Rockets ink defenceman

The Kelowna Rockets have inked college defenceman Sean Comrie to a WHL contract.

The Rockets acquired Cormie with the first of several moves at the bantam draft, sending the fifth overall selection to Brandon for the 10th pick and Comrie.

The 19-year-old was originally drafted by the Wheat Kings in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft, but elected instead to play Junior A, then move on to the University of Denver.

However, he wasn't happy with his minutes or his role in Denver, picking up just one assist in 18 games.

The Rockets swung the deal when they learned Comrie was available.

"He will fit in well with the defencemen that we have returning," said Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton.

"Sean was a high second round bantam pick, so obviously he has a real sound skill set. We look forward to having Sean join us this fall."

Comrie flashed his offensive upside during two seasons with Spruce Grove in the Alberta Junior League, scoring 12 times and adding 40 assists in 102 games.

“I’m excited for the long journey ahead next year,” said Comrie.

“The opportunity with Kelowna hosting the Memorial Cup and the history of the club was something really intriguing to me. It will be a grind at some points, but I think management and the club will prepare us well for what lies ahead.”

Comrie was one of four veteran players acquired by the Rockets at the draft. They also picked up forward Dillon Hamaliuk, defenceman Jake Lee and goaltender Cole Schwebius from the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Lassi on the move?

Some cold water has been tossed on what was otherwise a positive day for the Kelowna Rockets at the Western Hockey League bantam draft, Thursday.

After securing the services of a pair of defencemen, a forward and goaltender in a series of moves at the draft designed to improve the club in advance of hosting the Memorial Cup next year, comes word star defenceman Lassi Thomson may return to his native Finland.

Finnish based scout Lassi Alanen tweeted Thursday Thomson would forgo a second season with the Rockets, and instead play for his hometown team in Finland.

From the draft in Red Deer, Rockets president and GM Bruce Hamilton said the team is aware of the statements made by Alanen.

“We were somewhat surprised, however Lassi has always been under contract to Ilves, as they had to release him to play for us this past season," said Hamilton in a statement.

"We look forward to the NHL draft this upcoming June. We are hopeful that whichever NHL team drafts him, and his club team Ilves, decides that playing for the Rockets is in his best interest."

It's not unusual for European players to come to the CHL for a season, then return home to play pro before making the jump to the NHL.

Thomson led all rookie defencemen in scoring last season with 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 games.

He was named Rockets rookie of the year, and was runner-up in voting for WHL rookie of the year.

If Thomson doesn't return, that will leave the Rockets without any European players on the roster. They released Libor Zabransky midway through last season.

The Rockets will get a chance to add to their European pool during the import draft in early July.

Rockets launch draft deal

UPDATE: 12:30

Kelowna Rockets president and GM Bruce Hamilton was busy Thursday, swinging four deals with an eye on now, and the future.

Hamilton dealt the fifth pick in the annual bantam draft to Brandon for the rights to defenceman Sean Comrie and the 10th pick.

He then sent that pick to Seattle along with overage forward Connor Bruggen-Cate and a pair of future selections for defenceman Jake Lee, forward Dillon Hamaliuk and goaltender Cole Schwebius.

Hamilton also moved next year's fifth round selection to Brandon for the Wheat Kings sixth, seventh and eight round selections. He also made a deal with Kamloops to acquire the Blazers 10th round pick this year.

Entering the draft, the Rockets had just five picks in the first 10 rounds. With all the dealing, they came away with eight.

The Rockets used their first pick of the draft to grab Saskatoon centre Nolan Flamand in the second round.

The 5'7", 135 pounder had five goals and 22 assists in 41 games last season.

In the fourth round, the selected 5'10" centre Jayden Joly from Fort Saskatchewan. Joly had 22 goals and 53 points in 30 games with Fort Saskatchewan in the Major Bantam League.

Other selections Thursday include:

  • 5th round - John Babcock - defenceman
  • 6th round - Jiri Kykkanen - goaltender
  • 6th round - Maxwell Sanford - forward
  • 7th round - Jackson Smith - defenceman
  • 8th round - Damion Gardner - centre
  • 10th round - Rilen Kovacevic - forward

Kovacevic was one of six Central Okanagan players taken in the draft, and the only player taken from the Pursuit of Excellence program.

Others taken include:

  • 5th round - Mason Finley - Calgary
  • 6th round - Vaughn Watterodt - Kamloops
  • 10th round - Lynden Hanvold - Vancouver
  • 12th round - Ridge Dawson - Spokane
  • 13th round - Carter Schmidt - Everett

UPDATE: 8:25 a.m.

The Kelowna Rockets made a splash at the Western Hockey League's bantam draft Thursday morning in Red Deer.

After moving down from fifth to 10th in an earlier deal, Rockets president and GM Bruce Hamilton moved the Number 10 pick to the Seattle Thunderbirds along with two future picks and 20-year-old forward Connor Bruggen-Cate for a trio of players.

The Rockets acquired defenceman Jake Lee, forward Dillon Hamaliuk and goaltender Cole Schwebius in the deal.

The two moves will strengthen the Rockets as they prepare to host the Memorial Cup next season.

"This trade will have a big impact on our team," said Hamilton.

"Lee is a strong defenceman, he always has an influence when he is on the ice. He is a top prospect that will hear his name called alongside fellow Rockets defencemen Kaeden Korczak and Lassi Thomson at the NHL draft."

Hamilton described Hamaliuk as another top player who was having a great start to last season before an injury ended his season.

He said the acquisition of Schwebius, a Kelowna product, will give the Rockets insurance between the pipes.

Lee, who will enter his 'age 18' season, was a former first round bantam pick. He had three goals and 21 assists in 67 games last season.

Hamaliuk, entering his 'age 19' year had 11 goals and 15 assists before injury derailed his season after just 31 games.

Schwebius got into 17 games with the T-Birds last season, posting a 5-8-2-0 record with a 3.89 goals against average.

He gives the Rockets three veteran goaltenders, alongside Roman Basran and James Porter.

Along with Bruggen-Cate, the Rockets also gave up their second round bantam pick in 2021 and first rounder in 2022.

The Rockets hold second, fourth, fifth and sixth round picks in the draft.

ORIGINAL: 8 a.m.

The Kelowna Rockets pulled the trigger on a big draft day deal Thursday morning.

Kelowna Traded the 5th overall selection at this year's 2019  Bantam Draft to the Brandon Wheat Kings, in exchange for 2000 born defenceman Sean Comrie's rights and the 10th overall pick at this year's draft as well.

"Sean wasn't happy with his situation this past season," said Rockets President/General Manager, Bruce Hamilton. "He wasn't happy with his minutes and role on the team. When we heard that he was available, it made sense for us to go after him. He's a strong player and will give us more depth on the blueline."

The Edmonton native was originally drafted 44th overall in the second round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft by the Brandon Wheat Kings. He played for the University of Denver this past season where he had an assist in 18 games with the Pioneers and made an appearance at the NCAA's Frozen Four Tournament.

The 6'0, 168-pound defender suited up for the Spruce Grove Saints during the 2017-2018 season where he had 34 points (7G, 27A) in 54 games, helping the Saints capture the Doyle Cup as AJHL champions.

The NHL's Central Scouting Service has listed Comrie 108th amongst North American skaters for the upcoming NHL Draft this June in Vancouver.


All quiet on the Rocket front

It's extremely quiet in Rocketville ahead of Thursday's bantam draft.

President and GM Bruce Hamilton and head scout Lorne Frey are in Red Deer for the draft, and Hamilton has made no secret of the fact the fifth overall pick the Rockets hold is up for grabs.

However, he told Castanet last week it is extremely unlikely any major deal involving that pick would be made on the draft floor, meaning time is ticking.

The Rockets could use that high pick to secure some some talent for a team that will host the Memorial Cup next year.

However, Hamilton also said if a deal to his liking couldn't be made, he's more than willing to make the selection.

"After seeing the kids at the BC Best Ever, if we don't get something that's substantial at Number 5, we're going to get a chance to get a really special player," Hamilton said last week.

He indicated he's looking for at least one impact player, likely more for the pick.

While Hamilton knows he'll have to move some picks to bolster the roster, the Rockets don't have a lot to work with this year.

Along with the first round selection, the Rockets have their own second, fourth and sixth round selections and a fifth rounder obtained from Prince Albert.

After that, they have nothing until round 11. Kelowna traded its third round pick to Everett in the Mark Liwiski deal and their fifth rounder to Brandon in the Schael Higson trade.

Deals could also include future picks and current roster players.

Last year, the Rockets grabbed centre Trevor Wong 18th overall. Wong scored once in four games with the Rockets this past season.

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