The Trail Smoke Eaters took steps to plug the looming hole filled by the departure of skilled offensive forwards Brent Baltus, Garrett McMullen, and Tyler Berkholtz.
The team acquired forward Brendan Lamont, 18, from Merrit Centennials in exchange for defenceman Shane Poulsen, and in a separate transaction, sent goaltender Lyndon Stanwood to Chilliwack Chiefs for 19-year-old forward Brodyn Neilsen, and future considerations.
The five-foot-nine Lamont played two years in Merritt totaling eight goals and 14 assists in 55 games last season, and should add some speed to the Smokie offence.
“Lamont’s a real good player, not a very big kid, but he’ll be our best skater by far, and he’s got some sandpaper, some grit to his game, and he’s got some offensive upside,” said Birks.
Poulsen was one of the best d-man on many nights last season, but with the return of Valik Chichkin, Marley Keca, Braden Pears, and Braedon Jones on defence, Poulsen was deemed expendable.
Stanwood struggled last year after playing well as the starter in his first season in Trail in 2011-12, but Adam Todd came in and stood tall down the stretch relegating Stanwood to a back up position.
“Lyndon is a great, great kid, and when he realized he probably wasn’t going to be the number-one guy next year, he come and asked me if we could move him to a place where he could be a number one guy,” said Smoke Eater coach Bill Birks.
Neilsen is a solid six-foot, 175-pound forward who played in 49 games for the Cheifs last season, scoring twice and adding seven assists in a limited role.
“He had really good numbers in major midget and junior B . . . he’s got a huge upside and I think he’s got more to bring to the table then he was used last year.”
With the exit of the top three of four Smokie scorers, who all graduated from the BCHL and have committed to University programs, coach Birks is making moves to support a promising group of returning players.
“I am not going to replace them like they were when they finished here, but guys like Scotty Davidson, and Luke Sandler, (Austin) Adduono, and Jesse Knowler and now with Lamont, it’s looking good.”
The team also announced that character forward and Nelson native Adam Wheeldon will be the new captain of the Smoke Eaters for the 2013-14 season.