The Stampeders shipped 20-year-old forward Brayden MacDonald to the Melfort Mustangs of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) in exchange for netminder Zach Degraves and future considerations, which are expected to be announced in the early part of the season.
MacDonald, a three year veteran of the Stampeders had requested a trade following this past season and Stampeders Head Coach and General Manager Erik Petersen was able to facilitate one that also met his own needs. With the departure of netminder Graham Hunt to the North American Hockey League’s (NAHL) Corpus Christie Stingrays and the potential loss of back-up Lasse Petersen to the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen, securing a capable starting netminder was key.
“We know that losing a 20 goal scorer in MacDonald will leave a void but to get quality, you have to give up something and I’m excited to see Zach come in and show us he’s a capable go to guy between the pipes,” said Petersen. “At the same time, it also gives veteran guys like Cody Ellingson, Colton Brausen and Evan Last, among others, a chance to move up the line up. Our hope is that they all respond to the challenge and become regular contributors. Add in some young talented guys like Josh Tripp and possibly even a 16-year-old like Riley McKay and I still like what we have in front of us.”
MacDonald amassed 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points last season in 59 games played. While the talented scorer was able to increase his point production each year, inconsistency plagued him at times. Overall, MacDonald totalled 50 goals and 61 assists for 111 points in 172 regular season games in a Stampeder uniform. In 15 playoff contests, he picked up two goals and two assists.
In Degraves, the Stampeders receive a 20-year-old Edmonton, Alta. native who is excited for the opportunity to battle for a number one spot. With the Mustangs last season, Degraves sported a 9-4-1 record to go along with a solid 2.09 goals against average and .912 save percentage. The 6’1”, 174 pound puck stopper also gained valuable learning experience in the Mustangs run to the RBC Cup championships held in Portage La Prairie this past spring.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to play for the Stampeders,” Degraves told the Star and Times. “I’ve heard nothing but good things about both the town and team which gives me a sense of excitement for the upcoming season.”
Heading to training camp with multiple holes to fill and question marks on others headed to WHL camps, Petersen is a busy man this summer scouring camps and players while looking to build off last season’s successes.
The third year coach would have loved to see Carter Johnson, Tristen Mullin and Hunt return for another season but that was out of the teams’ control and those players are taking advantage of opportunities that were presented to them.
“Those losses sting a little bit because of the minimal compensation we’ll get back” said Petersen. “But for guys like Linden McCorrister, Tristin Langan and Lasse Petersen, I’m excited to see if they’re ready to make the leap to the next level.”
That next level for the latter four would be WHL opportunities in Brandon, Moose Jaw, Calgary and Everett, certainly a step up for the young stars. For now, all the Stamps bench boss can focus on are the players that will be here, and not so much the ones that are not. Such is the life of operating a Junior A franchise in a small market. If nothing else, however, it has never been more evident that the Valley is producing plenty of players who are being noticed by teams from other leagues and, evidently, other countries.
“If any of McCorrister, Langan, Petersen or Valentino aren’t fully ready for their WHL opportunity, naturally we’ll welcome them back with open arms,” stated Petersen. “They would definitely be a big part of our offense here and would see huge increases in both playing time and point production. That I have no doubt about.”
Stamps Stuff: The Stampeders main and rookie camps take place the weekend of Sept. 4 with their first exhibition games being played Sept. 7 and 8 in a home and away set with the Dauphin Kings…. Stampeders Assistant Coach and marketing man Landon Kroeker is due back in the Valley anytime now. He has been home recovering from an unfortunate accident in Winnipeg on Canada Day. He is healing and hopes to be back soon.