Oil Kings building for tomorrow

DAVE 'CRASH' CAMERON, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

There's the sophomore jinx.

But what about the next season?

Third time isn't necessarily the charm.

Especially when it comes to buidling an expansion franchise, says Edmonton Oil Kings general manager Bob Green.

"I've done a lot of research into the expansion process and where teams are at, and it seems like Year 3 is always the toughest year," said Green.

"I've talked to Scott Bonner in Vancouver and Carter Sears, who was in the Red Deer program.

"One thing is because you lose the initial veterans you started out with and the kids in your first draft are only 17 years old.

"You have high expectations for them, but they're only 17, so it kind of culiminates in that third year."

Green also spent a portion of this past weekend talking to Bonne. It culminated in a two-for-three-plus deal with the Vancouver Giants.

The deal is a living example of what Green was talking about.

Green shipped two of the modern Oil Kings' originals -- Czech sniper Tomas Vincour and Saskatchewan-born grinder/scorer Brett Breitkreuz -- to the West Coast for three players: Garry Nunn, a 20-year-old winger, 19-year-old Mike Piluso and Sebastien Svendsen, an 18-year-old centre.

It's typical of several of the moves made Sunday at the WHL's trade deadline.

Top-rated teams like the Giants, the Calgary Hitmen, Portland Winterhawks and Brandon Wheat Kings loaded up.

As Memorial Cup hosts, the Wheaties traded top bantam draft picks to Moose Jaw for Team Canada D-man Travis Hamonic. And Green recently moved another Day 1 Oil King, 19-year-old Brent Raedeke, to Brandon for local 16-year-old power forward prospect Klarc Wilson.

Along with the three players, the Oil Kings also got three draft picks: a fifth-rounder in 2010, a third in 2011 and a conditonal in 2012.

"They're a huge key," said Green.

"At our level we build through the draft, that's where we build our depth, our depth chart, our roster -- so getting picks is always key."

With roster restrictions, the imports and 20-year-olds have to match up -- much like trading contracts has become a key to NHL deals.

But Green likes the players that Vancouver was offering.

Victoria-born Nunn has been a point-a-game guy in his career. Danish-born Svendsen has scoring promise, though he wasn't fitting in coach Don Hay's lineup with the Giants.

"Piluso is huge as well," said Green.

"We expect him to be a 20-year-old for us next season. Coming out of a good program like Vancouver's, we expect leadership and the knowledge of how to win hockey games.

"That's part of what we've been missing this year. We've been in a lot of games with the opportunity to close them off, and we couldn't do that."

Again, it's about looking ahead.

"From Day 1 here, the plan was to build for long-term success," said Green.

"That first core is what you're trying to build around for that first cycle, for the fifth year, the sixth year.

"We did a similar thing in Medicine Hat, where the first draft that we built around were the 1983s with (Jay) Bouw-meester, (Joffrey) Lupul, Ryan Holweig and those guys.

"Then we finally got to the Memorial Cup when those guys were 20s."

DAVID.CAMERON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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