The Kelowna Rockets made another big add to their roster Thursday, acquiring Florida Panthers prospect and Seattle Thunderbirds captain Matthew Wedman.
In exchange, the Thunderbirds have acquired a first-round selection in the 2023 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft, a second-round selection in the 2022 WHL Bantam Draft, and a fifth-round selection in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.
“We feel that we’ve really strengthened our hockey club with Matthew Wedman and Jadon Joseph down the middle,” said Kelowna Rockets General Manager Bruce Hamilton. “We’ve been pursuing Wedman for six weeks, it’s been a long grind of negotiations and we knew it was going to cost picks. He’s going to elevate our team in leadership and scoring.
“He’s the captain of the Thunderbirds, he brings leadership and a big physical presence. He scored 40 goals last season, we’re looking for him to add some offence to our team and help him pursue his career to become a pro player.”
The 20-year-old Wedman has 17 points (6G-11A) in 19 games during the 2019-20 WHL Regular Season. Those figures include a single power-play goal.
Originally selected in the second round, 38th overall, of the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft, Wedman has played his entire WHL career to date for Seattle, amassing 175 points (75G-100A) in 275 WHL regular season games. He has 20 power-play goals, two short-handed goals, and 10 game-winning goals in his WHL career.
After recording a career-high 77 points (40G-37A) during the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season, Wedman was chosen by the Panthers in the seventh round, 199th overall, at the 2019 NHL Draft.
“Wedman is a great T-Bird and we are really proud of his development,” said Thunderbirds General Manager Bil La Forge. “It is tough to move our captain but to add the three draft picks at this time is important for our team moving forward.”
Wedman brings 49 games of WHL playoff experience with 16 points (6G-10A) in that span. He has one power-play goal and three game-winning goals in his WHL playoffs career. In Wedman’s second season with the T-Birds, he became a WHL Champion as the Thunderbirds hoisted the Ed Chynoweth Cup for the first time in franchise history.
Wedman’s first-ever goal in the WHL Playoffs came against the Kelowna Rockets, propelling the Thunderbirds to a 5-4 overtime victory in Game 4 of the 2016 Western Conference Championship.
The Rockets begin the first game of a six-game road trip through the East Division on Friday, December 6 (7:00 p.m. CT) against the defending WHL Champion Prince Albert Raiders at the Art Hauser Centre.