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Seattle moves goalie Carl Stankowski to Calgary for US-born prospect

The Seattle Thunderbirds have traded Carl Stankowski to the Calgary Hitmen (Brian Liesse/T-Birds)

With just two weeks to go before they open training camp, the Seattle Thunderbirds made a significant trade Tuesday.

General Manager Bil La Forge announced that the club has traded goaltender Carl Stankwoski to the Calgary Hitmen for the rights to 17-year-old American Mike Koster, an eighth-round pick in the 2019 draft, and a conditional fourth-round pick in either the 2019 or 2020 draft. Seattle also agrees to send a conditional pick to Calgary however no details as to when or what conditions were detailed.

“Carl’s medical needs have become very significant and we felt that being close to his home in Calgary would allow his family to more closely monitor his needs,” said La Forge in a press release. “Carl was a very important part of the team winning the 2017 WHL Championship and we thank him for all his contributions to the Thunderbirds.”

Stankowski is looking to return to the ice after missing an entire season due to injury and illness. After June’s CHL Import Draft, Seattle’s vice president of hockey operations Russ Farwell indicated that Stankowski felt like he was ‘going to be ready’ to play this coming season. If he is ready, it will now be in a Calgary sweater.

Despite only playing in 30 total games over two years for Thunderbirds, he will forever be remembered in Seattle for his role in the team’s championship run in 2017.

That season, with just seven regular season games under his belt, Stankowski was thrown to the fray in the playoffs after Rylan Toth went down with an injury. The then 16-year-old rookie didn’t flinch and played every minute of the WHL playoffs to backstop the Thunderbirds to the first championship in franchise history. In 20 playoff games he posted a 16-2-2 record with a save-percentage of .911 along with a 2.50 goals-against average.

Koster, a defenseman who hails from Minnesota, is currently committed to playing for the University of Minnesota next fall. Last season he split his time between his high school team, Chaska High, and the Tri-City Storm of the USHL. He combined to play in 46 games in which he scored 16 goals while adding 49 assists.

In the team’s press release, La Forge indicated that the club would be opening up the lines of communication to see if Koster would commit to the WHL and Seattle.

With the move, returning goalie Liam Hughes will now take over the Seattle crease as the clear number one. Hughes was picked up by the Thunderbirds just prior to the start of last season and became the regular starter early in January. Hughes ended the year with a 16-12-5-1 record, 3.15 goals-against, and a .909 save-percentage.

The move also opens a spot for 17-year-old Cole Schwebius and rookie Eric Ward to vie for the backup spot this coming season.

Drafted by Seattle in the second round, and 37th overall, in the 2014 Bantam Draft, Stankowski is returning to his hometown of Calgary. The Hitmen missed the playoffs last season and were big sellers during the WHL’s wild trade deadline. If healthy, Stankowski should provide much needed goaltending help to the Hitmen after they allowed 276 goals last season, which was tied for third worst in the league.

The last game that Stankowski played at the accesso ShoWare Center was a 7-4 win over the Regina Pats in Game 5 of the WHL Championship Series on May 12th, 2017. Stankowski made 33 stops that night in front of a raucous crowd and helped put the club one win away from the title.

The Thunderbirds faithful have not seen him since but may get their chance on November 23rd when Calgary pays a visit to Kent to take on the Thunderbirds.