by Eric James, SwiftCurrentOnline
Originally posted August 21, 2018
The Swift Current Broncos executed a trade with the Edmonton Oil Kings this morning, with some in-province prospects and early-round bantam draft picks heading to southwest Saskatchewan.
The Broncos dealt defenceman Jacson Alexander, a Victoria, BC native, defenceman prospect Chad Smithson, and a 2019 sixth-round bantam draft pick to the Oil Kings.
“Any time you’re trading players, it’s not an easy thing. However, Jacson requested the move,” said head coach and director of hockey operations Dean Brockman.
“We had the request, and tried to act on it accordingly, and try to maximize our return with it. I’m pretty happy with the deal.”
In exchange, Swift Current receive 2001-born forward Matthew Culling, 2002-born defenceman Chase Lacombe, a 2019 fourth-round bantam draft pick, as well as a second-rounder in the 2020 bantam draft.
Culling hails from Regina, having spent his career – aside from five games with the Oil Kings last season – with the SMAAAHL’s Regina Pat Canadians. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound forward racked up 62 points (25 G, 37 A) in the 2017-18 regular season with the Pat Canadians, a mark good for sixth in the league. Culling was drafted in the tenth round of the 2016 bantam draft (203rd overall) by the Oil Kings.
“We like the fact that he’s had to earn everything that he’s gotten so far. He earned the right to play bantam, he earned the right to play Midget with the Pat C’s, and he’s going to have to earn his way through here,” said Brockman. “He brings a skill-set that we saw was lacking in our program at the present time. I think for him, he’s going to come in and earn that spot. He’s put up numbers and we like that. Obviously as a 17-year-old, it’s tough to do that immediately, but we think he’s a guy that, as an 18 and a 19-year-old, he’ll be more and more successful.”
16-year-old Chase Lacombe is from down the road in Moose Jaw. Lacombe played for the SMAAAHL’s Moose Jaw Generals last season, notching two points in 42 games. He’s a former fifth-round pick (101st overall) of the Oil Kings in the 2017 bantam draft.
“With Lacombe, we’re going to let him develop, and we’re not going to rush anything,” Brockman explained. “He’s kind of that guy that he’s going to play Junior ‘A’ this year. As a 16-year-old playing Junior ‘A’ in the province of Saskatchewan, it’s quite a task. We’ll monitor his development, and hope he becomes a regular more maybe next year or the year after.”
Meanwhile Alexander, a former first-round pick of the Broncos in 2016 bantam draft, is off to Alberta’s provincial capital, after spending a half-season with the Broncos in 2017-18. Alexander played in 32 regular season games, scoring a goal and adding four assists. He also suited up in 26 playoff games for the WHL-champion Broncos.
The smooth-skating defenceman will be reunited with former head scout and director of hockey operations Jamie Porter, who was hired onto the Oil Kings’ staff as the director of scouting this month. Porter was in charge of the scouting department when the Broncos selected Alexander 17th overal in 2016.
The final player, Smithson, played Midget AAA with the Winnipeg Thrashers last season. The 17-year-old defenceman recorded 13 points (6 G, 7 A) in 41 regular-season contests.
As for the second and fourth-round picks in 2020 and 2019 respectively, they’re the latest draft picks acquired by new head coach and director of hockey operations Dean Brockman.
Brockman and the Broncos’ new-look staff look to replenish its supply after the cupboards were nearly emptied ahead of the Viveiros-led Broncos’ run to the aforementioned WHL Championship.
“When we look at the stages in our program, whether we’re going through a rebuilding process, or whatever you want to call it, for us it was a matter of getting some prospects back – a couple picks back that are of the higher nature. Those were important elements to the trade,” Brockman noted, adding the WHL Bantam Draft will no-doubt be a focus of the Broncos in the coming years.
“The draft has become very important. Going through the draft, getting those kids coming into your organization that way is the way we want to proceed with things. You definitely feel better about filling in some of the gaps – we know we still have more gaps there, but at the end of the day, the gap is narrowing, and that’s a good thing for us.”
Stemming from the trade, the absence of a WHL-ready defenceman coming over from the Oil Kings poses an exciting scenario for added training camp intensity on the blue line. Brockman also fulfilled defenceman Sahvan Khaira’s wishes for a trade earlier in the offseason.
That leaves an abundance of opportunities for defencemen to compete.
“You still want competition from within, and I think we have that. I think there’s a lot of quality guys there that probably are excited by the move, because they know they’ll put in some minutes,” Brockman shared. “However, we want to put guys in situations for them to succeed. we obviously don’t want to rush the process, but there are guys here that have played some really good hockey and played some meaningful hockey by them winning last year.”
“We’re going to ask a little bit more of those guys, and hopefully they’re excited to do that.”