Hitmen add beef at trade deadline

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:09 AM ET

Looks like bigger is better for the Calgary Hitmen.

Yesterday the club acquired two towering defencemen at the WHL trade deadline, gaining some needed size on the blueline.

The Hitmen acquired 6-ft. 3-in., 200-lb. 19-year-old blueliner Dan Mercer from the Spokane Chiefs in exchange for 18-year-old forward/d-man Curtis Kelner.

Calgary also added 19-year-old rearguard Ryan Gillen, a 6-ft. 7-in. 230-pounder, from Tri-City in exchange for a seventh-round pick in the 2008 bantam draft, then sent 19-year-old d-man Michael Hengen to Moose Jaw for a fifth-round pick in this year's draft.

"Ryan has come a long way in the last couple of years and has turned into a real solid, stay-at-home guy," said Hitmen head coach/GM Kelly Kisio.

"He's physical and he'll be a solid guy for us that'll eat up some minutes and kill penalties."

In 35 games this season, Gillen, who hails from Golden, B.C., has three assists and a plus-14 rating.

With Mercer coming on board, the Hitmen are getting a defenceman who can handle powerplay and penalty killing duties.

"He can do both and it just so happened that Spokane wanted to adjust their ages a bit and Curtis had asked for a trade, so we were able to accommodate him and make both teams happy," Kisio said.

Mercer, a West Vancouver product, has one goal and 13 assists in 38 games with Spokane.

Kelner wasn't seeing as much ice time as he would have liked after appearing in just 27 contests for the Hitmen this season.

Both Mercer and Gillen should be in the lineup for tonight's tilt against the Red Deer Rebels (Saddledome 7 p.m.).

The new d-men should bring more of a physical presence the team has missed since the likes of Brett Carson and Darryl Yacboski left the club.

Meanwhile, Calgarian Eric Doyle has a new team address after the Swift Current Broncos acquired the 17-year-old blueliner from the the Everett Silvertips in exchange for 19-year-old defenceman Dane Crowley, 16-year-old prospect forward Jordan Mistelbacher and a conditional draft pick.

HIT PARADE:

Calgary Hitmen defenceman Karl Alzner has solidified his spot as a bona fide first-round NHL draft pick. Yesterday the Burnaby, B.C., product, who helped Canada's juniors win gold at the world championship, was ranked No. 8 in North America by the Central Scouting Bureau.


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