All WHL and BCHL teams have a major decision to make by Thursday, the January 10th trade deadline.

There are three options:

  1. Do little or nothing to tinker with the roster
  2. Upgrade the 2018-19 team (at least on paper) by becoming a buyer & acquiring impact player(s) in exchange for future picks & perhaps prospects
  3. Opposite of #2 by becoming a seller & dealing older impact players that likely will not be in the league next year in return for picks and possibly prospects

In 2016-17, the Prince George Cougars were buyers and in 2017-18 it was just the opposite.

Last year at this time, the Cougars dealt their leading-scorer Kody McDonald to the Prince Albert Raiders for Defenceman Rhett Rhinehart, Forward Austin Crossley, and a first-round 2018 bantam draft pick (who turned out to be Forward Craig Armstrong).

McDonald helped the Raiders made the playoffs and push first-place Moose Jaw to seven games in the first round of the playoffs.

Although injured for eight games this season, the 20-year-old McDonald (six goals and 18 points in 30 games) was part of the Prince Albert team that has dominated the WHL this season (34-3-1), but his junior career will come to an end in Victoria after a trade to the Royals.

How quickly things can change!

The Raiders paid a big price to acquire McDonald and now he has gone from being a player sought after to a player expendable in a package deal.

Prince Albert made what they believe is an overage upgrade, and it is hard to argue, as the Raiders acquired high-scoring centre Dante Hannoun from the Victoria Royals.

Hannoun is just five-foot-six, 160-pounds, but is a gifted offensive player with 36 points (19G, 17A) in 28 games this season.

He has had many excellent games against the Cougars, and showed his versatility by even taking shifts on defence the last time Victoria played at the CN Centre in early December.

Hannoun will return to Prince George when the Raiders visit the Cougars on January 16th.

McDonald will get to play the Cougars four times, as Prince George will host Victoria Feb. 15th and 16th with a return doubleheader in the provincial capital March 1st and 2nd.

The 12-21-1-2 Cougars still have three games to play prior to the trade deadline and they are the last three on the dreadful stretch of 11 straight road games.

They visit Kelowna tonight, Tri-City Tuesday, and Spokane Wednesday before returning to Prince George for six straight home games starting in one week against Kelowna.

By the time Thursday rolls around, the Cougars will have played 39 of their 68 games, leaving just 29 remaining.

They obviously won’t be buyers but I doubt they will be selling much either.

General Manager Mark Lamb has done little on the trade front since taking over in the off-season.

He doesn’t have many older offensive chips to deal unlike last year when Prince George not only sold McDonald, but Dennis Cholowski (to Portland) and Josh Anderson (to Swift Current) as well.

The Cougars have scored the fewest goals in the entire WHL (79 in 36 games), which is a strong indicator they don’t have many offensive weapons that other teams would be willing to pay a significant price for.

The Seattle Thunderbirds, the one team below the Cougars in the Western Conference standings, have already decided to sell.

The Cougars are four points behind Kamloops for the final wild-card playoff spot and they still have six head-to-head games left with the Blazers.

Kamloops leads Prince George because they are 3-0 against PG in the season-series.

By keeping their roster intact, or perhaps making a cosmetic change or two, the Cougars will make a statement the goal remains the same (from the start of the season) which is to earn a playoff spot.

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The Prince George Spruce Kings may be interested in being a buyer at the BCHL trade deadline since they are making a run at the league championship.

The 25-9-1-2 Spruce Kings are the league-leaders, although they are just a point ahead of the (26-11) Chilliwack Chiefs.

I would caution against tinkering too much.

The Spruce Kings are a well-balanced team with what appears to be very good chemistry.

More often than not, top teams are better to keep the players that got you to the top rather than a blockbuster that can change the dynamics.

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Kawhi Leonard had at least one fan in San Antonio during the Spurs 125-107 Thursday victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Leonard was booed loudly throughout the game, which did not sit well with his mom, who took out her frustrations with one fan in particular.

For a regular season NBA game, it doesn’t get much better that the Rockets 135-134 overtime victory over the hometown Warriors.

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This is Week 14 of ‘Hartley’s Cat Scan.’

The podcast, introduced in September, predominately features the Prince George Cougars.

My guest this week is former Cougars captain Tyler Bouck.

The 38-year-old Bouck played for the Cougars in the late 1990’s before going on to a pro career that included 36 games with the Vancouver Canucks.

Bouck remembers his journey of wearing the ‘C’ at a young age, his professional success overseas in Europe, the Prince George atmosphere when stepping onto the ice, and his successful real estate firm in Kelowna.

You can also find this podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

 

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

European captain Thomas Bjorn got a butt tattoo to commemorate his team’s Ryder Cup victory. Fittingly, he had a little trouble getting up and down for a few days.

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

 

Tickets for the College Football National Championship Game Monday are down as low as $151 on Stubhub. If this keeps up there’ll be so many empty seats, fans will think they’re at a 49ers game.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

 

Now, let me get this straight—the College Football National Championship Game will be played at Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers. Isn’t that like having Derby Downs, home of the Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio, host the Indianapolis 500?

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

 

Masslive.com reports that a record 3,447 penalties were called in NFL games this season. I’m sure I witnessed 3,000 of them on punts alone. Who are they trying to copy? The CFL?

*Comedy writer Tony Chong

 

LeBron James says his championship with Cleveland should make him the “greatest ever.” Which is hard to argue for anyone responsible for having “Cleveland” and “championship” mentioned in the same sentence.

*Comedy writer Jim Barach http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

GM Brodie Van Wagenen said he thinks his Mets are the NL East favourites. Don’t laugh; someone has to be in the focus group testing Budweiser’s new marijuana beer.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

 

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Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT.
He also is the 94.3 radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca.
Follow him on Twitter: @Hartley_Miller
Listen to him on his weekly podcast: Hartley’s Cat Scan.