The T-Birds added another piece to their blue line on Friday, acquiring Austin Strand and a sixth-round Bantam Draft selection from the Red Deer Rebels.
Headed the other way is Brandon Schuldhaus, who did not return to the team following the holiday break. Schuldhaus, 18, appeared in all 33 games prior to the break but was unhappy with his playing time. He had spent most of the season on the T-Birds’ third defensive pairing after being surpassed by 17-year-old rookie Reece Harsch on the depth chart but was also an important player on the penalty kill.
“(Schuldhaus) is unhappy with his playing time and has asked for a trade,” T-Birds general manager Russ Farwell told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Andy Eide prior to Seattle’s Tuesday night contest versus the Spokane Chiefs.
Strand, 19, comes to the T-Birds having put up 15 points on one goal and 14 assists in 38 games with Red Deer this season. He has 41 points and 105 penalty minutes in 163 regular season games and is a plus-seven for his career.
“Austin is an experienced defenseman with a physical presence,” Farwell said through a T-Birds press release. “This year defense is at a real premium so he is a very solid addition.”
Based on the price that Prince George paid to acquire Brendan Guhle earlier this season, the cost for high-caliber defenseman is enormous. For Seattle, this is a positive trade that gives them a piece who can contribute immediately as well as a future draft choice. In exchange, they lose a player who decided he no longer wanted to be here.
With the acquisition earlier this week of Aaron Hyman from Calgary, Seattle has added two imposing presences on their defense. Hyman stands 6 feet 5 inches, while Strand is 6 foot 3. Having the extra muscle on their back end should help prepare the T-Birds for what they hope will be an extended playoff run.
Both Schuldhaus and Allbee were apparently dismayed with their role, leaving the T-Birds in a tough spot with less than two weeks until the trade deadline. Adding Hyman and Strand leaves Seattle in a better place than they were prior to the break and the only asset they really had to sacrifice was a third-round draft pick two years from now.