The Montreal Canadiens have a solid prospect in Cole Fonstad. He is off to a great start to the WHL season, but was just traded away by one of the best teams in the league in an odd move.
The Montreal Canadiens drafted Cole Fonstad in the fifth round of the 2018 NHL Draft. He was a member of the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League at the time. He had been a member of the Raiders organization since they took him fifth overall in the 2015 Bantam Draft.
As of last night, Fonstad is no longer a member of the Prince Albert Raiders, as he was traded to the Everett Silvertips in a head-scratching trade. Over the past two seasons, Fonstad has proven to be a valuable member of the Raiders lineup.
In the 2017-18 season, before being drafted by the Montreal Canadiens, Fonstad scored 21 goals and 73 points in 72 games. This ranked second on the team in points which is impressive for a 17 year old winger. The Raiders squeaked into the postseason but pushed the heavily favoured Moose Jaw Warriors to seven games in the first round before bowing out in a wild game 7. Fonstad had four goals and five points in those seven games.
Last season, the Raiders had a stacked team and had a long undefeated streak to start the year. Fonstad got off to a slow start but got hot for a long stretch in the middle of the season before being injured near the end of the regular season. He finished with 29 goals and 73 points in 67 games played as the Raiders stormed to the top of the standings and spent most of the year as the number one ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League.
Fonstad struggled in the postseason as he battled injuries, scoring just six points in 21 games. The Raiders had great success however, winning a WHL Championship and earning a trip to Halifax to play in the Memorial Cup. Fonstad scored three points in three games at that event, but the Raiders were the first team eliminated.
The Estevan, Saskatchewan native started this season with just three points in seven games. Then, he had back to back three point nights to bring his totals to nine point in nine contests. In the process, he showed over the past two outings he could dominate the WHL this season and greatly improve on his career high of 73 points which he reached in each of the last two seasons.
Not only was Fonstad getting his game going, but the Raiders as a team are off to a terrific start. They are 7-0-2 after nine games, the only team in the Western Hockey League without a regulation loss and are currently ranked sixth in the latest CHL Top Ten rankings.
Then, last night Fonstad was traded to the Everett Silvertips for 18 year old Reece Vitelli, second and fourth round picks in 2021 and a third round pick in 2022. Vitelli has three points in eight games and had 27 points in 66 games last season with the Silvertips.
Sure, Vitelli is a year younger than Fonstad, but the Raiders have a real chance at heading back to the Memorial Cup in Kelowna, British Columbia next May. Fonstad scored almost three times as many points as Vitelli last season and had six points in two games last weekend.
The Silvertips have a decent team, and also have Habs prospect Gianni Fairbrother patrolling the blue line. However, it seems odd to me that the Raiders would trade away a top six player this early in the season when they look to have one of the best teams in the country. They got a decent haul in return but nothing spectacular and no one that can replace Fonstad’s production in the lineup.
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It will be interesting to follow Fonstad in Everett. Their team is not as deep up front so he will likely be playing more minutes and a more prominent role on the power play. His playoff run may not go as deep as last season’s with the Raiders, but his individual statistics could improve since he will be playing a bigger role.
I just can’t help but think that the Prince Albert Raiders will be regretting this deal when they get knocked out of the playoffs.