The Nipawin Hawks made two trades for defencemen during the Canadian Junior Hockey League trade deadline.
Zack Ziegler, a 1999-born defenceman, was acquired from the Lloydminster Bobcats of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) in exchange for 2000-born defenceman Andrew Smiley. Ziegler scored one goal and 13 assists in 27 games with the Bobcats this year, while Smiley scored one goal and six assists in 29 games with Nipawin.
Doug Johnson, head coach of the Hawks, told northeastNOW he was looking to upgrade his offence at the trade deadline. When he couldn’t make a deal for a forward, Johnson thought Ziegler could improve offensive production from his defencemen.
“We knew Zack on the backend could really help our power play,” Johnson said. “We put out an offer in for him and we were fortunate enough they accepted it. He’s going to really help our transition game.”
Johnson said Ziegler can move the puck, is strong on his skates, and has high hockey intelligence. He even compared him to Josh McDougall, the Hawks leading scorer last season. Johnson described the departing Smiley over the season with some of the characteristics he’s given Ziegler but mentioned that Lloydminster was interested in acquiring Smiley.
“[We want the] ability to return as many defencemen as possible,” Johnson said. “With Zack being able to return next year, it takes something to get something.
“I wish nothing but the best for Andrew. He’s a phenomenal young man and can have a very good hockey career. We were just trying to upgrade the team as best we could with what was available.”
This isn’t Ziegler’s first stint in Nipawin. He played two games for the Hawks in 2016-17 as a 17-year-old but decided to commit to Lloydminster. Ziegler also played with current Hawks forwards Austen Flaman and Jake Tremblay in Bantam AA with the Prairie Storm.
Johnson said the Hawks have know Ziegler since he was 15-years-old, so they knew what kind of player and personality they were receiving.
The other trade wasn’t a player for a player, but it was to replace a sudden empty spot on the blueline.
Cole Beamin, the Hawks 2001-born shutdown defenceman, was called up by the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League and will be staying there for the remainder of the season.
In response, the Hawks acquired 1998-born defenceman Walker Cote from the Grand Prairie Storm of the AJHL in exchange for future considerations. Cote has one goal, nine assists, and 121 penalty minutes with the Storm this season.
With a home-and-home series against the Humboldt Broncos starting Friday, Jan. 11 in Nipawin, Johnson said Ziegler will be ready for the first game, while Cote is a game-time decision as he gets his paperwork finalized.
On Twitter: @SchulzePANow
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