SURREY — In his final season of junior hockey, Matt Bradley is going to play for the Memorial Cup.
After three seasons with Medicine Hat Tigers, the 20-year-old Western Hockey League veteran was traded Tuesday (May 23) to Regina Pats, the host team of the 2018 Memorial Cup tournament.
“I was really caught off guard with the trade, but I’m thrilled,” Bradley told the Regina Leader Post.
“Not many 20-year-olds get the opportunity to get traded to a Memorial Cup team for their last season.”
Bradley, a Surrey native and a former member of the Valley West Hawks major midget team, has scored 74 goals and 168 points in 209 career games in the WHL. This past season was his best in Medicine Hat, as he scored 34 goals and added 43 points in 70 games played.
Drafted by Montreal Canadiens in the fifth round of the 2015 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Bradley hasn’t signed a pro contract and will be eligible for the 2017 draft should he not sign by June 1.
The Tigers opted to move Bradley as WHL teams can have only three 20-year-olds on a roster. So the six-foot, 195-pound forward was sent to Regina, along with a pair of Medicine Hat picks in the next two WHL Bantam Drafts, in exchange for 18-year-old goaltender Jordan Hollet.
Bradley is leaving a team that had the WHL’s second-best record last year. The Tigers were the first-place team in the Central Division with a 51-20-1 (win-loss-overtime loss) record, but lost the division final in seven games to Lethbridge Hurricanes.
He is joining a team which had the WHL’s best record in 2016-17. Regina went 52-12-8 and won three playoff series before falling in six games to Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL championship series.
As host team of the 2018 Memorial Cup, the Pats are guaranteed a place in the four-team tournament next May.
“We are excited to add a player of Bradley’s caliber,” said Pats head coach and general manager John Paddock. “He adds skill and hard work to our group and comes from a winning program in Medicine Hat.”