Andrew Ladd and Brad Hunt are now the two remaining Maple Ridge NHL players, as a new season of professional hockey begins.
Ladd, a New York Islander, got into only 26 games last year, after having suffered injuries to both knees. He is coming off surgery, and may not be fully recovered by the time the season starts.
The former Winnipeg Jets team captain is closing in on 1,000 games played in the NHL, sitting at 946. His 537 points is the second-most among active B.C. players, second only to Dallas Star, Jamie Benn. He signed a seven-year, $38.5-million contract with the Islanders in July of 2016.
Maple Ridge’s Brad Hunt bounced between the NHL and American Hockey League for four seasons beginning in 2013-2014, playing a total of 33 games in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues.
In 2017-2018, he established himself as a semi-regular defenceman with the Vegas Golden Knights, playing in 45 games and putting up 18 points.
Last season, between the Knights and Minnesota Wild, he played 42 games, tallying five goals and 12 points.
This year, he is back in Minnesota, trying to secure a roster spot in training camp, but having missed some time with back spasms recently.
Not long ago, the Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association could point to a handful of alumni making a living in the best league in the world.
But after four seasons in the NHL with the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens, Maple Ridge defenceman Victor Bartley moved on to play pro hockey in Europe – first in Sweden, and then in Russia. Bartley, 31, is still plying his trade with the Kunlun Red Star of the KHL.
Last year, he had 12 points in 51 games with the club, and already has nine games under his belt for the 2019-2020 season.
The Red Star, based in Beijing China, is the team of Maple Ridge’s Brandon Yip, who spent five years in the NHL, playing 174 games with the Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators, Phoenix Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks. He also spent two years playing in Germany with Adler Mannheim and Dusseldorfer EG.
Defenceman Patrick Wiercioch, who grew up in Maple Ridge and attended the Pitt Meadows secondary hockey academy, also moved on to the KHL last year.
He played five NHL seasons with the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche, before signing with the Vancouver Canucks for the 2017-2018 season. He had a good year with the Utica Comets, posting 10 goals and 37 points in 58 points, but never played for the Canucks in the regular season. From there, he moved to the KHL’s Minsk Dynamo last year, and is currently an unrestricted free agent.