Pity the poor person at WHL headquarters who has to keep track of the conditional draft picks that were a part of trades this season.
Blockbuster deals were en vogue right up until the trade deadline, which was Tuesday afternoon. Gregg Drinnan, who authors the Taking Note blog, tracked the deals and he counted up 48 swaps, totalling 83 players, 81 draft picks and 29 conditional draft picks since Oct. 25.
That was the day that the marquee names started moving with the Seattle Thunderbirds sending three conditional WHL Draft picks, including a 2025 first-rounder, to the Edmonton Oil Kings for the rights to 20-year-old Nashville Predators defence prospect Luke Prokop.
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Prokop started the season in the ECHL but was reassigned to Seattle. He’s one of nine NHL draft picks on the roster, with another pending in Prokop’s former Oil Kings teammate Dylan Guenther, 19, whose rights went from Edmonton to Seattle just before Tuesday’s final horn.
Guenther’s currently in the NHL with the Arizona Coyotes, so the trade package that Edmonton received features a player, a 2024 fourth-round pick and six conditional picks.
The conditions will vary from a player like a Guenther merely being reassigned to the WHL to individual games played totals to the team reaching a certain playoff round with him in the lineup.
Last year, there were 12 conditional picks listed in trades that occurred from Oct. 23 until the Jan. 17 trade deadline. The reason teams got so creative this year is that the prices were so high and the reason that the prices got so high is that this is a Memorial Cup year in the west, with the host Kamloops Blazers and another squad advancing to the four-team national championship rather than the usual single team going forward.
As well, coming out of COVID-19, there are teams looking to make back some money they lost and they’re aiming to do it with playoff gate revenue. It created a maximum seller’s market.
Victoria Royals general manager and coach Dan Price told the Victoria Times Colonist: “It’s unprecedented. We’ve never seen or heard anything like this before. There were some very aggressive moves.”
Here’s a team-by-team look at changes plus who’ve they’ve got remaining as opponents on the 68-game regular season schedules. Remember that statistics are as of Wednesday morning:
Record: 28-6-1-1, 58 points.
Who they would play if the first round started Wednesday: Kelowna Rockets.
Remaining regular-season games include: Seven with Portland, including four of their final six. Three with Kamloops.
Deadline dealings: Guenther would give Seattle six Team Canada world junior team members. Seattle started out with goaltender Thomas Milic, 19, defencemen Nolan Allan,1 9, and Kevin Korchinski, 18, and forward Reid Schaefer, 19, and added forward Colton Dach, 20, from the Kelowna Rockets in a Jan. 7 trade.
Bringing Guenther into the fold would mean another addition from the pro hockey ranks, too. The Winnipeg Jets reassigned Finnish forward Brad Lambert, 19, to Seattle after World Juniors.
Guenther had three goals and 11 points, and was playing 12:31 per game for Arizona through 23 games. Arizona loaned him out to Team Canada for the World Juniors.
Record: 22-8-4-2, 50 points (second seed in the West thanks to leading B.C. Division).
Who they would play if the first round started Wednesday: Prince George Cougars.
Remaining regular-season games include: Four with Victoria, four with Kelowna, three with Everett. They have a six-game Eastern Conference road trip.
Deadline dealings: The Blazers acquired the league’s premier puck-moving defenceman in Olen Zellweger, 19, and forward Ryan Hofer, 20, from the Everett Silvertips in exchange for four players and 10 draft picks. The Blazers led the WHL on the power play, clicking at 31.4 per cent (50-of-159) heading into a Wednesday game against the Vancouver Giants, and that number will shoot up even more with Zellweger involved now.
Record: 27-6-2-1, 57 points.
Who they would play if the first round started Wednesday: Tri-City Americans.
Remaining regular-season games include: Seven with Seattle, six with Spokane and five with Tri-City.
Deadline dealings: The Winterhawks made one of the last monster deals, acquiring the rights to forward Ozzy Wiesblatt, 20, from the Prince Albert Raiders for three conditional picks at the wire Tuesday. He’s a San Jose Sharks’ prospect, playing for their AHL San Jose Barracudas’ affiliate. The Winterhawks also added centre Chaz Lucius, 19, who was sent back to WHL by the Jets after playing for the U.S. at World Juniors.
Record: 16-16-4-2, 38 points.
Who they would play if the playoffs began Wednesday: Everett Silvertips.
Remaining regular-season games include: Eight with Kelowna, four with Prince George and four with Victoria.
Deadline dealings: The Giants acquired defenceman Ben Feenan, 18, from the Tri-City Americans for a 2026 seventh-rounder. Feenan has split this year between the Americans and the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs. Vancouver’s big deal came Sunday, when they shipped centre Zack Ostapchuk to the Winnipeg Ice for two players, two unsigned prospects and four draft picks, including three first-rounders.
Record: 18-18-1-0, 37 points.
Who they would play if the playoffs began Wednesday: Vancouver Giants.
Remaining regular-season games: Seven with Spokane and five with Seattle.
Deadline dealings: A good portion of Everett’s playoff push will rest now on the shoulders of Tyler Palmer, 19, the goalie the Silvertips received from Victoria in the netminder-for-netminder Dec. 27 swap that saw Braden Holt, 19, head to the Royals.
Record: 17-16-2-1 37 points.
Who they would play if the playoffs began Wednesday: Portland Winterhawks.
Remaining regular-season games include: Seven with Spokane and six with Seattle.
Deadline dealings: Tri-City added a veteran rearguard, picking up Ethan Peters, 19, from Edmonton for a 2025 second-round choice. Peters saw duty in 14 WHL playoff games last season with the Oil Kings before getting hurt in Game 1 of the finals against Seattle. He came back to play in all three Cup games for Edmonton.
Prince George Cougars
Record: 17-17-3-0, 37 points.
Who they would play if the playoffs began Wednesday: Kamloops Blazers.
Remaining regular-season games include: Seven with Victoria. A six-game Eastern Conference road trip that starts this week.
Deadline dealings: The Cougars brought in 19-year-old winger Zac Funk from Calgary Hitmen for winger Carter MacAdams, 18, and two draft picks in one of the late trades Tuesday.
Record: 13-21-3-0 29 points.
Who they would play if the playoffs began Wednesday: Seattle Thunderbirds.
Remaining regular-season games include: Five with Prince George. A three-game road trip to Alberta.
Deadline dealings: The shoulder injury Dach suffered at World Juniors should keep him sidelined well into February, so he wasn’t going to be much help for Kelowna for a time.
Record: 10-25-3-1, 24 points.
Who they would play if the playoffs began Wednesday: They wouldn’t qualify.
Remaining regular-season games include: Seven with Prince George, four with Vancouver and three with Kelowna.
Deadline deadlines: You would think that blueliner Gannon Laroque, 19, would have merited a hefty return, but Price told The Victoria Times Colonist that he was looking for the “kind of draft capital Vancouver and Everett got,” and that type of offer never came. On the plus side, Victoria is 5-2-0-1 in their past eight games, so they’re trending in the direction. And teams in front of them unloaded.
Record: 7-26-1-2, 17 points.
Who they would play if the playoffs began Wednesday: They wouldn’t qualify.
Remaining regular-season games: Seven with Everett, seven with Tri-City and six with Portland.
Deadline dealings: They made their bigger trades early on, sending defenceman Graham Sward, 19, to the Winnipeg Ice in October and goalie Mason Beaupit, 19, to the Ice in November.
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