Worth his Wheat

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

It wasn't the kind of blockbuster Kelly Kisio has pulled off in recent years.

But the Calgary Hitmen GM did manage to hammer out two deals at yesterday's 3 p.m. WHL trade deadline.

Kisio hopes to have addressed his squad's need for more offence with the acquisition of 19-year-old centre Derek Leblanc from the Brandon Wheat Kings.

He shipped d-man Dustin Kohn, 18, the other way.

"We thought we needed an older forward who could score goals and play some quality minutes," Kisio said. "But to get a good player, you have to give up a good player."

Kisio also moved 17-year-old winger Isaac Reid and a fifth-round pick to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a fourth-rounder. The 'Canes visit the 'Dome tonight (7 p.m., The Fan 960).

Calgary also receives a conditional fifth-round bantam pick in 2007 from Brandon if Kohn, a New York Islanders prospect, doesn't stick with the NHL club next season.

Leblanc has scored 11 goals and 22 points in 37 games this season. But it was his play last spring, when he helped the Wheaties eliminate Calgary, that partially punched his ticket to the Stampede City.

"Last year in the playoffs, we were worried about the (Lance) Monychs, the (Ryan) Stones and the (Eric) Fehrs," Kisio said. "But the guys that ended up doing the damage were Leblanc and his line.

"So we watched him quite a bit last year and we know what he can do in the playoffs.

"That was one of the reasons we got him. He's (playoff) tested and went to the finals last year."

Leblanc, who had four goals and seven points in the seven-game series, is expected to be in the lineup tonight when he'll face ex-teammate Mike Cann, who was dealt to the 'Canes yesterday.

"There's definitely mixed emotions," Leblanc told the Brandon Sun. "This is my third year being in Brandon and I guess I will kind of always remember my career as being a Wheat King. But I'm excited at the same time to get the opportunity to go to Calgary."

For Kohn, the club's fourth-leading scorer last season, it came down to a numbers game. Prior to the deal, the Hitmen had nine blueliners on the roster.

Still, Kohn took the news hard.

"It's always a tough thing when you have to say good-bye to all your buddies," a sombre Kohn said. "This is a tight-knit group and everybody's on the same page. It was a case of us having a lot of good d-men this year and needing an older forward to help out up front."

Kisio was unable to get his hands on a true sniper but said he wasn't willing to tinker with the young core of his club for a short-term gain.

Team Canada captain Kyle Chipchura was rumoured to be available -- for a price.

"We didn't make a bid for Chipchura," said Kisio. "We knew the price was steep. If we wanted him, it would have been at least two of our young core guys. And we felt our team is going to be every bit as good next year as it is this year. So we just decided to tweak it a little bit."

HIT PARADE: The Hitmen will honour their world junior gold medallists, G Justin Pogge and team doctor Ian Auld, as well as Team Sweden's Freddie Pettersson prior to tonight's game ... C Ryan White has been invited to play in the Home Hardware CHL Top Prospects Game (Jan. 18 at Ottawa).


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