The 2018 WHL trade deadline has come and gone and Seattle added to a couple of moves they had made earlier in the week with two more on Wednesday. The moves will help them both now and in the future.
I suppose after the moves you would categorize the T-birds as sellers this season. They moved three players off the roster who were part of last season's Chynoweth Cup championship team. Two of those were veterans. One of them, Aaron Hyman, had an assist on the biggest goal in franchise history, the Alexander True overtime game winner in Game Six of last spring's Final against Regina. Hyman got the puck out from behind the Seattle goal, passed it up to Keegan Kolesar, who in turn passed it to True. True of course scored and Seattle had it's first ever championship.
In return for trading away Matt Berlin, Elijah Brown and Hyman, the T-birds get back two future second round bantam picks, a potential future third round pick, a fifth rounder and 17 year old defenseman in Owen Williams. Additionally, Seattle acquired Jaxan Kaluski, an 18 year old left winger. He comes over from Moose Jaw for a 2019 sixth round draft pick.
Williams should get plenty of ice time on the blue line now that he's a Thunderbird. With the trade of Hyman and the injury Tuesday to Reece Harsch that will keep him from the line up for the foreseeable future, the T-birds will lean heavily on their young, rookie defenseman, a group that also includes Jake Lee, Tyson Terretta and any youngster they may bring up to fill the void such as Cade McNelly or, in a pinch, Ty Bauer.
Meanwhile, Kaluski has not seen a lot of action over the past two seasons. That's because he suffered a fractured ankle in a game back on November 5th, 2016. Ironically, that injury came in a game against the Thunderbirds. He seems to be a player though, who will fit Seattle's physical style and will add depth to the third and fourth line the second half of this season. He also adds forward depth to Seattle's 1999 born age group. Prior to his acquisition Seattle only had two, Sami Moilanen and Matthew Wedman.
I know some fans wanted to see the T-birds unload all their veterans but General Manager Russ Farwell listened to offers but did not see the kind of return necessary to blow this team up. This team did not have a veteran player on their roster that was going to command the type of return that a first round NHL drafted player such as a Jake Bean, Dennis Cholowski or Kyle Clague brought back to their clubs. Once those teams spent heavy on those type players, they had no assets left to deal for Seattle's older players. The fact the T-birds came out of the trade deadline with two extra second round picks as well as a good young player or two without dismantling the current roster, should be celebrated.
The T-birds are playing well, they are in a playoff spot and young players are learning from the older players what it takes to win at this level. That experience will pay off in the long run. More importantly, the organization believes they have drafted well and will continue to do so going forward. There is young talent in the pipeline, some of which is on display every game night this season.
Furthermore, head coach Matt O'Dette, in his first season on the job, has done a terrific job behind the bench with this group. He's earned the chance to take this particular group to the finish line. And those veteran, who helped bring this franchise it's first ever WHL championship? They've earned the right to finish their careers as Thunderbirds.