With the irreplaceable Tyson Barrie gone to the pro ranks, the Kelowna Rockets had a void to fill on their blue line heading into the 2011-12 campaign.
The Western Hockey League club addressed its need for an offensive-minded defenceman this week with the acquisition of Myles Bell from the Regina Pats.
In exchange, the Rockets give up veteran defenceman Colton Jobke, a second-round bantam draft pick in 2012, and a fifth-round choice in 2013.
A Calgary native, the 18-year-old Bell had 14 goals and 31 assists in 66 games last season with the Pats.
“With the loss of Tyson, and with new rules and the number of penalties that I feel are going to be called, we needed an offensive defenceman to play on the power play,” said Rockets president/general manager Bruce Hamilton. “Myles has been a player we’ve been interested in for some time. We think he makes our team better.”
While Bell comes to the Rockets with a definite offensive upside, he will be expected to also work hard on his defensive game.
“We’re getting in him a huge shot, and a real offenisve presence, and somebody who can contribute in the back end,” Hamilton added.
“The challenge for him will be learning how to play defense better, because with this team that comes first. Our coaches will help him adjust.”
In Jobke, the Rockets lose a veteran who provided solid leadership. Jobke, 19, is under contract to the Minnesota and this week was returned to junior from the Wild’s camp.
“We’re losing a great guy and a wonderful teammate in Colton,” said Hamilton. “We didn’t feel that he would be back as an over-ager next year. Acquiring Myles continues our building towards 2013 and our bid for the Memorial Cup.”
Bell is expected in the Rockets lineup Saturday when the Rockets play in Everett to open up the WHL season.