The Calgary Hitmen and Swift Current Broncos swung a major trade Saturday, altering the landscape of the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference with a seven-player swap.
On their way to Speedy Creek are 20-year-old center Matteo Gennaro and winger Beck Malenstyn (Washington Capitals). In return, the Broncos have traded five players to the Hitmen, including roster players Conner Chaulk, Riley Stotts and Dom Schmiemann.
Also headed to Calgary in the deal are a pair of prospects in forward Josh Prokop and goaltender Ethan Hein. The deal also involves a pair of draft picks, with the Hitmen receiving a second-round selection in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft and the Broncos receiving a fifth-round selection in the same draft.
“We feel we really added to our hockey club and this trade is a good fit for both teams,” said Manny Viveiros, head coach and director of player personnel for the Broncos. “Gennaro and Malenstyn are established players and we are excited about getting these kids here.”
Gennaro is the big piece to this deal for several reasons. The 6-foot-3, 198-pound forward from St. Albert, Alta. has been a consistent scorer in the WHL since being drafted by the Prince Albert Raiders in the second round, 41st overall, of the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.
“We would first like to thank Matteo and Beck for their excellent contributions to our organization both on and off the ice,” said Jeff Chynoweth, general manager of the Hitmen. “This trade provides us with a number of key elements to build around moving forward, including a pair of former first-round draft picks, while at the same time allowing us to continue to push for a playoff spot this season.”
In 293 WHL games split between Prince Albert and Calgary, Gennaro has scored 194 points (96G-98A). He has 25 power play goals, five short-handed goals and 10 game-winners. This season, Gennaro is on pace to challenge his career-high totals from last season with 25 points (14G-11A) in 22 games.
The Broncos have dominated the scoring charts early in the season with a trio of top scorers in Tyler Steenbergen (Arizona Coyotes), Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida Panthers) and Glenn Gawdin (Calgary Flames). The addition of Gennaro will add substantial depth to a Broncos team in their push to remain at the forefront of the East Division.
Malenstyn, a 6-foot-2, 202-pound winger from Delta, B.C., is currently listed as out for two-to-four weeks with an upper-body injury. At the 2016 NHL Draft, Malenstyn was selected in the fifth round, 145th overall, by the Washington Capitals. He was drafted by the Hitmen in the first round, 18th overall, of the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. In 200 career games, all spent with the Hitmen, Malenstyn has scored 99 points (48G-51A).
The move also benefits the Hitmen, who will receive three roster players, a pair of prospects and a draft pick, giving them pieces to re-tool for the future.
One of those pieces is 20-year-old forward Chaulk. A 6-foot-1, 194-pound product of Regina, Sask., Chaulk was originally listed by the Broncos and made his debut in September 2015 with the club. Since then, he’s played in 140 WHL games, scoring 38 points (17G-21A) in that span. He’s also added four power play goals and two game-winners.
Stotts is another important piece to the deal for the Hitmen. A 6-foot, 171-pound product of Winnipeg, Man., Stotts was originally a first round selection, 10th overall, by the Broncos in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. In 74 games with the Broncos, Stotts has 19 points (11G-8A) and should continue to grow into an offensive star with the Hitmen.
On the blue line, the Hitmen gained a body in Dom Schmiemann. Another first round selection by the Broncos, 12th overall in 2014, the 6-foot-4, 188-pound defenceman should provide another steady hand to help the Hitmen for years to come. In 92 career WHL games, Schmiemann has 12 points (2G-10A).
The pieces will add to a young Hitmen core that includes the likes of defenceman Jackson van de Leest and forwards Tristen Nielsen and Orca Wiesblatt.