It was a quiet day at the BCHL trade deadline, but the Trail Smoke Eaters made some noise trading two of its senior players on Saturday, including captain Scott Davidson.
The Smokies dealt Davidson to the Chilliwack Chiefs and defenceman Griffyn Martin to Interior division rival Merritt Centennials, prior to the Jan. 10 trade deadline that came and went with only eight trades made in the BCHL.
The 23-14-1-1 Chiefs currently hold down second spot in the Mainland division, one point behind Langley Rivermen with 49, and will send veteran defenceman Evan MacEachern to the Smoke Eaters in exchange for Davidson.
“He (Davidson) has given three years of his services, and as captain, we were hoping to make the playoffs this year, but its not looking good, so its an opportunity for him to get that (playoff) experience,” said Trail GM and coach Nick Deschenes.
Davidson, a Trail native, has worn the orange and black since 2012, scoring 36 goals and 58 assists in 146 games, while earning 177 penalty minutes. The six-foot, 190 pound forward has committed to play for Quinnipiac University next season, and will see post-season action for the first time in his junior A career.
“As a coach you’re working like crazy to do what is best for the Trail Smoke Eaters and I feel the deal we have made to move Scott on is really going to make our club a better hockey team, that’s what allowed us to make that move, as difficult as it was.”
Davidson is a tireless worker and a fierce competitor, a skilled and physical forward, as well as the consummate team leader. His presence, on and off the ice, will be missed.
MacEachern, a native of Bedford, N.S., is a 20-year-old defenceman who netted three goals and 16 assists for the Chiefs this season. The five-foot-nine, 155 pound blueliner is eligible to play another year of junior hockey as he turned 20 on Jan. 9. MacEachern played for the Weeks Crushers of the Maritime Junior Hockey League and skated for Team Canada East at the 2013 World Jr. A Challenge in Yarmouth, N.S. prior to coming to Chilliwack last season.
“We think he’s going to fit right into our top pairing and be a power-play guy for us, right away, and he’s someone that we have for next year as well as a cornerstone for our defensive core.”
Meanwhile, the versatile Martin, 20, from Fairfield, Conn., counted three goals and seven assists in 35 games for the Smoke Eaters, playing mostly defence but also taking turns up front on the forward line when Smoke Eater injuries demanded it.
“I know Merritt is not a bona fide playoff team at this time, but I think he (Martin) is going to make them better and that’s going to be his new opportunity and challenge,” said Deschenes.
The Smokies also added 18-year-old forwards Sheldon Brettt from the Comox Glacier Kings of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League and six-foot-two, 190 pound Jordan Passmore, 18, from the Chase Heat of the KIJHL.
The additions were necessary after Smoke Eater forward Robbie Johnson suffered a broken collarbone Friday. Coupled with the Martin trade and the release of Paulsen Lautard last week due to personal reasons, the Smokies were under the required number of 20 carded players.
The last-minute injury forced the Trail GM to put Johnson on the season-ending injury list, work feverishly to identify players, make the additions, and put it through a BCHL head office already glutted with trade requests before Saturday’s 6 p.m. deadline.
Brett scored eight goals and 18 points for the Glacier Kings in 15 games this year, and played in 25 matches with the Smoke Eaters last season scoring three times and adding nine assists. Passmore is a rugged forward who had 15 points in 15 games with the Heat this year.
“He (Brett) should be more ready and capable a year down the road,” said Deschenes. “They have some time to show what they can bring to the table. Passmore is a big body and physical, so kind of replaces a role that Paulsen was slotted for, and Sheldon also plays with an edge, and so we got a couple players that will bring a little more bite to the team.”
The trade deadline is always a difficult time for players and coaches, particularly when the deadline falls on a Saturday when a team should be preparing for games. Players are on edge, coaches anxious, and trading top guys like Davidson and Griffyn a difficult process.
“Three things I hate about this job is trading players, cutting players, and sitting players out, and they’re all realities of it,” said Deschenes. “You develop relationships with the players, you bring them in, you recruit them and then you have to kind of switch hats and really look out for the team. It’s a community owned team so you are trying to figure out what’s best for Trail. There’s some integrity that’s involved but at the end of the day there’s no one person, including myself, that’s bigger than the organization.”
The Smoke Eaters are coming off a thrilling 5-4 third-period come back win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Friday night. It was the last game for Davidson and Martin, but despite the trades Deschenes is confident that the acquisition of MacEachern, Brett, and Passmore will keep the team competitive.
“When everything shakes out, we made quality moves, could we have made more – yes, but I think we would have been jeapordizing the current status of the team, in that we have been competitive, we’ve been in every game since we got back from Christmas, we led most games at times. There’s a lot of positives with our young players stepping up their game of late, we’re just going to try to maximize each day moving forward and see what the results bring. We’re still very much in this but if you look what we gave up and got in return, we’re still very much competitive.”
In other trades, former Beaver Valley Nitehawk, Braden Fuller, was traded to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs from Merritt in exchange for futures. Fuller helped the Hawks to the Keystone Cup championship last season and had two goals and three assists in 17 games with the Centennials.