Kelly McCrimmon has done it again. The Brandon Wheat Kings GM-head coach pulled off a lopsided deal with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in his team’s favour for the third time in two years.
The Wheat Kings acquired Minnesota Wild prospect Reid Duke, 19-year-old blueliner Macoy Erkamps and 16-year-old Tak Anholt, who current plays for the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, from the Hurricanes for 18-year-old defender Kord Pankewicz and 18-year-old wingers Brett Kitt and Ryley Lindgren.
“This is a major trade for our hockey club,” said McCrimmon in the press release. “In Reid Duke, we are adding a tremendously-talented forward with an excellent pedigree potential. Macoy is an experienced two-way defenceman and is right-handed which fills a void on our team."
One has to take into account that Hurricanes GM Brad Robson was in a tough situation because Duke and Erkamps asked for trades in the offseason. But even when considering the circumstances, the deal seems extremely lopsided. Brandon ultimately acquired a quality top-6 forward, a steady top-3 blueliner and a prospect for three depth players. It seems there should have been a stronger market for Duke and Erkamps when considering the nice return the Saskatoon Blades fetched for Nikita Scherbak and how the Seattle Thunderbirds snagged young blueliner Turner Ottenbreit for overage Adam Henry.
What’s even more alarming from the Hurricanes’ side of the story is why is Robson still accepting McCrimmon’s calls? Did the Lethbridge GM forget that he made him look silly in their previous two trades? McCrimmon managed to steal top 2015 NHL draft prospect Ryan Pilon from Lethbridge last November after he asked for a change of scenery and acquired the sixth overall pick of the 2013 bantam draft – which he used to draft highly regarded defenceman Kale Clague – for Stuart Skinner and a half of a season of then-overage Corbin Boes. When breaking everything down, three of Brandon’s top five defenders – Pilon, Clague and Erkamps – and one of their top forwards – Duke – all came from trades with Lethbridge.
The additions of Duke and Erkamps should ultimately solidify the Wheat Kings as a contender this year. They have one of the best offenses in the league with Duke, top 2014 bantam pick Nolan Patrick, New Jersey Devils first-rounder John Quenneville and Florida Panthers second-rounder Jayce Hawryluk in their arsenal. They also have a solid group on the defensive side of the puck with Pilon, Clague, Erkamps, Calgary Flames prospect Eric Roy and import Ivan Provorov running the back end and Jordan Papirny holding down the crease. The real scary part about Brandon’s club is they aren’t built for this year, rather next season. So like the Edmonton Oil Kings from 2011-12 to 2013-14, the Wheaties could be the Eastern Conference’s powerhouse team for a stretch of years.
This trade confirms the light at the end of tunnel is still far away for the Hurricanes. Their players don’t want to play there and they aren’t getting enough value for them in trades to restock the shelves. In addition, it’s obvious that the team hasn’t sent a much-needed tough love message to their players. By granting trade requests, the club’s revolving door won’t slow down.
Last year proved you can't change the mysterious 'culture' by just trading everyone away. The new players don't want to be here either.
— Dylan Purcell (@dylpurcell) September 30, 2014
The bottom line is that the only way the Hurricanes can get back on track is not through tweaking things, but through major change. It appears the community is in dire need of a new ownership group to take the reins and implement big changes such as replacing head coach Drake Berehowsky and Robson. This is the only way the team will be able to sell the players and fans on a fresh start. Look no further than the precedent set in Prince George for proof of how a new ownership group can give a sinking ship new life.
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen