team to set up pairings, noting that with just seven defencemen on the roster, one will have to sit each game.
“When we look at those guys who are going to be fighting for spots, it’s going to be very competitive but we think it’s very healthy to have some competition.”
• Graeme Craig
“We believe that Craig adds a dimension of size, strength, experience and leadership that we needed. You throw him into the mix, it changes the dynamics of our team a little bit.”
The other thing Campese likes about the deals is that they haven’t compromised the team in the future.
“We haven’t had to give up a prospect really; we’ve gained a prospect (Brennan Riddle from Calgary) out of it. The picks, we had to give up a second rounder for Valcourt but other than that our picks are basically a wash. We’re really happy with what we’ve been able to add and we didn’t have to mortgage our future to do it.”
It will be quite a race to the finish. With nine teams bunched up for eight spots in the East, one good team is going to miss the playoffs.
“I really like our team,” Campese says. “I’ve liked our team before we started juggling the lineup and I like it even more now.”
Campese says the team was eight games over .500 at the start of December.
He says the team has been without Morrissey for 11 games, Draisaitl for eight games and coped with a cold/flu that swept through the team. They also lost rookies Brendan Guhle, Matteo Gennaro and Nick McBride to the U-16 championships.
The result was a seven-game losing streak.
“After Christmas I think we’ve competed very hard,” Campese says. “I thought we’ve played well without some parts to our lineup.”
The team enters its weekend games in Brandon against the Wheat Kings with a full, healthy lineup for the first time in a month.
The GM says the stars will have to step up right away.
“Our best players every night have to be our best players. That starts from our goalie to our defence to our forwards,” Campese said. “Our core guys need to be better than the other team’s core guys on any given night and I think they’re capable of it. That’s what it’s going to take and if they do, I think we’re going to be very competitive.”
The Raiders now sit in eighth in the East with 44 points, two up on the Red Deer Rebels but within seven points of five teams that lead them.
Campese guesses that it will take about 80 points to get into the playoffs, suggesting the team would have to earn at least 36 points in its remaining 31 games to book a post-season spot.
Unfortunately for them, their remaining schedule includes a five-game swing through the U.S. Division in late February that is traditionally challenging for teams from the East.
Still, Campese says the team is now ideally equipped for the race.
“We’ve got everybody back, everybody is healthy and I think it’s go time from this point forward.”
WHAT THE RAIDERS DID:
The Christmas trade deadline lifted on Dec. 27. Here are the deals made by the Prince Albert Raiders since then.
• Jan. 8
— Prince Albert receives Graeme Craig, 7th Round ’14, 5th Round ’16.
— Saskatoon receives MacKenzie Johnston, Tyler Dea, 3rd Round ’15, 5th Round ’15.
• Jan. 7
— Prince Albert receives Brennan Riddle, 3rd Round ’15
— Calgary receives 2nd Round ’14, 4th Round ’15.
• Dec. 28
— Prince Albert receives Calder Brooks, 2nd Round ’14.
— Calgary receives Mike Winther.
• Dec. 28
— Prince Albert receives Collin Valcourt and Ryan Coghlan.
— Saskatoon receives Dylan Busenius, 2nd Round ’14, 5th Round ’14.
WHAT THE CONTENDERS DID:
There are eight other teams currently in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference.
Here’s who they acquired since Dec. 27, in order of where they were in the standings at the trade deadline.
• Calgary Hitmen
— Mike Winther; Michael Zipp; 4th Round ’14.
• Swift Current Broncos
— Nathan Burns; Geordie Maguire; 7th Round ’14.
• Edmonton Oil Kings
— Blake Orban.
• Medicine Hat Tigers
— Nick Schneider; Anthony Ast; 3rd Round ’16; 3rd Round ’14; 6th Round ’15; Conditional draft pick;
• Brandon Wheat Kings
• Regina Pats
— Isaac Schacher, Logan McVeigh, Daniel Wapple; 6th Round ’15; 5th Round ’15.
• Kootenay Ice
— Tyler King.
• Red Deer Rebels
— Aspen Sturzer; 4th Round ’15; 3rd Round ’16.
THE DEALS THAT WERE MADE THIS WEEK:
• Regina sends Geordie Maguire to Swift Current for 6th Round ’15.
• Regina sends Marc McCoy to Kelowna for 5th Round ’16.
• Everett sends Ty Mapppin to Saskatoon 7th Round ’15 conditional.
• Spokane sends Jackson Playfair to Tri-City for Marcus Messier.
• Vancouver sends Anthony Ast to Medicine Hat for 3rd Round ’16.
• Medicine Hat sends Logan McVeigh, Daniel Wapple to Regina for Nick Schneider and 3rd Round ’16.
• Portland sends Jarrod Schamerhorn to Lethbridge for 7th Round ’14.
• Tri-City sends Connor Rankin to Calgary for Josh Thrower.
• Vancouver sends Adam Beukeboom to Prince George for 7th Round ’16
• Kamloops sends Aspen Sterzer to Red Deer for Matt Bellerive and 3rd Round ’14.
• Calgary sends Zane Jones to Everett for Micheal Zipp.
• Lethbridge sends Russell Maxwell to Seattle for Seth Swenson, Michal Holub and 4th Round ’14.
• Lethbridge sends Corbin Boes to Portland for Steven Alldridge, Shane McColgan and 2nd Round ’14.
• Red Deer sends Dominik Volek to Vancouver for 4th Round ’15 and 3rd Round ’16.
• Saskatoon sends Matt Revel, 3rd Round '16, and 2nd Round ’14 conditional to Kamloops for Jordan Thomson, Mitch Lipon and 1st Round ’15.
• Vancouver sends Marek Tvrdon to Kelowna for 2nd Round ’14.
• Kelowna sends Zach Franko to Kootenay for 6th Round ’14 and 3rd Round ’16.
• Tri-City sends Wil Tomchuk to Prince George for conditional ’15 or ’16
• Saskatoon sends Graeme Craig, 7th Round ’14 and 5th Round ’16 to Prince Albert for MacKenzie Johnston, Tyler Dea, 3rd Round ’15 and 5th Round ’15.
• Portland sends Adam Tambellini to Calgary for1st Round ’14 and 4th Round ’15 conditional.
• Victoria sends Isaac Schacher to Regina for 5th Round ’15 and 5th Round ’16.
• Calgary sends Brennan Riddle and 3rd Round ’15 to Prince Albert for 2nd Round ’14 and 4th Round ’15.
• Moose Jaw sends Travis Brown to Victoria for Noah Gregor, 3rd Round ’14, 3rd Round ’16 and conditional ’16 or ’17.