With presumptive starter Carl Stankowski on the shelf with injury until late October/early November, Thunderbirds General Manager Russ Farwell swung a deal for goaltender Liam Hughes. Farwell sent a 2019 fourth round Bantam pick to the Edmonton Oil Kings in exchange for the 18 year old netminder.
Hughes, a native of Kelowna, B.C. played in seven games last season for Edmonton, posting a record of 1-4-2-0 with a 3.26 GAA and a save percentage of .895. He went 0-1 in two preseason games this September.
Hughes was selected in the seventh round of the 2014 Bantam draft. Hughes will most likely compete with Matt Berlin for ice time until Stankowski is healthy enough to return. I would surmise T-birds brass wants to see young 16 year old Cole Schwebius get more seasoning, as well as more ice time, possibly with a Junior A team, although it is possible Seattle could start the season with three goalies on the roster and keep Schwebius for a week or two.
The addition of Hughes now gives Seattle four signed goaltenders in their system. As short as three weeks ago the T-birds only had two and one, Stankowski, was injured. Schwebius, a 2016 10th round Bantam selection signed just before the start of the preseason. While his preseason numbers aren't stellar, he competed well and looks like he will be part of the future in goal.
By dealing for the 18 year old Hughes, Seattle didn't have to pay too steep a price, surrendering just the 2019 fourth round pick. While there are a few free agent 20 year old goalies, such as Cody Porter and Mario Petit, looking for roster spots in the WHL, acquiring one would have cost Seattle one of their current 20 year olds in either Donovan Neuls, Tyler Adams, Turner Ottenbreit or Austin Strand. That would have been a steep price to pay for essentially two months of service. As it is the T-birds will have to trim or trade one of those from their roster at or before the 20 year old cutdown date. I'm sure they didn't want to have to depart with two of that group.
Meanwhile Hughes, at age 18 still has three years of WHL eligibility left.