Rush trade Prout

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI AGency

, Last Updated: 9:03 PM ET

Just because the Edmonton Rush jettisoned their leading point-scorer prior to the trade deadline, doesn’t mean they are throwing in the towel on the season.

At least, that was the message head coach and general manager Derek Keenan relayed leading up to Saturday’s fourth and final instalment of the NLL’s Battle of Alberta.

Despite leading the Rush with 37 points in 10 games on the strength of 26 assists, Gavin Prout was traded back to the Colorado Mammoth, whom he captained during a stretch of six seasons before coming to the Rush last year.

“I guess the impression would be that we’re bailing on the season, but I don’t look at it like that at all,” said Keenan, who in exchange acquired forward Mike McLellan and a first-round pick in next year’s draft. “Gavin was not having a great year. You could say he was our leading scorer, but he only had 37 points and 11 goals.

“The other part of it, too, is he’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and for us to franchise him again probably was not going to happen and we would lose him.”

Playing in his sixth NLL season, McLellan was a first-round draft pick in 2005, taken 14th overall by Edmonton before being traded to Arizona that year.

“We’ve got a guy whose averaged 27 goals a season in the league in his career and is a good inside finisher, which we needed,” said Keenan. “You don’t like to see guys like Gavin go, especially to a team that we’re going to play three games down the stretch here.”

The Rush are just half a point up on the Mammoth for the final playoff spot in the West, which will likely be decided in a three-game series on back-to-back weekends to begin their April schedule.

“We’re not bailing on this year,” Keenan said. “We still have a very good team, made a lot of acquisitions recently to get us into the playoffs — McLellan included — so we’re going to move forward here and do our best to get in this season.”

The NLL’s Battle of Alberta has been one-sided this season, with the Rush getting one final chance to beat their provincial rivals on the road Saturday (7:30 p.m., Citytv).

Having already clinched a playoff spot with a 7-3 record, the Calgary Roughnecks won two of their previous meetings with the Rush this year by a single goal.

“It’s always a hell of a battle against that team, just given the Battle of Alberta connotations and the emotions that flow from that,” said Roughnecks head coach Dave Pym. “Really, everything’s out the window when you get into these games.

“Generally, our games are close and really entertaining.”

While things have been going well on the floor for the Roughnecks this season, the same can’t be said financially for the franchise, which is seeking a new owner.

“We’ve got as tight a room as I’ve ever seen it in Calgary,” said Pym. “The guys have persevered through a lot of things this year from basically changing out half our team at the start of the year and sticking together and pundits saying we weren’t going to do anything this year, all the way up through the various woes that we have had happen to us this year.

“I think that adversity has brought us tighter together as a team.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/Gerry_EdmSun


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