THUNDERBIRDS

Vegas Golden Knights acquire Keegan Kolesar from Blue Jackets

Jun 24, 2017, 7:52 AM | Updated: 8:05 am
Keegan Kolesar led the WHL in playoff scoring with 31 points in 19 games (T-Birds photo)...
Keegan Kolesar led the WHL in playoff scoring with 31 points in 19 games (T-Birds photo)
(T-Birds photo)

The National Hockey League’s newest franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, acquired T-Birds right wing Keegan Kolesar from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for one of Vegas’ three second-round picks, no. 45 overall. The Blue Jackets used the pick to select Alexandre Texier from France.

Kolesar, 20, was instrumental in helping the Thunderbirds win their first WHL Championship in 2017. The power forward from Brandon, Man. had 60 points in 54 regular season games, then led the WHL in playoff scoring with 31 points on 12 goals and 19 assists in 19 postseason contests.

While he’s still eligible to return for one more season in Seattle, it’s unlikely he’ll don the T-Birds sweater again as a 20-year-old who has signed an entry-level contract. Instead, he’ll likely be sent to Vegas’ AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.

Originally selected with pick no. 69 in the 2015 draft, Kolesar’s stock has risen as he’s continued to improve every year. The biggest knock on him early in his career was his skating, but he’s since become one of the fastest players on a Seattle team that has won back-to-back Western Conference Championships. Combined with his strength and shot, Kolesar figures to be a tough player for opposing defenses to handle when he does make it to the National Hockey League.

The no. 45 pick, which would have already been Vegas’ fifth in the draft, initially belonged to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning sent the pick to the Golden Knights in exchange for the Knights taking Jason Garrison in the expansion draft earlier this week. Vegas’ first pick in the draft, no. 6 overall, was used to take Portland’s Cody Glass.

Thunderbirds

Thunderbirds GM Bil La Forge has some moves to make this offseason. (Brian Liesse/T-Birds photo)...
Andy Eide

Thunderbirds GM Bil La Forge dishes on the upcoming offseason

Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge will make some moves this summer to improve his club. Will they be big ones?
1 year ago
Seattle’s Keltie Jeri-Leon celebrates his final WHL goal Sunday against Spokane. (Brian Liess...
Andy Eide

Thunderbirds end strange and hard season on a high note with dominating win over Spokane

The Seattle Thunderbirds dealt with a lot of adversity this season but end on a high note.
1 year ago
Keltie Jeri-Leon plays his final WHL game for the Thunderbirds Sunday night. (Brian Liesse)...
Andy Eide

Keltie Jeri-Leon set to play his final WHL game as Thunderbirds face Spokane Sunday

After five seasons, Seattle's lone over-aged player, Keltie Jeri-Leon will play his final junior game Sunday night.
1 year ago
Seattle rookie Scott Ratzlaff won his first WHL game in his first start. (Judy Simpson/TC Americans...
Andy Eide

Scott Ratzlaff earns first WHL win as Thunderbirds beat Tri-City

Behind a rookie goalie, the Thunderbirds kicked off the season's final weekend with a 5-2 win in Kennewick against the Tri-City Americans.
1 year ago
The Seattle Thunderbirds celebrate after snapping a six-game losing streak Sunday night. (Brian Lie...
Andy Eide

Thunderbirds enjoy winning again after snapping six-game losing streak

The Seattle Thunderbirds have been scuffling but battled against a good Portland Winterhawks club to snap a six-game losing streak.
1 year ago
Thunderbirds forward Reid Schaefer fights for position Sunday in Portland. (Megan Connelly/Winterha...
Andy Eide

Dealing with adversity, young Thunderbirds drop pair of games in Portland

Injuries and penalties have thrown a ton of adversity at the young Thunderbirds which showed up in a pair of losses at Portland this weekend.
1 year ago
Vegas Golden Knights acquire Keegan Kolesar from Blue Jackets