Everett prepping for U.S. Division run with addition of Brycen Martin

Dec 3, 2015, 11:31 AM | Updated: 11:34 am
The acquisition of two-way defenseman Brycen Martin will have an immediate impact for Everett. (WHL...
The acquisition of two-way defenseman Brycen Martin will have an immediate impact for Everett. (WHL photo)
(WHL photo)

The Everett Silvertips announced on Tuesday morning that they have acquired defenseman and Buffalo Sabres prospect Brycen Martin from the Saskatoon Blades in exchange for defenseman Jantzen Leslie, the rights to forward Ryan Anderson, and a second round pick in the 2017 Bantam Draft. The Blades also send conditional third and sixth round selections in the 2017 Bantam Draft to Everett in the deal.

It’s a big move for a Silvertips team that has struggled to score points early in the season, as Martin immediately becomes the team’s leading scorer with 24 points in 25 games played. Everett currently sits in last place in average goals per game with just 2.7 tallies per contest. However, their defense has been superb, surrendering just 1.91 goals against per game, far and away the best mark in the WHL.

The acquisition of Martin should help in both departments and send a message to the rest of the league that this won’t be any sort of rebuilding year for the Tips, who lost three of their top four scorers from last year before the season began.

“Certainly we’ve been a little challenged offensively this year,” said Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson. “We as an organization identified this some time ago. In acquiring Brycen we feel we have added to our offense, but more importantly we’ve added a quality all-situation defenseman as well.”

What does this mean for the T-Birds?

The two teams have met just once through the season’s first few months, a 2-0 Everett shutout where Seattle was unable to solve Tips goalie Carter Hart, despite laying 32 shots on him. In what many expected to be a down year for the Silvertips, they’ve continued to excel defensively under head coach Kevin Constantine, relying on Hart and a deep defensive group.

“We’re very happy with our win percentage,” continued Davidson. “Looking at the division, it’s a tight one. Seattle’s got a bit of a jump on everybody but I certainly think since the beginning of the season until now we see ourselves as a serious contender.”

The rivals meet nine more times this year, and it will be interesting to see how Seattle changes their approach to solve Everett’s tough defensive schemes. Most pundits picked the T-Birds to run away with the division after both Portland and Everett suffered significant losses in the offseason and didn’t appear to have viable replacements, but the Tips in particular look like they’re going to provide the biggest speed bump in Seattle’s quest for the U.S. Division crown.

“I think we have to give (Seattle) an edge on the offense,” said the Everett general manager. “I think our team plays a good team defense and our young goaltender has been really solid too. It might be a good matchup. A little bit of their strengths against our strengths, which are at the opposite ends of the spectrum a little bit.”

In addition to the acquisition of Martin, another big piece of news came out of the Everett camp on Monday with 18-year-old import Dario Winkler being named to Austria’s World Junior Championship roster. While Winkler has yet to get into an offensive groove for the Silvertips, this season being his first experience with the North American game, Davidson hopes that the World Junior experience will help accelerate his development.

“He’s a smaller guy that’s got a good stick and skates well,” Davidson said. “I think he was and is still feeling his way out as a first-year guy in the league. I’m hoping this little experience with his home country in (the World Junior tournament) will help get him some additional ice time and experience and then he’ll come back here after Christmas and jump into our situation again.”

Everett is already a scary opponent for Seattle, as its suffocating defense can make it difficult for the offensively gifted T-Birds to find their groove. The addition of Martin, as well as the growth of Winkler, have the potential to move the Silvertips up the U.S. Division totem pole and make them a serious challenger for the first-place Thunderbirds.

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