The Kootenay Ice sacrificed a bit of the future to add some experience in the present with a multiplayer deal with the Kamloops Blazers on Tuesday.
The Ice acquired forward Tim Bozon and defenceman Landon Cross from the Blazers, but sent forward Collin Shirley, defenceman Matt Thomas and three draft picks to Kamloops.
Bozon, who came to the WHL via the CHL import draft, is a 19-year-old winger drafted and signed by the Montreal Canadiens. He was the Western Conference nominee for rookie of the year in 2012, losing out to Kootenay sniper Sam Reinhart.
Bozon played on one of the most prolific scoring lines in the league last year with JC Lipon and Colin Smith in Kamloops, ending the the regular season with 36 goals and 55 assists.
Kootenay also picks up Landon Cross, a big 6’2” defenceman who scored a goal and tallied 15 assists last year with Kamloops. Cross was also plus-24 while collecting 38 penalty minutes in 65 games last season.
However, the Ice gave up two roster players in forward Collin Shirley and defenceman Matt Thomas, along with a third round bantam draft pick in 2014 and a first and fifth round pick in 2015.
Originally, Ice general manager Jeff Chynoweth was on the hunt for a defenceman and had an eye on Cross when he began discussions with Craig Bonner, his Kamloops counterpart.
However, talks took a turn during the horse-trading process.
“This all got put together in less than two days,” said Chynoweth. “We had enquired about Landon Cross right from the get-go just because we made no secret, we were trying to improve our back end, and just checking around, it went from Landon Cross to adding Tim Bozon and making the package bigger.”
Bozon had apparently requested a trade a few weeks ago, which Bonner was trying to accommodate, according to a newspaper report out of Kamloops This Week.
“We just felt that goals are hard to come by and if we can add one of the premier goal scorers in the league to play with Sam Reinhart and Jaedon Descheneau, then that gives us more depth, and probably gives us two good lines that can score, not just one,” added Chynoweth.
The addition of Cross will also beef up the defensive corps, which is infused with youth and has struggled with a few injuries.
“Landon Cross is a top-four guy that shoots right—we only have two right-handed shooting defencemen on our team—he can give us top-four minutes and give us more depth around the blue line group,” Chynoweth said.
Chynoweth is no stranger to blockbuster trades, notably pulling off an eight-player package for Cody Eakin in 2011 during Kootenay’s run to the WHL championship.
The Ice-Blazers deal is the largest trade package of the 2013-14 WHL campaign so far.
However, transactions are a part of the business side of hockey operations, and Chynoweth said the price was high.
“It’s always tough to give up quality individuals, especially two quality people like Collin and Matt. We weren’t throwing their names out,” Chynoweth said. “To get quality, you have to give up quality.
“It’s something that is the nature of the beast, and it’s very tough to see those two young men go today, because they’re both fine individuals.”
In addition to the trade on Tuesday, the Ice also reassigned defenceman Clint Filbrandt to a Junior A team to be determined. Filbrandt came to the Ice via an offseason trade with the Tri-City Americans to shore up the blue line following the retirement of Tanner Muth.