The Brandon Wheat Kings have opted to make two separate moves in advance of the Western Hockey League’s 2021 Overage Deadline.
The Wheat Kings moved 20-year-old defenceman Neithan Salame to the Victoria Royals in exchange for a fifth round pick in the 2022 WHL Draft, as well as a selection in the sixth round of the 2023 WHL Draft.
Brandon selected Salame 153rd overall in 2016, where he has gone on skate in 150 games for the Wheat Kings, logging seven goals, 32 assists and 86 penalty minutes. He won the East Division’s Subway Cup last year in the Regina Hub.
“We had to part with a young man who’s been a part of this program for years,” Wheat Kings’ general manager Doug Gasper said in a team-issued release. “Neithan has been a positive example in the community, our dressing room and he exemplified everything a Wheat King should be. We want to thank “Sal” for everything he has done for us and wish him all the best in Victoria.”
The team then added 20-year-old forward Eric Pearce in a trade with the Prince Albert Raiders. Brandon sent its 2023 sixth round pick to Prince Albert for the services of Pearce.
Having won the WHL championship in 2019, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound centreman boasts 197 career games of WHL regular season experience, plus an additional 23 playoff games. He has 21 goals, 42 points and 59 penalty minutes in his career, having scored a career-high 16 points in 24 games last year with Prince Albert.
“Eric adds a veteran WHL forward to our lineup,” Gasper said of his newest acquisition. “He plays a hard 200 foot responsible game. We like the compete he brings to the club and feel this move helps solidify our forward group right now.”
Only able to roster three 20-year-olds, WHL clubs must have their three ‘overagers’ set in place by the Overage Deadline, which typically goes three weeks into a regular WHL season. Should teams be dealing with injuries – much like that of the Wheat Kings – trades can be made, but only leading up to that deadline, or in a one-week grace period following an injured player’s recovery.
Brandon opted to sort out its injury concerns to 20-year-old Marcus Kallionkieli by maintaining a roster of four 20-year-olds. With Kallionkieli expected to still miss some time, the the Wheaties will be able to hold four such players until he is back from injury. A trade must occur in the week following his return from injury to comply with league rules.