Two months after winning the Western Hockey League championship, the Edmonton Oil Kings’ offseason of change continued on Tuesday as the team traded a key player who helped the club capture the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
The Oil Kings announced the club has traded 20-year-old forward Jalen Luypen to the Tri-City Americans in exchange for a pair of younger players: 18-year-old forward Rhett Melnyk and 19-year-old defenceman Bryson Andregg.
The team also swapped some conditional draft picks with the Americans.
“Jalen was a true example of what an Oil King is both on and off the ice,” Edmonton general manager Kirt Hill said in a tweet on the club’s Twitter account.
“His commitment to the team and community will be missed as he was a huge part of the success our group had over the past four seasons.”
The 2021-22 season was Luypen’s best as an Oil King. He scored 29 goals and added 35 assists in 66 regular-season games.
The Kelowna native was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the seventh round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and signed an entry-level contract with the Hawks earlier this month.
READ MORE: Hockey homecoming for Kelowna’s Jalen Luypen
Hill acknowledged the return is key when moving “a player of Jalen’s stature” but noted the Oil Kings are excited about adding Melnyk and Andregg.
“Both players will be a big part of our group this season and moving forward,” he said in a post on the Oil Kings’ website.
Melnyk, who played minor hockey in Fort Saskatchewan, has accumulated 27 points in 86 career games in the WHL.
“He has a great skill set and high hockey IQ to create offence in the offensive zone,” Hill said of Melnyk. “He is a local player who we know a lot about and will be a big part of our forward group moving forward.”
Andregg has put up seven points in 56 career WHL games.
“He is a great skater who can transport the puck well,” Hill said of the defenceman. “Bryson has a good first pass and will defend well down low.”
Hockey homecoming for Jalen Luypen
After the trade was announced, Luypen tweeted how grateful he was to have been an Oil King.
“I can’t express how thankful I am to be able to say I got to put on that jersey for four years of my life,” he tweeted. “It was truly the most amazing experience I could ever imagine.
“Thank you to all my teammates along the way, as well as all the staff. Love you YEG.”
Oil Kings continue overhaul of coaching staff
The Oil Kings announced earlier on Tuesday that the club has hired Serge Lajoie as the team’s new assistant coach and manager of player development.
The 53-year-old joins new head coach Luke Pierce on Edmonton’s bench. Pierce was promoted by the Oil Kings last month to replace Brad Lauer after he accepted an offer this summer to become an assistant coach with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets.
“We feel Serge will mesh well with our players and be a key contributor to their development moving forward,” Hill said of Lajoie. “Serge has a long list of coaching experience at all different levels of the game which makes him a great fit for our group.
“His knowledge of the WHL will be an asset having coached in the league and having a son currently playing in it.”
Serge Lajoie: hot free-agent hockey coaching commodity
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