The Trail Smoke Eaters dealt top forward Travis St. Denis, Wednesday, sending the home-grown boy to the Cowichan Valley Capitals, where he will play under ex-Smokies coach Jim Ingram.
In exchange, the Smokies get three veteran players, forwards Chase Kaiser, 19, and Clayton Chessa, 20, as well as solid defenceman Nicholas Wong, 20.
St. Denis requested a trade at the end of last season, and when Ingram left in March, he reiterated that request to coach Bill Birks.
“I told him I would accommodate him the best I can,” said Birks. “It may not be the best place for him to go, that he would want to go, because there are rumours that he only wanted to go to a certain couple of teams, but for our hockey team and the guys coming back, I thought this was the best deal for everybody.”
St.Denis played three years for the Smoke Eaters, amassing 27 goals and 27 assists in 42 games last season. The prolific scorer attracted a great deal of interest once word got out.
“Every team in the coast division and Alberta were all over him,” said Birks.
Wong and Kaiser played two seasons for the Capitals, while Chessa joined the team last year. For the Smokies, acquiring three solid veteran players is a tremendous improvement, says Birks.
“They didn’t put up huge numbers last year but they’re all 25-30 point guys. They’re veterans and they’re big and they want scholarships and they’re hungry and they know kids on the team here, and they know me a little bit, so it’s going to be a great, great fit,”.
When asked if the acquisitions will make up for St.Denis’ scoring touch, coach Birks was confident the combined output would make up for his 54 points.
“You put them all together, its more than enough for St. Denis . . . I’m not worried at all, I’m very excited.”
Kaiser and Wong tied for fifth in Capitals scoring with 24 points while Chessa followed close behind counting 21 points.
According to club president Tom Gawryletz, St. Denis’ scholarship to an NCAA college was deferred a year so the 18-year-old felt he needed a change to prepare for living away from home.
“It’s unfortunate for Travis being a Trail boy but you know, he gave us three good years which we appreciated, and hopefully things work out for him in Cowichan.”