Swift Current, Sask. – The Swift Current Broncos have 11 alumni returning to action as the National Hockey League ramps up their Return to Play training camps ahead of the Stanley Cup Qualifying Round which is set to begin August 1. Below is a list of the 11 former Swift Current Broncos competing for a chance at the Stanley Cup.
Glenn Gawdin – Calgary Flames
Gawdin hasn’t made his NHL debut yet, but is now two years into his professional career and took a big step towards the NHL with his second American Hockey League season. After posting 38 points (11-27-38) in 64 games with the Stockton Heat in 2018-19, Gawdin improved in every category with 47 points (16-31-47) in just 53 games, while also recording 21 fewer penalty minutes. Gawdin was called up by the Flames November 17 this past season, but didn’t appear in game action. He is one of the all-time greats in Broncos history, recording 313 points (126-187-313) in 312 games after being drafted fifth overall in 2013. He was named the WHL’s Playoff MVP in 2017-18, leading the Broncos in playoff scoring with 32 points (14-18-32).
Stuart Skinner – Edmonton Oilers
Like Gawdin, Skinner hasn’t been in NHL game action yet, but did have a front-row seat to a game as he was called up to backup Mikko Koskinen on December 1 against the Vancouver Canucks. Skinner is also two years into his professional career and spent the majority of the 2019-20 season in the AHL after spending most of 18-19 in the ECHL. Skinner went 17-16-6 with a 3.31 GAA and .891 save percentage this past season. He was acquired by the Broncos at the trade deadline in 2018 and backstopped the Broncos to the WHL championship with a 2.20 GAA and .932 save percentage in the playoffs.
Adam Lowry – Winnipeg Jets
Lowry has become a mainstay with the Winnipeg Jets having been a full-time NHL player since the 2014-15 season. He surpassed 400 career NHL games this past season despite missing time due to injury. To date he’s played 408 NHL games while recording 57 goals and 66 assists. A fourth-round pick by the Broncos in 2008, Lowry spent his entire WHL career in Swift Current suiting up for 235 games and scoring 204 points (90-114). He served as team captain in 2012-13 and was drafted by Winnipeg 67th overall in 2011.
Jake Debrusk – Boston Bruins
A late-round gem, Debrusk has gone from a seventh-round WHL pick to a legitimate NHL contributor with the Boston Bruins. After spending one year at the U16 and U18 levels after being drafted, Debrusk went from 39 points to 81 points over his first two years in Swift Current and was drafted 14th overall by the Bruins in 2015. After being moved to Red Deer for their Memorial Cup run, Debrusk is now three years into his NHL career having dressed for 203 games with Boston while scoring 62 goals and 58 assists.
Beck Malenstyn – Washington Capitals
Malenstyn was another trade acquisition during the 2017-18 season, giving the Broncos depth scoring for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs. Malenstyn recorded 11 points (4-7-11) in 26 playoff games to help the Broncos claim the Ed Chynoweth Cup. He has since graduated to the pro ranks in the Capitals system, and made his NHL debut November 20 at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.
Justin Dowling – Dallas Stars
Dowling is the first of three Broncos alumni on the Stars Return to Play camp roster and is also the longest-tenured one. From AP call ups in 2006-07 to the end of 2010-11, Dowling appeared in 280 regular season games for the Broncos and scored 81 goals with 161 assists. After going undrafted through his junior career, Dowling worked his way up the ranks of the minor leagues with five full seasons in the minors before getting a chance in the NHL with the Stars in 2016-17. So far he has dressed in 49 NHL games with Dallas scoring three goals and six assists. He also won an AHL championship with the Texas Stars in 2014.
Dillon Heatherington – Dallas Stars
Drafted 11th overall by Swift Current in 2010, Heatherington’s solid two-way play helped him become a second-round NHL pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2013. In four full seasons with the Broncos, Heatherington skated in 247 games while adding 13 goals and 74 assists. He now has five years of professional hockey under his belt, split between the Blue Jackets and Stars organizations following a trade on March 1, 2017. To date he has appeared in 11 NHL games with two assists, and 313 AHL games adding 13 goals and 76 assists. He won a Calder Cup championship with the Lake Erie Monsters in 2016, his first professional season.
Landon Bow – Dallas Stars
Bow spent the majority of his WHL career in Broncos colours before being traded to the Seattle Thunderbirds ahead of the 2016 trade deadline. A fourth-round pick in 2010, Bow played 137 games with the Broncos from 2012-13 up until he was traded to Seattle on January 6, 2016. With Swift Current Bow posted a 58-50-8-5 record with a 3.12 GAA and a .908 save percentage. Bow signed an AHL deal with the Texas Stars following the 2015-16 season and has been with the Stars organization ever since. He has appeared in two NHL games to date, both of them relief appearances, turning aside 18 of 19 shots sent his way.
Dale Weise – Montreal Canadiens
A fan favourite during his three years in Swift Current, Weise was added to Montreal’s training camp roster after splitting 2019-20 with the Canadiens and their AHL team, the Laval Rocket. Weise hit the 500 career NHL game mark this past season and has played parts of 10 years in the NHL to date. His career stat line shows 513 games with 55 goals and 70 assists. This is Weise’s second stint with the Canadiens with stops in Vancouver, New York, and Philadelphia. In three seasons with the Broncos from 2005-2008 Weise played 173 games while scoring 51 goals and 61 assists.
Joel Hofer – St. Louis Blues
Hofer is the most recent former Bronco to join an NHL training camp as he was traded to the Portland Winterhawks ahead of the 2019 trade deadline for a pelthora of draft picks. Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Broncos, Hofer was drafted 107th overall by the Blues in 2018 following the Broncos WHL championship. The following year, Hofer became the Broncos starter and appeared in 30 games before being traded to Portland, where he solidified himself as an elite goalie in the WHL. Not only did he backstop the Winterhawks to the top of the WHL standings in 2019-20, he also backstopped Team Canada to a gold medal at the World Juniors in the Czech Republic in January. In six games at the tournament, Hofer posted a miniscule 1.30 GAA and a staggering .946 save percentage. The trade to Portland will pay dividends for years for the Broncos franchise, as it landed the draft picks that allowed the team to draft Mathew Ward, Sam Court, Grayson Burzynski, Van Eger and Joey Rocha, along with a 2021 first-round pick.
Cody Eakin – Winnipeg Jets
The final Bronco alum at NHL training camps is another beloved alumni in the eyes of Broncos fans as Cody Eakin prepares to suit up for his hometown Winnipeg Jets. Drafted sixth overall by Swift Current in 2006, Eakin played 212 regular season games with the Broncos recording 100 goals and 95 assists from 2006-07 until he was traded to the Kootenay ICE at the 2011 trade deadline. A third-round selection of the Washington Capitals in 2008, Eakin has skated in 586 NHL games to date with the Capitals, Dallas Stars, Vegas Golden Knights and Jets. He has also represented Canada on the international stage four times, playing at the U17, U18, U20 and World Championship level. He took home a silver medal at the 2011 World Juniors and won gold at the 2015 World Championships. He has two championship rings in his collection too, joining the Hershey Bears as an affiliate player following the end of the 2009-10 season with Swift Current, and helping the Kootenay ICE to a WHL championship in 2011.