The first blockbuster deal of the 2018-19 WHL season was officially completed on Thursday, as a pile of players and picks are swapping between the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Regina Pats.
The Regina Pats are currently 8-17-0-0, and certainly in a position to sell after serving as heavy buyers last season as Memorial Cup hosts.
Regina dealt team captain Jake Leschyshyn and alternate captain Nick Henry to the Hurricanes in exchange for two players and seven draft picks.
The haul headed to the provincial capital includes forwards Ty Kolle, Jadon Joseph, as well as the following future picks:
First-rounder in 2019
First-rounder in 2020
Third-rounder in 2019
Fourth-rounder in 2022
Eighth-rounder in 2019
Conditional third-rounder in 2021
Conditional third-rounder in 2022
Lethbridge acquired the two premiere forwards in the midst of an 11-8-3-2 campaign, a mark good for third in the competitive Central Division behind first-place Red Deer (16-8-1-0) and second-place Edmonton (14-10-2-2).
The 1999-born Leschyshyn is in the midst of his highest- scoring season in the WHL, averaging 1.33 points-per-game over 24 contests with the Pats (16 G, 16 A).
Meanwhile, Henry, a fellow 1999-born player brings his 40-point season so far to southern Alberta. He, too, is putting up the highest rate of his career (1.6 per game), scoring 15 times and added 25 assists in 25 games.
As for Kolle and Joseph, they will have a chance to thrive in a larger role in Regina out from under the umbrella of a stacked Hurricanes forward unit.
Kolle ('00) has seven goals and 11 points in 17 games with the Hurricanes after being dealt from the Portland Winterhawks to Lethbridge earlier this season - He added an assist in four games south of the border.
Joseph ('99) has nearly a point-per-game in his third WHL season, notching ten goals and 19 points in 23 contests with the Canes.
The trade also has ties to the Swift Current Broncos woven into the slew of picks and players trading places.
The 2020 first-rounder included in the trade belonged to the Broncos last year. The pick was shipped to Lethbridge on January 9. 2018 before the 2017-18 trade deadline, as part of the blockbuster that brought Stuart Skinner, Giorgio Estephan, and Tanner Nagel to the southwest.
As well, the eighth-rounder in 2019 was property of the Broncos, and was given up on September 26, 2018 in exchange for forward Owen Blocker - who was sent to Lethbridge from Swift Current as part of that aforementioned blockbuster earlier in the year.
With the dominoes falling on the first major deal of the season, the transaction market in the WHL looks to be red-hot with plenty of time before this season's deadline.