The Estevan Bruins were busy at the SJHL’s trade deadline last Tuesday, acquiring two players through trade and cutting ties with two others.
The Bruins picked up 19-year-old defenceman Zach MacLellan from the Battlefords North Stars for future considerations in a late-night deal.
Earlier in the day, the team acquired 20-year-old forward Trevor Tracy from the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for futures.
However, it appears that Tracy will not report to the team.
Estevan had previously dealt 18-year-old forward Dylan Schellenberg to the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks, completing their October trade for defenceman Connor Milligan.
They also released 19-year-old goalie Derek Tendler, opting to carry Steven Glass and recently signed Tyler Ross as their two goalies.
MacLellan was the most noteworthy acquisition, filling a need on the back end that the Bruins had been seeking all season.
“Zach was obviously a player in our league who we’d seen play,” said Bruins head coach and general manager Keith Cassidy. “His birth year and his ability were attractive to us, plus the character references we did on him turned up very well, so we decided to take a bit of a chance in making that deal and if it works out to our advantage, I think we’re much further ahead.”
MacLellan, a Coquitlam, B.C., native, has one goal and 19 points in 40 games this year, his second in the SJHL.
It was a roller coaster week for him. The Stars had traded him to Melfort on Monday as part of their trade for defenceman Mitch Berg. MacLellan chose not to report to the Mustangs, and his rights were later flipped back to the Stars for defenceman Nathan Zimbaluk.
MacLellan was well on his way home to B.C. when the North Stars sent him to Estevan late on Tuesday. He took a few days to decide whether to report and eventually arrived in the Energy City on Monday.
“What we’ve been identifying in our plan all year long is trying to find a defenceman, so if he comes in, he certainly brings some stability and experience. He’s played in the league on a fairly successful team, so he’s going to offer some good experience to our younger guys, as well as going out there and just playing some steady D,” said Cassidy.
Tracy is a 6-foot-3, 216-pound forward who has 31 points in 41 games split between the Saints and Drumheller Dragons this year.
“He’s a bigger-bodied forward who does put up some points. We got some reasonable references on him from both his former teams,” said Cassidy.
“The forward was a bonus and whether or not that works out, I’m not too, too concerned.”
Schellenberg, who had been acquired from Drumheller in November and played 12 games with the Bruins, was the Kodiaks’ top choice as the futures in the Milligan deal.
“Schelly’s a great kid. He came in here and provided us with some good entertainment and made the guys feel a little more secure out there. He certainly had a role to play and he did it well,” said Cassidy.
“So in that way, it’s sorry to see him go because he did offer a different dimension to this team, but at the same time, when you can pick up a fellow like Connor Milligan for Dylan Schellenberg, you’re further ahead.”
Cassidy said the team parted with Tendler on good terms and added that the goaltender’s commitment level wasn’t where it needed to be.
“We spent a couple of hours talking and, as it was at the beginning of the year when we were trying to generate some competition, I don’t know that Derek was completely committed to playing hockey, and he said as much,” said Cassidy.
“He wants to work and remain in the community, which I think is a bonus for Estevan. He’s a great individual … he’s always been very positive around the team and great working with the guys, which was one of the reasons we kept him around in the first place, because he’s got a tremendous attitude.”
Meanwhile, former Bruin Tyler Spencer had asked to re-join the team but the 20-year-old defenceman changed his mind the day of the deadline.
Cassidy said the Bruins accomplished their trade deadline goals of adding an experienced defenceman while not giving up any of their core.
“I think we’ve got a great team here and I think going forward, they’re going to get a lot of experience and I’m excited to see what that brings out of them.”