The Battlefords North Stars tinkered with their roster on Wednesday despite a strong 5-0-1 start to the 2017-18 season, as they acquired 20-year-old forward Chaseton Braid from the Lloydminster Bobcats of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
They also added American forward Ryan Gil to their roster, released 20-year-old forward Ryan Rothenburger, and re-assigned defenceman Sunil Sahota to Junior B.
"We need more scoring... We can't just rely on one line," North Stars head coach Brandon Heck said of the acquisitions. "We're not complacent. If we're not trying to get better, the players every day, the coaches every day, and the team every day, then we're not going to move to where we need to go."
Braid has 71 games of WHL experience to his name, between Saskatoon and Kamloops.
Last season, he played in just eight games for the Blades, but notched 22 points for the Bobcats in 35 games while in the AJHL. This year, he had three goals and two assists in nine games before the trade.
"He's a smart, skilled player," Heck said of Braid. "He knows how to make plays and draw defenders to him to dish the puck and he also knows how to find a soft spot to get open."
Heck saw him at the AJHL showcase a couple weeks ago where Braid had a three-point game for the Bobcats against the undefeated Okotoks Oilers. Lloydminster lost 6-5.
"He was engaged," Heck said of that game. "Okotoks was obviously keying in on his line. He earned his points and played a hard-nosed game with his skill too.
"I actually thought he should have put up more numbers than what he did this year just watching him in that game against the number one team in the country."
Braid was also teammates with North Stars forward Tre Doyon when they both played for the Bobcats, and they are also both from Wainright, Alta.
Gil, meanwhile, comes to Saskatchewan after growing up in the Los Angeles suburb of Terrance.
The 19-year-old posted 39 points in 30 games, including 30 assists, for the Anaheim Jr. Ducks last season, where he was teammates with current North Star defenceman Connor Smith.
"Smith said he plays like Owen Lamb, except a bit more skill," Heck said. "He provides us with forward depth."
This year, Gil had been playing for the Rochester Monarchs of the National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC), which is a brand new American junior league geared toward development for college hockey. He had three points in nine games for Rochester.
"We're hoping he can provide more offence," Heck added. "We're hoping to score by committee."
The reason the North Stars re-assigned Sahota is because of their log-jam on defence. They were carrying nine defenceman for the first six games, and one of the younger players had to be the odd-man out. Anthony Cuglietta has impressed mightily so far and has seen lots of ice time with Cody Spagrud, while the other 18-year-olds were Smith, Brandon Armstrong, and Matthew Fletcher, all of whom have played more games than Sahota had (just one).
Rothenburger decided to leave on his own.
The North Stars host the 3-7-0-1 Melville Millionaires this Friday at the Civic Centre. NorSask North Stars hockey begins at 7:15 p.m. with the Ultra Print pre-game show on 93.3 the Rock.
Battlefords currently sits in first place in their division even though they've played four less games than Humboldt and Kindersley.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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