Citizen Article - November 30th - Kerr & King move to Lethbridge
DenMod (Login DenMod) Forum Owner Posted Nov 30, 2005 5:37 PM
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Cats give up Kerr in four-player deal
First overall pick in 2004 bantam draft headed to Lethbridge in defence-only trade
by JIM SWANSON, Citizen Sports Editor
It didn't take long for the Prince George Cougars to decide that Ryan Kerr wasn't the prized possession of the 2004 WHL bantam draft.
The Cougars, desperate to reverse an eight-game losing streak, made a four-player trade Tuesday with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, sending Kerr and fellow defenceman Randy King to the Central Division club for two more blueliners, Kalvin Sagert and Jesse Dudas. King and Sagert are 18-year-olds, while Dudas is a 17-year-old.
Kerr is the most notable aspect of the deal. The 16-year-old from North Vancouver was the top player chosen two springs ago, tabbed by the Cougars in a draft where no prospect stood out head-and-shoulders above the rest.
Cougars general manager Dallas Thompson refused to say the team had given up on Kerr, whose skating shortcomings were preventing the coaching staff from giving him icetime. Kerr played only a couple of shifts in Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Kamloops Blazers, and did so as a fourth-line forward.
"I don't think we gave up on (Kerr), I think we went out and got the help we needed now," said Thompson, refuting rumours that Kerr asked for a trade.
"We lost a year (in age) by trading Ryan in this deal. I still think Ryan is going to be a very good player, and obviously things here have started out slowly for him. Ryan gets a fresh start. I think his skating will come around, and he has a long career ahead of him.
"With (Chris) Vanduynhoven, who is coming along well, and with (prospect Lance) Redden, I don't think we're sacrificing a whole bunch. I guess we'll see in four years."
Thompson did say the deal was aimed at getting this year's team into the playoffs. The Cougars have failed to reach the post-season the last two seasons, and problems on defence are largely the reason the Cats are on such a slide right now.
"We thought we needed to get the puck moving better on the back end, and I thought we needed help on the power play," said Thompson, who said the deal had been in the works for a few weeks.
"I think we got two pretty good, skilled hockey players. At the point we're at now, we needed guys who were going to come in and inject new life. In order to get the guys we wanted, they needed something back."
Kerr, who did not return calls seeking comment, had one assist in 17 games — but he may not have had more than a half-dozen shifts in any of those games. His lone point came in an Oct. 26 Cougars win in Kelowna.
King, who arrived in an October deal with the Everett Silvertips, played in 20 games for the Cougars, scoring once and adding five assists.
In the Abbotsford-raised Sagert, the Cougars add a former first-round draft pick of the Kamloops Blazers (15th overall, 2002) who was dealt to Lethbridge in training camp as part of the Kris Versteeg deal. Sagert, who has family in Quesnel, is six-foot-one and 195 pounds, has four goals — two of them in one game against Kootenay — and no assists in 26 games this season. One source said the undrafted Sagert, a stay-at-home blueliner whose best work is done on the penalty kill, was unhappy in Lethbridge, a place where on- and off-ice turbulence has been the norm now for a few years.
Thompson hopes Dudas is the prize of the deal. The six-foot-one, 202-pounder from St. Albert, Alta., is ranked 12th overall among WHL draft eligible skaters. He has seven assists in 18 games this season.
Dudas and Sagert drove their cars to Edmonton on Tuesday, and are due to come the rest of the way today. Thompson said they'll be on the five-game road trip that starts Friday in Kamloops.
"Dudas is a guy who has skill, has good size, and is a right shot, which we don't have many of," said Thompson
"He could be the key to the power play here for a long time. Sagert skates well, can move the puck. We've had trouble scoring goals, and I think if we can get our back end to help out a bit there it will ease up the pressure on the forwards."
The Cougars are home to Lethbridge on Jan. 27.
It's worth noting that since the 1993 bantam draft, only three No. 1 selections have been traded at some point in their junior careers — all three originally chosen by the Cougars, and later dealt. Martin Hohenberger (first overall, 1993, when the Cougars called Victoria home) was moved as part of a large package to Lethbridge; and Jarrett Smith, the top pick in the 1994 bantam draft, was eventually moved to Prince Albert for a third-round bantam choice. The Cougars used that spot to select Fork River, Man., left-winger T.J. Warkentin, who never played a game in the WHL.
Other first overall picks such as Kyle Chipchura, Jay Bouwmeester, Jarret Stoll, Steve McCarthy and Braydon Coburn started and finished their junior careers with their draft club.
Comparing the WHL draft class of 2004
It's early, and the best time for comparison isn't for another two or three years, but it's clear some teams made out better than others in the WHL's 2004 bantam draft. Here, in order of selection, is how the first-rounders from that draft, hailed as deep but unspectacular at the top end, are faring in their rookie (16-year-old) seasons. All are in the league, although Vancouver's choice, goaltender Tyson Sexsmith (who won a game at the Multiplex as a 15-year-old) has missed action due to a hip injury. The Cougars, who drafted first overall, had their pick of the litter.
Player, position Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM
1. Ryan Kerr, D Prince George 17 0 1 1 -1 4
2. Colton Gillies, RW Saskatoon 27 3 4 7 -3 26
3. Thomas Hickey, D Seattle 24 1 9 10 +2 12
4. Dwight King, C Lethbridge 27 3 1 4 -2 13
5. Brett Leffler, RW Regina 19 1 4 5 -1 17
6. Brandon Sutter, C Red Deer 28 6 11 17 -12 17
7. John Negrin, D Kootenay 28 0 5 5 +3 25
8. Drayson Bowman, LW Spokane 24 7 7 14 +2 12
9. Joel Broda, C Tri-City 15 0 0 0 -7 2
10. Colton Sceviour, C Portland 23 2 4 6 -4 18
11. Keith Aulie, D Brandon 17 0 0 0 -8 15
12. Paul Postma, D Swift Current 22 1 1 2 -4 2
13. Brett Sonne, C Calgary 28 5 3 8 +3 20
14. Tyson Sexsmith, G Vancouver (Injured)
15. Eric Doyle, D Everett 13 0 1 1 +1 11
16. Travis Dunstall, LW Kamloops 16 0 1 1 -4 2
17. Justin Palazzo, D Prince Albert 19 1 0 1 -6 29