Tanner Kaspick hoists the Western Hockey League championship trophy in 2016 as a member of the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Kings’ captain this season, he was traded to the Victoria Royals at the WHL deadline this week. Facebook

Victoria gears up for deep WHL playoff run with deadline trades

Royals acquire a pair of gritty Western Hockey League veterans

The Victoria Royals are stacking the deck for the stretch run of the Western Hockey League season.

A flurry of trades at the deadline this week saw the club secure a pair of WHL veteran forwards, Tanner Kaspick from Brandon and Lane Zablocki from the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Kaspick, 19, who served as the Wheat Kings’ captain, scored 37 points in 35 games this season and played for Team WHL in the CIBC Canada-Russia series in November. The hard-nosed 6-1, 206-pounder is no stranger to the rough stuff, having racked up 170 penalty minutes in 191 career games with Brandon over three seasons.

“There are very few opportunities to acquire a player with Tanner’s skill, character and experience,” Royals’ president and general manager Cameron Hope said in a release. “He will be a great addition to our forward group, and we look forward to welcoming him to Victoria.”

Kaspick was a fourth-round NHL draft pick (119th overall) of the St. Louis Blues in the 2016 entry draft and signed a three-year entry level pro deal with the Blues in October. He came to the Royals along with the rights to bantam prospect Cameron MacDonald, for first-round picks in the 2019 and 2021 bantam draft and the rights to unsigned prospects Jonathan Lambos and Ty Thorpe.

The two first-round draft picks were secured this week from the Saskatoon Blades in exchange for second-year Royals forward Eric Florchuk, who had 28 points in 43 games this season.

Zablocki, who was traded to the Hurricanes from Red Deer earlier this season, is a third-round pick (79th overall) by Detroit in the 2017 NHL draft. The 6-foot, 182-pound forward has 11 goals and 25 points in 40 games this year, along with 61 penalty minutes. He tallied 28 goals and 26 assists last season with the Rebels and Regina Pats.

He came to the Royals for second- and sixth-round picks in this year’s bantam draft and a conditional pick in 2019.

Another deal the Royals made at the deadline was to send forward Spencer Gerth back to Everett for a seventh-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft.

The Royals play a pair of home games against Kamloops this Friday (Jan. 12) and Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Friday’s game is Ugly Blazer night, while Saturday is Country Night, with fans encouraged to wear the appropriate attire to the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

editor@vicnews.com

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