Rockets move defenceman

The Kelowna Rockets made a minor move prior to their afternoon game in Calgary.

This one was not entirely of their own making.

Second-year defenceman Konrad Belcourt was dealt to the Prince Albert Raiders for fifth and eighth round picks in the 2019 bantam draft.

It was a deal Belcourt had requested in an effort to gain more playing time.

"We felt in order to give him that opportunity, this was our best option," said Rockets president and GM Bruce Hamilton.

"We thank Konrad for his time with the Rockets and wish him all the best in the future."

Belcourt was taken in the fourth round of the 2015 bantam draft. In 64 games over the past two seasons, he had one goal and three assists. He also dressed in eight playoff games last season.

Don't expect Hamilton and the Rockets to do much more prior to Wednesday's trade deadline. Certainly nothing of the magnitude of last year, when Hamilton swung four deals prior to the deadline.

Those deals brought Reid Gardiner and Carsen Twarynski to the Rockets, but cost the team several draft choices, including last year's first round selection.

"We're not shopping very hard because the prices, in my mind, are very, very high," said Hamilton.

"We'd like to add another older forward. But, I think the guys we are interested in, the price is going to be first and second round picks, and we're not prepared to do that."

The trade market had been slow to develop until the weekend when several big names were moved, led by Calgary defenceman Jake Bean, who was sent to Tri-City for a first, and two second round selections.

Vancovuer sent a first round pick in 2019 to Swift Current for Joel Sexsmith while the Kamloops Blazers sent Garrett Pilon and Ondrej Vala for four players and first and fourth round bantam picks in 2019.

The Rockets had a 25-player roster prior to the move of Belcourt. Hamilton said he would like to get that roster down to 24, or 23.

The deal for Belcourt leaves the Rockets with a 24-man roster.

The Rockets will get a boost this week with the return of forward Dillon Dube and defenceman Cal Foote, who have missed the past month while playing for Team Canada at the world juniors.

They also hope to get forward Erik Gardiner back sometime soon. Gardiner has been practicing with the team, but has yet to be cleared.

He hasn't played since being hurt late in October.

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