By RYAN MCCRACKEN on September 7, 2019.
The Medicine Hat Tigers added some depth to their crease Friday by acquiring 18-year-old goaltender Evan Fradette from the Portland Winterhawks.
The deal marks Willie Desjardins’ first transaction since taking over as head coach and general manager of the Tigers in May, one he says will give them a few more options in net moving forward.
“We looked at our situation and felt we needed to add another goaltender to the mix,” said Desjardins, who gave up a conditional eighth round bantam draft pick in 2021 to acquire Fradette. “If you look at all his history, he’s almost always over a .900 save percentage, which is really good. He’s solid.”
Desjardins added he hopes to get Fradette onto the bench for Saturday’s game in Regina against the Pats, and with any luck he’ll get a taste of the action when the team continues their pre-season campaign in Red Deer Friday.
Garin Bjorklund played the entirety of Medicine Hat’s 4-2 loss to the Swift Current Broncos Wednesday in Irvine, while go-to starter Mads Søgaard is competing at training camp with the Ottawa Senators, however Desjardins could not say where he sees Fradette fitting into the depth chart just yet.
“You can’t tell,” said Desjardins. “You have to see guys play before you know.”
It’s been a wild week for Fradette. The St. Albert product was also traded at the junior A level, from the British Columbia Hockey League’s West Kelowna Warriors to the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Thursday, only to have his WHL rights moved to the Gas City the following afternoon.
Fradette has yet to play a game in the WHL – posting a 2.35 goals against average and a .913 save percentage through 14 regular season games with the Alberta Midget Hockey League’s St. Albert Raiders last year – but Desjardins says the spike in interest bodes well for his game.
“I think it says he’s a good goaltender,” said Desjardins. “It shows a number of teams are after him. I’ve talked to the coach up there and I think that’s something that we’ll talk about, but right now we’re looking at him to see where he fits with us. If that doesn’t work out, it looks like that would probably be a great place for him to play if it didn’t work here.”
Fradette went on to earn the title of AMHL playoff MVP after taking the Raiders to the league finals with a .929 save percentage and a 2.17 goals against average through 11 post-season contests. Desjardins added Fradette ultimately caught his eye while competing with the Raiders at the Mac’s AAA Hockey Tournament last year, where he led the Raiders all the way to the championship thanks to a .950 save percentage over three games.
“That’s big, in a very competitive situation,” said Desjardins. “I think the Mac’s (tournament) was a big step for him.”
The Tigers hit the ice Saturday in Regina at 7 p.m.
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