With less then a week remaining until the start of training camp, the Seattle Thunderbirds pared down their glut of forwards by sending 1996 born Calvin Spencer to the Swift Current Broncos in exchange for a conditional sixth round draft pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.
This move is really not a surprise. Even with the trade of Lane Pederson two weeks ago, Seattle still had too many signed forwards and not enough roster spots for all of them. Keeping Spencer would have been a luxury. He's a solid, two-way 19 year old who would have probably been playing on the Thunderbirds fourth line. The problem was Seattle has four or five younger forwards they need to get ice time and that ice time usually comes playing on the fourth line. Remember, the WHL is a developmental league and developing the young 16 and 17 year olds on the roster often comes at the expense of a 19 or 20 year old who is not among your top six forwards or top four defensemen.
The trade to the Broncos should benefit Spencer greatly. He should get top minutes most likely playing on their second line. But he'll also be one of their top penalty killers. Spencer, who came to Seattle as an undrafted 17 year old in the fall of 2013, can be a physical player who will work hard along the boards. He has some good hockey tools. He just needs more consistency in his game and getting more consistent ice time in Swift Current will help that. Calvin was also one of the most polite, good natured players on the roster and will be a welcome addition to the Swift Current locker room. I know we hear the term "character" tossed around a lot when discussing these players. I think the word integrity might be more appropriate. Whatever word you choose, Seattle definitely traded away a couple of players in Spencer and Pederson, who had a lot of it. That's a testament to how well the T-birds have drafted or recruited players recently.
The one thing Spencer is going to miss, being in the Western Conference, is playing twice each season in Prince George. In his T-bird career he registered eight goals and I think at least half were scored against the Cougars up at the CN Centre.
The trades of Pederson and Spencer will also make training camp a little more interesting. There are three signed 1999 born forwards, and at least one other who has yet to sign, who will be fighting for one or two roster spots. There are also a couple of signed 1999 defenseman and probably only one spot available for them. So, you're looking at six 1999 born players with a legitimate shot to make the roster but odds are there is probably only room for, at maximum, three of them, two forwards and one defenseman. If you're going to camp, keep an eye out on the battle among the 16 year olds for one of those few, coveted, rookie roster spots available.