|Josh Mahura was acquired by the Pats via a blockbuster trade.|
When the WHL playoffs roll around, the Regina Pats will likely be thankful they picked up Josh Mahura.
While there was a flurry of activity leading up to the WHL’s trade deadline that passed on Tuesday at 4 p.m. Saskatchewan time, it is always key when a team can add a standout defenceman, and that includes teams like the Pats, who are rated first in the Canadian Hockey League’s top 10 rankings. Pats head coach and general manager John Paddock had been tinkering with his lineup for a month leading up to the deadline, but the blockbuster deal he made on deadline day will likely be key in solidifying a long playoff run.
On Tuesday, the Pat acquired Mahura, forward Jeff de Wit and a conditional third round selection in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft from the Red Deer Rebels. Both Mahura and de Wit are 18 years of age.
The deal was a costly one. In order to get Mahura and de Wit, the Pats sent the Rebels 18-year-old forward Lane Zablocki, 16-year-old defenceman Dawson Barteaux, a first round selection in the 2017 Bantam Draft, a first round pick in either the 2018 or 2019 Bantam Draft, and a conditional third round selection in the 2020 Bantam Draft. The Rebels are looking to reset after hosting the Memorial Cup last May.
Mahura, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 185 pounds, was the key pick up. In 39 games with the Rebels, he had nine goals, 24 assists and a minus-one rating in the plus-minus department.
Last season, the St. Albert, Alta., product turned heads when the post-season rolled around. Mahura’s playoff performance seemed to come out of nowhere in his sophomore 17-year-old campaign. After suffering a serious knee injury, he missed 70 regular season games.
He put up decent numbers for a 16-year-old rookie in the 2014-15 campaign with two goals and six assists in 51 games, but with having missed a big chunk of time in 2015-16, one couldn’t be sure what type of impact Mahura would have on the Rebels lineup going into the 2016 post-season.
|Josh Mahura controls the puck at the point in the 2016 playoffs for the Rebels.|
Mahura ultimately ate up huge minutes on the back end for the Rebels. As Red Deer marched and fell to the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL’s Eastern Conference championship series, Mahura appeared in all of the Rebels 17 playoff games collecting two goals and two assists and minus-two rating in the plus-minus department.
When the Rebels went to the Memorial Cup as the host team, Mahura logged significant ice time in his club’s four tournament games.
Rebels head coach, general manager and owner Brent Sutter looked brilliant in the patience he showed waiting for Mahura to return from injury. That move was one of the key factors that helped the Rebels make a conference championship series for the first time in 12 years. Mahura impressed enough to earn an NHL Entry Draft selection in June of 2016 by the Anaheim Ducks, who picked him in the third round and 85th overall.
The Pats became familiar with Mahura during the 2016 post-season falling to the Rebels in an exciting and highly competitive second round series that needed a seventh and deciding game. Red Deer prevailed 2-1 in Game 7.
In Mahura, the Pats are getting that rare offensive defenceman that can still be sound in the defensive zone. Mahura can also spark the Pats quick transition game they like to use when they are not pinning opponents in their own zone.
Actually, the Pats back end has the potential to be as formidable offensively and defensively as any unit seen over the past two decades in the WHL. Going into their home game Friday against the visiting Tri-City Americans, the Pats, who lead the WHL with a 27-4-6-1 mark, have three defenceman who are averaging at least a point a game.
Connor Hobbs, the club’s star rearguard who is in his 19-year-old season, has 16 goals, 28 assists and a plus-24 rating in 35 games. Overager Chase Harrison had five goals and 28 assists and a plus-40 rating in 33 games. Russian import Sergey Zborovskiy has six goals, 26 assists and a plus-51 rating in 29 games.
Mahura will make an already sound Pats blue-line that much better. He is also battle hardened when it comes to the post-season.
Regina hasn’t made a conference final since 1993, a league final since 1984 and hasn’t won a league title since 1980. With Mahura added to their already talented roster, the Pats have one of their best opportunities ever to break all of those droughts.
Back in the Express with Brockman
|Head coach Dean Brockman mans the Blades bench.|
I was back in the pages of the Saskatoon Express this week with a feature on Saskatoon Blades head coach Dean Brockman.
Brockman is best known for his 17 years in the junior A ranks working for the Humboldt Broncos from 1997 to 2014. He started as an assistant coach and assistant general manager before becoming the head coach and general manager in 2004. During Brockman’s years in Humboldt, the Broncos won the Royal Bank Cup for junior A supremacy in 2003 and 2008.
The 49-year-old joined the Blades as an assistant coach in 2014, and became the head coach in June of 2016. In his first season guiding the Blades as head coach, Brockman has encountered some big challenges on the injury front, because a number of players have been out for lengthy stretches.
The story on Brockman can be found right here.
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