The Swift Current Broncos have completed two more deals include a massive deal with Lethbridge ahead of the WHL Trade Deadline tomorrow.
Coming to the Broncos from Lethbridge are three players: overage forward Giorgio Estephan, 19-year-old goaltender Stuart Skinner, and 19-year-old forward Tanner Nagel.
With acquisitions coming with hefty price tags this season, it’s no surprise that the move cost the Broncos goalie Logan Flodell, rookie forward Logan Barlage, forward Owen Blocker, defenceman Matthew Stanley, a 1st and 3rd round bantam pick in 2020 and a conditional 2nd in 2021.
The Broncos also dealt prospect defenceman Ethan Martini or a conditional 3rd round pick in 2020 to Calgary for 19-year-old forward Andrew Fyten. Calgary gets the pick if Martini doesn't sign with the Hitmen. The Broncos dealt their 2020 3rd round pick to Lethbridge earlier in the day so would have to locate another pick should Martini not join the Hitmen.
Estephan, an Edmonton native, brings more scoring depth to an increasingly powerful Broncos lineup. The 6', 195lbs forward has 58 points (18 G, 40 A) in 39 games so far this season. He’s also averaging exactly one point-per-game throughout the entirety of his WHL career thus far – a precise 297 points (119 G, 170 A) in 297 regular season games.
Gearing up for a deep playoff run, Broncos fans will be pleased with his 24 points in 18 playoff games during last season’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals with the Hurricanes.
The 2015 NHL Draft selection of the Buffalo Sabres (Rd 6 - #152) is joined in southwest Saskatchewan by Skinner, a fellow Edmontonian and towering 6-foot-4, 200-pound netminder.
Skinner brings a 14-15-2-0 record, a 3.38 GAA, and .897 save percentage, to go along with four shutouts so far in the 2017-18 regular season. A 2017 NHL Draft pick of his hometown Oilers (Rd 3 - #78), Skinner also brings playoff experience between the pipes for the Broncos. The 6'4, 200lbs goalie made 20 appearances in net in last year’s post-season, putting up a 10-7-3-0 record with a 3.09 GAA, and .916 save percentage.
The deal took Skinner by surprise.
"I'm kind of shocked," Skinner told the Lethbridge media conference today. "I'm kind of confused right now. I don't really know the feeling. It's a sad day but... it's exciting. I'm going to a different place and get a chance to do something over there. But at the same time I grew up here. My childhood was here. I came here at 14... and now I'm leaving. I'm pretty shocked."
Despite the initial shock and bittersweet feeling of being traded, Skinner is confident the Broncos can accomplish great things together.
"It's an exciting moment where we get to do something special with that team," Skinner said. "Playing against them has been really tough this year on the other side of things. Now that I get to be on their side I think it'll be quite different. I think we'll be able to do something really, really cool this year. I'm hoping that we win the Memorial Cup. I think I'm going to have a lot of fun down there. I know a lot of guys... it's going to be a fun year."
The third player of the trade is Mossbank, Saskatchewan’s Tanner Nagel. The 6', 200lbs forward has eight points (3 G, 5 A) in 35 games this season, and has 25 points (14 G, 11 A) over the course of 145 games split between the Portland Winterhawks and Lethbridge Hurricanes. Nagel brings some toughness to the lineup as well. He has dropped the gloves 16 times throughout his WHL career including a recent scrap with one of his new teammates.
"They've got a great team with lots of skill and talent," Nagel said in a Hurricanes media conference. "It's exciting going to a team making this push here. It looks like they got all the pieces right now... I played bantam in Swift it's basically a second home to me growing up there."
Lethbridge realizes they are saying goodbye to some cornerstones of their organization.
"Nagel was a key piece of last year's team," said Hurricanes GM Peter Anholt. "Obviously with Giorgio he's going to leave here as one of the all-time greats as (Skinner) will."
That doesn't mean the Hurricanes view this deal as selling and abandoning a playoff push this season.
"Adding a guy like Barlage who is a premier player as a 16-year-old and we believe is going to be a big, big piece of the Hurricanes going forward and has a good chance of being an outstanding pro," Anhold said. "That is the future but also the present as we believe he can contribute now. Flodell is a real strong goaltender. His numbers prove it. Adding the other two players Blocker is a... young Nagel type player. Good character and plays hard. Stanley being a depth defenceman that is going to come in and give us that real strong depth. We still feel that we're in the hunt here."
Barlage is the biggest piece of the return for Lethbridge as he was the 4th overall pick in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. The Humbolt product has 7 points (1 G, 6 A) in 38 games this season. He led the Saskatchewan Midget AAA league with 76 points in 44 games as a 15-year-old.
Flodell is 24-8-3-0 as Swift Current's starting goaltender. The 20-year-old has a 3.07 goals against average and 0.913 save percentage this season.
Blocker was Swift Current's 2nd round bantam pick in 2015 and has 2 points in 71 WHL games so far. Stanley is a 19-year-old defensive defenceman with 5 assists in 91 career WHL games.
Meanwhile, Fyten joins the Broncos from Calgary with 16 points (6 G, 10 A) in 40 games. He has 35 points in 155 games of WHL experience and was a point-per-game scorer or better in bantam and midget before that.
These deals combined with the addition of veteran defenceman Josh Anderson earlier this week mean the Broncos could have five new faces in the lineup this weekend.
The new-look Broncos aren’t in action until Friday, when they’re up in Saskatchewan’s ‘Gateway to the North’ taking on the Prince Albert Raiders at the Art Hauser Centre. They're back home to host Edmonton on Saturday.