One day after majority owner Tom Gaglardi suggested on Radio NL’s Jim Harrison Show that the Kamloops Blazers might need to add experience to their back end, general manager Stu MacGregor did just that in a deal with the Kelowna Rockets.
On Thursday, the Blazers announced they had acquired two defencemen — brothers Joe, 19, and Danny, who will be 18
on Sept. 17, Gatenby — for forward Jake Kryski, 18. The Blazers also got a conditional 2019 fifth-round bantam draft selection in the deal.
This is the second trade of consequence in less than a year between the B.C. Division rivals. On Oct. 14, the Blazers acquired F Gage Quinney, 20, from the Rockets for a third-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. Quinney had 50 points, including 27 goals, in 48 games with the Blazers. The Rockets used that draft pick to take F Dallon Wilton of Beausejour, Man.
With the Gatenby brothers, the Blazers now have nine defencemen on their roster with WHL experience. However, Ryan Rehill, who completed his junior eligibility last season, isn’t one of them.
Rehill ate up a lot of minutes last season, playing a regular shift, manning a point on the first power-play unit and also killing penalties. Joe Gatenby will be looked at to fill at least part of the void left by Rehill’s departure.
Also eligible to return are Dallas Valentine, 20, Cameron Reagan, 19, Dawson Davidson and Ondrej Vala, both 18, and Nolan Kneen and Conner McDonald, both 17. As well, Luke Zazula, a highly skilled but smallish 16-year-old from
Langley, got into three games last season and is expected to be on the roster when the new season opens.
Interestingly, Joe Gatenby and Kryski were involved in one of last season’s most bone-jarring checks, Gatenby lowering the boom on Kryski during a March 4 game in Kamloops. On the play, Kryski suffered a broken nose that forced him into a full cage. That hit is right here.
Joe Gatenby, 6-foot-0 and 185 pounds, was honoured by the Rockets as their defenceman of the year after last season. He also was an alternate captain. Gatenby was a second-round pick by the Rockets in the 2012 bantam draft. Last season, he had 23 points, including three goals, in 66 games. In 174 regular-season games, all with the Rockets, he has five goals and 39 assists. He also has played in 52 playoff and five Memorial Cup games.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Danny Gatenby played 22 games with the Rockets last season and 15 with the major midget Okanagan Rockets, who are based in Kelowna. He had one assist with Kelowna and 10 points, including two goals, with Okanagan.
From Vancouver, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Kryski was selected by the Prince Albert Raiders with the 13th overall pick of the 2013 bantam draft. The Raiders traded him to Kamloops on July 10, 2013, in a deal that had G Cole Cheveldave go to Prince Albert.
Last season, Kryski had 12 goals and 27 assists in 67 games. In two seasons, he has 65 points, including 23 goals, in 136 games.
The Rockets have lost F Tyson Baillie, their leading scorer from last season, to graduation, while F Rourke Chartier and F Justin Kirkland are likely to at least start the season as professionals. The Rockets, then, are hoping that Kryski can become one of their top six forwards.
JUST NOTES: Kryski and Kelowna F Tanner Wishnowski were linemates on the Okanagan Rockets in 2013-14. . . . The Gatenby boys are cousins to F Ben Knopp, who completed his WHL career by playing 41 games with the Blazers in 2001-02 after being acquired from the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . F Sophie Shirley, the younger sister of Blazers F Collin Shirley, is on the Canadian U-18 team that is meeting Team USA in a three-game series in Calgary. Sophie, from Saskatoon, is expected to attend the Okanagan Hockey Academy for 2016-17.