By Andrew Eide
Summer is in full swing and for the hockey world, it’s supposed to be the offseason. Despite no games on the WHL schedule there has been activity and there was some T-Birds news last week.
The biggest news was Seattle’s 2011 first-round draft pick, Ryan Gropp, committing to play at the University of North Dakota. If he holds to that commitment it means Seattle won’t see him don a T-Birds sweater. Tim Pigulski took a look Friday at the Gropp decision and what it might mean for Seattle moving forward.
The CHL also held its annual import draft last week. Seattle did not utilize its two picks and we had a brief chat with general manager Russ Farwell on the afternoon of the draft.
Andrew Eide: It’s not a big surprise that you didn’t make a pick in the import draft; does that say a lot about the two guys you have?
Russ Farwell: “We like those players and they (Alex Delnov and Roberts Lipsbergs) both confirmed that they’re coming back so we didn’t really have a lot of options. The new thing this year, new rules put in place, we weren’t active because they took away the options to trade our picks.”
AE: Was there any thought of looking at a European goalie?
RF: “Not really because we would have to throw one of our guys away; that wasn’t really an option. There were some guys available and we had a couple of agents contact us prior. That might have been an area we looked at if something happened and we didn’t have both guys.”
AE: It seems like we’re getting into that time of the year when trades start to happen; are you guys involved in anything yet?
RF: “It will probably be another couple of weeks yet and then it will get started as we get ready to go. I think teams made their picks today, they’ll confirm those players are coming and then start looking to make trades to plug in their teams. Probably next week things will get going. We’re not really waiting for something to drop but yeah, we’ll be talking to teams as things get going.”
AE: Is goalie something that you guys are looking at?
RF: “It’s possible. We’ve inquired, but there really isn’t anything sitting there and we’ve got a little more than you might think. We have a couple of guys as possibles still there, but it’s still not out of the question.”
AE: It sounds like if there isn’t a good deal you’re confident with the guys you have.
RF: “We’re confident enough that we could start. Danny (Mumaugh) had a real good camp at the U-17 festival and I think he’ll take a step. I think the guys we have in place are all doing well during the summer and it’s not something we’re going to rush out and make a deal we don’t like.”
AE: With training camp just over a month and half away, how excited are you for the competition?
RF: “We are excited, we’ve got competition in a lot of areas, our over-age spots and on defense we have 10 players that can play in the lead, gonna stake out a claim, that part is going to be contested. I think we have some competition up front and some depth up front.”
AE: Is there any timetable for decisions from first-round picks Dante Fabbro and Kaden Elder?
RF: “They’re both coming into camp and I think they’ll be here right up until Everett and then they’ll have to make a decision heading into that tournament. But they’ll both be here to get the experience and they’ll be here up until that time I think. I think (second-round pick Nolan) Vulcan will be here too for that stretch, he’s a real good player, he’s a gritty, focused guy. I think he can handle that.”
AE: What was it like at the NHL Draft to see Shea Theodore get selected?
RF: “It was good, I think it’s a real good spot for him and it was nice to see him get picked there. He’s one of those guys, we didn’t know, anywhere from 15 to 40 what was possible for him so it was good to see him get picked there. I think it was a good pick, he’s going to be a good player and I think the best is yet to come for Theo.”
Other T-Birds news:
• Seattle is in the market for a new assistant coach as Darren Rumble was named head coach of the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL. He takes over for Danny Flynn, who was promoted to the Director of Hockey Operations for the club. Moncton had a good season last year going 42-23-2-1 so Rumble could be stepping into a nice situation. He spent two years with the Thunderbirds.
• It is the time of year that NHL teams hold their annual prospect camps and three T-Birds players are participating. Shea Theodore is taking part in his first NHL camp with the Anaheim Ducks, Branden Troock is practicing with the Dallas Stars and Alex Delnov is in camp with the Florida Panthers.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andyeide.