Lineup bolstered by deadline deals

Putting on his general manager hat, Chilliwack Chiefs boss Jason Tatarnic believes his team is better for his trade deadline deals.

He says he doesn’t like trade deadline day, but he seems to have a knack for it.

Chilliwack Chiefs head coach/GM Jason Tatarnic says the human element gets in the way of enjoying the BCHL’s annual transaction-fest.

Telling teenagers they’re no longer wanted is tough, but once it’s done and he surveys his work, Tatarnic’s usually pleased with the results.

Last weekend he sent three players out (Eric Benshadle, Ryan Roseboom and Mitch Skapski) and brought three in.

Defenceman Rylan Bechtel and forwards Ryan Forbes and Taylor Allan are on board for what Tatarnic hopes is a deep playoff run. And knowing the post-season is a battle of attrition, he thought it essential to bolster his blueline.

But the solution, Bechtel, wasn’t a trade acquisition.

The blueliner played the first 11 games of this season with the Prince George Spruce Kings, then retired from hockey.

The Spruce Kings took them off their protected list in early December, making him a free agent. Tatarnic pounced on the opportunity to pick up a 20 year old with 183 regular season games on his resume.

“There’s always that debate about going with 12 forwards and eight D or 13 and seven,” he explained. “If one or two defencemen get hurt, I think it’s tougher position for a young affiliate player to come in and be effective.”

“If three forwards get hurt, you can get away with running three lines.”

A puck moving D-man with a two-way game, Bechtel had a career high 42 points (five goals) in 56 games with the Cowichan Valley Capitals last season.

You can’t blame PG for being a bit miffed about this.

Having a player retire and then resurface soon after with a division rival must sting, and there’s very little in the BCHL rules to prevent it.

Brandon Potomak, for instance, retired from the Chiefs before the season started due to concussion issues. But technically, after being taken off Chilliwack’s protected list, he could have popped up anywhere.

“You can only have so many players (22) on your roster and you have to make a choice at some point,” the coach noted. “You have to make some decisions.”

PG made Bechtel available for trade Dec. 1. At the time, Tatarnic wasn’t shopping for a defenceman.

“I tried negotiating for another of their defencemen, but the price tag was too high and we couldn’t work something out,” he said, talking about deadline day dealing. “There was a player sitting there for free and I can understand why PG might be upset with us. But I just went by what the rules are and followed them.”

Looking at Ryan Forbes’ stats won’t tell you much about why Tatarnic wanted him.

The offensive totals are meh (37-6-9-15), but what the 20 year old brings is leadership and experience.

He was a letter-wearer for the Nanaimo Clippers club that advanced to the BCHL final last year and wore a letter for the Merritt Centennials this season.

“He’s a bigger body with championship experience,” Tatarnic said. “I noticed him when we played Nanaimo last year. He’s a hard, physical player who’s been through the grind of the playoffs.”

“He makes you earn every inch of ice and he can help you on the penalty kill.”

Taylor Allan had a goal and two helpers in his Sunday night Chiefs debut.

He’s not a player Tatarnic expected to be available.

Allan’s former team, the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats, are set to host the 2016 Royal Bank Cup this spring. He was able to pry Allan away by sending them Benshadle.

“He’s been in that environment of a Royal Bank Cup host, with the high expectations that come with that,” he said. “He has a knack for putting up points (39-14-15–29) and he’s another big body who finishes checks and provides a veteran presence.”

Tatarnic’s new-look crew has a light weekend, with just one game on the sched. They host the Victoria Grizzlies  (17-20-4-0) Saturday night (7 p.m.) at Prospera Centre.

The Chiefs hold an eight point lead atop the Mainland division standings after the Wenatchee Wild lost 6-1 Wednesday in Penticton.

Both teams have played 40 games.