With a glut of quality defencemen on their roster, the Kelowna Rockets had some latitude to upgrade their depth at forward for the 2016-17 Western Hockey League season.
On Thursday, the Rockets sent rearguards Joe Gatenby and Danny Gatenby to the Kamloops Blazers in exchange for 18-year-old forward Jake Kryski.
A former first-round bantam draft pick of the Blazers, Kryski is entering his third season in the WHL.
Last season in Kamloops, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Vancouver native scored 12 goals and 27 assists in 67 games.
As difficult as it was to part with Joe Gatenby, Rockets assistant GM Lorne Frey said it was a deal the club felt it needed to make.
“We had four (1997-born) defencemen and knew we had to pare down in that age group,” said Frey. “We wanted to get a high quality forward and Jake happened to be that guy.
“Sometimes you have to give up something to get something. Joe has been very good, one of of our best defencemen the last two seasons, so it’s tough to see him go.”
With the departures of veteran forwards Tyson Baillie, Rourke Chartier, Cole Linaker and Justin Kirkland, the Rockets will look for Kryski to help fill part of the void.
Kryski is familiar with Kelowna, having played for the B.C. Major Midget League’s Okanagan Rockets during the 2013-14 season.
In addition to scoring 48 points in 37 games, Kryski helped the major midget Rockets to a provincial title in 2014 and a bronze medal the Telus Cup national midget hockey championship in Moose Jaw.
The elder Gatenby, 19, was a 2012 bantam draft pick of the Rockets. A steady, stay-at-home defenceman, he played three seasons in Kelowna, scoring five goals and adding 25 assists in 164 regular season games.
“We needed to acquire some offense and (Kamloops) needed help on the back end, so I think both teams are happy with what they got,” added Frey.
Younger brother, Danny, 17, split last season between the WHL club and the B.C. Major Midget League’s Okanagan Rockets.
With Kelowna, Danny played in 22 games and had one assist.
Kryski will join the Rockets for the 2016 edition of training camp which begins Saturday, Aug. 27 at Prospera Place.