The Lethbridge Hurricanes are loading up for a playoff run in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. On Thursday afternoon, the team announced the acquisition of two star forwards from the Regina Pats.
In the blockbuster deal, the ‘Canes get two players in the top 15 in league scoring, in forwards Nick Henry and Jake Leschyshyn. In exchange, the Pats received forwards Jadon Joseph, Ty Kolle and seven draft picks.
The draft choices headed to Regina include the Hurricanes first- and third-round picks in 2019, their fourth-round pick in 2022, as well as Swift Current’s first-round pick in 2020, and eighth-round draft choice in 2019. The ‘Canes will also send two third-round draft picks to Regina if Henry and Leschyshyn play with the Hurricanes next season.
“I think that the feeling about our team was pretty well known before this season about where we were at. I thought we were all in before, so this just kind of enhances our group,” Lethbridge Hurricanes general manager Peter Anholt said. “We have to play better as a group and I think this might make our players stand a little taller and walk with a bigger step and understand that we’ve added two pretty good players.”
It’s a massive move for the ‘Canes and one that took weeks to come to fruition. Anholt is happy to have the trade completed before Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio leaves for the world junior hockey championship.
“It was important to get these guys with us on our team before Brent (Kisio) left,” Anholt said. “And really two-fold, basically the big weekend coming up, the trip coming up and Brent leaving on the ninth.”
Henry is seventh in league scoring, with 40 points in 25 games, while Leschyshyn ranks 14th in the WHL, collecting 32 points in 24 games.
The trade adds to an already potent offence, but the ‘Canes still need to work on keeping pucks out of their own net. They’ve allowed 95 goals this season, tied for sixth-most in the WHL.
Anholt says while he isn’t ruling out any other trades, he has complete faith in his goaltenders.
“We believe in our guys. They’re guys that haven’t been number one goaltenders at our level yet, they continue to get better all the time,” Anholt said. “Do they have things to work on? Absolutely. But, we are totally comfortable with our guys.”
Anholt added that losing all the draft picks was like “swallowing a spoon sideways,” but that it is the cost of acquiring high calibre players.
Henry and Leschyshyn will be in the lineup for the Hurricanes next game when they host the Swift Current Broncos on Friday.