Special to the Herald
About 10 years ago a veteran WHL executive told me you could trade for anyone in the league, and it just depended on what you wanted to give up.
For the Prince Albert Raiders, the return on what they could get for captain Kaiden Guhle ended up being too good to pass up. Just seven days ago, the 19-year-old star defenceman was dealt to the Edmonton Oil Kings in a blockbuster deal.
In return, the Raiders received 18-year-old forward Carson Latimer, 17-year-old defenceman Eric Johnston, the 13th overall selection on the WHL Prospects Draft that is set for Thursday, a sixth round pick in the 2022 Prospects Draft, a first round selection in the 2023 Prospects Draft and a conditional third round selection in the 2025 Prospects Draft.
The trade came hours after it was announced Guhle was invited to the selection camp for Canada’s world junior team that begins on Thursday in Calgary.
Guhle, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 200 pounds, can be considered the best blue-liner in the WHL. He was selected in the first round and 16th overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens and has a signed NHL Entry Level contract with the storied franchise.
Guhle was a regular on the back end as a 16-year-old rookie helping the Raiders win a WHL championship in a spectacular 2018-19 campaign for the community owned franchise. He also helped Canada earn a silver medal finish at world juniors last season.
He has two goals, 15 assists and a plus-two rating in the plus-minus department in 19 games split between the Raiders and Oil Kings this season.
The reason the Raiders got such a good return for him was due to all those accolades combined with the fact the Raiders likely didn’t want to trade him. The Raiders are still in the hunt for one of the four lower playoff seeds in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.
The Oil Kings sit second overall in the Eastern Conference with an 18-4-2-1 record. They are looking for a way to get on more of an even footing with the Eastern Conference leading Winnipeg Ice, who have a 22-2-1 mark.
In the present, the Oil Kings really wanted Guhle, who grew up just outside of Edmonton in Sherwood Park. To get Guhle, they were ready to pay the price.
For the Raiders, the offer was something they couldn’t refuse.
They got great draft picks to help with the future, and Latimer and Johnston might be able to help with the present and future.
Ice set arms-race with Finley deal?
The Ice appear to be setting the stage for an arms race between the two leaders in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.
On Monday, the Ice made a blockbuster trade to acquire Spokane Chiefs 19-year-old captain and power forward Jack Finley, who stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 223 pounds. Finley has a signed NHL Entry Level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning and will attend the selection camp for Canada’s world junior team that begins on Thursday in Calgary.
Finley and a seventh round selection in the 2024 WHL Prospects Draft were sent to Winnipeg in exchange for 18-year-old right-winger and Prince Albert Mintos under-18 AAA grad Chase Bertholet, 19-year-old centre James Form and a second round selection in the 2024 WHL Prospects Draft.
Finley has eight goals, eight assists, 40 penalty minutes and a minus-four rating appearing in all of the outings in the Chiefs 6-12-2-1 start. As a 17-year-old in 2019-20, Finley collected 19 goals, 38 assists and a plus-32 rating in 61 games with the Chiefs.
The Ice likely made this deal to help counter the trade the Oil Kings made to acquire Guhle from the Raiders.
With the WHL U.S. Priority Draft set for today and Prospects Draft slated for Thursday, these deals by the Oil Kings and Ice might be the prelude of more trades to come.