The Moose Jaw Warriors added some more playoff experience to their roster when they acquired 20-year-old forward Owen Hardy from the Vancouver Giants on Friday.
“There was a lot of intangibles in this guy, just in terms of the homework that we’ve done and the quality of a young man that he is,” Warriors GM Alan Millar said.
In the deal, Moose Jaw sent a sixth-round pick in the 2023 WHL Bantam draft to Vancouver.
Hardy is in his fifth season in the Western Hockey League, having played 233 career games with the Vancouver Giants prior to the trade. He has 30 career goals and 69 points, including two assists in three games this season.
“I wasn’t really expecting it too much, but I’m excited to be here,” Hardy said.
Standing in at six-foot-one and 202 lbs, Hardy brings a power forward type of game to the Warriors’ lineup, which will fit in well with what the organization looks for out of its players.
“This is a player that brings a tremendous amount of character to our team, he’s considered to be a very good leader, he’s a guy that plays a big game, complete, hard game,” Millar said.
“I try to do everything for the team,” Hardy added. “Definitely a team-first guy, nothing fancy, just a simple game.”
The Warriors are very familiar with what Hardy brings to the table thanks to Assistant GM Jason Ripplinger’s experience with the Giants’ organization, having been involved in selecting Hardy in the second round of the WHL Bantam Draft in 2014.
Hardy is the second overage forward that the Warriors have acquired from the Vancouver Giants, who went to Game Seven of the WHL Final last season.
Hardy and Jadon Joseph played key roles on that Giants’ team and the Warriors will be hoping that their young roster can learn from the experience that both veterans bring.
“Owen was a big part of that, playing in their top-six, five goals and 12 points in 22 playoff games, that experience that Owen and Jadon bring to our team really benefits us,” Millar said.
“When we look at where we hope to be this year, a year from now and two years from now, your leadership group is so important, so character, compete and playing the right way and having guys that can lead the way in all the right areas is really important.
“Bailey Brkin has come in here and done a real job between the pipes and then with Joseph and Hardy, we have two guys that are going to lead the way, the right way, understanding what it takes to play at this level.”
Moose Jaw is off to a surprisingly quick start to the season, posting a 3-1-0-0 record through the first four games. Millar said their goal is to improve as this season goes and that means playing meaningful games down the stretch in February, March, and April, which they believe Hardy will help them accomplish.
“Our message has been consistent from the get-go and where we thought we were at in building a team, the core group of young players that we like and want them to play, but at the same time, we felt this team could remain competitive and compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference,” Millar said.
“When you look at Hardy coming in our lineup, Brayden Tracey eventually getting back here and being one of the top offensive players in the league, we’re pleased with where we’re at.”
Hardy said that having Joseph and Ripplinger in Moose Jaw will help ease his transition into the city and team.
“It’s always nice to come to a place where you know guys from past teams, it makes you feel a bit more comfortable and just being comfortable will help with confidence and playing your game,” he said.
The Nanaimo, B.C. product is expected to be in the Warriors’ lineup when they host the Regina Pats on Sunday afternoon at Mosaic Place.
“I’m itching to get out there,” Hardy said.