The Portland Winterhawks have made a major trade to strengthen their position as the top team in the Western Division. They picked up Craig Cunningham, a 20-year old fixture in Vancover, for a pair of player and two draft picks. The Vancouver Sun story is below. No doubt there will be more reaction to this.
What does it mean for the Spokane Chiefs, the closest team to Portland, thanks to winning the last three matchups between the teams? What should the Chiefs do? Consider this from Gregg Drinnan's blog: From Jim Matheson’s Hockey World, in the Edmonton Journal, “Most scouts feel Team Canada’s No. 1 junior team centre Brayden Schenn won’t be going back to the Brandon Wheat Kings. They’ll trade him to either Saskatoon or Portland, the two best Memorial Cup candidates in the WHL.” Which, no doubt, will be news to the Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs, not to mention the Kootenay Ice and Red Deer Rebels. The part about the two best Memorial Cup candidates in the WHL, that is.
The Chiefs resume the Western Hockey League season tonight in Seattle and play the Thunderbirds at home on Wednesday.
By Marc Weber
The Vancouver Giants have traded 20-year-old captain Craig Cunningham to the Portland Winterhawks for two forwards and two draft picks.
“Without a doubt, this is the hardest trade I have ever had to make in my WHL career,” Giants general manager Scott Bonner said in a statement.
The Giants (16-15-1-4) are struggling mightily of late, losers of five of their last six games, and Cunningham's offensive woes have mirrored the club's.
He has nine points in his last 18 games, after leading the WHL in scoring with 36 points in his first 18.
In return for dealing away their all-time franchise leader in games played, the Giants get 6-foot-4 left winger Spencer Bennett, centre Teal Burns, a first-round pick in the 2011 bantam draft and a second-round pick in the 2012 draft.
Bennett is a 20-year-old Calgary Flames draft picks from White Rock with 21 points in 37 games this season. Burns is an 18-year-old from Victoria with seven points in 32 games this season — his first in the WHL.
Cunningham, a Trail native, is a fourth-round pick of the Boston Bruins and is playing for an NHL contract this season.
In going to Portland, he has a shot at winning another Memorial Cup. The Winterhawks are the best team in the Western Conference at 25-9-0-3.
Portland picks up a sixth-rounder in 2011 along with Cunningham.
“Craig has been a part of this organization since 2005 and epitomized Giants hockey,” Bonner continued in the statement. “However, this is a deal that works for both teams. We are excited to bring in two B.C. boys as well as replenish our draft stocks, while the Winterhawks get a high-end scorer who knows what it takes to win at this level.”
Giants head coach Don Hay has named veteran forward James Henry team captain — the 10th in club history.
Bennett and Burns are both expected to play Thursday night when the Giants host the Moose Jaw Warriors. Vancouver is at the Kamloops Blazer Wednesday.