Worlds vets in WHL trades

DAVE CAMERON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:28 AM ET

EDMONTON - Starting today, every team in the WHL -- but one -- will be fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

They'll be cheering for Steve Yzerman's team to make a push for the NHL playoffs: therefore needing whatever they can get out of rookie Brett Connolly.

Because everyone in the Dub can imagine what he can do for the already loaded, league-leading Tri-City Americans.

Tri-City boss Bob Tory made a nothing-to-lose deal with the lowly Prince George Cougars for the rights to the five-goal man for Team Canada. Connolly, WHL and CHL rookie of the year in 2008-09, was loaned out for the world junior tourney by the Lightning, and Tampa has until the NHL's Feb. 27 trade deadline to decide whether to keep the 19-year-old power forward.

The draft picks are conditional on Connolly's return.

Tory said he has spoken to Yzerman.

"We trust that, in the end, Steve will make a decision that is in the best interests of Brett's development and the Lightning's plans."

And the worst nightmare for the rest of the WHL.

But it was the East that did the most on a relatively quiet deadline day.

The surging Regina Pats helped themselves by rescuing the tall Slovak 19-year-old defenceman -- and Edmonton Oilers draft pick -- Martin Marincin from the wilds of Prince George. Essentially it is for first and second-round bantam picks from the Pats, though D Ricard Blidstrand also heads to P.G.

The 19-year-old Swede will probably feel like he's been sent to Lapland.

Moose Jaw and Brandon made most of their noise on Monday.

Crafty Kelly McCrimmon cashed back in some of the haul the Wheat Kings got from Saskatoon last January for Brayden Schenn (namely a first-round pick, plus two solid players) and added another gun -- Kevin Sundher -- to load up alongside Team Canada's Mark Stone and the other run-and-gun Wheaties.

Sundher's shown his stuff by sitting 7th overall in league scoring playing for the struggling Victoria Royals.

Moose Jaw went for experience and leadership as much as skill, adding two 20-year-old captains -- Cam Braes from Lethbridge, and James Henry from Vancouver.

The Edmonton Oil Kings, the team currently being chased in the East, stood down.

Sort of. They had already traded for high-scoring 20-year-old Tyler Maxwell and listed 18-year-old Minnesota d-man Cody Corbett earlier in the season. And on Tuesday, they introduced Henrik Samuelsson who projects as a skill-size mix.

The American-born draft-eligible forward was playing in the Swedish Elite for Modo, coached by his father, former NHL defenceman Ulf Samuelsson.

See www.whl.ca/2012-whl-trade-deadline-tracker for the full list.


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