Derek Stuart is wasting no time filling holes in his lineup.
The head coach and general manager of the Kimberley Dynamiters addressed a cavernous void on his blue-line, acquiring puck-moving defenceman Brett Roberts (1997) from the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in exchange for future considerations Monday afternoon.
“He’s an offensive-minded defenceman that can move the puck and can jump into the rush,” Stuart said Monday afternoon. “He can run a power play, so he’s definitely offensive-minded but at the same time, is pretty sound in his own end. It’s something we definitely need.”
Roberts — a 5-foot-11, 184-pound native of Grande Prairie, Alta. — registered nine goals and 20 points in 36 regular season games with the Nitehawks last year. He added a goal and four points in 14 post-season contests on the Beaver Valley blue-line.
The 2015-16 season was Roberts’ rookie year in the KIJHL, but as a 19-year-old defenceman, there is plenty of opportunity for him to step into a sizeable role for Stuart’s squad this fall.
“With the amount of guys that have left and losing the 50 or 60 points that [Jordan] Busch provided, I think that’s going to be an important role,” Stuart said. “Brett can come in, and not be stuck solely with replacing those points himself, but definitely be a big contributor to our offensive production from the backend.
“I’m looking for him to be in our first pairing and run one of our power plays as well.”
As it stands, Roberts joins Trey Doell (1997), Devon Langelaar (1997) and Lucas Purdy (1998) as KIJHL returners to the Dynamiters defensive group.
Gone from last year’s KIJHL regular season championship crew are George Bertoia (1998, AJHL Drumheller), Busch (1995, Concordia University of Edmonton), Justin Meier (1995, University of Jamestown) and Tyler Van Steinburg (1998, AJHL Canmore).
Notes from the KIJHL annual general meeting
Stuart represented the Dynamiters at the KIJHL’s annual general meeting (AGM) this past weekend in Osoyoos with one particularly significant alteration coming out of the league’s yearly gathering.
The KIJHL has gone ahead with the widely controversial decision to eliminate cross-conference competition, beginning in 2016-17.
“As far as I understand, it is just for this year and it will be re-evaluated at the end of the year,” Stuart said. “The general feeling I got from talking to some coaches, not everyone was too pleased with it.
“The few guys I did speak with, they would much rather have the crossover. You get to see every team in the league. Now, there’s 19 other teams in the league and we’re only playing nine of them. Another 10 of them we don’t get to see and our fans don’t get to see.”
According to Stuart, the expected breakdown of the schedule will see teams play divisional opponents eight times (32 games) with four contests coming against each out-of-division opponent within the conference (20 games).
The lone opportunity for a Kootenay Conference team to play an Okanagan/Shuswap Conference team won’t come until the 2017 KIJHL championship series.