The Kenai River Brown Bears continued to be active on the trade front, moving captain Jed McGlasson and defenseman Kyle Van to the Alaska Avalanche of Wasilla on Thursday. The Brown Bears received blue liner Ray Stenehjem from the Avalanche.
That deal was just part of a flurry of activity by the Brown Bears. On Sunday, the Bears had obtained forward Johan Skinnars from the Fairbanks Ice Dogs for future considerations. Sunday also marked the debut of touted Latvian goalie Dainis Vasiljevs.
The Brown Bears also have traded forward Ryan Amin and will be getting defenseman Chris Rial, who is 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, from Wichita.
"This isn't just a trade of McGlasson and Van for Stenehjem," Brown Bears coach Oliver David said. "This has to be seen along with other things we've done, like obtaining Skinnars without giving up a player."
David said McGlasson had requested a trade due to a desire for more exposure and a chance to go deeper into the playoffs. Brad Fusaro will take over the captain's spot for the Brown Bears.
"That was an easy decision," David said of elevating Fusaro to captain.
Alaska coach Dave Boitz said it was tough to part with Stenehjem, an Anchorage native who sports a plus-10 rating, but the Avs couldn't pass on the chance to grab McGlasson.
"We really didn't want to give up Stenehjem. He's got a lot of promise. But we thought Jed could really beef things up, up front," Boitz said.
Boitz said four to five North American Hockey League teams were interested in acquiring McGlasson as soon as the former Kenai Central High School standout appeared to be available.
McGlasson was leading the Brown Bears in scoring with 17 points (5 goals, 12 assists), and was fourth on the squad in scoring with 44 points (15-29-44) last season.
"McGlasson's been a great player for them," Boitz said. "It's been a rough couple of years for them. He was ready to move on, and hopefully get more exposure."
Boitz said McGlasson immediately becomes a top-six forward for an Avs team that has shown the ability to put the puck in the net. Alaska averages 3.46 goals per game, and is one of only four NAHL squads with at least 90 goals this season.
The Avs hope McGlasson proves to be another weapon for Alaska, which is trying to ward off the surging Fairbanks Ice Dogs in the standings.
Second-place Alaska has spent the year chasing first-place Wenatchee in the West Division standings. The Avs once had a comfortable lead over the third-place Dogs, but as of Thursday afternoon, Fairbanks had carved that Alaska advantage to only four points in the standings.
While McGlasson was the target, Van sealed the deal for the Avs.
Boitz and the Avalanche were apprehensive about parting with Stenehjem, who played in the Belle Tire program before joining the Avs.
"We're trying to make improvements on the defensive line," David said. "In order to do that, we had to move some guys."
Stenehjem showed promise, posting five points (2-3-5) in 17 games, to go along with that plus 10. And the Avs are also concerned about the loss of Daniel Hildebrandt, a regular on the blue line who will be out with a shoulder injury until early January.
Considering that, the Brown Bears added Van to sweeten the deal.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound stay-at-home defenseman is a three-year veteran of the league. Van played for Mahoning Valley for a pair of seasons before landing in Kenai. This season, Van recorded an assist in 24 games for Kenai River.
"He's a good-sized kid, good stay-at-home defenseman," Boitz said. "He's a really good player."
This swap marks the second deal between the NAHL West Division rivals in the last six weeks.
In an exchange of blue liners, Kenai River sent its third-leading scorer, Micki Mahailovich, to the Avalanche for Braden Kinnebrew in October.
In November, Kenai sent its leading scorer, forward Dajon Mingo, to Wenatchee for future considerations. Mingo was among league leaders with eight goals and 11 assists before heading south.
McGlasson had been second to Mingo throughout the year, and emerged as the points leader following the trade.
"I think they're going young and trying to rebuild," Boitz said.
Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz contributed to this report.
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