© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
Evan Morden has left the Prince Albert Raiders and returned home to Manitoba.
By Andrew Schopp
The sudden departure over the weekend of Prince Albert Raiders overage defenseman Evan Morden caught the organization off-guard, but they are in no rush to fill the roster’s now vacant overage player slot, said Raiders GM Bruno Campese.
In his second season with the Raiders, 20-year-old Morden played three games to start the campaign before sitting as a healthy scratch Saturday against the Brandon Wheat Kings at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Raiders announced Morden’s departure from the team Sunday.
“He cited a lack of motivation to play at this level,” Campese said Monday. “I think it’s something that has been brewing within him for awhile, I think it came to a head that it was in his own best interest and really the best interest of the team.”
A source told the Daily Herald that Morden will join his former club, the Swan Valley Stampeders of the Junior A-level Manitoba Junior Hockey League, but Stampeders coach/GM Erik Petersen said he heard Morden was back in town, but would not comment on whether or not the defenceman has joined the team.
In three games with the Raiders this season, Morden, of Thompson, Man., had a rating of plus-three, notching an assist in the season opener in Saskatoon.
“I think he hasn’t played to his potential, he knows it, we know it, we were wondering why and now we know why,” Campese said.
The Western League allows teams a maximum of three overage players; the Raiders now have two. With the current overage player market being as tight as it is, Campese said the organization has no intentions of filling the void left by Morden any time soon.
“We’ll sit tight,” he said. “We are comfortable with seven defencemen, there is no real rush to do anything at the moment, we like our younger guys and this gives them an opportunity to play.”
Rookie Mackenze Stewart, 18, dressed for the Raiders Saturday, replacing Morden who last season posted two goals, 10 assists in 66 games with the Raiders.
This is the second straight year the Raiders have lost an overage defenseman early in the season. Last year, Antoine Corbin left the team after two games to join the Montreal Canadien’s American Hockey League affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs on a tryout basis. When Corbin cracked the Bulldogs roster, the Raiders dealt a conditional pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft for Davis Vandane.
It takes time for the leagues player market to develop and become active. Campese said it takes a organization 15 to 20 games to get a sense of where a team is heading and what moves need to be made.
“Would we like to add another defenseman? Yeah. But that’s something we are going to be patient with and make sure it’s the right fit,” he said, “there is no reason to jump at anything at the moment.”