The opportunity to add a player with enticing physical qualities in return for a bantam draft pick three years down the road was too good to pass up.
And so it was that Red Deer Rebels general manager/head coach Brent Sutter acquired six-foot-four defenceman Spencer Morse from the Moose Jaw Warriors Tuesday. The price was a conditional selection in the 2016 bantam draft.
“The pick will be based on if he’s on our roster by a certain date,” Sutter said Wednesday.
There’s little doubt that the Rebels boss expects the 18-year-old Calgary native to be on the Red Deer roster when the 2013-14 Western Hockey League season opens next month. Morse brings what Sutter feels he might be short of on his blueline, plus he’s in an age group that at the current time includes just Kayle Doetzel.
“We’re lacking in defencemen of that age,” said Sutter. “That’s one thing, and the other thing I’m concerned with is the (lack of) toughness and physicality on our back end.
“This was an opportunity to add someone who’s six-four and 205 to 210 pounds with a mean streak. There’s nothing flashy in his game. He makes a good first pass but he’s not going to put up good offensive numbers. But he’s a guy who maybe we can develop into a shutdown D-man and give us some toughness and some aggressiveness back there.
“We won’t give up the conditional pick until 2016, a long way off. So why not make this deal? That’s the way I looked at it.”
Morse played in 46 games with the Warriors as a WHL rookie last season, scoring once, adding four assists and ringing up 90 minutes in penalties. He was a second-round pick of the Warriors in the 2010 WHL bantam draft and played with the Okanagan Hockey Academy midget team in 2011-12.
While he was rounding into a regular on the Warriors blueline, Morse had some off-ice issues last winter which eventually spelled the end of his time in Moose Jaw.
“Moose Jaw decided they wanted to move him and I understand why he had to leave,” said Sutter. “That being said, I’m not one to give up on anyone, especially a kid 18 years of age. I really want to give him a chance here.
“I’m willing to give him a second opportunity. Outside of some of that (off-ice) stuff he would have been a regular player for them (Warriors). It’s a chance well worth taking.”
If Morse decides he wants to pursue a career in the game, he’ll be a model citizen in Red Deer.
“I talked to him on the phone yesterday and he was great. At least he said all the right things,” said Sutter. “He said he wants a fresh start and he’s ready to come in here and bear down with it and get busy. He told me he wouldn’t let me down. Now it’s up to him.”
l Rebels training camp opens Saturday at the Centrium with a rookie session from 7:30 to 9 p.m. and culminates next Thursday with the Black and White intrasquad game. Defenceman/forward Cody Thiel, 20, won’t be back after spending the last two seasons with the Rebels. He was placed on waivers last month and was claimed by the Portland Winter Hawks. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings signed head coach Derek Laxdal to a two-year contract extension Wednesday. The deal runs through the 2015-16 season.