Kimberley Dynamiters general manager Mike Reid kept busy Tuesday as KIJHL teams were required to pare down rosters to 25 carded players by Dec. 1.
First, Reid bolstered his team’s top-six with the signing of 19-year-old forward Brendon Benson.
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Benson — a native of Lethbridge, Alta. — joins the Dynamiters following a stint with the Kindersley Klippers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL).
“We scouted the Saskatchewan League very heavily,” Reid said. “Things just weren’t really working out for him in Kindersley and so he’s decided to join us.
“We’re already fairly skilled, so he’s going to add some more depth to that skill so we don’t have to rely on our top-end guys so much. We can spread it around a little bit.”
In 16 games with the SJHL’s Klippers, the right-handed Benson tallied three goals and seven points.
Benson isn’t the only product of the SJHL to join the Dynamiters this season, as forward Graham Dugdale came to the East Kootenay following training camp with the Melfort Mustangs.
Though not direct from Saskatchewan, recent addition Brodie Buhler also spent nine games with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires during the 2014-15 campaign and came to the Nitros via the Steinbach Pistons of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League earlier this season.
A former Midget ‘AAA’ teammate of Dynamiters defenceman Justin Meier, Benson spent the 2013-14 campaign with the Calgary Canucks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League he registered six goals and 16 points in 42 games.
According to Reid, Benson was coveted by “many” teams around the KIJHL and it was Meier playing a key role in bringing him to Kimberley.
With 58 games of Junior ‘A’ experience under his belt, the expectation is that Benson will step into a regular role in the Nitros top six, adding speed and skill to an already quick and talented group.
To make room for Benson, Reid then shipped 18-year-old defenceman Zach Morey to the Nelson Leafs in exchange for a player development fee.
“It gives Zach a chance to play some more minutes in a more prominent role,” Reid said.
“It was purely a numbers game. We had to get down and we looked at what was the best fit moving forward.
“Zach is definitely a top-six defenceman in our league. There’s no doubt about that. He’s a great kid and the guys liked him. There was no issue other than someone has to go to make room.”
Morey, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound native of Calgary, skated in 14 games with the Nitros this season, collecting two assists.
Reid originally acquired Morey from the Revelstoke Grizzlies on Sept. 21. The big blue-liner marked the final piece in a deal consummated June 10 between the Grizzlies and Nitros in which goaltender Brody Nelson was traded to Revelstoke in exchange for future considerations.
According to Reid, the addition of Benson was both to address depth in the short-term and the long-term, as the Dynamiters have a handful of key forwards out of the lineup due to injury.
Heading into the weekend, forwards Jesse Wallace (shoulder, indefinite) remains out of the lineup as does Marco Campanella (upper body). Rookie Korbyn Chabot has been dealing with a lower-body injury since Nov. 10.
To top it off, captain Jason Richter has been bothered by an upper-body injury since later October, though his production this weekend might suggest he’s feeling closer to 100 per cent.
“With Campanella and Wallace, we’re not really sure how this is going to work out,” Reid said. “We had to make sure that between now and Jan. 10 that we have ourselves covered.
“[Benson] is definitely an upgrade for us and regardless of our current situation, we still would’ve made a spot for him.”
Benson laced up the skates for his first practice with the Dynamiters (21-3-0-3) Tuesday evening and is expected to be in the lineup Friday night when Morey and the Leafs (13-12-0-1) visit the Kimberley Civic Centre for a Kootenay Conference clash.
Puck drop between the Leafs and Dynamiters is scheduled for 7 p.m.