The Kamloops Blazers knocked over a huge domino that could ignite a flurry of trades prior to the Western Hockey League's January 10 trade deadline.
The Blazers acquired St. Louis Blues second-rounder Joel Edmundson and a fifth-round bantam pick in 2015 from the Moose Jaw Warriors for 18-year-old blueliner Tyler Bell, 2012 first-round bantam pick Jayden Halbgewachs, and a first-round pick in 2015.
The 22-7-1-3 Blazers gave up a big piece of their future for Edmundson. But they didn't have much of a choice with the Edmonton Oil Kings' trade for David Musil and the Saskatoon Blades' acquisition of Nathan Burns setting up a pricy trade market.
Ultimately, the Blazers had to add a defensive star to their roster to stack up to a remote extent with the Oil Kings' and Portland Winterhawks' elite bluelines.
Prior to the Blazers landing Edmundson, they didn't have any NHL draft picks on their back end. The Oil Kings have four NHL prospects — Griffin Reinhart, Keegan Lowe, Martin Gernat, and Musil, and the Winterhawks have two — Derrick Pouliot, Tyler Wotherspoon, not to mention top 2013 draft prospect Seth Jones.
Edmundson, 19, adds grit, stability, size, and a veteran presence to the Blazers. The 6-foot-4, 208-pounder will be very valuable down the stretch to shut down opponents' top scorers. He also adds an intimidation factor to the Blazers' lineup. Their opponents won't be as comfortable on the ice, needing to pay attention to where Edmundson is or they could unexpectedly meet the Brandon, MB., native's shoulder.
Moose Jaw GM Alan Millar is rebuilding his squad the right way by trading away his top assets poised to take off to the pros next year in a season where his club clearly isn't a contender.
With 16-year-old centre Brayden Point and 17-year-old puck-stopper Jeff Paulic blossoming into stars, Halbgewachs appearing to have a promising future up front, and a handful of high bantam picks in the upcoming drafts — the Warriors could have the right pieces to be a contender in two or three years.
The Warriors should also be able to land a boat load for Toronto Maple Leafs first-rounder Morgan Rielly. It seems the 18-year-old defensive star could fetch a similar package to what Saskatoon gave up to the Brandon Wheat Kings for Brayden Schenn in 2011, which involved two first-round bantam picks, a second-round bantam picks, a first-round CHL import pick, and two top prospects.
However, Rielly's immediate future seems to be somewhat up in the air. It appears he will be heading to Russia shortly to represent Canada at the world junior championship. After that, if the NHL lockout ends, he could be Toronto bound.
Since Edmundson and Musil have already been dealt and Everett Silvertips defenceman Ryan Murray is out for the rest of the season with a season-ending shoulder injury, it seems there won't be a lot of big fishes available at this year's trade deadline.
Kootenay Ice defenceman Joey Leach, who is currently out two-four weeks with an upper-body injury, is an appealing veteran defenceman. But being in his overage season, the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder's market is somewhat limited with the majority of the league's 20-year-old spots spoken for.
The crop of available forwards appears to be quite limited. Although there is undoubtedly a chance these snipers could stay put, overage forwards Lane Scheidl of the Regina Pats and Brock Montgomery of the Ice might be as good as it gets.
The limited market doesn't bold well for the Blades, who will host the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup. The Bridge City Boys, who have a 13-14-0-1 record, are undoubtedly looking to acquire some star power. If they are unable to add a big fish, it is tough to imagine them stacking up against the CHL's best.
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen