Nick Walters is looking forward to a fresh start in the Western Hockey League with the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The 18-year-old defenceman was acquired from the Everett Silvertips along with the rights to 16-year-old prospect Taylor Sanheim before Thursday’s trade deadline in exchange for 17-year-old blue-liner Ayrton Nikkel and a conditional bantam draft pick.
"It was a little bit surprising but as soon as you turn 18 in this league, you have as good a chance as everyone else to get traded," said Walters, who was chosen by the St. Louis Blues in the fourth round of this year’s NHL draft. "Everett is going through a rebuild right now and this is something that Garry (Davidson), the GM, felt was necessary for the team and I respect that."
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound native of St. Albert, Alta., had a goal, nine assists and 70 penalty minutes in 35 games for the Silvertips this season, posting a plus/minus of -19. The Silvertips have been a sub-.500 team ever since he arrived and although he moves from one rebuilding club to another, he’s optimistic about the future with the Wheat Kings.
"A lot of stuff has gone down here in Everett since I’ve been here," he said. "There’s been three coaches and two general managers, so it’s going to be good to get a fresh start."
Sanheim, a 16-year-old forward from Elkhorn, is the fifth-leading scorer in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League, with 22 goals and 45 points in 32 games for the Yellowhead Chiefs. He aspires to play in the WHL and likes the idea of doing so in a Wheat Kings uniform.
"It was a good thing for sure because you got closer to home, your family and friends," said Sanheim, who went to camp with the Wheat Kings in 2011 before being listed by the Silvertips later in the year.
The Wheat Kings also added Czech forward Marek Kalus, 19, and the rights to forward Rhett Gardner, 16, along with a couple of draft picks, as part of a separate deal that sent leading scorer Alessio Bertaggia, to the Spokane Chiefs.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Kalus didn’t make his season debut until the end of November due to a collarbone injury and he has only four assists in 11 games. But he was productive last year with 20 goals and 42 points in 68 games.
Gardner, a 6-foot-2, 180 pound winger, leads the Moose Jaw Generals of the Saskatchewan AAA Midget Hockey League with 15 goals and 31 points in only 20 games.
Walters and Kalus are both expected to meet their new teammates in Moose Jaw today and make their Wheat King debuts tonight (6:35, CKLQ) against the Warriors.