DULUTH - The Gwinnett Gladiators traded forward Dirk Southern for defenseman Aaron Brocklehurst on Tuesday.
Brocklehurst was acquired from Victoria, but played half of last season with Gwinnett's division rival, the Florida Everblades, as a rookie in the pro ranks.
The skilled blueliner had 20 points in 37 games for Florida before being dealt to Victoria, in exchange for ex-Gladiator Milan Gajic.
Brocklehurst added nine points in 23 regular-season games with the Salmon Kings and five points in nine playoff games. The 24-year-old also made his AHL debut, seeing time in four games for Lake Erie.
"He's a real good skater and he's got a bomb of a shot," Gwinnett head coach Jeff Pyle said. "And I think, in the end, he's coming to a team where's he's going to be put in a little bit different role right from the get-go.
"I liked what I saw of him last year. He skated well, moved the puck well. He can be the kind of guy that could run a power play and get a lot of minutes."
Pyle said Brocklehurst is definitely capable of being an AHL player and, with hard work, has the potential to get a chance at the NHL level.
At 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, Brocklehurst isn't the biggest defenseman, but his skating and good decision-making abilities with the puck more than compensate. Pyle compared the Nanaimo, British Columbia, native favorably to Detroit Red Wings' blueliner Brett Lebda.
Brocklehurst has already made it to the AHL and will be entering just his second pro season. He came out of St. Cloud State University where he had 76 points over four years.
"I think he's a good fit," Pyle said. "I like his talent."
The trade for Southern didn't go through until Pyle was sure Brocklehurst wasn't going overseas to play. Pyle talked to Brocklehurst about it and, as always, spoke frankly about the situation.
"I think he had some pretty good offers (in Europe)," said Pyle, who played and coached in Germany for a decade. "But I talked to him and said, 'Aaron, if it's all about the money, then you go. But Europe is going to be there any time you want it.'
"He's a second-year guy that can fly and can score. I really think this kid's a call-up guy."
Once Brocklehurst decided to stay in North America, he was officially signed by Victoria and traded to Gwinnett. Southern also had to be signed by Gwinnett before he could be part of the deal.
Southern had a career year with the Gladiators last season notching 46 points while also appearing in 17 games for Manitoba of the AHL. Southern only played 23 games for Gwinnett in 2007-08, his second year as a pro, because of a season-ending knee injury.
The Winnipeg, Manitoba, native began his professional career with the Augusta Lynx in 2006-07. He had 31 points in 61 games with Augusta before signing with the Gladiators in the summer of 2007.