The Everett Silvertips have executed the first major transaction in the lead-up to the Western Hockey League trade deadline, landing 20-year-old defenceman Aaron Irving in a blockbuster deal with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Heading to Edmonton in exchange for Irving and a seventh round pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft are 16-year-old centre Brett Kemp, 20-year-old right winger Graham Millar and a first round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.
The two teams announced the deal Wednesday at noon (Mountain).
“As a captain in Edmonton, Aaron Irving brings great heart and soul leadership along with a Memorial Cup championship on his resume,” said Garry Davidson, general manager of the Silvertips, in a team release. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to add those elements at this time of year and welcome Aaron to the Silvertips family. Likewise, we acknowledge the character, skills, and work ethic that Graham Millar and Brett Kemp brought to the Silvertips every day. We thank them for their service and wish them well in the next step of their careers.”
In Irving, the Silvertips bolster an already fierce defensive unit that has surrendered the fewest goals (77) in the WHL. For comparison sake, the Prince George Cougars are the next stingiest team, having surrendered 102 goals to date.
Irving, a sixth round pick (162nd) of the NHL’s Nashville Predators, was leading the Oil Kings in scoring prior to the trade, having registered 43 points (14G-29A) through 39 games this season. That point total is good enough for second among all WHL defenders, trailing only David Quenneville of the Medicine Hat Tigers, who has 48 points (20G-28A) in 38 contests.
“We would like to thank Aaron for his time here as an Oil King,” said Randy Hansch, general manager of the Oil Kings, in a team release. “It started day one when we drafted him and since that day he has been a big part of our team and represented us well on and off the ice.”
“We would also like to thank Aaron’s parents, Don and Lucy Irving, for being part of our billet family and organization.”
Irving joins a talented Everett blueline that already houses two-way talent in the form of 19-year-old Kevin Davis (3-28-31) and captain Noah Juulsen (9-11-20), who is currently off representing Canada at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Standing 6-foot-1 and weighing in at 198 pounds, Irving is known for his booming point shot, having accumulated 126 points (38G-88A) in 244 career WHL regular season contests. He also brings 32 games of WHL post-season experience, including 21 outings as a member of the 2014 Ed Chynoweth Champion Oil Kings squad that went on to win the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
A product of Edmonton, Irving was originally a ninth overall pick of the Oil Kings at the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft.
While the Oil Kings say goodbye to their captain and hometown hero, they receive a rising star in Kemp, a product of Yorkton, Sask.
Currently in his WHL rookie season, the 5-foot-11, 174-pound pivot has seven points (3G-4A) to his name in 17 outings. He also skated in one game as a 15-year-old during the 2015-16 season. Originally a second round pick (41st) of the Silvertips at the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, Kemp represented Canada Black at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Kemp finished his midget career by posting 51 points (20G-31A) with the Yorkton Maulers of the Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League in 2015-16.
“Brett Kemp is a very promising 16-year-old and we’re excited to see his potential unfold in Edmonton,” Hansch said. “I have no doubt he will fit in well with our group and will be a part of our future moving forward. In also adding Graham, it was important to get some experience coming back and this allows him a fresh opportunity.”
In Millar, the Oil Kings acquire a veteran product of Penticton, B.C., who brings 226 regular season games worth of WHL experience.
The 6-foot-2, 194-pound winger has tallied 16 points (9G-7A) in 25 games this season, and totaled 83 points (44G-39A) over a four-year WHL career that began with the Saskatoon Blades in 2013-14. Millar also carries 18 games of WHL playoff experience, having notched five points (1G-4A) along the way.
Millar and Kemp are both expected to join the Oil Kings in time for Friday’s contest in Lethbridge against the Hurricanes.
The Silvertips visit the Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday.