Derek Stuart swears he is done shuffling the deck ahead of Kimberley Dynamiters training camp.
Unless of course someone calls and blows his socks off.
Thursday evening, Stuart struck a deal with the Revelstoke Grizzlies, completing his third trade since coming on board in May as the new head coach and general manager of the Dynamiters.
Heading to Revelstoke is forward Graham Dugdale (1997) and future considerations in exchange for forward Ryan Hozjan (1996).
“Ryan is an extremely hard worker, probably one of the hardest working players I’ve ever coached,” Stuart said Friday afternoon, reminiscing on past experience working with Hozjan. “He’s definitely got a great attitude, he’s very mature. He’s a guy that coaches can point at and tell other players, ‘This is how hard you have to work and this is how you have to behave.’
“I wanted Ryan for his hockey ability, but his leadership skills and the way he behaves and carries himself, even off the ice, is a huge bonus for us.”
Hozjan, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound native of Calgary, brings a veteran presence, having skated in 87 KIJHL regular season games, compiling 13 goals and 31 points along the way.
As an assistant captain with the Grizzlies in 2015-16, the second-year KIJHL veteran posted 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points in 46 games, all of which were career highs.
“He is capable of playing in any role and that’s another added bonus,” Stuart said of Hozjan. “He can play power play, he can play penalty kill, he can be a defensive forward and I think he has the potential to be an offensive forward, too. It’s just a matter of figuring out what he is best suited for and what’s best suited for the team.
“He’s definitely going to have to earn the ice time, just like anyone else. But he is one of those rare players that is capable of contributing in all areas of the game.”
Familiarity with Hozjan was a big part of the draw for Stuart, who said he coached the newest member of Nitro Nation during spring hockey many years ago.
“I’m very familiar with him from probably five or six years back here,” Stuart said. “Nothing against Graham, whatsoever of course. I didn’t have the chance to see Graham play, but he was the guy that Revelstoke wanted when I gave them a list of guys.
“Unfortunately, Graham is the one that has to go. But the key was that I knew Ryan and I wanted to get him badly. Unfortunately, you’ve got to give something up to get something.”
At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Dugdale provided a bruising presence for the Dynamiters during the team’s run to the 2015-16 KIJHL regular season title. In 47 games, the native of Vulcan, Alta., registered one goal and six points along with 65 penalty minutes before racking up another 29 penalty minutes in 13 post-season contests.
Dugdale came to the Dynamiters ahead of the 2015-16 season following a brief tryout with the Melfort Mustangs of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
The transaction is the third since Stuart’s arrival.
First, the new shot-caller dealt forward Sawyer Hunt (1996) to his hometown Nelson Leafs in exchange for forward Nicholas Ketola (1997). From there, Stuart went out and acquired veteran defenceman Brett Roberts (1997) from the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in exchange for future considerations.
“I’m done with trades for a while,” Stuart said with a laugh. “I told the president [James Leroux], ‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to keep going here.’
“Unless someone knocks my socks off with an offer, I think we’re going to go with what we have here, at least until after the season starts. The rest of the veterans coming back are going to get a chance to prove themselves and see where they fit.”
Outside of the three trades, Stuart also added to his lineup by signing locally-produced forwards Terrell Clarricoates (1999) and Caige Sterzer (2000), helping to address a massive turnover in the player personnel department that saw the likes of Jason Richter, Jared Marchi, Eric Buckley, Jordan Busch, Keenan Haase, Justin Meier, George Bertoia and Tyson Brouwer graduate to new opportunities, be that via the college hockey route or Junior A.
With all that said, the 39-year-old Stuart intends on staying relatively quiet until training camp, where he will evaluate all his returning veterans and camp invites.
On that note, the Dynamiters have confirmed a date for the team’s annual main camp, which is slated to begin Friday, Aug. 26 and run through Sunday, Aug. 28 at the Kimberley Civic Centre.
Matchsticks: Creston Valley Thunder Cats head coach & GM Jeff Dubois bolstered his lineup Thursday, acquiring veteran forward Luke Kalenuik (1996) from the Kelowna Chiefs. In 86 KIJHL games, all with the Chiefs, the native of Vancouver has tallied 15 goals and 37 points…