The Western Hockey League’s annual trade deadline came and went Wednesday afternoon, with a flurry of moves being made around the league.
The T-Birds capped off their week with two more moves, first acquiring 18-year-old forward Jaxan Kaluski from the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for a sixth-round selection in the 2019 Bantam Draft, then sending Aaron Hyman to Regina in exchange for 17-year-old defenseman Owen Williams and a second-round pick in the 2019 draft.
In all, the T-Birds dealt two 19-year-olds in goaltender Matt Berlin and Hyman, a 17-year-old center in Elijah Brown, and a sixth-round pick for two second-round picks, a conditional third-round pick, a fifth-round pick, Kaluski and Williams.
Berlin, as a 19-year-old goalie this year, was not likely to see much playing time as an overager next year with Carl Stankowski, Liam Hughes and Dorrin Luding all on the roster. In moving to Kootenay, he likely becomes the team’s number one netminder.
Brown left the team a couple of months ago and didn’t look like he was ever going to don a T-Birds sweater again. For a player Seattle was essentially forced to trade, getting two early draft picks is a massive return.
Hyman is a player who could have fought for a 20-year-old spot next year, but in trading him Seattle gets younger and a acquires another high draft pick, while Hyman heads to Regina where he’ll play in his second consecutive Memorial Cup.
Kaluski has played in 38 games in his WHL career, including 22 this season, and registered four points on two goals and two assists.
According a press release from the team, “Kaluski is an honest, hardworking energy guy that’s going to give us some depth at forward,” which should make him a good fit in Seattle’s system. Prior to Kaluski’s acquisition, Seattle had only 13 forwards on the roster, including the injured Tyler Carpendale, who remains week-to-week. Any further injuries to the forward group could have significantly hampered Seattle’s ability to dress 18 skaters for the remainder of the season.
Williams, 17, has three and a half seasons of WHL eligibility left. He hasn’t played much in his WHL career to date, appearing in 29 games and registering one assist. Farwell said that he thinks Williams will fit in well with this group going forward and specifically emphasized the “very good” return that the T-Birds received for Hyman, which included the second-round pick two drafts from now.
Even though their trade deadline lacked blockbuster deals, Seattle did exactly what they wanted by getting younger and stockpiling more assets that can contribute for more than just this year and next. Seattle has proven over the past couple of weeks that they’re a team more than capable of making the playoffs with the roster as it currently stands and trading Hyman, Berlin and Brown shouldn’t significantly damage those aspirations.