Raiders deal Fonstad to Silvertips

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Former Prince Albert Raiders forward Cole Fonstad works his way into the offensive zone during a game against the Saskatoon Blades earlier this month.

For the second time in a little over a week, the Prince Albert Raiders have dealt one of the key members of last year’s championship lineup to the Western Conference.

In a move that’s the biggest deal thus far in the 2019-20 Western Hockey League campaign, the Raiders traded 19-year-old forward Cole Fonstad to the Everett Silvertips on Sunday afternoon in exchange for 18-year-old forward Reece Vitelli, a second and fourth round pick in the 2021 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft and a conditional third round pick in 2022.

The Raiders had previously dealt veteran blueliner Max Martin to the Kamloops Blazers last Friday in order to get down to three overage players.

Fonstad, who is from Estevan, was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft and put up 182 points in 219 regular season games for the Raiders, in addition to having 11 points in 28 playoff contests over the last two years.

A fifth round pick by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2018 National Hockey League Draft, he was tied for fifth in Raiders scoring this year with his now former linemate Ilya Usau after recording nine points in nine games.

Those nine points put him second in scoring on the Silvertips, who are led by co-league leader Bryce Kindopp.

“Cole is a proven talent who has the tools to make a positive impact with us and fill our immediate needs offensively,” Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson said in a statement. “He’s a shifty, prolific forward with a high level of skill and his track record of experience sets an example for a core of our younger players looking to elevate their game.”

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Clark / The Herald
Former Everett Silvertips forward Reece Vitelli works the puck in front of Tri-City Americans goaltender Beck Warm during the 2019 WHL playoffs.

Vitelli, who is a Winnipeg product, had 40 points in 144 regular season games and had seven points in 32 playoff contests with the Silvertips after being picked in the fourth round of the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.

He’s suited up in eight games so far this season and has three assists.

“We’re excited about adding Reece to our organization,” Raiders general manager Curtis Hunt said. “Reece is a young centre with a lot of experience. He has versatility that allows him to move throughout our lineup and he plays with a tremendous amount of speed. We think with his style of game, he’ll adapt quickly to our style of play.”

Vitelli is expected to make his debut with the Raiders on Saturday against his old club, as the team starts a US Division road trip against the Silvertips.

Meanwhile, Fonstad’s first game in a Silvertips uniform will be in Everett on Wednesday against the Brandon Wheat Kings.