The trade deadline in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is now just eight days away, with the annual date set for Jan. 10.
It's often an interesting time for SJHL teams, as they must balance their needs and wants with how much room they have on their roster, as all teams must also get down to 23 players, total active and blank, by Jan. 10 as well.
This year is particularly fuzzy because of how tight the standings are. Second place (the North Stars) and seventh place are currently separated by just nine points, meaning more than half the league may consider themselves 'in the running' for a title.
For the North Stars, however, there is no question about where they stand, as they have a 24-5-2 record.
"I don't know about 'buyer', but [we're] looking to add," North Stars head coach and general manager Brandon Heck said after practice Tuesday. "Hopefully we can upgrade our team a bit. We like our team in the future too, so we don't want to mortgage too much. We're just going to be as smart as we can and see if we can get a good deal."
Heck said that right now, things are 'slow' when it comes to chatter among SJHL teams.
"Nobody is tipping their hand," he said. "There hasn't been too much action on anything right now."
Ideally, the North Stars want to add at least one forward, but that doesn't mean the defence is set in stone either.
"We always need more scoring, so that would be nice," Heck said. "Everything has the potential [to change] right now, [but] we've got seven D-men we're pretty confident in, so we're in a good situation."
Right now, just two North Star players have passed the 30-point plateau, a feat that has been done by 26 players in the league so far. Injuries have certainly played a part in that, but it never hurts to add forward depth.
Heck wasn't tipping his hand to any specific players the North Stars may be targeting.
"[We'll] kind of just see what's out there and go from there," he said. "To get somebody good, you're always going to have to give up someone good."
The biggest name likely on the move is Flin Flon's Nick Shumlanski, who has 37 points this year and is in his final year of junior. The Bombers are likely out of the running as they have a 12-18-1-3 record and sit in ninth place.
But other than Shumlanski, there aren't many other inticing 20-year-olds on the market, mostly because there aren't many sellers.
On Dec. 1, the North Stars tried to upgrade their secondary scoring by going out of province, when they acquired Dylan Williamson from the Calgary Canucks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. But he played just one game and then left the team for personal reasons (as of Tuesday, he is still not with the club, but the North Stars do hold his rights).
The cost for Williamson wasn't cheap, as the North stars dealt rookie goalie Kolby Matthews, a player development fee, and future considerations.
A move that big before the deadline is not likely, but it's important to remember it's very possible the North Stars potential new addition also comes from outside Saskatchewan, as the Jan. 10 deadline is constant across all 10 Junior A leagues in the country (Chaseton Braid and Brad Girard were also acquired from the AJHL this fall).
Between now and next Wednesday, it's clear the North Stars are looking to add something up front, but how big a fish they're seeking remains unclear.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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