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Seattle Signs Matthew Wedman

Today, Seattle announced the signing of Matthew Wedman to a standard player agreement. He played last season for the South Side Athletic Club.

Wedman was a 2nd round selection in the 2014 Bantam Draft and getting a player signed this early is a tad unusual but it is also a great sign that he is committed to playing in Seattle and that the Thunderbirds feel he has a good shot to be a part of the team next year as a 16 year old.

Wedman is the brother of Cole and Dan. Cole played for Spokane and Dan is a Cornell commit.

Russ Farwell described Wedman as a Center and even though most kids play Center at some point in their youth, this seems to be an indication that they see him eventually playing there for Seattle.


Prospect and Development camps

Most NHL teams have developmental camps where they bring in their newly drafted players, other players in their system, and some younger free agent players to get to know them better.

Here is a list that we compiled of Thunderbirds who have been invited to camps. 

  • Shea Theodore - Anaheim
  • Branden Troock - Dallas
  • Justin Hickman - Winnipeg
  • Evan Wardley - Montreal
  • Jared Hauf - Winnipeg
  • Taran Kozun - Washington
  • Dylan Gambrell (prospect) - Brooklyn Islanders

If you see any others, please let us know, and we will add them to this list


CHL Import Draft

Seattle's first selection this morning is a 17 (technically he's still 16 and his birthday is on the 17th of July) year old Center from Denmark named Alexander True. True is listed at 6'3" (Surprise! a big guy... never saw that coming) and 179 lbs. So he's tall with a frame that probably needs to fill out. He played in several places last year, playing 16 games for Rungsted U17 and posting 62 points in 16 games. He then also played for Rungsted's IK team in the Denmark 2 league for 25 games and with the big club for 11 games.

Here is a video profile on him from Hockey's Future.

True is a cousin to the recently drafted Nikolaj Ehlers, who went 9th overall to the Winnipeg Jets.

Have fun trying to search for much on this guy... I can't find much of anything.

As usual... with a bigger guy. I really want to see how he skates. Too many big guys can't skate and this is a league where you have to be able to skate.

Seattle's second selection this morning is another 17 year old. This time it is Florian Baltram from Austria.

Baltram is a smaller player at 5'10" and 170lbs (nearly the same weight at True) and is listed as a LW.

Playing 42 games for the U20 Lower Austria Stars Club (which appears to be a part of the Okanagan Hockey Academy) he posted 17 goals and 24 assists and a +16 rating last season.

Collection of videos here and I believe he is wearing #89 (that would be sweet if he wore that here).

He played for Austria's U18 team at the WJC-18's (In a lower group with Hungary, Japan, Ukraine, Poland and Slovenia) and had 2 points in 5 games.


2014-15 Schedule Released

The basics.

Seattle has exactly 36 home games, and 36 road games.  Amazing how that works out.
Seattle plays Portland 12 times, Everett 10 times, Tri Cities 8 times, and Spokane 10 times.
The schedule is very even across the board, with each month having 10 to 13 games.
They have 17 home games before Christmas, and 16 away games.
February is the month of homes games, with 9.
While January is the month of road games with only 9 road games.
There are 8 Tuesday night games, so one would assume Two for Tuesday is back.

Confirming what we already knew, Seattle opens in Portland, and gets the fun time of watching them raise their Western Conference Championship banner.
The home opener is September 20th, against Everett.

What is very unusual, is that Seattle plays IN Portland 3 times in the opening month. It could be good to get those out of the way while Portland has some guys away at camps, and a new head coach.

Seattle and Spokane will be really sick of each other during the first part of the season, as they play 4 times in October, and 2 more in November.

After taking a year off, Seattle once again returns to Portland for New Years eve.

The Eastern Swing takes Seattle on the road the first part of November, from the 7th to the 16th, with only 1 week night game.  Long time on the prairie for 6 games.

Back to Back to Back

Seattle plays 5 - 3 in 3's,  and 4 times they will play 4 games in 5 days.
Seattle has 5 home and home series', 2 with Everett, and one each with Tri, Spokane, and Vancouver.

Longest streaks

The longest homestand is a huge 6 games in February.  The longest road trip is the eastern swing at 6 games.  Otherwise, Seattle plays 4 road games in Spokane, Followed by Kamloops, and PG twice at the end of January.

Some unusual games

Seattle gets a very rare Thursday night at home, the day before Halloween.
The last day of the eastern road swing has a 2pm start.
Seattle has two games in Vancouver, both with 2pm starts.


The schedule is way too balanced for my liking.  From January 28th to the end of the season, Seattle plays 25 games, only 10 of those games are against US Division opponents.  9 home games in February sounds great, but then you learn that is one more then you have in the entire months of January and March together.


T-Birds sign Sahvan Khaira

Seattle just announced the signing of Sahvan Khaira.

Khaira's brother Jujhar played for Everett last year.

Khaira is a big kid and everyone, including myself, liked what they saw out of him at training camp last year. This is a pretty good get for the Tbirds after they were shunned by Dante Fabbro. Khaira will essentially get the opportunity that Fabbro would have been given for minutes this year.

Khaira had 2 goals and 20 assists for the Okanagan Hockey Academy last year.

Edit: I just realized that this is the 1000th post that we've had on Let's Go Birds. I cannot believe I (and Jon) have hit the Publish button 1000 times on this thing. Thanks to everyone who reads us.


Seattle opens in Portland Friday September 19th

Portland has said their home opener is against Seattle on Friday September 19th.
On a note, my birthday is September 16th, so if anyone goes to the game with me, please buy me a beer while they raise their banner.


Home opener announced

The Birds just announced that the home opener will be Saturday, September 20, against the Everett Silvertips.  Now we all have something to put on our calendars and look forward to.

According to my calculations, that is in 102 days.
It also comes exactly 175 days after the TBirds won game 5 over Everett in their first ever playoff series.

I was going to come up with a big analysis of how huge this game will be, but even I can't be that sarcastic right now.


Fabbro chooses Penticton, for now. Why that might be ok for Seattle but not for him.

The Penticton Vees just announced that they have signed Seattle's 1st round pick Dante Fabbro for the upcoming 2014-15 season.

This, of course, is unfortunate news for Seattle fans but it isn't necessarily the end of the world. Fabbro could still wind up in Seattle in the same way that Ryan Gropp did who bailed on Penticton after one season and 10 games and came to Seattle for 59 games this year and registered a very respectable 42 points.

For Seattle, this could turn out just fine. Their defensive core will be pretty deep in the 14-15 season and even though Fabbro would have likely slotted into a top 6 role as a 16 year old, he may not have seen the kind of ice time that he may see playing for Pentiction (although that remains to be seen). If he winds up coming to Seattle for his 17 year old season, Shea Theodore will be gone and it would be uncertain whether Jarret Smith and/or Jared Hauf would still be around as 20 year olds.

However, the situation isn't exactly the same for Fabbro and I'm afraid he may have just made a costly career mistake.  I understand that there are players these days (parents in particular) that want to keep the college route open as an option but I've been pretty consistent with my opinion that it just doesn't make any sense for high draft picks. If you are a 7th round bantam choice and you have no guarantees of even making a WHL club, keep your options open and go hit Junior "A". Hit the weight room, grow another 2-6" and you can always jump to the WHL or accept a college scholarship and go that route. I have no problem with NCAA College hockey but it makes a lot more sense for late developing hockey players.

Two things make his situation very different from that of Ryan Gropp's.

In the case of Gropp, he had a late birthday and isn't eligible for the NHL draft until 2015. He played half of his 17 year old season and will play all of his 18 year old season before he will get drafted. His year in Penticton seemed to stall his growth and it took him a natural adjustment period to get acclimated to the higher quality WHL game.

Even if Fabbro comes to Seattle next season he will likely have to endure the same adjustment period that a player like Gropp went through (and most players). Fabbro will have to make the league adjustment very quickly and thrive in only one year before becoming draft eligible. Impossible? No. Difficult? Yes.

Yes, I realize players can go to Junior "A" and still wind up being high draft picks. In the 2013 draft, 22 of the 30 1st round picks were from the CHL. In the 2nd round, 19 of 31 (and in full disclosure, more NCAA and lower level league picks). 7 players were drafted out of the BCHL with the highest being Adam Tambellini towards the front of the 3rd round. Tambellini, of course, wound up in the WHL this year after leaving the University of North Dakota after playing in 16 games.

Again, if I was an undersized and a lower drafted player out of Bantam's I would absolutely consider the Junior "A" and NCAA route but if I'm a high pick who has the potential to be one of the top picks in the 2016 NHL Draft, I'm going to the WHL as soon as I possibly can and I wouldn't even consider any other route.

I hope it works out for him and I hope he winds up in Seattle. Who knows... perhaps he dominates in Penticton, raises his draft stock and keeps it there either in Seattle or Penticton. I just think the risk is massive.


Bantam Draft 2014 Updates

I will update this throughout the day as the picks happen.

Seattle kicked off their 2014 Bantam Draft by selecting Defenseman Jarret Tyszka from Langley, BC.

I can't say I'm terribly surprised. Seattle has a well documented history of drafting players with "size" and Tyszka certainly fits that mold at 6'1" and 165 lbs.

Also not surprising that Portland selected a 5'9" 138 lb Center.

A few links on the newest Tbird Tyszka.

- Follow him on twitter - @JarretTyszka_11
- Recently won Defenseman of the tournament at the Kamloops International Bantam Tournament - Link
- Colin Alexander describes him "Jarret is a big, mobile defenseman with a very nice combination of size and mobility. He has a physical presence on the ice, with strong offensive skills who could develop into a good two-way defenseman."
- Tyszka posted 27 goals and 47 assists in 68 (or 28... not sure) games with the Langley Eagles Bantam A1 team this past season.
- Some video of Tyszka scoring an overtime winner.
- Western Elite Hockey had him ranked 21st overall on their list.

In the 2nd round, Seattle selected LW Matthew Wedman from Edmonton. Wedman is 6'0" and 165.

- Follow him on twitter - @m_weds
- 33 goals and 40 assists for the SSAC Lions AAA team in 33 games this past year.
- Russ Farwell on Wedman "Matthew is a big, physical forward with good offensive skills and was a prolific scorer in Alberta Major Bantam League."
- Mid-Season Second Team Alberta All-Star by Western Elite.

In the 5th round Seattle selects Wyatt Bear (@14_wyatt) and Ian Briscoe (@BriscoeIan)

- Bear is another player with size at 6'2" and 207 lbs. Briscoe is smaller at 5'8" and 141
- Elite Prospect profiles for Bear and Briscoe
- Colin Alexander on Wyatt Bear "Wyatt is a big power forward with top end skill and hockey sense."
- Mark Romas on Ian Briscoe "Ian is a very skilled, speedy forward who is always engaged in the play. He is a very competitive player."

In the 6th round Seattle goes back to the pipeline in Colorado and selects Baker Shore (da_bakeshow), 5'7" and 160 lbs and played for the Colorado Thunderbirds last season.

- Has 3 brothers who have been NHL drafted including Drew Shore who played 24 games for the Panthers this past season.
-  Nick Shore played for the Manchester Monarchs and Quentin Shore played in college for the Denver Pioneers.

In the 7th round Seattle selects MacKenzie Wight (@mackwight91), a RW from Burnaby who played for the Burnaby Winter Club (same team as Barzal and Fabbro). He is listed at 5'11" and 165 lbs.

8th round... where I start to care less and less... Seattle selects Reece Harsch (@HarschReece) a Defenseman from Grande Prairie, AB and is listed at 6'2" and 180 lbs.

9th round... John Ormsby (can't confirm) and Reginald Pohl (@regpohl16 and only 3 followers).

- Ormsby, a Forward is out of California and listed at 5'9.5" and 150 lbs. Edit: The WHL website lists him as being from California but he is actually from Monroe per Nick Patterson.
- Pohl is a RW is from Douglas, MB and listed at 6'1.5" and 186 lbs.

10th round and Seattle is still going... selecting Hunter Bancroft (@hbancroft30) from Greeley, CO and playing for... you guessed it... the Colorado Thunderbirds (shocker I know). Listed at 5'11" and 160 lbs.

Round 11 and Seattle has passed and ended their 2014 Bantam Draft. Whew.


Short interview with Russ Farwell (part one)

Last week, I came up with some questions for GM Farwell that were not about this last season, but about looking forward.  He returned the following answers (in red).  I appreciate the time and fast turn around he gave on these.

I will post the questions in a couple parts as the relate to events coming up in the off season.

20 year old situation

Is it fair to assume that all 19's get moved to the overage list, therefore freeing up space on the 50 man list? RF: Yes that is how the new spots are created for the bantam draft.

Does this include both Euro's also? 
RF: Yes imports need to be added to the regular list when drafted.

It seems more and more recently, teams that have had extra 20's have tried to move them during the offseason.  Do you think you’ll actively seek to move some of these 20 year old players earlier in the offseason? 
RF: Our (extra) 20s are a bit more complicated.  Troock is signed; Hickman just finished in the AHL so has to be treated as a legitimate possible to play there; and Honey is an unknown due to health so until those guys are settled it is hard to make decisions regarding our other 20 year olds.

With Maxwell announcing his intention of forgoing his overage season, do you have the ability to place him on some kind of different list to retain his rights, just in case he decides to come back? 
RF: No

Bantam draft

Assuming all the 19's and Euros get moved to a 20 year old list, that leaves a lot of space for the draft, and you have 9 draft picks, do you plan on picking into the 10th round? 
RF: We will pick as long as we like players but probably will leave a spot or two open for later on.

I have read this draft is not as strong as years past (maybe not as deep is a better term), any thoughts on that? 
RF: Probably not as strong as some.

With what appears as possibly a very strong 16 year old defensive core coming in (with the hopeful signing of Fabbro, Khaira, Osterman, etc), will the team be leaning more towards forwards? 
RF: We will see.

Seattle has no 3rd or 4th round picks in the draft, does this effect the direction you take with the first two picks? 
RF: No we will pick the two best players we can and hope we can make up for our holes with our two picks in the 5th.  we will not be trying to trade up to fill those holes.

Last season, you drafted a 19 year old goaltender, this seemed very unusual.  With no 19 year old forwards, is it possible you would do that again with one of the late picks to fill that role?
RF: Possible but unlikely. There are few players able to play in the WHL that are unprotected.

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