Win­dow of op­por­tu­nity

Western Cap­i­tals add three veter­ans for Kent Cup run

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS -

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.”

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