T-Birds Russ Farwell avoids blowing team up during crazy WHL Trade Deadline

Jan 10, 2018, 7:49 PM
Seattle held on to its veterans like Donovan Neuls during Wednesda's WHL Trade Deadline. (Brian Lie...
Seattle held on to its veterans like Donovan Neuls during Wednesda's WHL Trade Deadline. (Brian Liesse/T-Birds)
(Brian Liesse/T-Birds)

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.


Thunderbirds GM Bil La Forge has some moves to make this offseason. (Brian Liesse/T-Birds photo)...
Andy Eide

Thunderbirds GM Bil La Forge dishes on the upcoming offseason

Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge will make some moves this summer to improve his club. Will they be big ones?
2 years ago
Seattle’s Keltie Jeri-Leon celebrates his final WHL goal Sunday against Spokane. (Brian Liess...
Andy Eide

Thunderbirds end strange and hard season on a high note with dominating win over Spokane

The Seattle Thunderbirds dealt with a lot of adversity this season but end on a high note.
2 years ago
Keltie Jeri-Leon plays his final WHL game for the Thunderbirds Sunday night. (Brian Liesse)...
Andy Eide

Keltie Jeri-Leon set to play his final WHL game as Thunderbirds face Spokane Sunday

After five seasons, Seattle's lone over-aged player, Keltie Jeri-Leon will play his final junior game Sunday night.
2 years ago
Seattle rookie Scott Ratzlaff won his first WHL game in his first start. (Judy Simpson/TC Americans...
Andy Eide

Scott Ratzlaff earns first WHL win as Thunderbirds beat Tri-City

Behind a rookie goalie, the Thunderbirds kicked off the season's final weekend with a 5-2 win in Kennewick against the Tri-City Americans.
2 years ago
The Seattle Thunderbirds celebrate after snapping a six-game losing streak Sunday night. (Brian Lie...
Andy Eide

Thunderbirds enjoy winning again after snapping six-game losing streak

The Seattle Thunderbirds have been scuffling but battled against a good Portland Winterhawks club to snap a six-game losing streak.
2 years ago
Thunderbirds forward Reid Schaefer fights for position Sunday in Portland. (Megan Connelly/Winterha...
Andy Eide

Dealing with adversity, young Thunderbirds drop pair of games in Portland

Injuries and penalties have thrown a ton of adversity at the young Thunderbirds which showed up in a pair of losses at Portland this weekend.
2 years ago
T-Birds Russ Farwell avoids blowing team up during crazy WHL Trade Deadline