May 21st, 2024

Canes trade Cotton to Giants

By Dale Woodard on November 6, 2021.

Alex Cotton was driving to the Enmax Centre for Friday night’s Western Hockey League against the Moose Jaw Warriors.

But with one phone call the overage defenceman for the Lethbridge Hurricanes learned he was heading a little further than that as the product of Langley, B.C. now heads back to the west coast.

On Friday, the Hurricanes announced they had traded the 2001-born blue-liner to the Vancouver Giants in exchange for 2005-born defenceman Hunter McInnes along with a third (’22), fourth (’23), fifth (’22) and sixth (’22) round draft picks.

“It was super weird,” said Cotton, a Detroit Red Wings prospect who was originally selected by the Hurricanes in the fifth round and 99th overall in the 2016 WHL bantam draft

“I was literally driving to the game and Pete (Anholt, Hurricanes general manager) called me and said I was traded. I was stunned. But obviously it’s a bit of mixed emotions going back home and being able to see my family more.”

McInnes, 16, was originally drafted by the Giants in the ninth round and 186th overall in the 2020 Western Hockey League Prospects Draft.

The Nanaimo, B.C. native has played eight games this season with the St. George’s School U18 Prep team in the CSSHL, posting three assists.

The six-foot-one, 181-pound defenceman has played 64 games with St. Georges at the U15, U16, U17 and U18 levels over the last five seasons, notching 10 goals and 42 points.

“It’s a hard to deal to make by moving a player like Cotton off of our team because he’s been a Hurricane for a long time and we think he’s going to be a really good Giant,” said Anholt.

“From our standpoint, we felt there was a chance to add a really good prospect. We have to go out and sign him and recruit him, so there’s work to be done with that. Then to add those picks and those other assets gives us an opportunity to parlay those into something else. So we think this will be a good deal for us.”

Cotton has four goals and six points in eight games with the Hurricanes this season after returning from the Red Wings training camp and exhibition season.

In his first full season in Lethbridge in 2018-19, Cotton had two goals and 11 points in 54 games before exploding for 20 goals and 67 points in 63 games, leading all defencemen in scoring that year.

Those totals caught the attention of the Red Wings, who grabbed Cotton in the fifth round and 132nd overall in the 2020 draft.

In the COVID-19 shortened 2020-21 season, Cotton had seven goals and 26 points in 24 games, giving him a total of 33 goals and 110 points in 154 career games in Lethbridge.

Anholt noted the initial shock upon delivering the news to his defenceman that he had been traded.

“There’s always that initial reaction, surprise and disappointment,” he said. “There’s always that side of it, but I think from our standpoint he’s excited about going home, or so it sounded to me. I was only able to talk to him on the phone, so it’s a little different for me than talking to a person face-to-face to see the emotions and usually it’s a pretty emotional time. It’s always hard to move a player who has been with you a long time.”

Anholt will get the chance to see McInnes tonight in Kelowna.

“Jim Hardington, our scout out here, certainly had a good report on him,” he said. “But he’s a good player with some good skill, so if we can add more of those kinds of players to our prospects list things should work out well.”

Cotton takes four seasons of personal growth back to the coast.

“It’s insane, what I’ve learned throughout the years here, how to prepare and things like that and growing as a person off the ice as well” said Cotton. “Most of my growing up has been here. What I took back is just how good the people are and how to be a good person and I think that’s the main thing I came here for.”

Cotton narrowed down two on-ice memories from his time in Canes silks.

“When I was 18 and we came back from 3-0 down against Edmonton with 10 minutes left, that was crazy,” said Cotton. “I scored the tying goal, so that was nuts.

When I was 17 I scored in Game 7. We lost, but that was pretty insane. I blacked out, I really don’t remember it.”

In his last year of major junior, Cotton can grab a few more memories closer to home.

“I called my mom, my dad and my brother,” said Cotton after learning of the trade. “They’re obviously excited, being able to see me and watch me play more. I won’t be living there, I’ll still be with a billet. But it’ll be cool to go home and see them more often.”

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