Brandon, MB. – The Brandon Wheat Kings have announced the acquisition of highly touted defenceman Ryan Pilon from the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
In exchange for the 17-year old blueliner, who was the third overall selection in the 2011 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft, the Hurricanes receive veterans Nick Walters and Taylor Cooper as well as the rights to 16-year old defenceman Tanner Browne.
As part of the deal, the Wheat Kings also receive the playing rights to forward Colt Conrad, who is currently skating with Shattucks St. Marys midget program and has seven goals and 18 points in sixteen games. As a Pembina Valley AAA Hawk last season, he finished tied for the league scoring lead with 25 goals and 67 points. He was a third round bantam draft pick of the ‘Canes in 2012.
At 6’2” 212 lbs., Pilon is eligible for the 2015 National Hockey League Entry Draft and is currently in his second WHL season. In seventeen games with the Hurricanes this season, the Duck Lake, Saskatchewan product has three goals, 7 points and 25 minutes in penalties. Pilon made his Wheat King debut on Tuesday night in a 3-2 Overtime Shootout victory over the hometown Swift Current Broncos.
During his rookie season in 2012-13 he had 28 points, including five goals in 57 games. In 76 career WHL games the talented Pilon, who was a member of the Canadian gold medal winning team with Jayce Hawryluk at this past summer’s U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic, has scored eight goals and 35 points while accumulating 88 penalty minutes.
“This is a significant trade for our organization,” says Wheat Kings coach and general manager Kelly McCrimmon. “Ryan is an elite player in our league and at 17 years of age will make us better now and in the future. He was the third selection in his draft player, a young player that is very highly regarded.”
“In Conrad, we add a gifted offensive player who has excelled at all levels,” he went on to say.
A 19-year old veteran of spruce Grove Alberta, Walters was in his second season with the Wheat Kings after being acquired from Everett at last year’s WHL Trade Deadline in exchange for Ayrton Nikkel. In 21 games with Brandon this season, the St. Louis Blues’ draft choice has two assists and 24 minutes in penalties. During his 4-year WHL career, Walters has seven goals, 43 points and 277 penalty minutes in 195 career games.
Chosen by the Wheat Kings in the sixth round (131st overall) in the 2010 WHL bantam draft, Cooper is also in his second WHL season. After scoring nine goals and 25 points in 64 games as a rookie in 2012-13, the Sherwood Park, Alberta product has ten points, including seven goals in 22 games this season.
Browne meanwhile was Brandon’s second selection (35th overall) in the 2012 draft and is currently playing for the Okanagan Rocket of the BC Major Midget Hockey League.
“We paid a high price to make this trade,” says McCrimmon. “Nick Walters has played exceptional hockey for our team, and will be difficult to replace. However, players like Ryan Pilon do not often come available, and there was a great deal of interest. For Lethbridge to make this deal, Nick was the key piece. Taylor Cooper is a talented offensive player, however we have the depth up front to include him. This will open up opportunity for our younger forwards, who need more ice time. We wish both players well with their new team.”
Pilon is expected to join the Wheat Kings on Monday and should be in the lineup on Tuesday night when Brandon kicks off a 4-game western road swing in Swift Current against the Broncos.
The first opportunity for western Manitoba hockey fans to see Brandon’s new acquisition will be Saturday, November 30th against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders.
Tickets to that and all remaining games are on sale at the Keystone Centre box office, by calling (204) 726-3555 or online at wheatkings.com