Raider GM says improvement from defence corps made Allan trade possible

The Prince Albert Raiders and Seattle Thunderbirds announced a blockbuster trade Wednesday afternoon that sent Chicago Blackhawks prospect and Raiders captain Nolan Allan and the rights to unsigned forward Reese Shaw to the Pacific Northwest in exchange for a trio of players and six WHL draft selections, including two first round picks.

Raiders General Manager Curtis Hunt says the trade was a tough decision to make, but he believes the Raiders will remain in the playoff mix in the Eastern Conference.

“We’re a third of the way through the year. You look at our group, we’re competitive, we play hard every night. We were really struggling to get some traction. You look at the teams in our division and where we line up, our goal is always to try and make the postseason and when we get there, I believe anything can happen.”

In return, the Raiders received defenceman Easton Kovacs, forwards Brayden Dube and Gabe Ludwig along the Kelowna Rockets’ first round pick in 2023, and Seattle’s first round pick in 2024, a third round pick in 2024, a sixth round pick in 2025, a second round pick in 2026, and a conditional sixth round pick in 2026.

Ludwig was Seattle’s second round selection in 2019. The Eagle River, Alaska product has five points and 10 penalty minutes in 15 games as a left-winger with the Thunderbirds this season.

Dube is another second round selection, this time from the 2020 prospect draft. The winger from Roblin, Man. has four points and 16 penalty minutes in 14 games.

Kovacs has one point in 10 games this season and no penalty minutes. The 6’4, 186 pound Delta, B.C. product was originally drafted by the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The blue line for the Prince Albert Raiders was considered a position of depth at the outset of the campaign. Hunt says the improvement shown on the back end by younger players made the Allan trade possible to get additional depth in the forward core.

“Nolan has been a sought after player by more than one team throughout the league for some time this year. For us, when we looked at it he is a 28 minute player. We are going to pick up a defenceman in the deal who is a 15 minute player and between the six of them they will have to pick up 13 minutes. I think our defense has shown great improvement. I think we’ve enhanced the competition for ice time up front. We’ve added speed grit and tenacity with Ludwig and we added skill with Brayden [Dube].”

The phones have been ringing for a while in Hunt’s office with several teams in the WHL enquiring about the services of Allan and other players on the roster. Hunt says it was a process to get the point of feeling the trade would benefit the Raiders as a club.

“Teams have been asking about Nolan since August. The process is a lot of conversations back and forth. I did travel out west to watch all the teams interested and many of them multiple times. Lots of conversations and comparisons back and forth until you get where you are confident you are in a good place for your club, in the end that’s my priority to be in a good place for the Prince Albert Raiders.”

The Raiders return to action on Saturday night when they host the Medicine Hat Tigers at the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7pm.

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