The Western Hockey League Trade Deadline came on Wednesday afternoon and it turned out to be an unprecedented whirlwind of activity.
Over 50 players changed teams and for the first time in recent memory, that included some blockbuster deals that saw big names on the move and for sky high prices. For the Thunderbirds, the trade deadline was relatively quiet, considering what was going on elsewhere.
They made a handful of deals that brought back future draft picks and some young players. They finished the deadline by moving Aaron Hyman to Regina for a second-round pick along with defenseman Owen Williams as well as acquiring forward Jaxon Kaluski from Moose Jaw.
Seattle general manager Russ Farwell was astonished by the big trades happening throughout the league but decided not to make any drastic moves with the veterans on his club.
“We didn’t want to blow our team up,” he said. “We thought they’d earned the right to play. They’ve played so hard and played together.”
That doesn’t mean that there weren’t inquiries about some of the Thunderbirds veteran players. Farwell says there was interest but in the end, the deals didn’t come to fruition.
“We certainly could have been in it and made some trades,” he said. “I felt that we either needed to be wholesale and make a number of trades but I just couldn’t see us doing one trade. So we were talking about it and then some of the other deals happened and teams dropped out on us.”
What Farwell did do however, was pick up some future assets and two young players who will be able to step right into the lineup. While the Thunderbirds didn’t pick up any first-round draft picks, they were able to get two second round picks in two of the deals they made.
“The biggest was being able to add these picks,” Farwell said. “Second round picks are pretty significant. They give you a chance to put some players together. Now, we just have to make sure we do a good job with them.”
Of the two new players, the defenseman Williams may be the key.
He’s only 17-years-old and appeared in 28 games for the Regina Pats before the trade on Wednesday. His arrival in Seattle comes as the Thunderbirds are dealing with an injury to Reece Harsch. That injury, along with Hyman going the other way means that Williams will be needed to play right away.
“Our first issue is playing through this injury to Harsch,” Farwell said. “Harsch is going to be out a number of weeks, at least three weeks, so we’ve got to get through that and then try to still be in the hunt. The Williams kid has proved himself to be a good player in the league. We’ve got a chance to alter our ages. I don’t think we hurt our team that much.”
By adding Kaluski, the Thunderbirds add some much needed depth at forward. They had been playing with just 12 forwards and were one injury away from not being able to ice four full lines. Kaluski spent most of last season injured and Farwell says he is just now coming into his own.
Both trades on Wednesday brought back players to help what Farwell felt was a thin roster by adding some depth. It also allowed the team to pick up some future assets without blowing things up and having to start from scratch.
Seattle went into Wednesday’s deadline just five points out of first place in the U.S. Division while holding onto the first wild card spot in the West. By not blowing things up, they can still fight for a playoff spot and at the same time, add pieces for future seasons.