The Kootenay Ice announced on Thursday morning that they had traded goaltender Declan Hobbs to the Spokane Chiefs for a seventh-round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.
“We would like to wish [Hobbs] the best of luck in Spokane,” said president and general manager Matt Cockell in a team release. “Part of our responsibility to our players is providing opportunity for them. We thought this move would give [Hobbs] a chance to earn a roster spot in Spokane and allow us to prioritize evaluating our goalies in camp by giving them some more minutes.”
Hobbs, who is a 1998-born player, appeared in three games with the Ice last season posting a 7.16 goals against average, a .800 save percentage and a 0-3 record. He spent the rest of the 2016-17 season with the Nipawin Hawks of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
During the 2015-16 campaign, the Saskatoon native appeared in 24 games with the Ice posting a 4.66 goals against average, a .873 save percentage and a record of 2-14-3. He had previously played in two games with Kootenay during the 2014-15 season and was a third-round draft pick (53rd overall) by the Ice in 2013.
The move comes more than a month after the Ice acquired 20-year-old veteran goalie Mario Petit from the Everett Silvertips for a conditional sixth-round pick.
After that trade, Cockell told the Townsman that he believed Petit’s addition would make the “entire [fall training] camp more competitive” and that Hobbs, along with last season’s backup goalie Jakob Walter would compete for a spot on the team.
“We feel that Walter and Hobbs [both] have a very good opportunity to [make the team],” Cockell said at the time. “Both have played in the league [and] have experience. Hobbs had a great opportunity this year to play in a starting role. I think that will really help as he returns to camp.”
In 30 games last season, Walter finished his rookie WHL campaign with a 5.02 goals against average and a .868 save percentage while earning four wins.
Walter was a backup to Cranbrook-native Payton Lee who played 53 games with a 4.16 goals against average, a .894 save percentage, a 10-26-8-2 record and was named the team’s MVP for the 2016-17 season. Lee aged out of the WHL at the conclusion of the year.
In Spokane, the Chiefs were also led by a 20-year-old goalie last year. Jayden Sittler played 43 games, while 1999-born rookie Dawson Weatherill appeared in 36 games as a rookie.
In addition to Petit and Walter, the Ice also have several goaltending prospects who will be present at training camp that Cockell has said the organization is very excited about, including 16 year olds Jesse Makaj and Carter Woodside.
Makaj was the team’s second overall selection and 23rd overall pick at the 2016 Draft, while Woodside was a sixth round pick at 111th overall.
The Ice will play the Chiefs in Spokane’s 2017-18 home opener on September 30.