© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
The Prince Albert Raiders will play the final game of their five-game home stand on Friday with a new veteran presence on their blue line.
The Raiders announced the acquisition of overage defenseman MacKenzie Johnston from the Kelowna Rockets on Thursday, in exchange for a conditional third round selection in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.
Raiders captain Josh Morrissey looks forward to having a veteran character player in the Raiders dressing room.
“My brother is a young goalie in the Kelowna system and his experience with him (Johnston) is that he is just fantastic,” Morrissey said of the latest addition to the Raiders roster. “He’s a great leader, great guy, he’s played a lot of games in the WHL so obviously he’s got experience and I’m sure that will help us,” he said.
Johnston will fill the recently vacated third overage slot of the Raiders roster, bringing with him 233 career regular season and 18 WHL playoff games played.
“Anytime you can add someone with experience, especially in the playoffs where there’s adversity, ups and downs in a series; he’s been there, he’s been through it so when we get there he can offer a lot of value in that area,” Morrissey said.
Upon the unexpected departure of defenseman Evan Morden over the weekend, Raiders GM Bruno Campese said on Monday the organization was in no rush to fill the vacant overage player slot, but after getting a feel for the overage market, he had to jump on Johnston.
“To be honest, he’s just has what we needed,” Campese said on Thursday.
Campese said Johnston adds a breadth of experience to the Raiders blue line with 34 points, 75 penalty minutes over four seasons with the Rockets.
The defending Eastern Conference champion Edmonton Oil Kings visit the Art Hauser Centre Friday. The Raiders were 3-0-1 last season versus the Oil Kings, outscoring the 2011-2012 WHL champs 14-10.
The Oil Kings have appeared in two straight WHL Championship Finals, winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2012 over the Portland Winterhawks.
“Edmonton has been a really strong team the past couple of years,” Morrissey said. “When you play against those teams you try and raise your level up there and compete against them, and we want to show them we can compete with them and that we are better,” he said.
Morrissey, fresh from signing a two-way entry level deal with the Winnipeg Jets Thursday, will be without fellow NHL draftee, center Mike Winther. Winther is day-to-day with a lower body injury, the Raiders organization told The Daily Herald Wednesday.
Oil Kings import center Henrik Samuelsson, is tied for fifth overall in league scoring with 11 points in five games.
Samuelsson is riding a three-game scoring streak, scoring multiple points in three straight contests.
The Raiders will look to maintain their league leading 28 goals scored as the league’s only undefeated team, sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre on Friday.