As the Tri-City Americans were drafting for the future Thursday, general manager Bob Tory dealt a piece of the past, trading goaltender Ty Rimmer to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a pair of draft picks.
Rimmer, who would have been one of eight overage players in camp this fall, said he foresaw the move.
“I knew what the overage situation was,” said Rimmer, who was named Western Conference Goaltender of the Year. “I have mixed emotions leaving Tri. I had a lot of fun there and it was an amazing season with what we accomplished and the individual success we had. I will miss Tri and all the great people there. Lethbridge is four hours from home, which is a plus. This will be a good opportunity.”
Rimmer finished his one season with the Americans with a 31-12-1-1 record, a 2.43 goals against average, .922 save percentage and five shutouts, all of which led the league.
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“I wanted to do it sooner than later,” Troy said of the trade. “There are a lot of 20s, more than there are spots. Ty had a tremendous season for us, but now it’s time for Eric (Comrie) to take the reins.”
With Rimmer gone, manning the net falls to Comrie, who had an outstanding rookie season with a 19-6-1-1 record, a 2.67 GAA and a .900 save percentage.
“I tried to lead by example,” Rimmer said. “Eric is a hard-working kid. He will have no problem stepping in as the No. 1 guy.”
The Americans landed a talented defenseman with their first pick (21st overall) of the day in Parker Wotherspoon of Surrey, British Columbia. He’s the younger brother of Portland Winterhawks defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon.
“I’m really excited to go (to Tri-City),” Parker Wotherspoon said. “It will be a great experience. I really like going to a good team instead of one that is rebuilding. I hope to crack the roster at 16 and help the team out.”
The 5-foot-11, 155-pound Wotherspoon said it was “no big deal” that he was drafted by one of his brother’s biggest rivals.
“He was really happy for me,” Wotherspoon said. “I’ve seen Tri-City play a lot this year. I know they are rivals, but it won’t be a big deal.”
Wotherspoon was a key component on the blue line for the Cloverdale Colts of the Pacific Coast Bantam Hockey League. He finished the season with 15 goals and 34 assists in 45 games as the Colts went 42-10-3, scoring 324 goals, while allowing just 150.
The Americans picked up Wotherspoon’s defensive partner Tyler Fraser (6-1, 160) in the third round with the 55th pick (from Regina as part of the Carter Ashton trade). Fraser had 11 goals to go with 23 assists in 45 games.
“We are really excited about Parker, and Tyler is big and strong,” Tory said. “We really solidified the blue line for the future.”
Wotherspoon also was chosen as an All-Star at the John Reid Memorial Tournament in St. Albert, Alberta, in January.
“They got an absolute steal,” Colts coach Brian MacGillivray said of Wotherspoon. “He started out a little slow this year but got better and better. He played against all the best lines, and he was on our power play.”
The Colts set a British Columbia provincial bantam AAA record with 32 consecutive wins, before losing 6-5 in the provincial final to the Burnaby Winter Club.
The Americans did not have any picks in the second round, but had four in the third, where they went fishing for center Braden Purtill from the Winnipeg Sharks, the former team of Tri-City’s overage forwards this season — Adam Hughesman, Brendan Shinnimin and Mason Wilgosh.
“The tournaments in Winnipeg are earlier than the others, and sometimes those kids get pushed down the list a bit,” Tri-City head scout Barclay Parneta said. “We feel he should have been a late first or early second-round pick. We were happy he was still available.”
Purtill was selected 46th overall with a pick acquired from the Prince George Cougars as part of the Rimmer-Drew Owsley trade last year. Purtill had 33 goals and 20 assists in 47 games this season with the Sharks.
Also in the third round, Tri-City took forward Ty Comrie (5-10, 140) of Newport Beach, Calif., with the 61st pick (from Calgary as part of the Chris Driedger trade), and goalie Evan Sarthou (5-9, 155), a Kent native who plays for the LA Selects.
Ty Comrie, the younger brother of Americans goalie Eric Comrie, and a teammate of Sarthou’s, had 40 goals and 40 assists in 51 games.
“Ty is a very intelligent player,” Tory said. “He just needs to fill out and get bigger.”
In the sixth round, the Americans drafted forward Maxwell James (6-1, 180) from Kamloops, British Columbia, while in the seventh round, they took forward Robby Jackson (5-9, 155) of Alameda, Calif.
The eighth round had the Americans picking up forward Jordan Topping (5-11, 170) from Nanaimo, British Columbia, while they used their ninth-round pick on forward Cole Gammer (6-0, 155) of Edmonton, Alberta. With their final selection, the Americans took Bryce Fiske (5-9, 157) of Air Ronge, Saskatchewan.
“All of the kids are excited to join our program,” Tory said. “It was nice to have those extra draft picks.”
With the first pick of the draft, the Seattle Thunderbirds selected forward Mathew Barzal (5-9, 160) of Burnaby, British Columbia.