Yesterday the Battlefords North Stars pulled off two somewhat complicated trades to acquire some size for the up coming season.
The North Stars traded defenseman Brock Weston to the Portage Terriers of the MJHL. In exchange the Stars acquired 20 year old defenseman Jordan Wiest. Wiest spent last season playing with the Surrey Eagles and was picked up by Portage in a separate trade. Wiest comes to the Stars after playing 103 career junior games in which he has put up 4 goals. He’s described as a stay at home D-man. What the Stars must have liked in Wiest, other than the experience of a 20 year which they lost in dealing Weston, is the size. Wiest is listed at 6’3. He is also a right shot defenseman and those are always nice to have on the roster. The Stars having a big, tough, solid D-man on the ice might allow one of the younger guys like Connor Sych or a Kleiboer or Spagrud type to really open up a bit and provide a little more offense for the team this season.
I personally really like Brock and will be sad to see him gone. We spent a lot of time talking last season, especially at the gym. Brock worked incredibly hard to come back from a pretty serious knee injury. I think it was injury that really robbed him off a chance to show what he could do on the ice last season. Portage is likely in a bit of a rebuild after hosting and winning the RBC Cup last season. That will hopefully mean a lot of ice time for Brock in his final junior season.
In the other deal the Stars sent Connor Vermuelen and futures to the Whitecourt Wolverines in exchange for the rights to Carson Pickett and futures. The Stars then flipped Pickett over to the Kindersley Klippers in exchange for forward Connor Navrot. Navrot played with Beardey’s last season where he was excellent in putting up 18 goals and 41 points in 44 games. Navrot is listed at 6’2 inches tall and plays big. He featured in 13 games as an ‘AP’ with Kindersley last season as well as 8 post-season games. He faced the North Stars a few times and I am sure he impressed the Stars coaching staff with the way he plays the game.
Vermeulen had a tough first season with the Stars and if I remember correctly he may have been forced to play through and battle through some injury trouble as well last season. It’s a shame it didn’t quite work out for Connor here as I know he wanted to come to the North Stars last season and was really excited to play in this community. Hopefully he is excited about the prospect of playing in Whitecourt and will get a chance to play a lot for the Wolverines this season.
With Navrott being from Martensville Saskatchewan it is noticeable that the Stars seem to be adding even more Saskatchewan kids to the roster than years passed. With guys like Layne Young and Troy Gerein coming up from the Midget AAA Stars as well as Tanner Nagle from the Tisdale Trojans to go along with the base of Saskatchewan players that were already on the team. The previously mentioned Kleiboer and Spagrud will have a chance to make the team up from Midget AAA.
It also appears the Stars want to get bigger and these trades certainly add a lot of size to the Stars roster. Not that Brock and Connor are small players by any means but it does appear the Stars wanted to add to their bulk. They were a smaller team last season and certainly smaller than the Kindersley Klippers who knocked the Stars out of the post-season. Connor Sych, Kendall Fransoo (who plays even bigger than he is) and now Wiest is a pretty good base to start from on the back end in terms of size and toughness. And Navrot adds to the presence up front.
By trading away two D-men and getting back just one, the North Stars also opened up a spot on the roster. Some of the younger defensemen that are coming to camp will have an even better chance to make the team.
While it’s fun to dream on what the team could be moving forward, in the end it’s always tough to see guys traded that both had a positive impact on the North Stars on and off the ice. We all wish both Brock and Connor and their families all the best in the future. And thank them for their contributions to the Battlefords over the past year.