By MARK HUNTER
Daily News Sports Reporter
The Kamloops Blazers traded away part of their future for some veteran leadership on Thursday.
The Blazers acquired defenceman Joel Edmundson, 19, from the Moose Jaw Warriors, along with a fourth-round pick in the 2015 WHL bantam draft. Kamloops gave up defenceman Tyler Bell, 18, forward Jayden Halbgewachs, 15, and a first-round pick in 2015.
Edmundson was to fly into Kamloops last night and is expected to play tonight, 7 o’clock, against the Prince George Cougars at Interior Savings Centre.
“He’s a veteran guy, a drafted player,” said Blazers head coach Guy Charron. “We’ve added more experience at the back end.”
At 6-foot-4 and 208 pounds, Edmundson will bring size to a Blazers’ defence corps that already includes 19-year-olds Tyler Hansen, who goes 6-foot-3 and 202 pounds, and the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Sam Grist.
Edmundson is in his third WHL season, and has picked up eight points, six of them assists, and 70 penalty minutes in 29 games. Last season, he played in 56 games, scoring four goals, assisting on 19 others and earning 91 penalty minutes.
After his first season, 2010-11, the St. Louis Blues selected the Brandon native in the second round, 46th overall, of the NHL draft.
And while he isn’t known for his offensive side, Edmundson stands to see some time on the power play, according to Charron.
“He’s got a great shot,” Charron said. “Right now, we’ve experimented with everyone at the top end of the power play, so I’m sure he’ll get an opportunity.”
The trade shows that the Blazers are all-in this season. Kamloops is 22-7-3 and tied for first in the 22-team WHL with the Portland Winterhawks, who hold four games in hand.
But Kamloops gave up a lot to get Edmundson, who, if he signs with the Blues, likely wouldn’t return next season.
Bell, a Regina native, was in his second season with the Blazers, and was taking on a bigger role all the time. Through 29 games, he had a goal and three assists, to go along with 36 penalty minutes. As a rookie in 2011-12, Bell had 12 points, 11 of them assists, and was plus-19 in 54 games.
On top of Bell, Kamloops basically gave up two first-round picks, with Halbgewachs, a native of Emerald Park, Sask., having been its first-round pick, 19th overall, in May’s draft. Halbgewachs is in his first season with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians, and has eight goals and six assists in 19 games.
“Through our evaluation, we feel we have good, young prospects,” Charron said. “But getting a chance to get a veteran player like (Edmundson) will only make us better.”
The WHL’s Christmas trade moratorium will run Dec. 16-26.
Forwards Charles Inglis and Chase Souto sat out Thursday’s practice as they recover from a bug that is going through the Kamloops dressing room.
“We’ve got quite a few guys who are sick,” Charron said. “No use being here to spread the germs.”
The coach said he wasn’t sure if either would be available tonight, but seemed optimistic.
“Usually the guys who have been sick have had a 24- or 48-hour thing,” Charron said. “We’re hopeful they’re ready to go (tonight).”
To help fill out the roster, the Blazers had Devin Oakes, a list forward who plays for the junior B Kamloops Storm, at practice. He will be back with the Storm for its game against the host Princeton Posse tonight.
Cougars head coach Dean Clark announced that former NHLer Todd Harkins will serve as an assistant coach for a few weeks after Christmas.
Harkins, who coached the Vancouver Northwest Giants to the 2011 B.C. Major Midget League title, will replace Jason Becker temporarily. Becker, the head coach of Team Pacific, will be in Quebec for the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, which ends Jan. 4.
Harkins, whose 10-year NHL career included stops with the Calgary Flames and Hartford Whalers, will start his tenure with the Cougars on Dec. 28, when they play the Royals in Victoria.
Harkins’ son, Jansen, was selected in the first round, second overall, by the Cougars in May’s bantam draft. He currently plays for Vancouver Northwest, with which he has 30 points in 17 games.
Ryan Hanes, a former Blazers forward, will be making his second appearance in Kamloops with the Cougars, and will be sporting an ‘A’ on his jersey.
Hanes, a 20-year-old Kamloops native, was named an assistant captain Wednesday, after Cougars captain Brock Hirsche retired due to shoulder programs. Hirsche was replaced as captain by defenceman Daniel Gibb, with Hanes taking on the vacant assistant-captain role.
Hanes, who scored in the Cougars’ 5-4 shootout loss in Kamloops on Nov. 17, has four goals in eight games with Prince George.
He started the season with the Blazers, but got caught up in the 20-year-old numbers game and was released. He spent a stretch with the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals, before the Cougars picked him up last month.
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