Wiesblatt remains a Raider, Prince Albert makes no trades on deadline day

The Raiders didn't make any moves on Monday's WHL trade deadline. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

Curtis Hunt decided not to pull the trigger on any more trades on Monday, as the WHL trade deadline drew to a close without any changes to the Prince Albert Raiders roster.

In a day that saw a flurry of trades, Hunt didn’t feel like there was a rush to get a deal done.

“We’ve seen this group beat the dragon (Winnipeg) on two different occasions,” Hunt said. “We have a good group. The deadline is just a timeline, not necessarily something that we had to do. Had something been available for the Prince Albert Raiders, we certainly would’ve done it.”

While there was some speculation that star forward Ozzy Wiesblatt would get dealt before the deadline, nothing materialized on Monday. The Raiders’ leading scorer is here to stay for the remainder of the season.

“It’s easy to move a guy like Ozzy,” Hunt said. “There’s 21 buyers, it’s just a matter of finding out what works for the Raiders. A lot of the times you make a deal and you need someone to come back and fill that top six role. Maybe it doesn’t fill that role today, maybe it fills in itself in a year or two. We had a lot of people kick tires on it, and I think in the end, it isn’t so much about picks for me, it’s about what players come back.

“There’s a couple different journeys here. There’s Ozzy’s journey, there’s the journey of the club, and there’s the journey of the 21 other players. Right now we’re a few games back. We feel we can still push for the postseason. Had something come to the table that made sense for us, we would’ve considered that.”

The latest additions of Trevor Thurston and Cole Tisdale showed that Hunt and the Raiders were leaning towards more of a veteran presence this season. He said that if the opportunity came up to acquire another older player, he would’ve jumped on it.

“It’s a 19 and 20 year old league,” he said. “We could’ve added an overager today, and we did go down that path. Today there were a lot of overage for overage trades, and we didn’t fall into that category, and weren’t prepared to move our overage players. They’re important parts of our team.”

With the news last week that Tisdale had been sent down to play junior hockey, Hunt said it made sense to move the goaltender to a team that he could get consistent starting minutes.

“I think it’s the best scenario for him right now,” Hunt explained. “For him to be a backup at 19 years old, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. He needs to start and play to give him the best opportunity to advance his own career. For Max (Hildebrand) to come in and learn a little bit at our level, now that he’s spent half a year in junior A, it’s time for him to take the next step as well.”

With the Raiders just one point back of the second wild card spot in the WHL’s East division, Hunt believes that this team can still make a strong push towards the end of the season to sneak into a playoff spot.

“The additions of Stanick and Latimer have given us a legitimate top line that can play with anybody, with Ozzy in the middle. We found some magic with the Vitelli unit as well. For us, the key is getting healthy.

“I think Chaika has done an amazing job for us in net. He gives us a chance on most nights to win, and that’s all you can ask from him. Thurston really shores up the back end. It gives our young defenceman time to develop and the older guys can protect them and put them in situations where they can have success.”

The Raiders are back in action tonight when they visit the Red Deer Rebels. They round out their Alberta road trip on Tuesday night in Edmonton.