Window of opportunity
Western Capitals add three veterans for Kent Cup run
The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals have sent a strong message.
The Caps made three moves before Sunday’s 10 p.m. trade and roster deadline the organization hopes will result in a run at the Maritime Junior Hockey League championship.
The Caps added forwards Riley Whittingham and Sam LeBlanc, who both have extensive major-junior experience, and goaltender Kyle Michalovsky.
“Riley Whittingham and Sam LeBlanc are two veteran 20-yearolds, both bring experience and both played a ton of games at the major junior level,” said Caps general manager Pat McIver.
All three players are expected to join the Capitals this week.
“We worked tirelessly through the deadline and from Dec. 1 calling numerous contacts across Canada trying to find the right pieces and players,” added Caps head coach Billy McGuigan.
The Capitals sport a leagueleading 22-9-1-0 record. Woodstock (20-6-3-0), hosts of the Eastern Canadian junior A championship, and Dieppe (219-1-0) are two points behind in the Roger Meek Division.
“With the 20-year-olds that we have, the window of opportunity for us is this year,” explained McIver. “There are no guarantees that we will win a championship, but I feel we put ourselves in a good position to compete for one.”
Along with Sunday’s acquisitions, last week’s signing of defenceman Alex McQuaid and forward Johnathan Larter being moved from a junior B to a junior A card, the Caps have filled all 23 cards.
The Caps now have 10 20year-olds and teams are allowed to dress nine a game.
The Caps have paid a steep price for veterans this season, including conditional first-round picks in 2016 and 2017 for forward Mitchell Dempsey; secondand third-round picks in 2016 for Damon MacDonald, and three players and a third-round pick in 2017 for goaltender Daryl MacCallum.
MacDonald left the Caps just before Christmas due to a medical condition and is now playing in the Island Junior Hockey League. After requesting a trade to Summerside, MacCallum left the Caps last week for Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“At the end of the day we didn’t deplete our lineup a whole lot,” said McIver. “We are going to have to work to get some draft picks over the next couple of years.”
The Caps acquired Whittingham from Kootenay of the Western Hockey League for a player development fee, and dealt a fourth-round pick in 2017 to Amherst for Michalovsky. The Caps sent rookie forward Julian Makary, MacCallum, the MHL rights to forward Chris Sarault and a first-round draft pick to Amherst for LeBlanc.
“Trading Julian Makary for us was heart-wrenching,” said McGuigan. “This kid is one of the nicest individuals you would ever want to meet.”