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Coquitlam Express seek winning ways with multiple trades

The Coquitlam Express are off to a slow start, with 11 points in 12 games.
Coquitlam Express forward Gavin Giesbrecht has been traded to the Cowichan Capitals in one of three deals the team announced on Wednesday.

If you're headed to the Coquitlam Express game Friday, Nov. 3, against the Langley Rivermen, you may want to pick up a roster sheet heading into the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex.

Express general manager Tali Campbell has been busy, announcing three trades Wednesday, Nov. 1, that see two veteran players leaving Coquitlam with another coming back to the team along with the rights to two others currently playing in other leagues.

In the day's most significant move, the Express acquired Cowichan Capitals' captain Cole Melady and the playing rights to forward Matheson Mason in exchange for forward Gavin Giesbrecht and future considerations.

As well, Coquitlam sent second-year forward Evan Brown to the Cranbrook Bucks for future considerations and got the playing rights to defensemen Oliver Gabrielson from the Surrey Eagles in exchange for future future considerations.

Campbell said he's looking for Melady to have an immediate impact on the Express, which has struggled with consistency through its first 12 games of the BC Hockey League season, winning only five plus another in overtime.

"We believe there's a lot more games we should have been able to sneak away," Campbell said. "Some of the guys were having a bit of a flat start."

Melady is in his third season in the BCHL, scoring 54 points in 105 games with the Capitals and Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

Campbell said the 20-year-old's experience and leadership qualities will be a nice complement to another recently acquired forward, Dallas Stars' prospect Sebastian Bradshaw.

"They'll be able to drive the bus for us up front," Campbell said.

Giesbrecht was off to a slow start in his sophomore season with the Express, scoring three goals and an assist in 12 games. As a rookie, he had 34 points in 53 games.

As for the team's two other acquisitions, Mason and Gabrielson, Campbell said they’re "longer-term projects."

Mason, a centre, is playing his first season for the Sioux Falls Stampede in the US Hockey League. He has a goal in seven games.

Gabrielson has 10 points in 17 games with the Camrose Kodiaks in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He joined the team after two seasons with the BCHL's Surrey Eagles where he totalled 29 points in 67 games.

Campbell said getting those players to come to Coquitlam will depend on their own current circumstances and aspirations.

"A lot of what we do now is gambling," he said. "You're betting you'll get their rights and you can somehow convince them they can come."

Gabrielson, for instance, is from Vancouver and has yet to commit to a post-secondary program, so he could stand to benefit from being able to play closer to home in a situation offering more visibility to U.S. college programs.

Campbell admits the BCHL's withdrawal last summer from Hockey Canada has complicated the trading process, as players acquired from other leagues have to weigh the possible consequences of a move to B.C. like not being able to participate in competitions sanctioned by the country's governing body for the sport, such as national championships and international tournaments.

"It does restrict their options in the future," Campbell said, adding frank, open discussions with the players' agents about the opportunities the BCHL does afford, as well as how their charges might fit into the Express lineup, will be key to winning them over.