Last week, Surrey Eagles captain John Wesley said no to playing in the Western Hockey League (WHL).
Earlier this week, the White Rock native said yes, and is now a member of the Vancouver Giants.
The Giants acquired Wesley, 18, in a trade Monday with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in exchange for an eighth round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft. The left winger was expected to play in Wednesday night’s home game against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Lethbridge, which acquired Wesley from the Giants midway through last season, had agreed to trade his rights to the Kootenay Ice a few days earlier, but the player said no to playing for the Cranbrook-based team and the deal was off.
“It just felt better to stay in Surrey,” said Wesley, explaining his decisions. “I was getting a lot of ice time, I thought I would develop quicker than in Cranbrook. So I said I wanted to stay.
“But with the Giants, it’s an opportunity too good to pass up. It’s a second chance with the team, it was nice to hear they were interested.”
Wesley played 21 games with the Eagles in the B.C. Hockey League (BCHL) this season, scoring 11 goals and adding 10 assists for 21 points. He started last season in Surrey as well, scoring five times in 32 games as a 17-year-old, and playing one game in mid-November with the Giants.
Vancouver dealt his WHL rights to Lethbirdge, and Wesley moved to Alberta to play for the Hurricanes, playing in 31 games and netting five goals and 10 points.
But things didn’t work out in preseason this season, and he found himself back in Surrey with the Eagles.
“Lethbridge let me go at the end of training camp, they had too many left wingers and wanted to go with some younger guys,” he said. “So I ended up in Surrey.”
While the Hurricanes opted to keep Wesley off their active roster, they did keep his WHL rights. They decided to move the six-foot, 190-pound forward late last month, and after the failed attempt to send him to the Ice, they found the Giants willing to make a deal.
“I’m very excited about it,” said Wesley, who will continue to live with his parents in White Rock while with Vancouver. “They expect me to produce a bit offensively, put the puck in the net and contribute that way.”
After just one practice with the Giants, Wesley said it was too early to set personal goals for the final two-thirds of the WHL season.
“I’ll have to see where I fit in, the team has changed a bit since last year,” he said. “I just do what I can, work as hard as I can and see how it goes.”
After making the deal for Wesley Monday, the Giants brought in two more forwards from the Junior A ranks on Tuesday.
Owen Hardy, 16, joins the team from the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL and Jack Flaman, 18, comes from the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
“We drafted Owen in the second round (2014 WHL Bantam Draft) to become a power forward,” said Giants executive vice-president/general manager Scott Bonner. “He’s been both a leader and a point producer in minor hockey and we hope he can continue to develop and achieve his goals with our program.”
Hardy, a Nanaimo native, had one goal in 25 games for the Clippers.
Flaman tallied six goals and 21 points in 23 games with Notre Dame. He played 34 games in the WHL last season with the Portland Winterhawks.