With the Canmore Eagles training camp getting underway in the coming weeks, the team made a big trade to help add some depth to their blue line.
On Aug. 16, the AJHL Eagles traded Ryley RIsling to the Penticton Vees of the BCHL in exchange for Brett Stewart.
Earlier that day, Stewart was traded from the Surrey Eagles to the Penticton Vees in exchange for future considerations.
The deal was made to help shore up the defence, but also to help fill a void with 21-year old Brayden Biccum retiring due to a head injury he suffered last season — limiting him to 38 games.
“We felt we had a really strong group of returning forwards and lacked a little bit on defence,” said Andrew Milne, head coach and general manager for the Canmore Eagles.
“We did lose Biccum, so the mandate in our staff was to find a new defenceman. We felt had an abundance of forwards and we could make a move to move out a good forward to get a good defenceman in Brett Stewart.
“Risling has obviously been a big part of our program for a lot of years, scored a lot of big goals for us but we felt we needed to give something up to get something and that’s what we did with Risling and Stewart.”
Risling departs the team registered 69 points (35g-34a) in 110 regular-season games with the Eagles. He also spent the first part of last season with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the U.S. Hockey League.
A right-shot, Penticton, B.C. native, Stewart (six-foot, 195 lbs) comes to the Eagles after splitting 147 BCHL games with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Surrey Eagles in which he scored 65 points (24g-41a).
“He’s a bigger kid, he plays the game physical, he plays the game hard and he’s got a good shot,” said Milne.
“He handles the puck very well and he is the kind of player who can play on the power play. Last year, we felt we had a pretty good power play (No. 1 in the AJHL) and we returned a lot of pieces to the puzzle but one we were missing is [graduate] Braiden Doucette so we think Stewart can replace Doucette and run the power play for us.”
Looking ahead to the start of the upcoming season, Milne has a strong idea of where his team sits as is today and who he will be relying on.
“We have a strong group up front with a core group of returning guys: (Logan) Ferguson, (Matt) Forchuk, (Coy) Prevost, (Colby) Livingstone, (Adam) Tisdale, (Braden) Saretsky. We’ve got a group of guys that we think are going to produce some pretty good points,” said Milne.
“Goaltending is strong with both (Ryan) Bontorin and (Ryan) Gilchrist coming back while our backend needs to get a little older, but I think we have some depth now.”
Although the puck has yet to drop for the start of the season, Milne has already set the bar for what he expects from his 2016-2017 squad.
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