Cranbrook Bucks experience unusual first trade deadline


The 2020-21 BC Hockey League trade deadline — the first for the Cranbrook Bucks — came and went on February 25.

The Bucks’ first trade deadline remained consistent with their first season as a franchise, as likely the most unusual they will ever experience.

We all know about the situation that is currently paralyzing the BCHL, so I won’t waste much time talking about it.

The bottom line is, rather than trying to bolster their roster for a playoff push, the Bucks’ recent acquisitions are players that may not ever play for the team.

In BCHLNetwork’s trade deadline primer, each team’s number of trades, among other things, were listed. Officially, the Bucks made three trades in their first season, with two of them coming in the weeks leading up to the deadline.

Cranbrook also benefited from the cancelation of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League season. Many players from the MJHL became junior A free agents, and a couple of them landed in Cranbrook.

Bucks add 2000-born veterans from MJHL

Among the 20-year-olds the Bucks were able to add to their roster, one addition came on trade deadline day.

Cranbrook welcomed forward Reece Henry of Regina, Saskatchewan, from the MJHL’s Portage Terriers. Henry played 122 games with the Terriers over three seasons, recording 29 goals and 42 assists for 71 points.

Although Portage announced the transaction as a trade for future considerations, Henry was able to sign with another club. Whatever deal the Bucks and Terriers agreed on does not show up on the BCHL transactions page.

Another 20-year-old free agent recruited to Cranbrook was defenseman Drake Burgin, formerly with the Winkler Flyers in the MJHL. The Winnipeg product contributed 12 goals and 53 points in 60 games with Winkler last season, in which he was an alternate captain.

Of course, it’s possible that neither Henry nor Burgin will be presented an opportunity to play games with the Bucks this season. However, by signing in Cranbrook, they are each vying for one more shot at playing in their junior careers.

Bucks acquire a pair of players from Brockville Braves

Cranbrook did make a couple of actual trades in the weeks leading up to the deadline, and they were both with the same team.

In separate transactions one day apart, the Bucks acquired two players from the Brockville Braves of the Central Canada Hockey League.

On Feb. 10, the Bucks added 2000-born defenseman Matthieu Wuth from Brockville for future considerations.

Wuth, a 20-year-old import from Broomfield, Colorado, played parts of two seasons with Brockville. He amassed seven goals and 22 assists for 29 points in 71 games during that time. Wuth had committed to play Division III hockey at Hobart College for 2020-21 but hasn’t played any games yet this year.

The next day, Feb. 11, Cranbrook and Brockville reconnected on a deal that sent Josh Barnes to the Bucks. Barnes is a 2002-born forward from Cornwall, Ontario.

Even at just 18-years-old, Barnes is a veteran of 93 games in the CCHL, in which he totalled 28 goals and 36 assists for 64 points. Barnes is currently playing in the United States, and is committed to playing Division I at Penn State University this fall.

When the Bucks made the trades official, they announced “Barnes has elected to spend the remainder of the 2020-21 season playing in the United States.”

For both Barnes and Wuth, it seems unlikely either player suits up in a game for the Bucks. While the Bucks now own the Canadian Junior Hockey League rights of each player, all signs point to their junior careers being complete.

Hagen headlines Bucks trade acquisitions

The only other trade made by the Bucks, their first in franchise history, came way back on Sept. 26 of last year. Cranbrook swung a deal with Okotoks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League to bring in forward Michael Hagen.

A 20-year-old from Calgary, Hagen quickly became an integral part of the Bucks during last fall’s extended training season. He was one of the leading point producers on the team, but he led in more ways than just on the scoresheet.

Hagen used his two seasons worth of junior hockey experience to cement himself as a team leader and was named an alternate captain in the Bucks’ first-ever leadership group.

For their part in the transaction, the Bucks sent 2002-born forward Cale Sanders to Okotoks. Sanders was added to the Bucks extended training season roster, but he was never announced to the team.

The acquisition of Hagen back in September paid off handsomely for the Bucks. They hope the recent additions will get the same opportunity as well.

For now, with the trade deadline passed, their roster is set and they continue to await word on their inaugural season.

For a complete list of trades made by all BCHL teams, check out BCHLNetwork’s trade tracker.