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Kelowna Rockets load up with draft picks, still remain in the hunt

Ahead of the deadline, the Rockets acquired four players, six picks for three players and two picks
The Kelowna Rockets made four trades ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline, but still remain in playoff contention. (Kelowna Rockets)

Another trade deadline has come and gone for the Western Hockey League (WHL) and the Kelowna Rockets were one of the most active teams.

While the Rockets are sitting in the final playoff spot in the Western Conference (eight place), they know where they stand. After a 3-0 loss on Tuesday night (a few hours after the deadline), the team is 13-21-3-0, including going 2-8 in their last 10 games. Going into the deadline, the team had some goals in mind, including adding draft picks to their system.

The first and biggest domino dropped on Saturday morning (Jan. 7) when the team traded their captain and recent gold medal winner Colton Dach to the now loaded-up Seattle Thunderbirds. In the deal, the Rockets included their fifth round draft pick in the 2024 WHL Draft in exchange for forward Ty Hurley, defenceman Ethan Mittelsteadt, a first round pick in 2024, a conditional second round pick in 2025, and a conditional fourth round pick in 2023. The conditions are unknown on the draft picks. Additionally, two of the draft picks are originally from other teams (first round pick originally from Regina, fourth round pick from Everett.)

While Dach is out for two months, that lowered the cost of the trade a little but the deal makes sense for both sides. The Rockets added much needed draft picks and two solid players while Dach will have a chance at the WHL championship and the Memorial Cup as Seattle is the number one ranked team in the country.

On Monday afternoon (Jan. 9), the team announced they traded defenceman Jackson Romeril to the Tri-City Americans for a 2023 fourth round pick. Romeril had only appeared in 13 games for the Rockets this season.

In the first of a couple trades hours before the deadline, the Rockets shipped forward Nolan Flamand to the Brandon Wheat Kings for forward Trae Johnson, a third round pick in 2023 and a fifth round pick in 2024.

Flamand had 16 points in 35 games for the Kelowna this season while Johnson has six points in 37 games this season.

In their last move before the deadline, the Rockets sent a conditional fifth round pick to the Prince Albert Raiders in exchange for 2006-born defenceman Landon Cowper.

After the trade deadline and the Rockets game on Tuesday night, the team released a statement saying that defenceman Noah Dorey requested a trade ahead of the deadline but the team wasn’t able to come to an agreement with another team. Because of that, Dorey has been released from the team’s active roster but remains on their protected list.

Because of the four trades, the Rockets now have 14 draft picks for the 2023 draft and 2024 draft. This is how the team’s draft picks line up:

2023 - 2nd, 3rd (from Brandon), 3rd (from Edmonton), 4th (from Seattle via Everett), 4th (from Tri-City), 5th (from Calgary), 5th, 5th (from Victoria via Moose Jaw), 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th;

2024 - 1st, 1st (from Seattle via Regina), 2nd, 3rd (from Saskatoon), 4th, 5th (from Brandon via Moose Jaw), 6th, 7th, 8th (from Victoria), 9th, 9th (from Winnipeg), 10th, 11th, 12th.

Despite being loaded up for the draft, the Rockets are still battling for a playoff spot with 31 games left.

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Jordy Cunningham

About the Author: Jordy Cunningham

Hailing from Ladner, B.C., I have been passionate about sports, especially baseball, since I was young. In 2018, I graduated from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops with a Bachelor of Journalism degree
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