KENNEWICK, WA – Tri-City Americans Governor/General Manager Bob Tory announced today that the team has acquired 20-year-old defenseman Zak Stebner from the Calgary Hitmen in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft. Following the trade, the Americans complied with the WHL mandated overage limit by placing 20-year-old forward Mike Brown and 20-year-old goaltender Alexander Pechurskiy on waivers.
Stebner, listed at 6’3 205 pounds, is moving to his fifth WHL team in his fourth full season. Originally a second round (32nd overall) selection by the Red Deer Rebels in 2005, Stebner has appeared in 218 career games while totaling 25 goals, 80 points and 294 penalty minutes. In addition to the Rebels and Hitmen, the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native, who has notched 11 goals and 30+ points over his past two seasons, has also played for the Prince Albert Raiders and Kamloops Blazers. Last season, Stebner was traded to the Calgary Hitmen in mid-January, appearing in 30 games and collecting four goals, 17 points and was a plus-10 while leading the Hitmen to a 2010 WHL Championship and an appearance in the semi-finals of the MasterCard Memorial Cup. Coincidentally, Stebner is expected to be in the Tri-City line-up on Tuesday, October 19 when the Americans play host to the Hitmen in a re-match of the 2010 WHL Finals.
“It was obvious that the area we needed to improve on the most was defense,” explained Tory. “Zak is a top-4 defenseman, with Memorial Cup experience, and has the proven ability to contribute offensively. His presence will add tremendous depth to our blue line.”
Meanwhile, Brown and Pechurskiy, who were integral parts of the Americans’ run to the 2010 WHL Finals last season, will go through the WHL Waivers Draft later this afternoon. Any of the WHL clubs with open overage spots can participate in the Draft. All players that go unselected in the Waivers Draft will be declared free agents.
Tri-City acquired the 6’2 210-pound Brown from Swift Current at last season’s trade deadline. Over 171 WHL games, Brown has registered 20 goals, 36 points and 252 penalty minutes. Through eight games this season, Brown had collected three goals, six points and was a plus-3.
Pechurskiy, a 6’0 190 pound goaltender from Magnitogorsk, Russia, was the Americans’ first round (55th overall) pick in the 2009 CHL Import Draft but did not arrive in Tri-City until late December. Pechurskiy played in 27 games last season, compiling a 13-10-0-1 record, along with a 2.61 goals against average, a 0.912 save percentage and four shutouts.
“It’s obviously an unfortunate situation, as both Alex and Mike are strong players that we would gladly keep if the rules allowed it,” Tory clarified. “Unfortunately, this season, there are more quality 20-year-old players than there are spots available, so we were unable to arrange a trade for either player. We thank both men for their hard work and dedication to this team and wish them nothing but the best.”
Later in the day, Tory opted to release 18-year-old defenseman Nikita Kardashev and reassigned 16-year-old defenseman Riley Guenther to the Calgary Northstars AAA Midgets. With the moves, the Americans’ roster now sits at 24 players (2 goaltenders, 7 defensemen and 15 forwards).
Guenther, a 6’0 180 pound defender from Calgary, Alberta, appeared in four games this season. Meanwhile, Kardashev, the Americans’ second first-round pick (55th overall) in the 2010 CHL Import Draft, has yet to make his WHL debut.
Tri-City will return to the ice on Tuesday, October 19 when they host the Calgary Hitmen (3-3-0-0). Game time is 7:05 pm at the Toyota Center. In just their second of three home games in the month of October, the Americans will square off against the Hitmen for the first time since their match-up in last season’s WHL Finals, a series Calgary won 4 to 1 in route to their second WHL Championship. The Americans, who are 3-0 at home this season, have won two straight regular season home games against the Hitmen and hold a 5-4-0-0 all-time record at the Toyota Center. Meanwhile, Calgary will be playing their fourth of five games against the U.S. Division, after playing in Everett on Friday and Seattle on Saturday. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer outlets, or online at ticketmaster.com. The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 pm.