Even though the start of the B.C. Hockey League season is still more than a month away, Surrey Eagles’ head coach Matt Erhart is wasting little time reworking his roster.
And he’s not just making a minor tweak here or there, either. He shipped 20-year-old forward Richard Vanderhoek – a 26-goal scorer last year who would have been the Birds’ top offensive threat had he returned – to the Westside Warriors in exchange for hard-nosed defenceman Matt Cronin, 19.
“We had a pretty good playoff run last year, but just felt that by the third round, we were getting pushed around a little bit, and running out of gas,” Erhart said. “We thought we needed a harder edge, a more physical defence, and Matt is six-foot-three, 215 (pounds), and is a player that brings that edge for us.”
“It’s tough to give up a player like Richard, but in any deal where you’re bringing in a good player, you’ve got to give up something good, too.”
And Monday, the team announced what had long been rumoured throughout the summer – that they’d acquired the rights to 19-year-old forward Brandon Tanev from the Cowichan Valley Capitals. In exchange, Erhart shipped blue-liner Josh Monk to the Caps.
Last season, Tanev was a point-per-game player with the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Markham Waxers, but requested to be traded out west, where he’ll be closer to his brother, Vancouver Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev.
Like his older brother – who burst onto the Canucks’ scene last season and ended up playing 29 games in the NHL – Brandon is also a pro prospect; earlier this summer he attended the Canucks’ prospects camp, and playing in Surrey will allow the NHL club’s brass to keep close tabs on his development.
“Hopefully, Brandon will be able to replace some of the offence we’ll lose with (Vanderhoek) gone,” Erhart said.
The deal for Tanev was a long process, said Erhart, who is heading into his second season at the helm of the Eagles, and the trade was further complicated when, after Tanev expressed his desire to come play in Surrey, his rights were swapped to Cowichan from Penticton.
“It was a two-month process to land him here,” Erhart explained.
“It took awhile, and it was tough, but like anything, you just keep working at it, and follow it through, and in the end, we got the guy we wanted.”
Like his older brother – who was playing junior A hockey just two years before he found himself in the NHL – Brandon is also a “late bloomer” according to Erhart.
Tanev played in bantam but then, partly due to his small stature, took a few years off from competitive hockey – instead playing high school and roller hockey – before hitting a growth spurt and returning to the competitive game with Markham, where he put up 16 goals and 42 points in 46 games.
“Everyone knows his brother’s story, and that helps him, but he’s looking to make a name for himself here,” Erhart said.
The Eagles added some size and skill to their forward ranks Monday, with the signing of Charles Orzetti.
Orzetti, a six-foot-three, 210-pound forward, joins the Eagles after spending last season playing for the Jersey Hitmen of the Eastern Junior Hockey League.
In 29 games for the Hitmen, he tallied 10 goals and 12 assists.
Orzetti, a 19-year-old New Jersey native, also spent time last season with the U.S. National Development Team; in seven games there, he had one goal, two assists and 10 penalty minutes.
Orzetti has already secured an NCAA scholarship; he is committed to Yale University for the 2012-13 season.
The Eagles training camp begins Monday.