The first domino has fallen for the Kelowna Rockets as they traded their captain on Saturday morning (Jan. 7).
In an announcement, the Rockets traded captain Colton Dach and a fifth round pick in the 2024 WHL prospects draft to the Seattle Thunderbirds for forward Ty Hurley, defenceman Ethan Mittelsteadt, a first round pick in the 2024 draft, a conditional second round pick in the 2025 draft, and a conditional fourth round pick in the 2023 draft.
Despite winning 3-2 over Kamloops on Friday night (Jan. 6), the Rockets have struggled of late, as they had lost six games in a row before the win. They still currently hold the last playoff birth in the WHL’s Western Conference with a record of 13-19-3-0.
“Anytime you trade your captain, it’s a very tough decision,” said Rockets president and general manager Bruce Hamilton. “With Colton being injured and not available to play until likely March 1st, we felt that it was in the best interests of our team and Colton to make this trade. We want to congratulate Colton on his World Junior gold medal and thank him for his time with the Rockets, we wish him all the best moving forward.”
Dach just won gold with Canada at the 2023 World Junior Hockey Championships but got injured in the team’s New Year’s Eve game against Sweden. Before joining Seattle, Dach is being examined for his injury by the team that drafted him, the Chicago Blackhawks.
He is joining a Seattle team that is first in the entire WHL with a record of 28-4-1-1 and tanked the number one team in the CHL. The Thunderbirds also feature Thomas Milic, who was Canada’s goaltender at the World Juniors.
In limited action due to injury, Dach had 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in 14 games this season.
The Rockets will be Hurley’s third team of the season as he’s played 16 games with the Swift Current Broncos and 15 with Seattle. He had two assists on the season.
Mittelsteadt, from Victoria, is a 17-year-old defenceman who has a goal and an assist in 24 games this season.
“We acquire a forward in Hurley and a defenceman in Mittelsteadt that will give us depth for our run to move up the standings,” said Hamilton. “The first-round pick will help us restock our talent pool of young players for the future.”
We've got numbers for Ty Hurley and Ethan Mittelsteadt. pic.twitter.com/rblBqcn7bV— Kelowna Rockets (@Kelowna_Rockets) January 7, 2023
It’s not yet known what the conditions are on the draft picks.
The Rockets are back in action on Saturday night when they take on the Kamloops Blazers at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops.
Tuesday, Jan. 10 is the WHL’s trade deadline.