When, or if, the next KIJHL season starts, the Nelson Leafs will play without their star goaltender.
The Leafs have traded Anderson Violette to the Summerland Steam as part of a six-player deal. Nelson also sent forward Tyler Badger, defenceman Logan MacDonald and a player development fee.
In return, Nelson acquired Ethan McLaughlin, Matthew Byrne and Liam McLaren, all three of whom have Junior A experience.
“All three of these kids wanted to come to Nelson, so that really aided in our ability to get them all,” said Leafs general manager Lance Morey. “I did get texts and messages from a number of different teams wondering how the hell I got all three of them.”
The Leafs paid a big price to make the deal.
Violette had a 20-8 record with a 2.88 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage in his debut KIJHL season. The 19-year-old Calgary native was also dominant in the abbreviated playoffs, going 5-0 with a 1.40 GAA and .959 save percentage.
Morey agreed Violette was key to the team’s success last season, but he’s confident in backup Tenzin Mint as well as another player from Calgary he said the team has signed.
“We felt comfortable with what we have coming,” said Morey.
Badger had three goals and 13 assists in 32 regular season games, while MacDonald chipped in with three goals and 21 assists in 42 games at the blueline.
New Leafs defenceman McLaughlin had one goal and 14 assists in 21 games with the Steam last season. The 19 year old actually suited up for four teams last season. He played 21 games with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Drayton Valley Thunder, five with the Maritime Junior A Hockey League’s Edmunston Blizzard and one game with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees.
He also played 51 BCHL games during the 2018-19 season with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
“Almost two years of Junior A experience bodes well for us on the point. He’s going to come in and take over for where [Kaleb] Comishin was,” said Morey.
Byrne, a 19-year-old forward, had 18 goals and eight assists in 20 games last season for the Steam. Bryne also played 22 games for Drayton Valley, one game for the Vees and four for the BCHL’s Powell River Kings.
In 2018-19, Byrne played 54 BCHL games with Powell River and Penticton.
“All we’ve heard from anyone is he’s just a human goal scoring machine,” said Morey. “It’s tough to replace guys like Wilson and Campbell, but it’s certainly a step forward that’s for sure. To add to what we have coming back, I think that was a really solid pickup.”
McLaren, a 20-year-old forward, scored five goals and had 13 assists in 17 games last season with Summerland, and also played 29 games with Drayton Valley. He’s recorded 20 goals and 24 assists in three seasons with the Steam.
“He’s just a big, tough forward,” said Morey. “He loves to bang the body. He’s one of those guys who makes room for everybody else on the ice.”
The KIJHL’s season is tentatively set to begin Oct. 2.
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