The average fan will be taken back by yesterday’s trade between the Vees and Vipers. For one, the two teams actually completed a trade; the first since 2003.
Jason Buckle is the trivia question as whom was the player involved in the last deal. Buckle, a defenseman was shipped to the Vees for future considerations. Since then it’s been a “cold war” between the two inter-divisional rivals; maybe a slight exaggeration.
The two organizations usually look at one another as the measuring stick when it comes to recruiting, on-ice success, marketing and so on. The trade yesterday is like the Leafs and Canadiens, Redsox and Yankees or Lakers-Celtic hooking up for a trade; it doesn’t happen.
Both coaches, Jason Williamson and Fred Harbinson are two coaches at the helm of programs that are expected to have a winning product on the ice year-in and year-out. No question both have a competitive fire and desire to be better than the other, but both do have a healthy, all be it competitive respect for one another. Maybe in years past, a Vernon coach wouldn’t be talking trade with a Vees coach or vice versa, rather trading a player out of the division rather than see said player put on their rivals sweater. But times they are a changing and so too is junior hockey. Like the players, there is a fraternity among coaches in the BCHL, a healthy camaraderie.
Williamson and Harbinson making a trade now might not be as surprising now, rather than 4-5 years ago. Both coaches realized they have a piece that the other wanted/needed, and realized putting a rivalry aside to make the trade made sense. This can go down as a move that benefits both clubs. The Vees get a player with size and grit that they wanted upfront, but who also can be an impact player around the net and on the power-play. The Vipers, I’m sure wanted a player coming back that has a similar frame (Dancs is 6’2 and his body will fill out) and shelf life (Dancs a 2014 Michigan commitment). Dancs will likely be in the mix for a top 7-9 spot with the Vipers, something that was going to be tough to do in Penticton. Dancs situation probably parallels Evan Anderson and his move to Salmon Arm; a player thriving in an increased role.
So what are the Vees getting in Jedd Soleway? Time will only tell. Soleway had 16 points in 26 games for the Vipers; a streaky scorer. Soleway had points in 10 of 26 games but what stands out to me is who he was getting points against and when. Of the 10 teams he picked up points against, seven had above .500 records. That shows Soleway wasn’t just “padding” his stats against lesser opposition, rather earning points against good teams and in competitive environments. Soleway also has shown he can produce at key times, with three game-tying assists and most recently, setting up the game-winning goal last Saturday against West Kelowna. The Vernon product has shown he can be a factor on the power-play with one goal and four points.
Soleway says he likes to use his size (6’3 / 208) to create space not only for himself but for his line-mates. By his own admission, he will tell you he isn’t the quickest skater but thinks his foot speed is more than serviceable and can be a handful once he gets going; usually the case with most power-forwards. Soleway won’t need his speed as much as his size, as he’s expected to go through defenders, not around them.
The newest Vee won’t be counted on to produce immediately, as the coaches don’t expect big numbers from the forward. Soleway is a player that’s another “piece to the puzzle,” a guy that solidifies the Vees depth up front. He will bring some grit and will be a presence in front of the net, which the Vees are wanting from him.
He’s soft-spoken, quick to down play the significance of yesterday’s trade, saying he grew up more of a “hockey fan” in general than a Vipers fan; the rivalry something he doesn’t get too worked up about. When talking with him this morning, Soleway seemed pretty level-headed about the situation, as he in his own words “Is just trying to get settled in.”
Fans will debate which team won the trade, and that answer might not come for quite some time. As mentioned this could be a trade that benefits both teams, similar players who are maybe a better fit where they are today as opposed to yesterday. Both have gone through up’s and down’s this season but both still have plenty of talent and maybe the change of scenery will get more out of the two.
Everyone now will have December 14th circled on their calendars; I know I will.