Evan Morden appeared to be in the perfect situation. The 20-year-old defenseman had locked up an overage spot with the Prince Albert, which is poised to contend for the Western Hockey League title, and he played a part in the Raiders’ flying start to the season.
But appearances aren’t always what they seem.
The former Everett Silvertip left the Raiders last week, reportedly to ponder his hockey future.
Morden, who played two seasons in Everett from 2010-12, was in his second season with the Raiders after being traded by Everett prior to last season. He had a solid 2012-13 campaign, and was pegged as one of Prince Albert’s three overagers this season as the Raiders look to be one of the league’s contenders. Morden appeared in Prince Albert’s first three games, recording an assist and a plus-3 rating.
However, Morden apparently wasn’t happy.
“He cited a lack of motivation to play at this level,” Raiders general manager Bruno Campese told the Prince Albert Daily Herald. “I think it’s something that has been brewing within him for a while, I think it came to a head that it was in his own best interest and really the best interest of the team.
“I think he hasn’t played to his potential, he knows it, we know it, we were wondering why and now we know why.”
The Raiders didn’t spend any time waiting for Morden to have a change of heart. Three days later, they replaced Morden by acquiring 20-year-old defenseman MacKenzie Johnston from Kelowna in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft.
Meanwhile, Morden has rejoined the Swan Valley Stampeders of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. He played for the Stampeders as a 16-year-old prior to joining the Tips in 2010.
Around the WHL
Medicine Hat found itself in an overager crunch when 20-year-old forward Jacob Doty was reassigned to the Tigers by the NHL’s St. Louis Blues. Medicine Hat alleviated the glut by sending 20-year-old forward Boston Leier to Regina in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. … Lethbridge was dealt a blow when Belarussian defenseman Kristian Khenkel was denied a transfer to North American by the International Ice Hockey Federation. Khenkel, an 18-year-old selected in the first round of this year’s Canadian Hockey League import draft, was ruled to have signed a professional contract with Yunost Minsk in Belarus when he was 14, and he will have to honor that contract through 2016. … Two WHLers signed entry-level contracts with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. Eighteen-year-old Prince Albert defenseman Josh Morrissey was Winnipeg’s first-round pick in this year’s NHL draft, while 18-year-old Lethbridge forward Axel Blomqvist was an undrafted free agent. … Kelowna’s Nick Merkley was named the WHL Player of the Week. The 16-year-old forward had four goals and two assists as the Rockets went 3-0.
Points—Mitch Holmberg (Spokane) 18; goals—Oliver Bjorkstrand (Portland) 9; assists—Henrik Samuelsson (Edmonton) 12; penalty minutes—Mitch Moroz (Edmonton) 29; wins—Cole Cheveldave (Prince Albert) 5; goals against average—Eric Williams (Spokane) 1.24; save percentage—Williams .949.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.