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T-Birds acquire 18-year-old defenseman Schaufler from Kootenay

Loeden Schaufler will provide the T-Birds with additional defensive depth (Kootenay ICE photo)

On Monday, the Thunderbirds announced that they had made a move to shore up their blue line, adding 18-year-old defenseman Loeden Schaufler from the Kootenay ICE, as well as a ninth-round pick in the 2019 Bantam Draft and future conditional compensation in exchange for 2001-born forward Eric Fawkes.

Schaufler becomes Seattle’s third 2000-born defenseman, joining Owen Williams and Payton McIsaac.

The T-Birds are currently dealing with injuries to their two most experienced defenseman in Jarret Tyszka and Reece Harsch. Tyszka was injured while attending Development Camp with the Montreal Canadiens and Harsch was hurt last weekend after taking a high hit from Everett Silvertips forward Sean Richards that resulted in a five-game suspension.

It is unknown at this point when either will return.

In addition to those two injuries, Seattle will be without another defenseman, Cade McNelly, for one more game as he finishes serving out the final game of his three-game suspension for a one-man fight against the Portland Winterhawks on September 29.

“The injuries to Harsch and Tyszka obviously test our depth and this acquisition should alleviate that to some degree,” said T-Birds general manager Bil La Forge. “I was also impressed with (Luke) Bateman in his limited minutes.”

“I feel that defense is a position where you can never have too many quality players. The only update I have on our D is that McNelly will be back after next game and that Tyszka and Harsch will be back when they are one hundred percent healthy and they are not there yet. They are both doing what they need to do to be back in a timely manner. “

Fawkes attended two training camps with the Thunderbirds as a 15- and 16-year-old and was impressive, but had yet to sign with the team. This year, as a 17-year-old, he was absent from training camp, giving the impression that he and the T-Birds did not figure into each other’s future plans.

Schaufler has 37 WHL games under his belt and has registered six assists. He had played in one game with Kootenay this season, registering no points.

“We are getting an experienced WHL defender who is a solid skater and has the ability to transition the puck,” La Forge said when describing Schaufler as a player. “He is also a very solid team guy from all accounts.”