In an effort to add depth to the blueline and bring another proven scorer into the lineup, the Tri-City Americans completed a five-player trade Wednesday with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
The Americans moved veteran defenseman Eric Mestery, 18, and hard-working overage center Drew Hoff in exchange for high-scoring overage forward Mitch Fadden and defensemen Cam Stevens and Brock Sutherland.
"Anytime you have an opportunity to get a player of Fadden's ability, you have to take a serious look at it," said Americans general manager Bob Tory. "We have added a premier player in Fadden to our lineup and have added depth to our blueline. But by making this deal we give up a quality defenseman in Mestery and a hard-working 20-year-old in Hoff."
Both Mestery and Hoff are players Lethbridge GM Roy Stasiuk is more than happy to add to his roster.
"Our situation is (defenseman) Luca Sbisa is still with the (Philadelphia) Flyers," Stasiuk said. "We went through the teams to see what there was. I talked to Bob and I let him know we were willing to pay a pretty good price to address our needs.
"I've watched Eric since he was 14 and playing in Winnipeg. One thing that always caught my eye was his skating ability. We don't expect him to be a 6-5 monster, but he will get some power-play time for us and we can put him in some other opportunities and I think he will respond well. With Hoff, I think our penalty kill just got better and he will infuse energy in our lineup -- that's something we have been missing."
The last time Tory and Stasiuk made a deal, the Americans got Colton Yellow Horn, one of the most prolific scorers in the WHL the last two seasons.
"I might have given (Bob) a better one this time," Stasiuk said. "Mitch is worth the price of admission. I'm just glad they (Americans) aren't in our conference."
While Stevens and Sutherland have had short WHL careers, Fadden is the cream of the crop when it comes to veteran forwards in the league.
The 6-0, 175-pound overage center from Salmon Arm, British Columbia, got his start in the league with the Seattle Thunderbirds in 2004, and was traded to the Hurricanes midway through the 2005-06 season.
The last two seasons with Lethbridge, Fadden has scored more than 80 points. Last year, he had 34 goals and 55 assists with a plus-23 rating in leading the Hurricanes to the WHL finals, where they were swept by eventual Memorial Cup champion Spokane. This season, he has two goals and three assists in nine games.
It was Fadden who got the ball rolling a couple of weeks ago when he went to Stasiuk and asked for a trade.
"I talked to them and told them I wanted to be moved," said Fadden, who was rolling into Cranbrook, British Columbia, on Wednesday night. "I needed a fresh start. I wasn't playing as well I could have. I'm excited to come back to the Western Conference. I was happy it was Tri-City; it's a team I wanted to go to. For both sides, I think it worked out really well."
Mestery, a 2008 second-round draft pick of the Washington Capitals, leaves the Americans after recording six assists in 16 games. Hoff, a key component of the penalty kill, has one goals and three assists this year.
Stevens, 19, got his start in Chilliwack, where he played 47 games during the 2006-07 season. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Brandon, Manitoba, played just five games for the Hurricanes last season, but has played a regular role this season with one goal and one assist in 16 games.
Sutherland, a 17-year-old rookie from Brandon, Manitoba, has appeared in 14 games for the Hurricanes this season with no points and a minus-7 rating.
The three former Lethbridge players hope to be in Kennewick for practice today. The transition will be a little easier for Fadden, who has attended camps at one time or another with Tri-City players Jason Reese, Taylor Procyshen and Kruise Reddick.
"We played together at the Tampa Bay camp," Reddick said of Fadden. "Anytime you get a guy of his caliber, with the points he puts up, it will help your team. When I heard the news, I didn't know what to think; the whole team was kind of shocked. It is a business, but it's tough losing two friends and teammates."