There will be some new competition in the Spokane crease when training camp gets underway this fall.
Thursday morning, the Spokane Chiefs announce the acquisition of 1998-born goaltender Declan Hobbs from the Kootenay ICE in exchange for a seventh-round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.
“We would like to welcome Declan to the Chiefs organization and look forward to seeing him at training camp,” said Scott Carter, general manager of the Chiefs.
Hobbs, a 6-foot, 173-pound product of Saskatoon, was originally a third-round selection (53rd) of the ICE at the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft and is the younger brother of Regina Pats defenceman Connor Hobbs.
Over parts of three seasons in Cranbrook, the agile puck-stopper appeared in 29 games, going 2-17-4-0 with a 4.88 goals-against average and .866 save percentage. Hobbs saw his most action during the 2015-16 campaign, getting into 24 games as the backup to then 20-year-old veteran Wyatt Hoflin.
“We would like to wish Declan the best of luck in Spokane,” said Matt Cockell, president and general manager of the ICE.” Part of our responsibility to our players is providing opportunity for them. We thought this move would give Declan a chance to earn a roster spot in Spokane and allows us to prioritize evaluating our goalies in camp by giving them some more minutes.”
Hobbs, who turns 19 on Aug. 19, saw action in only three games during the 2016-17 season before he was re-assigned to the Nipawin Hawks of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League after being beat out by rookie Jakob Walter (1999) for the backup job behind Payton Lee. In Nipawin, Hobbs appeared in 13 games, going 9-3-0-0 with a 1.94 GAA and .929 SV%.
In Spokane, the former third-round bantam selection will compete with 1999-born Dawson Weatherill, who shared the workload with graduated netminder Jayden Sittler (1996) during the 2016-17 season. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Weatherill – a product of Red Deer – got into 36 games, going 11-14-4-2 with a 3.58 GAA and .885 SV%. Another competitor for crease time in Spokane could be 2000-born Donovan Buskey. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound native of North Vancouver saw four games worth of action in 2016-17, going 0-2-0-1 with a 4.25 GAA and .866 SV%.
Should Hobbs crack the Chiefs roster, he will have an opportunity to face his old club early in the 2017-18 season as the ICE host the Chiefs Sept. 29 before visiting Spokane on Sept. 30.