Bruce Hamilton, owner and general manager sits with Lorne Frey, director of player personnel of the Kelowna Rockets as they prepare for this years WHL draft. Photo: Marissa Baecker/Kelowna Rockets Images

Rockets make big moves at WHL draft

The Rockets originally held the 5th overall pick at the start of the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft

The Kelowna Rockets were a busy franchise Thursday morning at the WHL Bantam Draft.

Kelowna went into the draft with the fifth overall selection, but with the Memorial Cup en route to Kelowna 2020, the Rockets were said to have been shopping the pick in order to find roster players that will make an immediate impact.

The Rockets’ first move of the morning was trading their fifth overall pick to the Brandon Wheat Kings and acquiring the 10th overall pick and defenceman Sean Comrie’s contract rights.

The Rockets’ weren’t done there. Soon after, the Rockets acquired defenceman Jake Lee, forward Dillon Hamaliuk and goalie Cole Schwebius from the Seattle Thunderbirds for a package of the 2019 10th overall pick, 2021 second round pick, 2022 first round pick, and Rockets’ forward Conner Bruggen-Cate.

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“This trade will have a big impact on our team,” said Rockets’ general manager Bruce Hamilton. “Lee is a strong defenceman, he always has an influence when he is on the ice. He is a top prospect that will hear his name called alongside fellow Rockets’ defencemen Kaedan Korczak and Lassi Thomson at the NHL draft.”

“Hamaliuk is another top player, he was having a great start to the season before an injury ended it. Schwebius is a Kelowna product, he will give us the insurance that we need in net moving forward.”

READ MORE: Rockets confident in position at upcoming WHL draft

As for Comrie, Hamilton said it was a good trade for the Rockets.

“Sean wasn’t happy with his situation this past season,” Hamilton. “He wasn’t happy with his minutes and role on the team. When we heard that he was available, it made sense for us to go after him. He’s a strong player and will give us more depth on the blue-line.”

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The Rockets’ initial fifth overall pick has been transformed into an addition of four new roster players, though the Rockets will no longer have a first round pick in Thursday’s draft.

Lee was drafted by Seattle 18th overall in 2016, and had 24 points in 67 games this past season with the Thunderbirds. Hamaliuk was having an impressive season with 26 points in 31 games before an injury sidelined him for the remainder of the 2018/2019 season.

Both Lee and Hamaliuk were invited to the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, and were members of the 2017 WHL Champion Thunderbirds.

Goaltender Schwebius posted a 5-8-2-0 record this past season with the Thunderbirds.

READ MORE: West Kelowna moguls star recharges with brief off-season

The 2019 WHL Bantam Draft continues throughout Thursday.

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