The 20-year-old situation for the Kootenay Ice got a little more complex Friday as right-winger Jaedon Descheneau was sent back to Cranbrook from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.
The Ice made the announcement via Twitter Friday afternoon. There has yet to be any official announcement from the Wolves, or the team’s NHL parent club — the St. Louis Blues.
Descheneau was in the building but didn’t dress Friday night as the Ice claimed a 5-2 victory over the Spokane Chiefs at Western Financial Place.
“He told me he felt like he could have played today [against Spokane],” said Ice head coach Luke Pierce following Friday’s win. “But it’s a long day of travel and all that.”
Descheneau, who finished second in scoring on the Ice with 81 points in 70 games through the 2014-15 WHL season, was a fifth-round pick (124th overall) of the St. Louis Blues at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
After a stint at Blues camp, the 20-year-old native of Edmonton, Alta., spent time with the team’s AHL affiliate in Chicago before he was returned to the WHL.
The Blues have yet to sign Descheneau to an entry-level contract, a factor that could see a determined and motivated goal-scorer enter the lineup as early as Saturday night when the Lethbridge Hurricanes visit Western Financial Place.
“We’re going to talk about it here after we get some time to think,” Pierce said. “Most likely you’ll see Jaedon in our lineup [against the Hurricanes]. He obviously brings some more offense up front, but as we saw with some of our other veteran guys, it took them some time to buy into some of the new ideas. Jaedon’s got to buy in real quick and hopefully some of those guys will help him with that.”
Centre Luke Philp, 20, spent a whole lot of time alongside the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Descheneau last season and is just one of the returners tasked with helping get the Blues prospect up to speed with the all that’s new in Cranbrook.
“Desch is an unbelievable player,” Philp said Friday night. “I played with him all last year and we have lots of chemistry. He’s a great player to play with. He obviously brings a ton to the table for our team and a lot of offensive ability. He’s probably one of the best playmakers I’ve ever played with.
“It’s real nice to have him back.”
In addition to Philp and Descheneau, the 20-year-old contingent is a crowded one in Cranbrook.
Right-winger Jon Martin is off to a strong start with two goals and three points in three games.
Goaltender Wyatt Hoflin, the team workhorse in 2014-15, remains one of the team’s most reliable players.
Defenceman Tanner Lishchynsky has yet to suit up this season as he works his way back from a lower-body injury.
Another defenceman, Tyler King, also hasn’t seen any playing time as he recovers from off-season knee surgery. King isn’t expected to be available until late November or early December.
WHL teams can carry as many 20-year-olds as they like, but may only dress three on any given night, up until Oct. 16, at which point clubs can only retain three players born in 1995.
That leaves two weeks for Ice general manager Jeff Chynoweth to determine how his 20-year-old situation will shake out.
With Descheneau, Hoflin, Martin and Philp all ranking as players capable of having an immediate impact, Chynoweth’s position is not an enviable one.
The Ice GM already dealt away another 20-year-old, defenceman Tanner Faith, in a pre-season trade with the Moose Jaw Warriors that landed a conditional fifth-round bantam draft pick in return.