The Rockets and Silvertips swapped Kelowna-born players, Thursday, with the Rockets bringing Max Graham home and sending Alex Swetlikoff to Everett, Wash.
Swetlikoff was caught in the numbers game. WHL teams are only allowed three 20-year-old players, and the Rockets had five before Thursday's trade.
"In Alex, we lose a very skilled player and leader on our team," Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton said. "I have known Alex since his childhood. He is a class act and I personally, along with the entire Rockets organization, wish him all the very best."
Kelowna also sent a sixth-round draft pick in 2023 to the 'Tips.
Graham, 17, is entering his second full season of junior hockey after notching two assists in 18 games this past pandemic-shortened season.
The six-foot-three, 180-pound forward went undrafted coming out of Kelowna Minor Hockey, but Hamilton said he has quickly embraced his opportunity in the WHL.
"Our organization knows a lot about Max," said Hamilton. "He's a guy that Everett listed out of Kelowna Minor Hockey and has turned into a real player. He speaks volumes for the players that don't get drafted. There are still opportunities out there for them. We're really excited to have him join our team. We know he'll have an impact certainly in the future, if not now. We paid dearly for him, giving up a real high-end player in Alex, but we think that he gives us great depth in the '04 age bracket."
Graham spent the 2019-20 season with the under-16 Okanagan Rockets, where he led the league in scoring with 61 points (33G, 28A) over 31 games. He was named to the 2019-20 AAA All-Star team alongside current Rockets forward Scott Cousins and goaltender Nicholas Christiano.
The Rockets acquired Swetlikoff's WHL rights from the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2018. He appeared in 111 games for Kelowna over the last three seasons, scoring 25 goals and 29 assists along with 70 penalty minutes.
Goaltender Cole Schwebius, forward Mark Liwiski, and defencemen Jake Lee and Tyson Feist are the remaining 20-year-olds on the Rockets roster.
That means Kelowna will have to release or trade one of those four players to get below the cap.
The Rockets are set to open the regular season on Oct. 2 against those same Everett Silvertips.