Lund trade helps clarify 20-year-old situation
By Tim Pigulski
The Thunderbirds announced a trade today, sending 20-year-old left wing Chance Lund to the Swift Current Broncos in exchange for a 6th round 2013 Bantam Draft choice.
While a 6th round choice isn’t much, the important thing to note in this situation is that the T-Birds have made their 20-year-old situation a bit clearer. The team now stands with four players in their final year of eligibility: G Brandon Glover, D Brad Deagle, C Brendan Rouse, and C Luke Lockhart. One more player will still have to go for the T-Birds to reach the required maximum of three 20-year-olds.
It comes as no surprise that Lund was going to be one of the odd men out in this situation. In approximately four seasons in Seattle, he was never able to average more than half a point per game and, after carrying the team at the beginning of last season, saw his play return to its usual sub-mediocrity. Additionally, despite having great size at 6’5″, 223 pounds, Lund never really embraced the physical aspects of the game, as his low penalty minutes will attest to. He did drop the gloves occasionally and would sometimes find himself using his body to his advantage in the corners and in front of the net, but his play was too inconsistent to warrant giving him one of the valuable 20-year-old spots.
The additions in the offseason of wingers Alexander Delnov, Riley Sheen, Roberts Lipsbergs (who is currently listed on the roster as a left wing), and Michal Holub, who looks like he could make the team as a 16-year-old, made Lund even more expendable. The T-Birds were much weaker up the middle where the rest of their 20-year-olds play.
Although not much is usually expected out of such a late draft pick, keep in mind that both D Evan Wardley and forward Tyler Alos were recent 6th round draft picks. While Alos has also underachieved significantly, Wardley looks to be an important part of the T-Birds’ defensive plans. Although Lund probably possesses more talent than most 6th round draft picks would, Farwell’s hands were tied and other teams knew it.
So what does that mean for the rest of the T-Birds’ 20-year-olds?
G Brandon Glover: Glover is essentially assured one of the team’s three 20-year-old spots. After him, the team is very thin on netminders with game experience, making his presence even more valuable. He’ll be counted on to mentor whoever his backup is in addition to playing a solid and consistent game.
D Brad Deagle: The acquisition of fellow defenseman Jesse Forsberg does not make Deagle expendable, as some have asserted. As it stands, along with Forsberg, Deagle will be the only over aged defenseman on the team. With young up-and-comers such as Shea Theodore, Jared Hauf, and Wardley, his experience and presence will be vital on the back end. Deagle put up decent offensive numbers last season (3 goals, 18 assists) and his -14 plus/minus rating looks pretty impressive when compared to some of the other players on the team. He’ll certainly find himself in the top four defenseman and is very likely to make the roster.
C Brendan Rouse: I’d be very surprised if the 20-year-old situation didn’t boil down to either Rouse or Lockhart making the team. Neither are incredibly talented offensively, but both play a solid two-way game and contribute important minutes on the penalty kill. Last season Rouse put up 22 points in 48 games on five goals and 17 assists – better numbers than he put up in any previous years (he had more points both years prior, but played in many more games those years as well).
Rouse also developed some great chemistry at the end of last season with fellow linemates Connor Honey and Branden Troock. If he does make the team, which I believe he will, Rouse will almost certainly be the top line center.
C Luke Lockhart: The incumbent captain, Lockhart plays an inspired game and gives one hundred percent on every shift. However, after a hot start to the 2010-11 season in which he was averaging nearly a point per game, Lockhart’s play has dropped off significantly. His plus/minus tanked to -37 last season and he put up 11 fewer points than he had the season before. A very durable player (he only missed 17 games over the past four seasons), Lockhart’s leadership would be significantly missed. However, that may not be enough to convince the front office that he should make the team over Rouse.
Ultimately, Rouse’s chemistry with two of the team’s top wings gives him the leg up in what appears to be a two-person competition for the final 20-year-old spot. However, it’s a very close race at this point, as neither really stood out above the other during training camp. It could come down to whomever Farwell can get more in return for and we may not see a decision made until days before the regular season begins.
Follow Tim on Twitter @tpigulski.