With the trade deadline looming next Tuesday, the Kelowna Rockets added some firepower for the stretch run of the Western Hockey League season.
On Friday, in one of three trades by the WHL club, the Rockets acquired the rights to high-scoring forward Reid Gardiner from the Prince Albert Raiders.
Kelowna gives up two conditional draft choices, including a first-rounder, and a fifth-round bantam pick.
Gardiner, 20, was playing this season with the American Hockey League’s with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins where he had three goals and six points in 26 games.
In the WHL, Gardiner—a native of Humboldt, Sask.—has been a prolific scorer, with 106 goals over four seasons in Prince Albert, including 43 goals and 92 points last season.
The trade was the third of the day for the Rockets who earlier dealt Jordan Borstmayer to the Vancouver Giants and Riley Stadel to the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Gardiner is the older brorther of Erik Gardiner, who the Rockets acquired last month from the Regina Pats.
“We had an opportunity to acquire one of the leagues best scorers over the last few seasons. He’s excited about the opportunity to play for a competitive team with high-end teammates and with his brother Erik,” said Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ GM.
“For us he brings something we’ve been missing in that he’s a pure shooter.
“We’re in arguably the toughest division in the W.H.L. so he adds more depth to our roster. It was a big price to pay but we feel we owe it to our fans to compete again this year.”
Gardiner is expected to suit up for the Rockets Saturday when they host the Kamloops Blazers.
To make room for Gardiner, the Rockets dealt Stadel, another 20-year-old to the Edmonton Oil Kings for a conditional fifth-round pick.
“This was an extremely tough decision for us,” Hamilton said. “Riley has been a heart and soul guy for us for a long time now.
“He epitomizes what a good guy and a great teammate is. He has impeccable character and this is a significant loss. It won’t be easy news for his teammates to hear.”
Stadel played in 270 games over parts of five seasons for the Rockets, recording 29 goals and 76 assists for 105 points.
Borstmayer, who was in his second season with the Rockets, went to Vancouver for a conditional fifth-round pick.
Borstmayer played in 96 games for the Rockets recording 12 points.