The Lethbridge Hurricanes are all in.
Thursday morning, general manager Peter Anholt announced the acquisition of Vegas Golden Knights prospect Jake Leschyshyn and Colorado Avalanche prospect Nick Henry from the Regina Pats, effectively bolstering a forward corps already loaded with talent.
In exchange, the Pats receive 19-year-old forward Jadon Joseph and 18-year-old forward Ty Kolle, along with a bounty of picks. In 2019, the Pats receive the Hurricanes first-round selection and third-round selection, as well as the Swift Current Broncos eighth-round selection. In 2020, the Pats receive the Broncos first-round selection. Finally, in 2022, the Pats receive the Hurricanes fourth-round pick. Conditionally, should Leschyshyn and Henry return for their respective overage seasons, the Pats will receive two more draft choices.
In many ways, the deal marks the end of an era for a Regina Pats hockey club that has enjoyed outstanding success in recent years.
“I can’t say enough good things about Jake and Nick,” said John Paddock, Pats vice-president of hockey operations and general manager. “They are incredible people who have meant so much to our organization. Lethbridge is getting two outstanding individuals and we wish them all the best with their new team.”
Both Leschyshyn and Henry were a part of the Pats team that claimed the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy in 2016-17 after going 52-12-7-1. Alongside former captain Sam Steel, both served as key pieces of the leadership group for the Pats in 2017-18 as they hosted the 2018 Memorial Cup, advancing to the championship game before falling to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
For the Hurricanes, this signals the intent for a clear title run in 2019.
Leschyshyn and Henry join a loaded Lethbridge squad that already includes the likes of 2019 NHL Draft-eligible star Dylan Cozens, whose 31 points (12G-19A) lead the team in scoring through 24 games this season. Captain Jordy Bellerive (10G-17A) is a prospect of the Pittsburgh Penguins, as is defenceman Calen Addison (4G-21A).
Leschyshyn was in his first season as captain of the Pats and brings incredible two-way presence, as well as unquestionable leadership ability. Through 24 games this season, he sat second in Pats scoring with 32 points (16G-16A). Producing at a rate of 1.33 points per game, Leschyshyn is enjoying a career season offensively and is well on his way to surpassing his previous career high of 40 points (2016-17, 2017-18).
Originally a first-round pick (sixth) of the Red Deer Rebels at the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft, Leschyshyn was acquired by Paddock from the Rebels on January 5, 2015, as part of another blockbuster deal that saw forward Connor Gay off to Red Deer.
Leschyshyn joined the Pats for 12 games to close out the 2014-15 season following that trade. Since coming to the Queen City, the 19-year-old product of Saskatoon has skated in 213 WHL regular season games, registering 131 points (61G-70A) in the process.
During the 2017 NHL Draft, Leschyshyn became a part of the first draft class in the Vegas Golden Knights, hearing his named called during the second round (62nd). On June 1, 2018, the Golden Knights put pen to paper with Leschyshyn on a three-year, entry-level contract.
Henry, a 19-year-old product of Portage la Prairie, Man., was the Pats leading scorer at the time of the deal, with 40 points (15G-25A) through 25 games. He was originally a fourth-round (59th) selection of the Everett Silvertips at the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft and had committed to play NCAA hockey with Western Michigan University before being dealt to the Pats.
At the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, the Pats shipped off a sixth-round pick in 2016 (Dylan Holloway) and a second-round pick in 2017 (Jackson Berezowski) in exchange for the rights to Henry. After skating with the Pats during training camp in August 2017, the 5-foot-11, 194-pound forward signed a WHL Standard Player Agreement.
Since then, he has gone on to skate in 150 career WHL games with the Pats, amassing 150 points (64G-86A) along the way. In 29 WHL playoff games, Henry has 16 points (7G-9A) to his credit.
Henry also heard his name called at the 2017 NHL Draft, with the Colorado Avalanche selecting him in the fourth round (94th). He has yet to sign an NHL entry-level contract.
Following big seasons in the Queen City, Paddock embarks on a retooling of his storied franchise. In the short term, 19-year-old Joseph and 18-year-old Kolle step right into the lineup, while five guaranteed bantam draft picks and two more conditional selections will go a long ways towards the long-term rejuvenation of the club.
“We could not turn down an offer of this magnitude,” Paddock said. “We are getting two good players up front in Jadon and Ty, and have added some importance pieces for the upcoming WHL Bantam Drafts.”
Joseph, a 6-foot-1 product of Sherwood Park, Alta., is enjoying a fantastic start to 2018-19, having already tallied 19 points (10G-9A) in 23 games. The 6-foot-1, 172-pound pivot was a fifth-round selection (98th) of the Hurricanes at the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. Since joining the Hurricanes in 2016-17, he has accrued 66 points (22G-44A) in 144 career WHL regular season contests. A member of a Hurricanes crew that made consecutive trips to the WHL’s Eastern Conference Championship, Joseph brings credible experience with 36 WHL playoff games under his belt in which he contributed 15 points (5G-10A) and a plus-5 rating.
Kolle, a product of Kamloops, B.C., was in his first season with the Hurricanes after being acquired for a fifth-round pick at the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft on October 4, 2018. In 21 games this season, the 5-foot-8, 178-pound centre has registered 12 points (7G-5A).
Originally a fourth-round selection (70th) of the Winterhawks at the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, Kolle has 29 points (14G-15A) to his name through 94 career WHL regular season outings.
Currently sitting third in the Central Division with a record of 11-8-3-2 (27 points), the Hurricanes have collected points in three consecutive games (2-0-1-0) and trail the Edmonton Oil Kings (14-10-2-2, 32 points) and Red Deer Rebels (16-8-1-0, 33 points). Lethbridge holds one game in hand on Red Deer and four games in hand on Edmonton.
As far the Pats, the sit fifth in the East Division with a record of 8-17-0-0.
Next on the schedule for the Hurricanes is a big three-in-three weekend beginning Friday, November 30 at 7 p.m. MT when the Swift Current Broncos visit the Enmax Centre. Lethbridge then travels to Medicine Hat for an important contest with the Tigers on Saturday, December 1 (7:30 p.m. MT) before returning home to host the Red Deer Rebels on Sunday, December 2 (6 p.m. MT).
The Pats are also facing down a three-in-three slate, starting on the road with a visit to the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday, November 30 (7:30 p.m. CT). Regina then returns to the Brandt Centre to host the WHL-leading Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday, December 1 (7 p.m. CT) before welcoming the Medicine Hat Tigers on Sunday, December 2 (4p .m. CT).