Checking in with T-Birds G.M. Russ Farwell
By Andrew Eide
As the Seattle Thunderbirds make their final preperations for the start of the 2012-2013 season they made a couple of roster moves yesterday. Probably the biggest and most notable moves were defenseman Brad Deagle and goaltender Danny Mumuagh being either released or re-assigned by the club. Seattle begins their season on Friday with the defending Western Conference champion Portland Winterhawks on the road.
General Manager Russ Farwell took the time Tuesday afternoon to talk to us about the roster and the upcoming season.
The 20 year-old situation had been one we were keeping an eye on. With goalie Brandon Glover taking one of the three spots the T-Birds had a three-way competition between Deagle, Luke Lockhart and Brendan Rouse for the remaining two. In the end Deagle was let go, something Farwell said had more to do with the team’s depth at forward and less to do with Deagle’s play.
“I think the defense, with Forsberg’s addition and the steps our younger guys have taken we felt we had enough depth there to start,
” Farwell says. “We thought we were a stronger team keeping the two forwards up front. We like the look of our make up there, I think we will have three lines that can score and four lines that can contribute so we just felt we were a better team that way”.
Despite making a decision based on the team’s need, saying good bye to a player like Deagle is never easy.
“It was a hard decision because Brad was a popluar guy on our team,” Farwell said of the 20 year-old. “He’s a real character guy, a real great teammate, it was a hard decision for our coaches to make for sure. When a guy is like that ,he’s done everything you’ve asked him to do and he’s worked hard, it makes that a hard decision. That same decision was being made on probably 15 of the 22 teams in the league.”
Jesse Forsberg (pictured) now will be taking over as the vetren leader of the T-Birds defense. So far in training camp he seems to be up for the challenge as he has played a tough, physical and steady game. Farwell likes what they have seen in their new defenseman.
“He’s come in as billed, perhaps even a better player,” Farwell said. “He’s an older guy with experience, he plays with confidence and also plays a physical game that really helps our defense make sure of themselves. He keeps the other team looking around a bit and that has been a good example for the younger guys. I can see Wardley start to do it already and the two guys together are going to be effective, and it sets a good standard for our young guys going forward. I think from a depth and talent standpoint he adds quite a bit and is turning out to be a great trade for us”.
The other competition in camp was for the back up goaltending position. Brandon Glover is going to be the number one goalie which left Daniel Cotton, Justin Myles and Danny Mumaugh battling it out for the back up position. The team sent Mumaugh home on Monday leaving both Cotton and Myels left on the roster. A further decision still is to be made as Farwell does not see the team carrying two back ups for very long. Despite sending him home, Farwell and the club were impressed with Mumuagh.
“Danny played well, he just hadn’t put enough distance between himself and the others,” Farwell said about the 16 year-old from Colorado. “It’s really hard for a 16 year-old goalie to play in this league and second to that, if he’s not going to play a lot it’s a developmental year that’s really better spent playing. We like Danny Mumuagh and I think he’s going to be a goalie for the thunderbirds in the future, we just would rather see him play and be back here next year pushing to be on the team.”
Two key additions to the T-Birds roster this year came from the CHL Import draft. Roberts Lipsbergs and Alex Delnov have both adjusted to the North American style of play. Farwell likes their make up so far.
“Delnov played a couple years in Detroit, in midget and so I think that transistion along with Florida’s development camp have allowed him to make the jump,” Farwell says. “I actually think Lipsbergs style is North American. He still has ome experience and nuances around the boards to pick up, as its not as important in Europe but his individual style is kind of a grinding, get dirty in the middle of the rink and in front of the net, I actually think he’s going to have a really good year for us”
The T-Birds have other returning players that Farwell thinks will be in for bigger years this season. Brendan Troock is one of those guys.
“Troocker has a pro body, he just has a skill set that I think is going to allow him to challenge to be a plyer in the NHL,” Farwell said. “He’s got that great jump, resliance and he’s really strong. He could be a real big player, at 18 he’s much stronger and he’s going to be hard to handle and he can really shoot the puck. As he gains confidence he could have a big year”
Another player with a strong preseason, as well as a strong finish to last year, is Seth Swenson.
“Swenson has come in good shape, Steve laid out his expectation at the end of last year, he’s come back in shape, I think he’s a focused guy, he has a natural scoring touch, and we’re looking for him and guys like Connor Honey to step in and give us some scoring this year,” Farwell says.
With the season a few days away, it’s no surprise that Farwell thinks the progression of the defense will be key to the team’s success this year.
“Our young defense has to measure up, we have to do it with strength in numbers,” he said about the blue line. “I like the potential of the guys in that group. I like the way Smith has stepped up the way he has, both Theo and Huaf have taken steps. We have to play hard as a team and that’s the biggest proving ground that has to be proven. I think Glover’s going to be good and I do think we will have a balanced attack. I think a guy like Sheen also gives us more skill up front and a puck handling guy who can get teh puck down the ice and that was a big addition.”
Farwell also mentioned that he tried to shop Deagle around the league once they had made their decision to try and find a place for him to play but could not find any takers. For now the T-Birds appear to be done making moves and Farwell says that as the season progresses they will evaluate their play and their standing before looking to make any deadline deals.
Seattle also released Braydon Low from the roster on Monday.
Seattle’s first home game is this Saturday against Portland at the ShoWare Center.
Follow Andrew on twitter @andyeide
photo courtesy Seattle Thunderbirds