A deal today in the WHL that sees the Tri-City Americans and Prince George Cougars swapping goaltenders. The Americans have acquired Ty Rimmer and a 2012 rd plus 2013 5th round pick while sending 20-year-old Drew Owsley and a conditional 7th in 2013 to the Cougars.
From Tri-City's perspective, it's the second goalie in a couple of weeks that they've parted ways with. First, promising youngster Chris Driedger was sent to the Calgary Hitmen and now Owsley who, at times, has been one of the club's most valuable players over the last couple of years.
The Americans are likely going to platoon Rimmer with 16-year-old Eric Comrie (above), their 1st round pick in 2010. Comrie enters the league with as much hype as any netminder in recent memory and the Americans have done all they can to make sure the youngster will see plenty of action and receive great tutelage as well. Goalie guru Lyle Mast, who has worked with NHL goalies as well as the Edmonton Oil Kings, has been hired by GM Bob Tory and will work closely with Comrie this year. TPS has been told that Comrie could see in the neighborhood of 40 starts, a generous number for a 16-year-old rookie.
It also helps Tri-City with the 20-year-old limit problem as it leaves Brendan Shinnimin, Adam Hughesman and Matt Mackenzie as likely keepers. (The Americans also have Mason Wilgosh and Brock Sutherland but I'd be keeping the other three for sure).
Prince George has to be ecstatic with getting Owsley on board and in a position that has been a question mark for the team since the days of Justin Pogge. Owsley has had two straight +30 win seasons (33 and 36) with the Americans but make no mistake, he was playing behind a much better team as well. Plus, the 3rd rounder they surrender in the deal was previously acquired after moving an import draft pick so it's almost an extra pick from their allotment anyway.
The Cougars could potentially have a club that can challenge for home ice advantage in the playoffs provided they get some key guys back from NHL camps and their youth delivers on their potential.
Sources suggest to TPS that the odds on both Brett Connolly (TBY) and Martin Marincin (EDM) returning to the WHL for 2011-12 are no worse than 50/50. The Lightning will be very tough for Connolly to crack as a 19-year-old and he's not old enough for the AHL. Marincin began the year at an unbelievable pace but clearly hit a wall in the second half and would not suffer if sent back to P.G. rather than pushed to the AHL as an underage player.
Troy Bourke will be a motivated player after failing to stick with Canada's U18 Ivan Hlinka team and incoming rookie Alex Forsberg was the 1st overall selection in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.
It's a trade that both teams can benefit from but I think it's fair to suggest that the Cougars will see those benefits immediately while The Americans are providing an early opportunity to a potential WHL star in Comrie. But for 2011-12, if the above piece come together too, Prince George just went from the middle of the pack to possible Western Conference contenders... right with the Americans.