Physical defenceman acquired from Medicine Hat
It didn’t take long away from the game for Spenser Jensen to know he wanted to play hockey again.
© submitted photograph
Friday the Moose Jaw Warriors offered him a fresh start.
The Warriors acquired the 18-year-old defenceman from the Medicine Hat Tigers in exchange for third and sixth round picks in 2014 and a conditional sixth round pick in 2016.
Jensen has a goal and 19 points in 138 career games with the Tigers. He left the team on Dec. 15 and went home to Airdrie, Alta and weighed his options going forward.
“I wasn’t really sure what I wanted,” said Jensen. “Once I got home I had time to think and re-evaluate everything. I’m looking forward to going to a new team and starting fresh.”
Jensen, a six-foot-four, 192-pound stay-at-home defenceman was ranked 76th amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting last year. He also attended the draft combine, but wasn’t selected in the draft.
When St. Louis second round pick Tommy Vannelli left the University of Minnesota and joined the Tigers defence in the fall, Jensen’s role was suddenly not as large as expected heading into the season.
“I felt it wasn’t working out for me there between playing time and on-ice things like that. I didn’t have any problems off-ice. I loved my teammates and my friends there, I just felt like it wasn’t the best place for me to develop as a hockey player,” said Jensen who attended the San Jose Sharks rookie camp in the fall.
“We played Moose Jaw in the playoffs a couple of years ago and they had a really good fan base and it seems like a fun place to play hockey.”
The Warriors are excited about adding Jensen and aren’t worried at all about how he departed the Tigers.
“We did our homework. We had good conversations with (general manager/head coach) Shaun Clouston in Medicine Hat about the situation,” said Warriors general manager Alan Millar. “There was a lot of dialogue (with his agent) and we feel we have a good understanding of the situation. Sometimes young guys need a fresh opportunity. It’s something that happens in the game and has been a little bit prevalent in the league in the last couple of months.
“You’re not able to land a player like Jensen unless he is looking for a new opportunity. It’s similar to Brandon landing (defenceman Ryan) Pilon. He wouldn’t have been available unless the circumstances were what they were.”
Jensen, the 14th overall pick in 2010 WHL bantam draft, adds size to the Warriors defence and he adds depth to their group of 1995-born players.
“I like his size, I like his reach. He plays the game smart defensively. He’s able to be effective on the penalty kill. He’s big, solid, stay-at-home defenceman,” said Millar. “In terms of his age and his size it fits with the makeup of our team down the road.”
After two years of making trades to fill their 20-year-old spots, Millar said he is hoping to have three in-house players ready to step in to fill the overage slots moving forward. Jensen adds to those options.
He also adds size to their young forward group. Dallas Valentine is still maturing physically, but he and Jensen will compliment their young mobile defencemen like Alexey Sleptsov and Reid Zalitach, in addition to prospect Ryan Gardiner who just played for Team West at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Jensen will join the team in Calgary Saturday. Given his time off, his Warriors debut may not happen until the team returns home.
“It’s harder to find ice than you’d think,” said Jensen who has primarily been practicing with a Junior B team in Airdrie. “It is hard to stay on the skates when you don’t have a team to go to. I’ve been trying to work out a lot and things like that.”
The Warriors currently have nine defencemen and they will keep them all on the roster until more trades are made or after the trade deadline passes on Jan. 10.