Thursday, January 8, 2015

T-birds Add Some Seasoning

With the WHL trade deadline coming up this Saturday, Seattle G.M. Russ Farwell has made a move, doing exactly what he said wanted to do earlier this week. Farwell, speaking on 1090 The Fan's Seattle Thunderbirds Weekly Coach's Show with host Bill Swartz, said he wanted to add some veteran depth at forward, but only if the price was reasonable. He wasn't willing or inclined to trade any of the young talent currently on the roster.

So Thursday he sent a conditional 6th round pick, in either the 2015 or 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, to the Price Albert Raiders for 19 year old left winger Cory Millette. With the acquisition the T-birds double the number of '95 forwards on the team. Prior to the deal they had exactly zero. Millette (pronounced MEE-yet), who began his career with Red Deer, played last season in Saskatoon, scoring a career best 17 goals. The Blades dealt him to Prince Albert this past November. In 206 regular season WHL games he has produced 92 points (44G, 48A). So far this season with his two teams he has a combined 18 points (8G, 10A) in 39 games.

Back on October 18th, while still with Saskatoon, Millette, a native of Storthoaks, Saskatchewan, was made an honorary captain for the Blades game on "Pink the Rink Night". Millette lost his father Adrien to leukemia back in 2011. He told the website that his father was and continues to be his inspiration. He sounds like a good character guy, someone you want to have in the locker room.

What this move really says though is just how much Farwell and Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk and his staff believe in their young roster. I'm sure in phone calls around the league other G.Ms were asking for those young T-birds in any trade scenario. Farwell stuck to his guns and so far has refused to part with any of them. That is a tremendous vote of confidence in that group.

Back on September 27th, I wrote the following as the season was barely a week old, when discussing whether they needed to add veteran depth up front: If they do decide to make such a deal I personally would prefer it be done using just draft picks rather then surrendering any of the young talent currently on the roster. That's what I believed back then and with the trade deadline just a few days away, I still believe it. So far, that is how it has played out. I'm not saying Farwell is no longer taking or making phone calls; he'll always look to improve his team if it is the right deal, but don't be surprised if this is the only trade the team makes before Saturday afternoon rolls around.

This weekend's biggest move for the T-birds is probably going to be the return of Shea Theodore to the lineup. Theodore played in only ten games the first half of the season, just 1/4th of the team's games. In the past couple of days they've added last season's leading goal scorer, Roberts Lipsbergs, back into the fold and now Theodore, who was their top point producer last season, returns. In a few weeks, they get back Matt Barzal who was averaging over a point a game before he got hurt back in early November. Theodore is an NHL first round draft pick, Barzal is projected to be an NHL first round draft pick. Seattle is adding them both back to the roster this month at no cost. What other WHL team is doing that?

As for Millette, I haven't seen enough of him to make an educated, or for that matter uneducated, guess as to what he brings to the table. He should help the team's playoff push. And since Seattle has so few '95 born players on the roster, he will be in the mix for one of the three 20 year old spots on the team next season.

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