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Powell River Kings trade for elite defender

Head coach Tyler Kuntz makes deal for coveted ‘game changer’
Powell River Kings Jayden Lee
WANTED MAN: New Powell River Kings blueliner Jayden Lee was highly sought-after after by head coach Tyler Kuntz. Contributed photo

Powell River Kings latest BC Hockey League trade, announced on August 1, brings 18-year-old defender Jayden Lee to the team from Langley Rivermen.

Lee is as good a defender as you can get, according to Kings general manager and coach Tyler Kuntz, although he is not an archetype blueliner.

Almost from the moment he joined the Kings in May, Kuntz said he started thinking about how he could acquire Lee. The trade probably has some of his counterparts in the league scratching their heads, he added.

“I've had three or four guys say ‘that's an unreal deal’ and then there's probably 15 guys who think I'm a complete idiot,” said Kuntz.

At 5’9” and 150 pounds, to say Lee is small for a defender is an understatement.

“You look at him and say, ‘okay, he's probably really smart and he has a lot of skill,’” said Kuntz. “But you don't expect him to be a warrior, and he is.”

It took about two months to add Lee to the roster, according to Kuntz. Mason Snell went the other way in the trade.

Kings acquired Snell, an experienced defender, from Wellington Dukes of the Ontario Junior Hockey League earlier in the off-season, for Nick Abbott and Callum Volpe, who has since ended up with the BCHL Chilliwack Chiefs. Snell was the piece needed for the trade with Langley for Lee.

Kuntz said it is almost impossible to trade for a player of Lee’s calibre.

“It happened so fast,” said Kuntz. “It started at about 11 am and it was over by 6 pm.”

Kuntz said Penticton Vees head coach, general manager and president Fred Harbinson was helpful in negotiating the trade.

“I learned a lot from him,” said Kuntz. “I can see why Penticton is successful. He's relentless when he wants something.”

Kuntz said he prefers not to trade but when he really wants something, “I go after it and I don't really care what people think.”

As an assistant coach with Vancouver Giants of the WHL, Kuntz became aware of Lee when he was on the coaching staff of Team British Columbia at the 2016/2017 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup, with the top 15-year-old and 16-year-old players from the four western provinces.

“Jayden has the ability to control a game with his brain,” said Kuntz. “He's really intelligent, he's very good with the puck, and he has great vision and a very good shot.”

Meanwhile, Kings main training camp begins Monday, August 20, at Hap Parker Arena in Powell River Recreation Complex. The morning session takes place from 10 am to 12 pm and the afternoon session is from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm. Both are open to the public.