Friday, June 29, 2018

Eastern Conference 2017/2018 Standings

This is really late. I forgot about making this post., but finally finnished it.

Anedoctal Standings
I've always wanted to do a set of rankings where direction, long-term vision and strategic thinking with a consideration to performance. While this format isn't perfect (and I came up with Ideas halfway though), I"ll make adjustments for next years rankings.

Let me know your thoughts if this is something of interest to do again next season.

Overall Standings
1. Swift Current 17.5/20
2. Brandon 17/20
3. Lethbridge 16/20
4. Medicine Hat 13/20
5. Calgary 11/20
6. Moose Jaw 11/20
7. Red Deer 11/20
8.  Prince Albert 11/20
9. Kootenay 10.5/20
10. Saskatoon 9/20
11. Edmonton 6/20
12. Regina 5.5/20

Ranking Guidelines

Regular Season Performance = 4 Points
Playoff Performance-Based Upon Expectations = 4 Points
Directional Decisions 12 Points
Total 20 Points

I'll let my comments on each team describe these rankings in more detail.


Moose Jaw Warriors
Pre-Season Expectations
Coming into the season they possessed a very strong top 6 and great overall depth up front. Their defensive group had some young guys with great potential, but their veteran experience was relatively shallow. They seemed to have solid goaltending, despite losing Zach Zawchenko to University hockey.

They were the pre-season favorites as they added 2 huge Import blueliners on the back-end to shore up their blueline.


Season Happenings
During the season they lived up to their pre-season expectations. They weren't challenged much, but they still made a bundle of moves to try and strengthen their roster. Early in the season, they were beating teams pretty consistently. Towards the end of the season, they were going through some minor injuries and suspensions and they weren't on the top of their game.  They finished the season winning only 2 of 6 contests.

They ended up Taking out Prince Albert in 7 games in round one.  In Round 2 they lost at Home to Swift Current and the eventual WHL Champions in 7 games.


Lineup Tinkering
With the East being very strong and Swift Current making massive additions to their hockey team, Moose Jaw didn't shy away from trying to tinker with their lineup. Sometimes tinkering helps, other times it deflates the chemistry.

If we look back two playoffs ago in 2017, Swift Current made some deadline deals as they were likely to face MJ in the first round, while MJ stayed status quo. Swift ended up beating MJ in the first round of those playoffs. This marks the 2nd year in a row where Swift "Came from Behind" to beat out MJ in the playoffs.

In November MJ added experience, depth, size, and toughness with Barrett Sheen and Vince Loschiavo.  They also made a curious move trading away 19yr old and 4th round NHL draft pick Noah Gregor for 18-year-old Ryan Peckford.  In any other year I like this deal as you get an extra playing year from a potential PPG forward; however, in a championship type year, It's a bad move.

Moose Jaw also went out and upgraded their defense acquiring Stay at home Dman Brandon Schuldhaus and 2-way offensive Dman Kale Clague to counter Swift Current and Regina's massive trade acquisitions.

Their division was a "death division" as there were 2 elite teams, and 2 above average teams. They would likely all face each other with only 1 winner emerging into the 3rd round.


The deals ended up costing them:
Future PPG player in Luka Burzan
Chase Hartje
1st Rnd 19
1st Rnd 2021
2nd Rnd 2018, 2019, 2020

So not only did they tinker with a strong team, they spent quite a few assets in doing so. Hindsight is 20/20, but they could have ended up in the same place with no trades made and way more assets in the cupboard. For that reason, they will lose some points.

My Pre-Season Prediction
Goals For: 293
Actual: 326
Difference: 35 goals

I had them as a top team in my Eastern Conference Preview, so I feel my pre-season predictions were fairly close!

Standings Rating
Regular Season 4/4
Playoffs 2/4
Trades &  Moves 5/12
Score: 11/20

Having the best team in the regular season isn't easy and deserves something for getting there.  I cannot rate them higher because they spent a ton of assets when they already had a strong team in the first place and their moves did not advance them any further and hurt their future. I'm giving them a slight notch below average on their trades & moves score because of the Gregor/Peckford deal.

While it may have been designed for balance and on paper you get an extra year from a PPG player, IMO it's not a deal you make in a championship season. They also gave up a lot of assets and it did not boost their overall placement.
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Swift Current Broncos
Pre-Season Expectation

They had one of the best top lines pre-season. They had a very strong defensive core. In the off-season, they added 20yr old goaltender Logan Flodell who turned out to be one of the top goaltenders in the league, but later traded him to gain an extra OA slot on defense.

Their overall forward depth was severely lacking.

Their drafting history suggested they should have a weak 18yr old age group. For that reason I had picked them to be the front-runner for 3rd place and listed them as a Dark Horse, with the expectations that Moose Jaw would have a strong team and Regina would add.

Season Happenings
Their top line was absolutely dominant. In modern-day WHL, it is extremely rare for a player to hit the 2PPG mark. The Broncos had One in Aleksi Heponiemi and two others knocking close by, at 1.87 and 1.82PPG figures.

At Christmas, there was no sign of a slowdown. The Broncos were in 3rd place and weren't far off from challenging for the division. They were also largely injury free during the year.

Then they did something that I would call "extremely risky"........

With a loaded conference sitting in (3rd place), they sold all their bona-fida younger players, along with 2 draft years, for a plethora of veteran key players. In Total they added, 1 starting goaltender, 3 PPG players, 2 core forwards, 1-star defenceman.

That's 1/3rd of a hockey team!  What did it cost? After their 1999 age group graduates next season, the Broncos will be basement dwellers as they recover. They traded out their 16/17/18 yr old key players but staggered their poor drafts.

Nonetheless, they won the WHL

Players Spent
Connor Chaulk
Riley Stotts
Dom Schmieman
Josh Prokop
Ethan Hein
Joel Sexsmith
1st 18,19,20
2nd 19, 2nd 2020, 2nd 21
3rd 20, 3rd round 202
5th 19
Logan Flodell  (Acquired, then traded at the deadline)
Logan Barlage
Owen Blocker
Matthew Stanley

Acquired
Logan Flodell
Matteo Gennaro
Beck Malenstyn
5th 2018, 1st rnd 19
Stuart Skinner
Giorgio Estephan
Tanner Nagel
Josh Anderson

Future Drafts
Very poor draft positioning in 2018
Decent draft in 2019 (no 2nd)
2020 very poor draft positioning
2021 decent draft positioning

My Pre-Season Prediction
Prediction: 260 GF
Actual: 325
Difference: 65 goals

While this is a big difference, the fact that Swift added so many pieces to their team makes this prediction a write-off. I give myself partial marks for recognizing them as a dark-horse. It's extremely hard to predict a team adding so many pieces.

Season Rating
Regular Season 3.5/4
Playoffs 4/4
Trades & Moves 10/12
Score: 17.5/20

The biggest question here is: Were they incredibly lucky? Does trading their future for 1 championship = a good idea?  Maybe for small market teams, this formula is the way to go; due to scouting budgeting and recruiting being more difficult than teams with higher budgets and income.

If they had lost in game 7 to MJ, this season could have been the disaster that put the Broncos under for years to come. Very luckily they had a season to remember.

A team that wins the WHL, when at the time they were 3rd in their division is remarkable. Many teams try to trade their way to the top and fail, but the Bronco's managed to do it successfully. I think the moves the Broncos made should be studied. They already had their top guys in place, they just needed some good calibre players for elite depth. They were key players allowed to do their own thing, in a no pressure type atmosphere.

Does a team that sells everything for a championship make it justifiable? In the Trades & Moves rating, I struggled to give them an appropriate score.

 For this reason, I'm giving them a 10/12 in the Moves front.  They had a weak 18yr old class, they needed to buy to become a championship team. It cost them a lot. . In the end, it was their moves and additions that won them the championship. I will give them a high score, but not a perfect score taking future seasons into account.

Maybe next season I will do more thinking towards giving a bonus for setting up for next season.
Congratulations Broncos on Winning the WHL for the 2017 Season!


Regina Pats
Pre-Season Expectation
Pre-season I said they had some great top end talent, but were lacking in the depth department. They would need to bolster and would likely do so for their memorial cup run.  I had them behind MJ but had them in the top tier with the expectation they would bolster their lineup.


Season Happenings

Regina overpaid 2 seasons ago for 18yr olds to help them win for 2 years in a row. It ended up splitting themselves thin for this season as they suffered some significant key Pro Losses.

Odd Goalie Moves
Regina shipped off future starter and 18yr NHL drafted goalie in Jordan Hollet in return for some desperately needed offense in Overager Matt Bradley.

They were adamant about sticking with 20yr old goaltender Tyler Brown, until at the trade deadline they traded for an average goaltender Ryan Kubic, who ended up not being the starter in the playoffs, and they went with 17-year-old Max Paddock, the nephew of Coach/GM John Paddock.

Gift From PG
Regina also received a massive gift during the season. In Prince George, AHL'er Jesse Gabrielle returned late from Pro's and PG was looking to sell.

Regina sent off an 8th round draft prospect in Kjell Kjemhus, A late-blooming 17yr old Ethan McColm (who wasn't on the Regina Pats roster), as well as a 3rd round, and 5th round pick.

In other words, some late developers, for an AHL'er with 2 PPG seasons in the WHL. That's a steal. Unfortunately for Regina Gabrielle injured his ankle/foot during the last game of the season and only dressed for 2 playoff games and didn't play in the memorial cup.

In return, Regina also got the son of Prince George's GM in Jonas Harkins.  (Harkins was a 2nd round pick, but largely considered an "off the board" selection). He only dressed in 7 games for Regina and did not see ice in the playoffs. That entire deal seems unfair to me, but whatever...

Regina struggled to become an elite team all season. At best they were an above average team that got lost in an exceptionally strong conference. They were playing good hockey at seasons end but due to the "death divisions" had to face the eventual WHL Champions in Round 1.


Regina's Acquisitions
Jesse Gabrielle(20) F
Aaron Hyman(19) D
Cameron Hebig(20) F
Ryan Kubic(10)
Libor Hajek(19) D (I)
Austin Pratt(18) F
Jared Legien(19) F
Cale Fleury (19) D
Matt Bradley(20) F
Koby Morrisseau(17) F
Tanner Sidaway(19)
Jonas Harkins(17) D  *Didn't play in playoffs*
Scott Mahovlich(18) F
13 of 20 Roster Players

My Prediction
Prediction: 288GF
Actual: 245 GF
Difference 43


I was slightly wrong in my predictions and gave them too much credit they could turn an average team into championship material.

Season Rating
Regular Season 2.5/4
Playoffs 1/4
Trades & Moves 2/10
Score: 5.5/20


Being honest I feel extremely sorry for the Pats fans. They had so much talent and potential in their roster the past 2 seasons.  The type of Talent where they could have had a 2-3 year mini-dynasty.

All they have to show for it is a 3rd round playoff exit and a 1st round playoff exit + a memorial Cup Finals experience that had their team lose 2 million dollars in hosting the cup.

I feel the pats are very good, maybe even exceptional at discovering young talent; However, to build a winning hockey team, their management decisions seemed experimental and if they had to do everything all over again, they would likely change their approach.

They treated their team like they were trying to control the stock market and in the end, the market controlled them.

There is a big difference between Swift and Regina, and that difference is one that should be studied.
(Swift had good goaltending, good defence, and the best line in the CHL before they added)

Mark them down as another example that buying players don't necessarily mean playoff victories. They had also tried something not many teams have done in the past. (Purchasing expensive 18yr olds) Essentially 2-year players that come with an added cost.


Brandon Wheat Kings
Pre-Season Expectation
I had them listed as having a volatile roster where I thought they could be both above and below average. As a safe bet, I had them as an average team.  They had high draft positions but also had a top pick in Nolan Patrick plucked away early to the NHL.

Season Happenings
They had an incredible season! Almost every veteran player had big upticks in their point totals.  For most of the season, they held onto 2nd place in the division. They had a well-balanced roster, good goaltending, a great offense, and solid defence.

They had a surprising season and as such, they faced a really tough decision. Go for it, in a tough conference where there were already 3 teams pushing, or make moves to benefit their future.

They decided to sell, knowing that they'd likely be playing 2 of the top 3 teams in the first 2 playoff rounds. Their decision to sell was a difficult one.

They recouped 4 - 1st round draft picks, 1 -2nd round pick, future PPG player Luka Burzan, 18yr old defenceman Chase Hartje, and a couple of prospects. This was an absolute killing. Now, they won't see the fruits of this trade until about 2023-2027, but at that time they could very well possess All-Star type talent.

Not only did they make a killing off trades, they still made it into the 2nd round of the whl playoffs.
 Between Swift Current, Regina, and Moose Jaw, the odds were against any team coming out of the first two rounds, and Brandon was able to crossover and beat the Tigers, the top team in a weaker central division.

My Prediction
Prediction 225 GF
Actual: 272 GF
Difference: 47

I underestimated them. I got them wrong. Their offense was rather dangerous. Very quick and fast. This was probably not knowing their roster well enough as well as having an injury-plagued year the previous season.

Season Rating

Regular Season 3/4
Playoffs 2/4
Trades & Moves 12/12
Score: 17/20

If there was such a thing as a perfect season without winning the championship, Brandon was close to it. They have 3 first round picks in both 2019 and 2021. If they can recruit a good draft class in 2020, this team will have 3 very strong seasons in years to come.


Prince Albert Raiders
Pre-Season Expectation

Pre-season I had them into the average category in a tough division. They had an interesting roster. They had some developing defensive depth, but their forward core was still really young. I had thoughts that they were still too young to make a good push and that they would be competing for the wildcard.

Season Happenings
They made some..... "interesting" moves as they decided to become buyers at the deadline. They bought an overage for a bundle of late round picks and a prospect bound for the NCAA. (which was cheap for them) A cheap deal that put them into the playoffs deserves some extra marks.

They also bought a 19yr old forward and gave up a 1st round pick, a 1st round prospect, and a smooth skating defenceman a pretty high cost. This was the interesting move....

That move seemed a bit odd as it seems quite early to purchase, but could signify them as potentially looking to buy coming into next season. I'm thinking they might look to pull off a "swift current" next season.  I'm not ready yet to give them poor marks for that move. While it was an early move, if they can pair it with a good showing next season and another additions or two, giving that move a bad rating this season, would be poor foresight...


My Prediction
Prediction 234 GF
Actual: 245 GF
Difference: 11

I felt I was pretty close to accurately predicting PA. Wildcard and 11 goals off is pretty much spot on. I felt if they didn't have such a tough conference they would have had a higher total.

Season Rating
Regular Season 1.5/4   (extra .5 for late-season push)
Playoffs 2 /4     ( Taking MJ to 7 games)
Trades & Moves 7.5/12
Score: 11/20

I liked PA's game early in the season. They had one of the toughest schedules in the league. They had a developing roster hoping to make some noise at seasons end. I gave them a little extra in the regular season & playoff scores because they took MJ to task and almost looked like they would be spoilers. They also had a very tough division to play in.

They did acquire an OA for a very cheap cost which helped pull them into playoff territory. They also tinkered a little with their roster with moves I liked.

Their expensive deal involving McDonald seems weird on the surface, but if we look at their roster, they have a very veteran and old group of defence/goaltending next season.  They also have some younger players offensively but a few of them look to be good ones.

They may very well follow the swift current model and look to add some offence.
For that reason, I'm putting their trades & moves at a 7.5/12. I retroactively might want to change this after next season, depending on their direction this upcoming season.



Saskatoon Blades
Pre-Season Expectation
This was essentially the last flush year for their previous championship seasons. They did some crazy value trading the last few seasons in an attempt to get better a year earlier than a normal recovery.

This year with proper recovery their roster should have been into the average territory. ( essentially a mix of older veterans from poor draft years, and up and coming youth)
I had them as competing for 3rd/wildcard spot.


Season Happenings
They weren't nearly as crazy trade-wise as the past few seasons. It's almost like they decided that route wasn't working for them.

They basically made 2 major deals

1) They sold an import defenceman for a 1st rounder, 19yr old offensive defenceman Dawson Davidson, and young prospect Tristen Robins. A great deal for them.

2) They were involved in a 3-way deal that saw them lose 20yr old Cameron Hebig and 19yr old Goaltender Ryan Kubic.   They acquired OA Tyler Brown, 2-3rd round picks, and 19yr old max Gerlach.  tldr: They essentially just swapped people and added 2-3rd round picks.

Overall they made some gains with that first deal and tinkered trying to make the playoffs.

While they were in the wildcard spot for the longest time, PA managed to get hot down the stretch and bumped Saskatoon out of the playoffs by only 3 points and Tyler Brown largely sat on the bench

My Prediction
Prediction 256 GF
Actual: 237 GF
Difference: 19

I felt I was pretty close to accurately predicting their path!  They tinkered but gained assets for the future. Unfortunately for them, they just missed the last wildcard spot.

Season Rating
Regular Season 1.5/4 (playoff position for part of the season)
Playoffs 0/4
Trades & Moves 7.5/12
Score: 9/20

Expected to be an average team in a strong conference. I gave them an extra point .5 in the regular season because of that. 


Medicine Hat

Pre-Season Expectations
Their drafting positions suggested a slightly above average roster with a couple extra early draft picks.

I listed them as having a potential championship team if all their puzzle pieces fell into play with Fischer coming back, Linus Nassen reporting and goaltender Jordan Hollett proving to be a starter which could free up an overage player.


Season Happenings
Their top centreman Mason Shaw was lost the whole season due to injury. OA power forward Zach Fischer left the team and demanded a trade. Jordan Hollett started the season with mono. The Tigers suffered an incredulous amount of medium to long-term injuries through the season and never played 1 game fully healthy all season.

With Fischer having 34 goals the year before and Shaw with 94 points. That was a huge chunk of offense that unexpectedly disappeared. Suddenly their forward depth went from strong to rather mediocre.

They traded away veteran Max Gerlach for some youth and some picks at the trade deadline.
They also traded for former 1st round pick and disgruntled centreman Elijah Brown from Seattle for a cheap cost.

Overall
They won the Central but were defeated in Round 1 of the playoffs. The central was very poor and even though they won a division banner, it meant facing the wildcard in the East, which had more points than them during the regular season.

Their playoffs was a roller-coaster. Out to a commanding 2-0 series lead at home and looked to be in control. However, Brandon won the next 4 straight.

It's always disappointing when a potentially good year falls flat, but that was largely out of their control and they were effective at re-tooling their roster.


My Prediction
Prediction: 310 Goals
Actual:  260
Difference: 50

Can't predict star players leaving and getting hurt. This prediction is a write-off. If Shaw and Fischer had played the full season it would have been spot on.

Season Rating
Regular Season 3/4
Playoffs 1/4
Trades & Moves 9/12
Score: 13/20

They turned around a disappointing season and re-tooled while winning their division.


Red Deer
Pre-Season Expectation
They lost some impact players but retained numerous players who should have been able to fill the void. I listed them as being a potential dark horse team because of that.  They also had mid to early draft positions that should signify an above average team. I had them competing with Lethbridge for 2nd in the division.

Season Happenings
They acquired forward Jared Dmytriw for one of their better defencemen and that deal didn't work out. Dmytriw was later shipped to Victoria for picks.

The rebels had an extremely disappointing start to the season and went into rebuild mode selling Jared Dmytriw, Lane Zablocki, Brandon Schuldaus, Austin Pratt, Lukas MacKenzie.

They received, a 3-3rd, 3-2nds, Colin Paradis(19), Josh Tarzwell(17)

As soon as they had written the season off and started selling some veterans, they started to rise up the standings. (It should be noted that a big part of that was Kootenay Falling from grace during the 2nd half of the season)

My Pre-Season Prediction
Prediction: 247 GF
Actual: 209 GF
Difference:  36 goals

I feel the 36 goal difference was largely due to them underperforming in the first half of the season, although I may have slightly over-estimated their potential.

Season Rating
Regular Season 1.5/4
Playoffs 1/4
Trades & Moves 8.5/12
Score: 11/20


They were able to improve off their moves and also get assets for the future.


Lethbridge Hurricanes
Pre-Season Expectation

Their drafting positioning suggested they should have a strong team. Pre-Season I said they had a veteran defensive core with championship experience returning; however, they lacked some scoring depth up front which could set them back. I put them into the above average territory where their lack of depth may push them into average territory.


Season Happenings
Brennan Menell was unexpectedly signed and plucked to the pro's after a free agent invite to the Minnesota Wild Camp. They also had a season-ending injury to overage forward Ryan Vandervlis.

Lethbridge replaced Brennan Mennel acquiring Overage Tate Olsen from PG for a 3rd round pick, as well as acquiring Lane Zablocki from Red Deer for Josh Tarzwell, a 2nd, and 3rd. They spent some assets early, and that was a sign they intended to be competitive in the central division.

However, their start to the season was less than ideal. They also had key forward Ryan Bowen demand a trade.


During the season Lethbridge had troubles sustaining momentum.  They had a roller coaster type season where when they were hot, they couldn't loose. When they were cold, everybody could beat them.

The trade deadline saw them completely out of first place, yet fairly safe from missing the playoffs.
With the trade market selling gold nuggets for huge returns, they decided to restructure their team.

They sold Stuart Skinner, Giorgio Estephan, Lane Zablocki, depth player Tanner Nagel, and hard-hitting Defenceman Brady Poteau.  They also swapped a defensive defenceman Brennan Riddle for PPG Brad Morrison.

The deals saw them gain, 1-1st, 2-2nd, 2- 3rd, 1-6th. Logan Flodell(20), Logan Barlage(16), Owen Blocker(17), Matthew Stanley(19)

Those trades sparked their team from playing near .500 to a .637 winning percentage down the stretch. At one point, they had climbed back into contention for a 1st place Central Division Finish.
Cue more Roller Coaster.....

They finished the season winning just 1 game of their last 9,  got hot in the playoffs and gave the Broncos all they could handle bowing out in 6 games in Round 3.

My Prediction
Prediction: GF 210
Actual GF: 220
Difference: 10 goals

I feel I was fairly accurate with Lethbridge, although they didn't reach above average level until after selling some veterans for some youth.

Their roller coaster type season ended up being a blessing in disguise. Very similar to Brandon, they gained a lot of assets and made it into the 3rd round of the playoffs.

They ended up having an excellent playoff to over-ride their roller-coaster type regular season.

Season Rating
Regular Season 2.5/4
Playoffs 3.5/4
Trades & Moves 10/12
Score: 16//20


Kootenay Ice

Pre-Season Expectation
Their draft positioning was middle of the pack, but they had an older roster of lesser skilled talent. The defense was old. They had been in the basement the past couple seasons and their deals of the past for Cody Eakin and Tim Bozon which consumed an extraordinary amount of prospects had continued to catch up with them.

Kootenay was in a terrible position with a terrifying roster with little hope for the future. They had a couple young standouts, but depth was severely lacking in all 3 positions.

Season Happenings
With a fresh ownership group, they wheeled and dealed and made 9 trades before the season began.

I was initially skeptic from some of their off-season moves acquiring OA depth players, but the picks they gave up were conditional and they eventually released those players and gave up nothing.

They sold some key veterans such as Vince Loschiavo and Cale Fleury and those deals gave Kootenay a spark.

They completely re-balanced their roster and acquired numerous younger players to supplant all the "fillers" that their lineup was composed of pre-season. They looked like they would make the playoffs in a weak central division but unfortunately took a late tumble down the standings. They missed the playoffs for the 3rd consecutive year.

I won't go over all their moves, but if interested check out the WHL transaction page

My Prediction
Prediction: GF 210
Actual GF: 215
Difference 5 goals

I was pretty close on their goal total and felt I was successful on this prediction.
A broken clock is right at least twice a day?

Season Rating
Regular Season 1.5/4   (playoff position for most of the year)
Playoffs 0/4
Trades & Moves 9/12
Score: 10.5/20

The new ownership was active and did well inheriting a very poor group of assets and abstain from becoming beatable by AJHL clubs.. They made a bundle of deals for value, spending late round picks for younger talent, and selling some veterans for futurea ssets. 


Calgary Hitman

Pre-Season Expectations
I felt they had a volatile roster. They had the makings of a good top 6, but a defence with weaker depth after their top pairing.  I felt if they shored up their defensive group they could compete for 2nd; however, if they couldn't, they would miss the playoffs. I thought they were similar to Brandon in that I wasn't sure if they would be strong or weak


Season Happenings
They had a very poor start with an injury to key forward Beck Malenstyn. With a new Gm and coach, they immediately decided to go into rebuild mode. On November 25th they sold Gennaro and Malenstyn. In January they sold Jake Bean and Andrei Grishakov

They re-tooled their roster for a combination of draft picks, proven younger player, sprinkled with some prospects.


My Predictions
Prediction: 252-276 (Depending on OA Direction)
Actual:  226
Difference: 26-50

If they hadn't sold Gennario and Malenstyn this target would have been met. In terms of my prediction, I felt it was pretty accurate. They ended up not boosting their back-end, selling top forwards and they missed the playoffs

Season Rating

Regular Season 0/4
Playoffs 0/4
Trades & Moves 11/12
Score: 11/20

This was a good year to re-tool. Riley Stotts, Dom Schmiemann, Three 2nd rounders, 1-1st rounder, goalie prospect, 2- 3rd rounders, depth defenceman Dakota Krebs, Future PPG forward Carson Focht. They also picked up a very good import defenceman Egor Zamula for free.

They have late draft positions over the next few years, so instead of trying to load up in 1 or 2 seasons, they spread out their future assets.

 Their poor start was a blessing in disgiuse.

Edmonton Oil Kings

Pre-Season Expectations
They had late draft positions and were re-tooling. It was expected they would have a developing season.

I was a little  "bullish" on them pre-season I felt they had potential to be better than expected because they had numerous 17's turning 18. A lot of those players appeared to be "fillers"

Season Happenings
They rode their rookies. Some teams will add and beef a couple positions so provide leadership and experience, but the Oil Kings went complete youth.  They released a few 19's, and traded 1 at the deadline.  Their lone addition to the roster came in the form of a "2 spotter euro import" trading for Tomas Soustal who was a factor in 29% of their total goal scoring.

My Predictions
Prediction: 225G
Actual: 204 G
Difference: 21 goals

With very little veteran presence, it's not rocket science that they finished last in the league. They finished the season with just 1 19yr via a goaltender that was splitting time in net.

I had them rated as mediocre which was slightly over-valuing, but I also knew that playoff would be tough for them to achieve. I am considering this prediction a success.


Season Rating
Regular Season 0/4
Playoffs 0/4
Trades & Moves 8/12
Score: 6/20


They chose to go with a pure development route and stuck with it, so I won't fault them for tanking and getting a higher draft position. They didn't have many assets to trade so they were limited in their ability to re-tool for the coming seasons.

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BONUS: Forward Scoring Per Age Group
(We can see why the WHL didn't have many drafted players this season)

2017-2018
Average Points Per Age Group (Forwards) (Min 30 games played)

20 Yr Olds = 1.02 Pts/Game = 73.4 Pts
19 Yr Olds = 0.76 Pts/Game = 54.9 Pts
18 Yr Olds = 0.58 Pts/Game =  41.98 Pts
17 Yr Olds = 0.32 Pts/Game = 23.26 Pts
16 Yr Olds = 0.30 Pts/Game = 21.82 Pts


2016-2017
Average Points Per Age Group (Forwards) (Min 30 games played)
16 Yr Olds = 0.226 Pts/Game = 16.2 Pts
17 Yr Olds = 0.421 Pts/Game = 30.3 Pts
18 Yr Olds = 0.610 Pts/Game =  44 Pts
19 Yr Olds = 0.763 Pts/Game =  54.9 Pts
20 Yr Olds = 0.882 Pts/Game =  63.5 Pts


17's were way below compared to the year previous
20's were way up compared to years previous

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Import Draft Thread

Import Draft
The Draft starts 9 am Mountain Time Thursday, June 28th.
Link: http://chl.ca/draft


Tigers Selections
32nd Goaltender Mads Sogaard - Denmark 6'6 185 lbs 2000 Born
- Elite Prospects Page
- Twitter

  • The upcoming season will be his 18yr old season.
  • Last year he played in the NAHL. The NAHL is like Junoir A but in the USA. 
  • He was also drafted by the USHL last season in the 10th round.
  • If the Tigers have an "up" season next year, this is depth and protection against Hollett leaving as a 20yr old, with the younger prospects still being quite young
  • A potential candidate for Denmarks World Junoir Team

92nd Pick Vasily Podkolzin - Russia 5'11 165
Elite Prospects Page


  • Next season will be his 17yr old year
  • Has played internationally and Captained teams for Russia
  • Pre-Season Mock drafts rate him as a potential 1st round draft pick. (The same site lists Williams as a 1st round pick as well). In reality its way to early, but a sign he has potential
  • This could be a "flyer pick" Unsure if he will report, but taking a stab in the dark




Last Year's Imports
Kristians Rubins has graduated. Linus Nassen would be an overage next season.  While Nassen could use another year of seasoning in the whl, his return for an Overage year seems unlikely. The Tigers already have 3 OA defenceman on the roster.

MH News Article Prior to the Draft
https://chatnewstoday.ca/article/564645/tigers-weighing-options-thursdays-chl-import-draft

Looks like the Tigers didn't draft a defenceman. Because of that, we can't rule out Nassen potentially playing in his overage year. I think the Tigers are hoping he comes back.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Lethbridge "Incident"

A day after Lethbridge announced their intentions to bid for the 2020 memorial cup, there seems to be some scary news today out of Lethbridge

The Hurricanes released the following statement



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Not quite sure what is going on, but I hope this "incident" isn't a life-threatening accident.


Thursday, May 3, 2018

WHL Bantam Draft

WHL Bantam Draft 

Results: http://whl.ca/draft/2018/MH
MH News Article: http://medicinehatnews.com

1st Round
11th - Cole Sillinger - Forward -  5'11 170lb

Elite Prospects
Twitter

Clip of Play
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfNZCWhRJ9o
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2nd Round
38th - Dru Krebs - Defenceman 5'9 156lb


Elite Prospects
Twitter
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3rd Round
55th - Liam Vanderkooi - Goaltender 6'4 195



Elite Prospects 

3rd Round Continued
66th - Jayden Davis - Center 5'9 147lb

Elite Prospects 

Note: A player with the same name played for Lethbridge last season.
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4th Round
77th Ashton Ferster - Forward 6'0 145

Elite Prospects
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5th Round
99th - Rhett Parsons - Defenceman 5'11 182lb

Elite Prospects
Twitter
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6th Round
121st - Hayden Cox - Forward 5'11 165lbs

Elite Prospects
http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=512359


7th Round
134th Alex Walicki - Forward - 5'10 169lb

Elite Prospects

Scouting Report
Very quick skater
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7th Round Cont.

143rd Devin Benson Defenceman 5'10 150


Elite Prospects
http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=533230



8th Round
165th - Traded to Victoria for an 8th round pick in 2010

9th Round
187th Owen Millward - Goaltender


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Next Year

Graduating OA's
Mark Rassell
Michael Bullion
Kristians Rubins

Potential Overagers
Dylan MacPherson - D
*David Quenneville - D
*Mason Shaw - F

Ryan Jevne - F  (If One of Shaw/Quenneville don't come back
----

Dalton Gally - D
Jaeger White - F
----
*Linus Nassen - D
----------

Nassen 
 Eligible to come back as a 2 spotter. IMO he is not quite ready for the AHL. The Tigers may not have room for him with 2 other defensive 20's. They will likely re-draft both euro spots.

However.....

Nassen is the type of defenceman the Tigers like, so I'm not completely counting him out in the unlikely scenario that both Quenneville and Shaw are scooped to the pro's. Nassen may also sign a contract in Europe negating the possibility of him returning.  Otherwise, I think Nassen will play in the ECHL or Europe for his first season of pro.


Quenneville
 He was recently signed by the Islanders. The Islanders have 4 other signed defencemen for the AHL next year, as well as 2 RFA's and 2 free-agents on their AHL team. (Former Tiger Defenceman Kyle Burroughs is one of the RFA's with the Islanders.). In other words they have 2 more spots to fill

I personally feel there is a 70-30 chance he will be back for another season. There is a sliver of room, as it stands now, for Quenneville to slot in as a 6th defenceman in the AHL. While I would be happy for Quenneville if he made the AHL/ECHL. I strongly believe another year of junior would be the best thing for his defensive development. I'm unsure what the Islanders will do. Let's see how their off-season plays out.

Shaw
He missed half of his 16yr old season and all of his 19 yr old season. Since he had a late Birth-date and was only drafted last year, the Wild don't have to sign him until next season.

Minnesota's farm team (Iowa), has a system full of contracts that are expiring. They also have an older group that missed the playoffs. The last 2 NHL drafts they've had very poor draft positioning as they've traded away multiple picks. They badly need an influx of younger talent. (last season they plucked Hurricanes OA Defenceman Brennan Mennell when he was expected to return to Lethbridge.

Normally I would say that equals excellent grounds for Shaw not returning....however.....I started looking at Minnesota's historical signings.

They largely wait and sign older players from the NCAA and Europe. The players in junior they do sign, are largely either bona fida players or late bloomers and are careful to let them develop in lower leagues.

Their historical singings suggest one thing, but their minor system another thing completely. One thing is for certain is that they have a ton of work to do in their minor league system. For those reasons, I think Shaw is 50-50 on his chances of returning. If you forced me to choose a side I'd say he doesn't return.

If we take his knee injury into account, I still feel like he is good enough to move to the AHL. Shaw only played in 1 out of 3 games he was eligible for in his late-season callup to the AHL. I read an interview from the MH news where Shaw mentioned his knee was pretty sore and there were lots of guys in Iowa, so perhaps they halted his comeback in favor of his long-term health.


Jevne
If the Tigers get lucky and Shaw and Quenneville both come back, they have a very tough decision with Jevne.  Otherwise, I think he has a good shot at being the 3rd guy. Jevne wore a letter last season and had 21 points in 24 games down the stretch. He should be a ppg top 6 player next season no matter who he skates for. The Tigers should hold onto him and will only be moved if forced to.  If he does get moved he will be an absolute under the table steal for any other whl team because his point totals were a bit lower the last few seasons. If I was an opposing team with OA holes to fill I'd keep a shortlist on him as a potential last-minute addition because the Tigers will likely hold onto Jevne until Shaw/Quenneville's status are known.

MacPherson
I think he has a very good shot at returning and playing in his overage year. The Tigers have a bunch of rookies and sophomores that aren't quite ready for the top line and MacPherson should be capable of slotting into that top defensive role.. I haven't heard anything about his late-season injury, but curious if there is any possibility he may not be ready to start next season?

Other OA's
White, Gally, are on the outside looking in.  Their is potential for Gally to draw in for the early season if Quenneville gets plucked to pro's and MacPherson isn't ready.

Thoughts
Macpherson,
Quenneville*
Shaw*

Jevne

White/Gally
Nassen

There could be a decent chance that (the starred players) don't come back. If that is the case Jevne should draw into the top 3.


Pre-Season Roster 
Don't take stock into line combos, just for depth purposes.
Shaw isn't a right-winger and would slot in as a centre.

Forwards
Hayden Ostir(19)  James Hamblin(19)   Ryan Jevne/MasonShaw (20)
Elijah Brown(18) Ryan Chyzowski(18) Bryan Lockner(18)
Tyler Preziuso (19) Gary Haden (19) Josh Williams (17)
Anderson(18) Henry Rybinksi(17) Heathcote(18)
XXX
XXX
---
White(20)


Thoughts
If Shaw comes back this roster will essentially be a carbon copy from last year, but a year older.
This group will also largely be intact for the season after as well. For new prospects their looks to be 2 spots available, 3 is stretching it but possible.

I count 4 forwards who are capable of hitting the 1ppg mark next season. They had 2 PPG last season.

Defence
Quenneville(20) MacPherson(20)
Craven(18 Clayton(18)
Baker(17) Longo(17)
XXX
--
Gally(20)
Nassen(20)
-----------
Thoughts
There is a high degree of turnover with Rubins, Gally, and Nassen potentially not returning.
I feel if Quenneville returns their depth is in very good shape. A Quenneville loss would be a blow, as that means only 1 of 5 experience veterans return and it shallows their top line depth.

If that Happens, the Tigers may look at a few scenarios like keeping Nassen if he hasn't signed in Europe, looking at Gally, or potentially drafting an older import defenceman as insurance.

Baker, Clayton, Crave, Longo - Next season is key for them to develop. If the Tigers want to make a run next season, ideally 2 of those guys can develop to a point of becoming a top line defenceman next year.


Goaltenders
Jordan Hollett(19)
Kaeden Freer-Lane(17)
Garin Bjorklund(16)

Thoughts
A BIG goaltenders battle in camp. The Tigers usually try to make their decisions quickly before the season starts but if we still see them with 3 goaltenders come October it wouldn't surprise me.
Bjorklund and Freer-Lane have impressed in the CSSHL and Midget AAA.

If Hollet isn't back as a 20, it seems

This should be a very exciting battle. I hope who-ever gets the backup job can get a solid 15-17 starts in to properly develop in case Hollett is not back as a 20yr old.  Remember the regular season next year will only have 68 games.

2 Euro Imports
This will be interesting. There isn't a whole lot of room on the roster.

 With their focus on balance perhaps this is the year we see a couple younger imports(16 or 17) in the lineup? Or will they look at a couple 18yr olds to provide extra meat into the lineup?

If Quenneville doesn't come back,  it might make good sense by drafting an 18yr old Dman. However, If Quenneville does come back that means no room for rookies, and one of the newer crop of Dmen will be rotated out as a healthy scratch.

Nonetheless, if you're gunning for a top season in 2 years, a couple 18's would go a long way at providing more depth.

------------------------

Individual Player Thoughts


James Hamblin - He had a very unfortunate start to the season with his mother passing away during training camp. Something like that is very tough to deal with along with juggling a hockey career and schooling. Even though he was putting up points, he wasn't quite the same player in the early going. I felt it took him until the second half of the season where he re-discovered his game & work ethic.

I don't think losing his linemate of 2 years in Mark Rassell will affect his production that much. I felt their chemistry was rather mediocre in the 2nd half of the season. I think he has a good chance to create a spark with new linemates.

He is a workhorse type player and pairing him up with another sniper or a fellow work-horse type player will keep his production improving.  I fully expect him to reach a PPG pace.


Ryan Chyzowksi - Chyzowski's powerplay time was very beneficial in developing his poise and his hands. He showed us he is capable of stick-handling in tight when required. I'm most excited about the fact he was able to beat goalies from the high slot off powerful and quick wrist shots.

Chyzowski's shooting percentage of 13.1% as a 17yr old was impressive. He made an incredible leap in development from 16 to 17. One of the traits I like to look at is how the last 20-25 games compare to the rest of the season. Chyzowski managed 20 points in 24 games down the stretch including 5 points in 6 games during playoffs. For that reason I see him being quite capable of earning a point per game next season as an 18yr old. I think he may be a candidate to lead the team in scoring as well.

He had such a massive unexpected improvement from 16 to 17, that it makes me wonder about his ceiling potential. The Tigers haven't drafted a lot of bigger players but I see some comparisons to former Tiger Dryden Hunt, but a better skater, perhaps a slight notch more talented. If he doesn't get drafted I will be in shock.
---

Hayden Ostir - After he came back from injury he was a different player. To me, it appeared as if the game had slowed down for him and he was making plays that created space. There are always signs before a player breaks out, it is just a matter of spotting them. I feel that next season Ostir is ready to showcase his breakout.

 Hayden was ultimately a victim of the injury bug and was paired with some younger 16yr old line-mates to create more balance in the Tigers lineup this past season, otherwise, I feel he would have produced a few more points.  I think Hayden will become a point per game player next season as well.
----------

Ryan Jevne
His game changed in the second half of the season. His confidence with the puck grew and he started trying to beat defenceman rather than just going wide or shooting the puck into the zone.  He started experimenting with offensive moves and was occasionally beating defenders with them. He had 14 points in his last 15 games and was showing he isn't just a grinder type, but could be a threat on the ice that slots into the top 6 role. Next season if he is one of the Tiger over-ages I expect him to earn around a PPG pace if not slightly higher.
---

Elijah Brown - Such a large horizontal stick-handling wingspan for only  5'9. Brown is a player that will make other players better. For a small guy he excels at creating space You can give him the puck and within moments skates laterally 6 feet and creates a ton of room... I believe this is why the Tigers paired him with Rassell in the playoffs. They just needed someone to feed Rassell the puck.

Will he be a PPG player next season?  I think it will highly depend on the chemistry of his line-mates. He shows a high degree of enthusiasm on the ice. I personally feel that he is the type of player that is pretty good at reading the ice and seeing plays develop. Pairing him with another that shows poise and an ability to read the ice well, will create a lot of chemistry.

 I see two paths; a standard development path where he improves to around .8 PPG. I also see a scenario where he creates some strong chemistry with his line-mates and it boosts his game substantially around a 1.2PPG pace.

Gary Haden
He also isn't your proto-typical tiger selection. He isn't the quickest player on the ice but shows a high ability on thinking the game. I thought he was perfectly suited for a 3rd line centre type role, as he can be defensively responsible.

The Tigers were forced to bump him up in the lineup early in the season due to injuries and he responded really well. Later in the season the Tigers put him on the bottom lines and rotated him in and out of the center position.

I felt he was unhappy with his ice-time and role and it was apparent on the ice. His play at the end of the season was sloppy and looked uninspired. Even though he garnered 0.6 PPG(which was double that of his 17yr old year) I felt in the 2nd half of the season he was not playing well due to factors I just mentioned.

 If we were taking bets on the next player to ask for a trade, I would say Haden is my top answer. If he isn't getting a 3rd line center-man role or more I feel he should ask to be moved because he has largely been cast aside as a depth guy and isn't on the priority list when it comes to icetime.

In saying that I think he's an important piece of the puzzle and I would be disappointed if he was moved.


Josh Williams - I'm hopefully optimistic about Josh Williams. I felt he had a tough start but finished on a successful note. Initially, he was propped up a little over his head on the first line.  Williams also suffered an unfortunate injury at the under 17's. By the end of the season, he looked much more comfortable on the ice. While he has shied away from the corners a little bit, he has great instincts to position himself at the net giving himself prime opportunities to score.  11 goals in 47 games(0.43 ppg), and a 13.4% shooting percentage is well above average for a 16.

He looks to project as a pure goal scorer. Likely to become a regular on the powerplay.

I think he will have a very hot start next season, followed by a slight cool-down and adjustment period. I think in 2 seasons he will be a 40+ goal scorer.

A steady improvement would see him grab about .65 ppg as a 17. Sometimes the development from 16 to 17 is very rapid. Let's keep an eye on him early and see if there are some signs that the game has slowed down for him. If the game slows down for him he has potential to reach higher targets, however I think he still has a bit of development time to get there.

I'll be keeping an eye on him more-20 around the 10-12 game mark when hot starts, start dying off.



Bryan Lockner - Lockner is the type of player the Tigers badly needed. Someone with some size who can keep up with the speedy guys, but also someone with sound 2-way instincts. Someone who can block shots, and is very positionally sound in his own end.

Lockner isn't the prototypical player that the Tigers draft. If we were to compare Mark Rassell's 80 points to  Bryan Lockner's 14 with the Tigers, who do you think had the higher +/-?  It was Lockner at +6.  (Don't rip me in the comments for saying Rassell wasn't important, we all know he was)

Nonetheless, Locker projects as more of a prototypical 3rd line type player, but with the potential of being playmaker material in the top 6. The Tigers gave him a lot of icetime, so we may see him stay in the top 6 next season.

If he does play in the top 6, It gives that line a boost defensively speaking. I thought Lockner was showing basic signs of a play-making ability later in the season when his goal became, "just get Rassell the puck" and he will get points.

I don't necessarily expect him to become a dangerous sniper next season, I feel his developing play-making ability will continue to get better and we could expect a .45-.60 ppg type season.


Tyler Preziuso - Myself, as well as a few others, put a lot of pressure on him to perform to higher expectations. 2 Seasons ago, going into his 17yr old year he was ranked as a player to watch for the NHL and fell off the map with a powerhouse Tiger team. Last season as an 18 he started very strong, but had a terrible middle-part of the season.  Their was a stretch where he had 2 points in 17 games, but more importantly, stopped showing initiative driving to the net and being aggressive.

I feel that if he isn't being pressured, he doesn't challenge himself. I feel that the Tigers coaches need to continually push him. This coming season year he is in danger of losing icetime to younger players. His greatest asset in his speed and he doesn't take penalties. When we talk about a crowded forward group his spot is generally the first that gets mentioned among players getting moved. While I don't think the Tigers will do that because they prioritize speed over all else,  I have been extremely disappointed with his progression. An NHL career is virtually non-existent right now, and he needs to re-invent his game to put himself back on the map.


Baxter Anderson
A little fireplug. He reminds me a lot of Ryan Jevne at a younger age. With injuries, Anderson was able to dress in a few more games that he would have otherwise. Early in the season, he was just trying to not make mistakes, by the end of the season he was showing spurts of improvement and a willingness to do whatever it takes to get some ice-time.  I feel he will largely be used as a 4th liner next season, but should see fairly regular ice-time. Let's hope he turns out similar to Jevne. Someone who toils the 3/4th lines but keeps plugging along and makes an impact at 19.

Dawson Heathcote
Half his point totals on the season came in his 5th game with 3 goals and 1 assist. I liked what I saw early in the season, but afterwards, I admit I didn't notice him much. (Partially because I kept getting him confused with Rybinski, partially because he was in and out of the lineup, and partially because he wasn't seeing a lot of ice in the game he dressed for)  I do remember early in the season that I liked his game a lot.  He is another one that the Tigers hope follows a similar path to Jevne.



Jaeger White
He joined the Tigers after being cut by Moose Jaw and it was confirmed Shaw would be out long-term.

White's style of play is generally in line with the Tigers style,(speed and ball hockey type skill) but it has been pretty rare of a free-agent 19yr old making the Tigers roster for 3/4th line duty. ( I think Sam Dezman back in 2010 was the last one)

Nonetheless White improved quite a bit over the course of the season and one wonders what his improvement would have been like had he been here as a 16 or 17. Early in the season, he was prone to making making errant passes and coughing the puck up in semi-dangerous areas.

His improvements were definitely noticeable towards the end of the season after the Tigers ran into injury troubles.  Late in the season he was showing a lot more poise with the puck and seemed to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time for scoring goals.

Going forward, I think it's unlikely he will be with the Tigers as a 20, but there may be interest in him as a cheap option from another team. The Tigers might might be able to turn a free-agent pickup into a late round draft pick

Henry Rybinski
He received more ice-time over anderson/heathcote.  12 points in 62 games is fairly in line with a competitive average. What I like about Rybinski is his positioning on 1v1 battles. He doesn't reach into the pile, he will skate into the correct position and work for the puck.

Another skill I liked from Rybinski was the ability to read the play and anticipate the next move. It is extremely rare for a first year 16 to anticipate the play 2 moves down the line. Even though the puck control wasn't quite there as a 16, once the game slows down, he will have the tools to be an effective play-maker

There is some development to go through, but once the game slows down for him I think we will see him become a key playmaker type.


David Quenneville
I shouldn't need to say much here. His skills are obvious. Powerful shot with an extremely quick windup. Excellent ability to jump into the rush,  a powerful one-timer. A vocal leader on the ice.

His weakness is his size and skating.  He has a stocky frame and has an ability to bowl over guys with his frame, but only uses it when he is pissed off. He needs to work on his skating and ability to stop those quick forwards. I personally feel that if the Islanders rush him into pro's next season it could damage his development and confidence. He needs another year of seasoning in Junior to create a stronger defensive game.

Dylan MacPherson
Since he joined the Tigers I saw a lot of potential in him.  I see some passivity in his game that is bottling that potential up.

I want to see him become a bit selfish and be more aggressive on the breakout.  I want to see him carry the puck out to the blueline before even thinking of passing the puck.

Puck control, poise and first pass decision making - That will be the difference in MacPherson earning a contract in his overage season vs playing CIS hockey after the WHL. Right now he is still a pretty good defenceman; however, his path steers him to the CIS.

He has a tall lanky frame and can skate when he wants to. I feel he is not comfortable carrying the puck and often looks to get rid of the puck as quick as he can. Sometimes that leads to awkward passes and poor clearing attempts.

I always liked his game and defensive instincts, but I also think he needs to be more aggressive if an NHL contract is his goal.  The redcliff kid will be an important piece of the defensive group next season. I hope the injury he suffered in the playoffs will not affect him next season.

Joel Craven
He had a tough rookie year going through 2 medium term injuries. His first game of the season wasn't until the end of October.  Just when he was taking his game to the next level and getting regular ice-time he took a vicious illegal hit that concussed him and set him back.

He was showing an impressive ability to skate the puck out of his zone and looked a lot like former Tiger Tommy Vannelli. Craven looks to be a guy who will have an offensive flair to his game.

He can skate and I hope during the off-season he works on getting physically stronger while still maintaining that mobility.

Cole Clayton
He was a bit passive to start out the season, but his game took a massive leap forward after the Tigers went through a stretch of defensive injuries. I remember one game where he stepped up and had a very strong outing playing physical, scoring a goal, and skating the puck out of his zone. From that point on he was a new player. He reminds me a little bit of a late-blooming Connor Hobbs. A player who can be physical and can skate with a good defensive hockey IQ.  At the start of the season I wasn't sure on him, but by the end of the season, I thought he has the tools to be a future #1 pairing guy.

Trevor Longo
Longo was one of the last cuts, and then re-joined the Tigers when they went thorough some injury issues.  While I haven't gotten a good read on him yet he looks like a solid steady stay at home defenceman that will be able to play a strong 2-way game. Reminds me of former Tiger Trevor Glass.

Dan Baker
It is very unfortunate the Tigers sent him down this past year.  The Tigers use speed as one of their primary traits and while Baker may not be as quick as clayton/craven, during his callup he looked positionally very strong.

 He held exceptional defensive instincts and in the playoffs was being given top 4 pairing minutes at times. He reminds me of a younger more talented version of former Tiger Kyle Becker.  I am very excited and keen to see what he can do.

New Prospects
Jaxon Steele - 18
Nick McCarry - 17
Corson Hopwo - 17
Jalen Price - 17
Eric Van Impe - 17
Ryden Fedyck - 17
Kaleb McEachern - 17
Mattie Boonstra - 17
Garin Bjorklun - 16
Kaeden Freer-Lane 16
Damon Agyeman - 16
Justin Ross - 17
Kadyn Chabot - 16
Noah Danielson 16
Scout Truman - 16
Ryan Watson - 16
Brett Meerman - 16
Austin Dycer - 16
Brayden Kapty 16
Stephan Rosier - 16
Tyler Bates - 16
Samuel Deckhut - 16
Talon Zakall - 16
Davis Chorney - 16

I'm unsure if the Tigers still hold rights to all of them. If I missed someone let me know.
Let me know your thoughts, on which players you think will breakout and the reasons why!

Expectations
I'll put an estimation out in the summer with the Eastern Conference Review as well as a projected goal total.

Next Up
This almost closes the door for this year. I plan to make a post that critiques and reviews all of the Eastern Conference happenings this year, as well as a critique on how I did on my pre-season predictions.

NHL Entry Draft - June 22-23rd
CHL Import Draft - End of June/Early July

Who are some of the players you are excited for the next couple seasons?

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Humboldt Broncos

#prayforhumboldt
#humboldtstrong

Tragic Accident
By now most of you are aware of the Terrible Accident that has forever changed the lives of the Humboldt Broncos SJHL hockey Team.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/nipawin-humboldt-bus-crash-1.4609835


Go Fund Me
There is a go fund me page setup. I have donated and for those that wish too as well, here is a link to their go fund me page
https://www.gofundme.com/funds-for-humboldt-broncos/donate


Tiger Connections

Layne Matechuk
One of the members of the Humboldt Bronco team was a former Tiger Draft pick Layne Matechuk. Matechuck was a 2nd round and 40th overall selection in 2015. I'm not sure if the Tigers still have his rights or not. He is 18, but in his 17yr old hockey season with Humboldt.

Former Tiger Bretton Cameron
Former Tiger Bretton Camerons' brother was also on the Bus. Yesterday Bretton Tweeted out that his brother was doing ok.

Bretton Cameron is currently the Captain for the Greenville Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL.

A few former Humboldt Players who went on to play with the Tigers Include
Deven Dubyk - 2009-2011
Ryan Olynyk 2000-2002

My heart and condolences go out to their team, family members and the hockey community.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Game 6: Tigers 3 @ Brandon 4 - Tigers Season Comes To an End

Brandon Wins Series 4-2
Game 1: Brandon 2 Tigers 7
Game 2: Brandon 3 Tigers 7
Game 3: Tigers 3 Brandon 5
Game 4: Tigers 2 Brandon 5
Game 5: Brandon 5 Tigers 2
Game 6: Tigers 3 Brandon 4

Links
WHL Gamesheet
Rassell carries Tigers in season-ending overtime loss - MH News

Pre-Game

Tigers Scratches
James Hamblin
Mason Shaw
Elijah Brown
Trevor Longo
Dawson Heathcote - Healthy
Cole Clayton - I think he left the game in the first or second period.


Brandon Scratches
Baron Thompson
Ty Ettinger
Jonny Hooker


First Period

Tigers are double/triple shifting Mark Rassell to start the game and it paid off early.

David Quenneville under a heavy chorus of boo's from the Dauphin folks, made a beauty hail mary pass up to Mark Rassel, who split Brandon's top pairing Defenceman (Braden Schneider and Schael Higson). Rassell would put it past Dylan Miskiw (hard to see on the webcast if it was five-hole or glove side). 1-0 Tigers 

Rassell continued his strong game stripping Schael Higson off the puck and Higson was forced to hook Rasell which earned the Tigers a power play. With 9 seconds left in the powerplay, something strange happened that I didn't understand.

Hollet Interference

Jordan Hollett was playing the puck and backhanded it behind his net.  He got checked and knocked over by Ty Lewis. Hollett was given an interference penalty, while Jevne and Lewis were called on roughing penalties...




After that play, the intensity of Hollett reached another level.  He seemed to be moving extra quick after that one.  Let's hope that turns out to be a good thing for the Tigers.

During the powerplay, Gunnar Wegleitner would hit the post and David Quenneville would end up saving a shot off his groin after he tripped over Hollett's pads and ended up with his legs sticking out of the net. The Tigers would keep Brandon off the scoreboard.

Notes
The Tigers have played very well through the first ten minutes of the period. Brandon generated some momentum off those special teams plays...and it turned out to be a fairly even period.


Second Period

Some back and forth action, with both teams getting scoring chances. Tyler Preziuso made a really nice defensive play picking the pocket of Braden Schneider as he was all alone in the slot for a big chance.

Tigers Add to Lead Tigers would add to their lead early in the period. After a rush up the ice Brandon defender, Braden Schneider got a stick on the puck at the blueline. Jaeger White managed to scoop it up and skate in with a lot of room. He fired a shot on net, and Myskiw gave up a big rebound.

Hayden Ostir took the rebound shot from the top of the circle and the puck bounced off somebody in front and sat right at the feet of Mark Rassell. With the goalie down, Rassell swiped the puck into the net. 2-0 Tigers

First Fight of the Series
A few moments later the first fight of the series would take place between depth player Zach Wytnick and Baxter Anderson. Anderson got a couple punches in early and Wytnick nailed Anderson in the top of the helmet and they tumbled to the ice. They both seemed to be favoring their hands in the box.

Brandon Sparked That fight seemed to spark Brandon as they would get their first goal of the night 23 seconds later.

Kristians Rubins threw a pass out of the zone, which hit a Tigers' skate, and bounced backward. It gave Ty Lewis and Stellio Matteos a mini 2 on 1, where Stelio buried a one-time pass, past the blocker of Jordan Hollett. 2-1 Brandon

The teams would trade some highlight real chance with both teams having sustained offensive chances.

Brandon Ties It Up
Brandon would tie the game off some advantageous puck bounces. In Brandon's zone, a Mark Rassell shot would deflect off the feet of a Brandon player and then hop over the stick David Quenneville at the point. Brandon raced away on a 2 on 1, where Evan Weinger placed a shot over the top of Jordan Hollet's Blocker. 2-2 TIE

Dylan Myskiw would come up Huge late in the second period. He stopped Mark Rassel and Gary Haden on point blank 2 on 1's.

Notes:
The Tigers didn't play bad, Brandon was able to capitalize on more chances than the Tigers could.
The goals that were scored in this period were off some puck-luck bounces.

This game is even stevens so far. The third period should be a doozy. Almost seems like a perfect script for an overtime game. I don't remember seeing much of Cole Clayton in the period. 16 yr old Dan Baker has now drawn in for a lot more ice-time. Clayton didn't look that great in the early going so that must be why the Tigers dressed 7 defenceman tonight.


Third Period

The Tigers would respond quickly in the third period. 23 Seconds into the period, David Quenneville would put a hard snapshot on the net and Mark Rassell would find the rebound in the slot and put it through Myskiw's five-hole for the Hat-Trick! 3-2 Tigers

The teams would continue to trade highlight-reel chances. Brandon had a 2-0 and Hollett came up huge. Haden would have a prime chance after he was tripped up at the net. He still managed to get a stick on the puck and beat Myskiw but rolled the puck through the crease.

Tigers Momentum
Daniel Bukac fired the puck out of bounds in his own zone and that would mean a Tigers power play.
On the powerplay. While the Tigers didn't score they generated a lot of momentum off it.

Mid-way through the period Brandon would turn the momentum.

Brandon Ties the Game
From behind the net, Quenneville let out a poor outlet pass from his back-hand which was intercepted. To recover 4 Tigers were down deep in the corner which left the front of the net open.

Evan Weinger would block a clearing attempt from Kristians Rubins walked around the net and find Linden McCorrister who was wide open. McCorrister would shot the puck low blocker and it somehow found a hole through Jordan Hollett. 3-3 TIE    

Notes:
The Tigers fired 25 shots in net during the period. I thought it was a typo at first.

OVERTIME......

Brandon with a ton of pressure. The Tigers look like they can barely skate and Hollett is playing phenomenal.   Braden Schneider would throw a shot/pass into the slot and Linden McCorrister would tip it past Jordan Hollett. Final 4-3 Brandon

Thoughts
Darn! Who would have thought the Tigers would go out 4 straight after destroying the wheat kings in the first two games? Props off to Brandon for adapting and winning away from their home rink. They were the better team and deserve the 2nd round. It feels so frustrating knowing that Mason Shaw was so close to returning yet wasn't able to draw in.

Thanks to Mark Rassel, Michael Bullion and Kristians Rubins
Rassell played his heart out and received massive amounts of ice-time. He ended up with a hat-trick tonight. Kristians was IMO the Tigers best defenceman all year.  Good Luck to Michael Bullion in his future who played lights out hockey down the stretch run 

Brief Season in Review
Never seen the team go through that many injuries. They were never able to dress a healthy lineup all season. With Fischer leaving, shaw's season-ending injury and all the other injuries that happened, this year was largely a write-off and the Tigers used it to re-tool their roster for the future.


Winning the Central Division was awesome, but a first-round exit always leaves a bitter taste. Would have loved to see a Re-match with Lethbridge in round 2. 

Up Next
WHL Bantam Draft, May 3rd

Over the next week or two, I will generate a next year post, as well as a review of all my Pre-Season Eastern Conference Thoughts I posted earlier in the season to see how I did.

What are your thoughts on this season? Leave A Comment 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Game 5: Brandon 5 @ Tigers 2

Series: 3-2 Brandon
Game 1: Brandon 2 Tigers 7
Game 2: Brandon 3 Tigers 7
Game 3: Tigers 3 Brandon 5
Game 4: Tigers 2 Brandon 5
Game 5: Brandon 5 Tigers 2
Game 6: April 1st
Game 7: April 3rd (If Needed)

Links
WHL GameSheet
Wheaties push Tigers to the brink - MH News
Tigers De-Railed by Wheat Kings - Tigershockey.com
Tigers allow five straight goals, fall to What Kings in Game 5 - Chat News

Pre-Game Notes
Jordan Hollet in the Net
Linus Nassen - GameTime decision and Drew in Tonight.

Tiger Scratches
Mason Shaw - Getting fit with a brace. The Tigers are taking it day by day, but it sounds like he may not make it in time for round 1.
Elijah Brown - Injured
Dylan Macpherson -Likely out for playoffs
Trevor Longo - Out for a while
James Hamblin - Broken wrist, out for playoffs


Brandon Scratches
Logan Thompson -Injury
Baron Thompson - Healthy
Jonny Hooker - Injury
Ty Ettinger - Healthy

First Period
The Tigers would get an unlucky break. A big blast from David Quenneville smacked the goaltender up high. During the save Myskiw's blocker & catcher came up high and popped lose his mask. The mask would fall off as he dropped to his knees moments before Jaeger white tapped the rebound in the net. The Refs called it no goal...bad break.The mask stays on it's probably a good goal.

Ty Lewis from Brandon would come close to scoring ringing iron. 30 seconds later the Tigers would score first. Quenneville fed a very nice pass over to Ryan Chyzowski who fired the puck top shelf glove side. 1-0 Tigers


Notes:
Pretty even period. Prime scoring chances were close. The refs are letting them play but also calling coincidental penalties and taking both players out. Quenneville has thrown 3 big hits. He looks like a man on a mission.


Second Period
Tigers would add to their lead on a fast break 30 seconds into the period. Preziuso with some nice work skating out of his zone let go a pass out into the slot. Jevne neatly tied up his man which left Chyzowski open at the side of the net. Chyzowski performed a quick stickhandle and fired the puck over Myskiw's arm. 2-0 Tigers 

The Tigers would get into some penalty trouble as Cole Clayton would get called for a 4-minute slew-footing penalty and Brandon's Zach Wytinck would take a 2-minute holding penalty, bear hugging Mark Rassell off a partial breakaway.

After Brandon's' portion of the penalty expired, the Tigers would get a little bit too aggressive with only a couple seconds left in the penalty kill. Both defencemen would get caught in the corner throwing hits and that left an opening in the middle of the ice for Brandon. Stelio Mattheos would walk out from the corner and attempt a wraparound shot.  The puck would escape his grasp and  Ty Lewis was charging in from the point managed to beat an outstretched Hollet with a backhand shot.  2-1 Tigers.

Both teams would trade momentum. The Tigers managed to get a few very high-quality chances, including David Quenneville ripping one off the crossbar. Brandon, in turn, would respond with a couple chances off a power play and some sustained momentum late in the period.

With 3 minutes to go in the third Wheat King defenceman, Schael Higson would rip a point shot and Luka Burzan would deflect the puck right in front of Hollett. 2-2 TIE 

Notes:
We are seeing some old time hockey here. Both teams are hitting, and hitting hard any chance they can. David Quenneville must have eaten a few cans of spinach as he's thrown 7-8 big time hits through 2 periods of play.  One of the most exciting periods of hockey all year, both teams are going all out. The Tigers had control early, Brandon with more control late.


Third Period

Brandon continued their momentum right from the get-go. The Tigers would juggle their lines, but in this case , it would hurt them.  Cole Clayton pinched and no Tiger forward recognized this and turned back.  The result was that Brandon had an odd-man rush the other way. Connor Gutenberg would rip a shot top shelf and Brandon would take their first lead of the hockey game. 3-2 Brandon

The Tigers would start to unravel a bit. Veteran David Quenneville who was having such a good game, took a frustrating penalty, giving 3 straight un-necessary cross-checks to Wheat King Schael Higson.

 On the powerplay ,Schael Higson would take a shot from the point and Hollett lost track of it. Linden McCorrister was able to squeak past Kristians Rubins and poke the puck in for a 2 goal lead.
4-2 Brandon

Tigers would be unable to score with the goalie pulled and Stelio Mattheos would would find an empty-netter. Final Score 5-2 Brandon

Thoughts
Very exciting game. I thought up until Clayton took a slew-footing penalty in the second the Tigers were in the game and had the advantage. After that small period of hockey where Rassell was hauled down on a partial breakaway, and Brandon scored on their 4-minute powerplay, they took the game over and were clearly the better team from that point onwards. In the third period, it seemed every other rush was an odd-man rush for Brandon.  

A heartbreaker. The away team won for the first time in the series. The Tigers face a tough task of needing 2 straight victories to escape the first round of the playoffs.


Next Up 
Game 6 Sunday, April 1st in Dauphin