Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Elder Speeds Off to Swift Current

On Tuesday the Seattle Thunderbirds traded center Kaden Elder to the Swift Current Broncos in exchange for right winger Owen Seidel and a 5th round 2016 Bantam Draft pick. With the deal the T-Birds gain a little more size (Seidel is listed at 6'0", 189lbs. Elder is 5'9", 172 lbs) and fill a hole in their 2016 draft which was void of some middle round picks.

On paper this appears to be a trade to get a couple of '98 born players a change of scenery and a chance at more ice time. While listed as a center, when in the lineup Elder had been playing more on the wing this season in Seattle. That's because there were five players ahead of him on the depth chart at the center position; Matt Barzal, Scott Eansor, Alexander True, Donovan Neuls (although he too was playing more on the wing) and, more significantly, 16-year-old rookie Matthew Wedman.

I'm sure Elder wanted more ice time. He has been a healthy scratch in three of 17 games and when Seattle shortened the bench in the third period his in-game minutes were lessened. One reason has been the emergence of Wedman. The rookie has shown an ability to win faceoffs, kill penalties and play physically. With Eansor out with injury, it's been Wedman getting those minutes centering either the third or fourth line, not Elder. In essence, Elder got caught in a numbers game. The T-Birds have plenty of depth among the forward lines and a younger player developing at a faster rate. Because of that depth, he could never get off that fourth line with the T-Birds.

A solid citizen, there is nothing wrong with Elder the player. He should have a solid WHL career. But this season, on this team, he wasn't going to be taking minutes away from any of the players ahead of him on the depth chart. The Thunderbirds also have other prospects, including a signed Elijah Brown, on their list who can fill the Elder void next season.

I don't know what Seattle is getting in Seidel. He has played in only seven games thus far with the Broncos in what is his rookie campaign. So far he has not registered a point or been assessed any penalties. The Richmond, B.C. native was a 7th round selection of Swift Current in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. He put up good offensive numbers last season in Midget hockey with the Greater Vancouver Canadians of the BCMML (38 games 17g 50a 67 pts.). With the T-birds he'll join Luke Osterman and Wyatt Bear in a battle for ice time.

Of course as is so often the case, both players get a chance to shine against their former team almost immediately. The T-Birds host the Broncos at the ShoWare Center next Tuesday in their first home game after eight straight on the road.

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