Royals boost forward core with addition of Blues prospect Kaspick from Wheat Kings

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Faced with a tough decision to buy or sell in the tough East Division, the Brandon Wheat Kings made their move Wednesday at the conclusion of the Western Hockey League’s Trade Deadline.

The Wheat Kings dealt 19-year-old forward and St. Louis Blues prospect Tanner Kaspick to the Victoria Royals in a six-player deal. Also headed to the Royals is 2002-born unsigned forward prospect Cameron MacDonald.

In return, the Wheat Kings have received a first-round pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft, a  first-round pick in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft and unsigned prospects defenceman Jonathon Lambos (2001) and  forward Ty Thorpe (2002).

Kaspick is the big piece to this deal, helping aid a forward core on the Royals that already includes NHL drafted talent including: captain Matthew Phillips (Calgary Flames), Tyler Soy (Anaheim Ducks), Lane Zablocki (Detroit Red Wings) and Noah Gregor (San Jose Sharks).

“There are very few opportunities to acquire a player with Tanner’s skill, character and experience,” Royals’ president and general manager Cameron Hope said. “He will be a great addition to our forward group, and we look forward to welcoming him to Victoria.”

Kaspick, a 6-foot-1, 206-pound product of Brandon, Man. was drafted in the fourth round, 119th overall, by the Blues in the 2016 NHL Draft. He was originally selected by his hometown Wheat Kings in the second round, 25th overall, of the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft.

This season, Kaspick is enjoying a career year with 37 points (12G-25A) in 35 games. Overall, the 19-year-old has 131 points (45G-86A) in 191 games.

Also headed Victoria’s way is forward prospect Cameron MacDonald, who won a gold medal with British Columbia at the 2017 WHL Cup. The Surrey, B.C. native was selected in the fifth-round, 96th overall, by the Wheat Kings in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.

“This was a difficult decision,” says Wheat Kings general manager Grant Armstrong. “While we explored a number of opportunities in an effort to improve this year’s team, the prices were far too high. We had to look at it as what is best for our team…what’s best for today, what’s best for tomorrow.”

Kaspick was also a member of the Wheat Kings club that won a WHL Championship in 2016. In return for the pair, the Wheat Kings have secured their future with first round draft choices in 2019 and 2021.

Also coming to the Wheaties are prospects Lambos and Thorpe. Lambos, a 5-foot-10, 168-pound blueliner from Winnipeg, Man. was selected in the third round, 49th overall, by the Royals in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. Lambos current plays for Rink Hockey Academy in the CSSHL, tallying 14 points (2G-12A) in 21 games this season.

Thorpe is another Winnipeg, Man. native. The 5-foot-10, 150-pound forward was drafted by the Royals in the third round, 54th overall, of the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft. Also playing with Rink Hockey Academy, Thorpe has 15 points (7G-8A) in 18 games this season with the CSSHL program.

The Royals are in action Friday, January 12 (7:05 p.m. PST) when they host the Kamloops Blazers for the first of a two-game weekend set on Vancouver Island.

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