KENNEWICK -- Today is the Western Hockey League's trade deadline, and by 2 p.m., each team has to declare its roster for the remainder of the season.
Tri-City Americans general manager Bob Tory has made a few deals throughout the season, but nothing was in the works through Saturday.
"We are happy with our team," Tory said. "We are No. 1. We'll monitor it like every other team, but at the same time there are a lot of teams that are very good and some trying to make the playoffs. There are more buyers than sellers."
In notable trades this past week, the Vancouver Giants traded goaltender Jamie Tucker to Prince Albert for a second-round bantam pick in 2011, and Seattle shipped Sena Acolatse to Saskatoon for Burke Gallimore. Acolatse is a physical player who can also play defense, which will give the Blades more depth.
Some clubs were doing their shopping early. According to the WHL website, there have been 15 trades since Dec. 1, involving 27 players and 15 draft picks -- one of which is an import draft pick.
With Brandon hosting the Memorial Cup in May, the Wheat Kings have an automatic berth to the tournament. If Brandon should win the WHL title, the second WHL berth would go to the winner of the Western Conference.
But, if any team other than Brandon should win the East, that team would play the winner of the West for the second berth to the tournament.
On the most wanted list for teams making a push for the postseason is a quality defenseman.
"There just aren't a lot in the league right now, and those who have them are not willing to deal," said Tory, who has a stable of eight defensemen. "I've had calls, but the price hasn't been right."
The U.S. Division-leading Americans started the season with Jarrett Toll, Tyler Schmidt, Brett Plouffe, Brock Sutherland, Riley McIntosh, Zach Yuen, Drydn Dow and Lane Werbowski on the blue line. In November, Tory traded Werbowski to Edmonton and picked up Eric Mestery from Lethbridge.
As a unit, the Americans' defense has accounted for 18 goals, 72 assists and a combined rating of plus-47.
Mestery, who began his career in Tri-City but was traded last year for Mitch Fadden, has been productive in his return with four assists and a plus-5 rating.
"Eric has come in and done a good job for us," Tory said. "He logs a lot of minutes. All of the guys we have brought in have been good. Neal Prokop has upgraded our top three lines, Todd Kennedy is a physical presence and Alex (Pechurskiy) gives us depth in goal."
* Annie Fowler: 509-582-1574; firstname.lastname@example.org