Warriors general manager Alan Millar announced Thursday afternoon that the team had traded Anaheim Ducks first-round pick Brayden Tracey, 18, and goaltender Adam Evanoff, 19, to the Victoria Royals for Moose Jaw-born defenceman Nolan Jones, goaltender Brock Gould and forward Logan Doust, all 18.
In addition, the Warriors sent 19-year-old defenceman Libor Zabransky to the Kamloops Blazers for forward Martin Lang.
The deals also involved a slew of draft picks, with the Warriors acquiring from Victoria a third-round pick in 2020, first-round pick in 2021, second-round pick in 2022 and fourth-round pick in 2022 while sending a fourth-round pick in 2020 and fifth-round pick in 2023 back to the Royals.
The deals definitively cement the Warriors’ status as the youngest team in the Canadian Hockey League and continue the team’s rebuild toward contention in the next couple seasons.
“It’s all about building and part of the experience as a general manager is you have to know where you’re at and where you’re going,” Millar said during a press conference Thursday afternoon. “You have to look a year or two or three years beyond. We knew we were going to be a young team, we knew there were going to be some tough nights and there are some things that happened to make a tough year even tougher.
“But looking at the deadline and what we’re doing, it’s not about just getting by here. It’s a bump in the road, but we want to take a significant step next year and we want to contend going forward, we want to win a championship and put together the kind of year we had a couple years ago.”
Gould is one of the major keys to the Victoria trade. The 6-foot-5, 201-pound goaltender hails from Colorado Springs, Col. and currently is in his second season in the WHL. This season with the Royals, Gould is 6-6-1 with a 2.81 goals against average and a .899 save percentage in 15 games.
Most impressively, Gould has been selected to play in the Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game coming up Jan. 16 in Hamilton.
“He’s a highly touted goaltender, he’s a 2001 so he’s eligible for this year’s NHL Draft,” Millar said. “He’s one of only four goaltenders who were named to the Top Prospects Game, so he comes in here and gives us two good 18-year-old guys and we don’t have to use a 20-year-old spot on a goaltender next season.”
Jones will find himself back at Mosaic Place after last suiting up for the Moose Jaw Generals of the Sask Midget AAA Hockey League. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound rearguard is currently in his second full season in the WHL and has one goal, five assists, six points and 40 penalty minutes in 30 games. Jones has played in 91 WHL regular season games and has three goals, 16 assists, and 19 points. With the Generals from 2016 to 2018, Jones played 76 games and scored 13 goals, 25 assists, and 38 points.
“He’s a Moose Jaw kid, a second-round pick for Lethbridge and he’s really grown into a good player,” Millar said. “He plays a good, competitive, hard game and has good tools. He’s real excited about the opportunity, he slides into the line-up where Zabransky would have been and he’s a year younger.”
Doust is a 6-foot-0, 185-pound North Vancouver product in his second full season in the WHL. With the Royals he had two goals and nine points in 36 games and has eight goals and 17 points in 99 regular-season contests.
‘He’s a real trustworthy and responsible two-way player,” Millar said. “He kills penalties, can win draws and, again, is an 18-year-old who fits in with what we’re trying to do here.”
Lang is a 5-foot-10, 175-pound right wing from Rokycany in the Czech Republic. In his second season in the WHL, Lang has seven goals and 19 points in 31 games as well as 18 goals and 52 in 97 career.
Lang also brings plenty of time on the world stage, having played for the Czechs at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, the 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup and the 2019 World Under-18 Championships.
“He’s a younger player who’s the same age as Tracey and they’re similar players in terms of skill and offence,” Millar said. “He’s a dynamic offensive guy, has speed and skill and good international experience.”
The draft picks also come with an interesting note – in addition to re-stocking some of the picks lost in previous deals, the quality of the 2020 Bantam Draft and Import Draft sees the Warriors optimistic as to what they may find in the future.
“We know where we’re at as a team, we know where we want to be next year and beyond and we felt this deal worked out well for us in terms of adding youngers players, solidifying our goaltending now and in the future, adding very good assets in the draft picks,” Millar said. “So when you look at where we’re at with picks over the next three or four years, we’re in really good shape. We’ll have a high lottery pick in this year’s draft, which is incredibly strong at the top end, and we’ll have a significantly high import draft pick. So those are things we’ll have to look at and make sure we draft well.”
Of course, the team would be remiss without thanking their high-profile departing players.
“They’re both young guys that grew up here, they’re quality individuals, very good people, very good players,” Millar lauded. “So it’s never easy. I can’t say enough about Adam Evanoff and Brayden Tracey and thank them enough for what they did for our hockey club over the years.”
Tracey was originally drafted by the Warriors in the first round, 21st overall, in 2016. Evanoff was drafted by the Warriors in the 10th round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. Zabransky was acquired earlier this season from Saskatoon for a seventh-round pick.
The Warriors are back in action Friday night when they travel to Medicine Hat before hosting the Tigers on Saturday at Mosaic Place. Game time is 7 p.m.