Monday was a busy day for the Cowichan Valley Capitals, as the B.C. Hockey League team announced a trade and four signings as they continue to prepare for the 2020-21 season.
The trade was arguably the biggest news as the Caps shipped rugged forward Cole Broadhurst, a Ladysmith native and product of the Cowichan Valley Minor Hockey Association to the Grande Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, along with defenceman Johnny Howie, in exchange for blueliner Jackson Murphy-Johnson and future considerations.
Broadhurst, who turns 20 later this month, spent three years with the Caps, playing 157 regular-season games and compiling 14 goals and 21 assist for 35 points to go along with 233 penalty minutes. He posted career highs of seven goals and 10 assists in 2019-20. He added one goal and 20 penalty minutes in 12 playoff games over the last two seasons.
“It was obviously a big decision to move out Cole, as a local player and an important part of the Caps,” head coach and general manager Geoff Grimwood said.
During the Caps’ first-round playoff series against the Powell River Kings in March, Broadhurst was assessed a 12-game suspension after he fired a puck at unsuspecting Powell River goalie Derek Krall. Then-head coach Mike Vandekamp, now the head coach and GM in Grande Prairie, was also suspended two games for the incident.
“There’s no question the suspension played a role in our decision,” Grimwood said. “To have a 20-year-old sitting out 12 games at the start of a shortened season isn’t a good situation. We felt a fresh start was a good opportunity for him.”
Broadhurst becomes the second local product to be dealt by the Caps in less than a month, joining 2019-20 scoring leader Luciano Wilson, who went to the Penticton Vees in early June. As with the Broadhurst trade, it wasn’t easy for Grimwood to let Wilson go.
“We would have loved to have him come back,” the coach said. “But he and his family wanted to move on, and we respected his wishes.”
Grimwood said he is committed to having a significant local component to his roster in the future.
“One of our goals in the long term is to have a strong group of local players,” he related. “And we have already identified some who we think could be part of our group going forward.”
Howie, who will join Broadhurst in Grande Prairie, originally hails from Carp, Ont., and spent just one season with the Caps, posting one goal and seven points in 41 games as an 18-year-old rookie.
A six-foot-two, 190-pound Burnaby native, Murphy-Johnson was a BCHL rookie with the Trail Smoke Eaters in 2019-20, putting up one goal and four assists for five points in 38 games. Prior to that, he was a highly recruited member of the Vancouver NE Chiefs of the B.C. Major Midget League, tallying five goals and 27 points in 78 games over two seasons.
“With Jackson Murphy-Johnson, he’s a year younger [than Howie], B.C. born, and has a little bit more size and mobility. I think we made a good hockey trade there. It was purely a hockey decision; we thought we could upgrade and get our ages more spread out and get more consistency coming back every year.”
Murphy-Johnson is looking forward to suiting up for the Caps.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to play in Cowichan,” he said in a statement released by the team. “I’m super excited and I can’t wait to get things started” said Murphy-Johnson, who was acquired by the Storm from Trail in a three-way trade on June
In addition to the trade, the Caps announced commitments from four new players for the 2020-21 campaign: forwards Vincent Bernier, Shawn Milord and Matthew Mazzocchi, and defenceman Daron Cyr.
Bernier and Milord, both born in 2001, were teammates with the Sorel-Tracy Rebelles of the Quebec College Hockey League. Milord was third on the team in 2019-20 with 36 points, including eight goals, in 32 games. Bernier finished fourth on the team with 35 points in 34 games on 13 goals and 22 assists.
“We expect them to come in and play at the top level of our lineup and be contributing right away,” Grimwood said.
The other new additions come from the Alberta Elite Hockey League: Mazzocchi from the U18 Calgary Flames, and Cyr from the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers. Both players were born in 2002.
Mazzocchi spent the last two seasons with the U18 Flames, and in 2019-20 finished fourth on the team with 24 points, including 13 goals, in 26 games. Mazzocchi got a taste of junior hockey when he suited up for two games with the Drumheller Dragons in 2018-19, scoring one goal.
Cyr played 29 games for the Rangers in 2019-20, recording five goals and 10 assists to finish second among defencemen on the team and seventh overall.
Like Mazzocchi, Cyr has also experienced junior hockey, getting into four games with the Spruce Grove Saints in 2019-20 and posting two assists, and three more contests with the Sherwood Park Crusaders in 2019-20.
“These are guys out of midget AAA with a lot of potential,” Grimwood said. “They will grow with the program. We are excited with what we have. The team had a great season last year, and we are excited to build on that. We’re excited to get going in the fall.”
Grimwood noted that even though the team’s spring camp was cancelled for 2020, they are hoping to a rookie ID session in August.
“We are still waiting for a little more information from the government before announcing anything,” he said.