The Trail Smoke Eaters got bigger up front but lost a little size on the blue line when they gave up defenseman Ben Matthews in a trade Saturday.
The Smokies acquired six-foot-two forward Todd Skirving from the Prince George Spruce Kings in exchange for the six-foot-four Matthews, a Chugiak, Alaska product that has played the past two seasons with the Smoke Eaters.
“He’s a super, super kid,” said Trail head-coach Bill Birks. “It’s hard to part with him but when you get something in return like that, it makes it a little easier to swallow.”
The Smokies also had too many 20-year-old players, so when Prince George showed real interest in Matthews, they made the deal.
“We’re getting a top-six forward in return which we need because of the guys we lost last year. He (Skirving) is going to fill that void that we’re missing.”
The Smokies lost their top six scorers from last year and with only eight skaters returning for the 2011/12 campaign, the Smokies appear to be in a rebuilding season.
Birks hopes the addition of Skirving, as well as Chase Kaiser, Clayton Chessa and Nicholas Wong, picked up in a trade with Cowichan for Travis St. Denis in June, will compensate for the losses.
Kaiser and Wong tied for fifth in Capitals scoring with 24 points while Chessa added 21.
Skirving was dealt to Prince George from the Vernon Vipers at the trade deadline last year for Castlegar native, Ryan Renz.
In 49 games split between the two teams in 2010, the left-winger produced eight goals and nine assists.
Birks says that Skirving is a big power forward who will most likely take the wing on the top line this year.
“We got a year younger and more skilled up front.”
In 113 games for Trail, Matthews posted 10-24-34 totals with 134-penalty minutes.
There are a few roster spots to fill and the Smokies are still looking for a goalie to back-up Matt LaRose as they head to training camp next week.