The Vancouver Giants are hoping Brennan Riddle can be an answer on their blue-line.
The Giants acquired the defenceman from the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Monday in a swap of over-age players with versatile forward Brad Morrison heading the other way.
“We’re excited to add a player of Brennan’s calibre and character to our organization,” said Vancouver general manager Glen Hanlon. “It’s always great to add more character and leadership tou your hockey team and he will be an excellent mentor for our young defencemen.”
Riddle is six-foot-two and 197 pounds and was a first round pick of the Calgary Hitmen, taken 17th overall in the 2012 WHL bantam draft. Morrison was also a first round pick that year, going seventh overall to Prince George.
Vancouver acquired Morrison this past off-season for a second round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. Playing on the Giants’ top line, he had 11 goals and 35 points in 42 games to sit fourth in team scoring.
Goal-scoring hasn’t been a problem so far this season for Vancouver as they sit eighth in the WHL but defensively, they are 18th in the 22-team league, allowing just as much as they are scoring, 3.64 goals per game.
The Giants, who are 13-2-1-0 in their past 16 games, sit second in the B.C. Division at 23-14-3-2, just two points back of the Kelowna Rockets. On pace for 87 points, Vancouver looks to be on track for their first post-season berth in four seasons.
And the addition of Riddle — as well as the trade for Jared Dmytriw in late November — gives Vancouver such much-needed playoff experience.
The 20-year-old Riddle has played in 22 WHL playoff games, 20 of which came last season as Lethbridge advanced to the Eastern Conference finals.
Dmytriw, 19, had 26 playoff games under his belt.
The only other three Giants with playoff experience — Brayden Watts (10 games), Skeoch (four games) and Ty Ronning (two games) — have a combined 16 games.
The acquisition of Riddle was one of two moves made so far by Hanlon as he sent a first round pick in the 2019 WHL draft to Swift Current in exchange for defensive prospect Joel Sexsmith on Sunday.
Sexsmith was drafted in the first round, ninth overall, in last spring’s WHL draft. He has yet to sign a WHL player agreement contract.
The Giants wrap up a five-game road trip with games in Prince George on Jan. 9 and 10.