The Jan. 10 roster deadline looms large for the Trail Smoke Eaters whose playoff hopes are waning after four-straight losses and one win in 14 games.
Being all but out of the playoff picture, and eight-of-nine committed Smoke Eater players set to move onto NCAA teams next year, the Smokies provide fertile ground for teams looking to make a concerted run in the playoffs.
“We are in a position where you can say we do have a few assets, and there has been interest from various teams in the B.C. league and the Alberta league,” said Trail GM and coach Nick Deschenes.
Unfortunately, Trail’s top and more experienced players like Charlie Zuccarini, Jake Lucchini, Ryan Swanson, Scott Davidson, Craig Martin, and Bryan Basilico and goalies Adam Todd and Brett Clark, may be on the block.
Deschenes does not relish the position his team is in, but will likely give an older player the opportunity to be part of a playoff run if a deal is appropriate.
“It’s one of those things where if you’re selling a home you are not going to sell it to the first buyer. If you have two or three willing to make an offer, you have to wait it out a little bit and hear who is going to come to the table with the best offer. You know players try to put the puck in the net and we’re trying to build the best team.”
As of Thursday afternoon, no Smoke Eater trades were reported. However, Merritt traded the rights of Montrose native Luke Bertolucci to Alberni for 19-year-old forward Zak Bowles. Bertolucci plays for the WHL Edmonton Oil Kings.
According to the BCHL, the Jan. 10 date is a release deadline; no players can be released after Jan. 10. However, up to Feb. 1, available players can be added by BCHL teams if there is room on the roster. Each BCHL team must get their rosters down to a maximum of 22 carded players by Jan. 10. and a minimum of 20 carded players.
The absolute deadline for inter-league trades (i.e. BCHL to AJHL) is 6 p.m. PT on Jan. 10 while the absolute deadline for trades within the BCHL is 8 p.m.
Trail has 21 players on their roster after releasing Paulsen Lautard who returned home for personal reasons, and will suit up with the Summerland Steam of the KIJHL.
“We’re looking but nothing has transpired,” said Deschenes. “We are in the position we are in and just like the top teams, everyone is looking to get better.
“We are turning over a lot of players (next year), and that’s going to leave a lot of opportunity, and we want to be competitive . . . Everything is still to be determined.”