By Greg Meachem
Red Deer Advocate
Spencer Morse came to the Red Deer Rebels with a somewhat checkered past, but also as a defenceman with size and toughness — two qualities GM/head coach Brent Sutter was eager to add to his back end.
On Tuesday, Morse was reduced to a player without a team.
Sutter released the 18-year-old after placing him on the trade wire and finding no takers.
The move leaves the Rebels with a 29-man roster as they prepare for their final two exhibition games, including a Saturday night date with the Medicine Hat Tigers at the Stettler Recreation Centre.
“I knew when we acquired him (from the Moose Jaw Warriors on Aug. 20) that he didn’t play a lot last year,” Sutter said.
“I wanted to give him an opportunity here and I’m still a believer in giving a kid a second chance if I think there might be something there. But with our group, there are eight guys ahead of him right now and that’s not including Matty (Dumba, currently with the Minnesota Wild).
“The right thing to do for the player was to give him an opportunity to go somewhere else. We put him on the wire and there was no interest, so maybe he needs to play a year of junior A and we can keep tabs on him and see how he does.”
Sutter said he wouldn’t be opposed to bringing Morse back to camp next year in the event that he does improve his game and goes unclaimed by other WHL teams.
According to the Rebels boss, Morse wasn’t shocked that he was cut loose.
The six-foot-four, 200-pound rearguard was sent home by the Warriors last winter due to off-ice problems, but was a model citizen during his brief time in Red Deer.
In the end, his lack of mobility likely determined his fate with the Rebels.
“He understood the move in the sense that he knew he didn’t play much last year (46 games),” said Sutter.
“He’s a pretty smart guy. He could see that he was in trouble, that it would be difficult for him to be a regular player here. He knew it wouldn’t do him any good to be a No. 9 guy.”
Sutter might make more moves following the club’s final two pre-season games this weekend — Friday at Lacombe versus the Edmonton Oil Kings and Saturday in Stettler against the Medicine Hat Tigers — although he insisted he’s not in any rush to shuffle his roster.
“You really don’t have to make decisions on your roster until Oct. 10,” he said. “We want to give some of these guys a longer look and let them sort things out.
“I don’t know if everyone will get an opportunity to play in a game this weekend, we just want to make sure we play well and have a good weekend. We’ll see what it’s like with our lineup night to night.”
• The acquisition of Morse, selected by the Warriors in the second round of the 2010 WHL bantam draft, cost the Rebels a 10th-round pick in the 2016 draft. Winger Rhyse Dieno, one of five Rebels players attending NHL camps, was scheduled to arrive back in Red Deer Tuesday after playing with the Minnesota Wild prospects in a tournament at Traverse City, Mich. Sutter expects defenceman Kayle Doetzel (Nashville Predators) back within the next two days and is unsure of the status of goaltender Patrik Bartosak (Los Angeles Kings) and forward Lukas Sutter (Winnipeg Jets), although he expects both will return to the Rebels prior to the club’s regular season opener Sept. 20 vs. the Kootenay Ice at Cranbrook. Dumba is expected to open the NHL season in Minnesota and might not be returned to Red Deer until late October or November, if at all.