Edit: Tigers reassigned reassigned F Uriah Machuga, 18, to junior A. He is expected to play somewhere in the BCHL.
Alright before we get into some overall preseason prediction its time to take a look at some of the potential strengths and weaknesses of next years team.
This position should be a pretty big strength for the Tigers this season. Tyler Bunz was still a rookie in early parts of last season and developed into a consistent #1 whl starter in the second half. The Tigers defense was victim to making a couple big mistakes every game and Tyler Bunz was making key saves look routine. He stepped up his game in the playoffs and was a big reason for the Tigers success. Look for Bunz to get on a roll earlier in the season. If he can keep his rebounds in control and the Tigers defense are able to control the crease Bunz will be capable of stealing a game on any given night.
Backup: Dubyk or Macauley? Well if the Tigers are looking to make an extended run it may be wise to go with experience over youth. However if Dawson Macauley turns out to be as good as Devan Dubyk at only 16 years of age, experience like this would be invaluable for his future and the Tigers.
Tyler Bunz should also be here next year as a 19 year old. If Macauley is the goalie of the future it would still be a pretty good learning environment next year being eased into a handful of games while going through the whl grind. It is a tough decision, Macauley will have to outperform Devan Dubyk to stay and It could be possible that the Tigers carry 3 goalies for an extended time. Dubyk could also hold some trade value as being an experienced backup that might be able to push another teams #1. Very similar to when Blaine Nuefeld was traded to Saskatoon(then vancouver) when Ryan Holfeld out-battled him. I expect this position will be heavily contested.
Jace Coyle will be a key player. If he comes back the Tigers will have an above average experienced top 4. A powerplay specialist, and defensive specialist, and 2 tough fairly mobile s.o.b's with long reaches that like to hit. Crease clearing and defensive play around the net should be a big strength. I beleive they are mobile and smart enough to keep the parade to the box to a minimum.
Then there are some good younger players to fight it out over the the last defensive pairing. Parkkonen looks like a potential pp quarterback for the future. Scott Mackay is a hard worker with above average hockey sense, still a little young on the experience side, but I like his chances to be one of those guys that come from nowhere to become a key member. I could see him pushing for ice time by Christmas.
That leaves Businius and Sohn. Both players are pushing for a consistent lineup spot. I have a feeling that the Tigers are keeping a heavy eye on Sohn. Being a 19 year old with limited experience he might be an odd guy out. It would be tough to get rid of the local kid who has worked extremely hard over the summer.
If Coyle moves on to the pros they will be missing a powerplay quarterback and may have to invest in another defensman. Parkonen being a young import rookie will probably see his fair time sitting on the sidelines unless he manages to turn heads early and often. He could also be used as the PP quarterback on the 2nd PP unit.
konan(19) Owuya (19)
Businius Mackay, parkonen Sohn
If Coyle is plucked off to the pros they wont have to cut anyone, but they may need to upgrade. I do hope that Willie Desjardins does us a favor and sends Coyle back for another year. The good thing about goal-tending and defense is that most of these guys are returning players with experience.
Still a bunch of question marks here. I beleive Emerson Etem will be back for another year. At most they keep him for a few games and send him back in the middle of october. Wacey Hamilton is another big question mark. I hope he earns a contract but is sent back for his overage year. Getting him back for another year would be a HUGE blessing as the Tigers would have an incredible 1-2 punch, with their top 6 having incredible speed, skill and physical element to their game.
Their forwards may not all be here for the start of the season. At the end of last season Bredo and petryk played really well on the 4th line. The line combos down below are for depth purposes but they have many different scenarios to work with. The Tigers will have a very good top 2 lines, a pretty solid 2-way 3rd line, and a rookie 4th line that has the potential to be an offensive threat.
Vey Hamilton Pitlick
xxxx Etem Harrison
Leier, Shinkaruk, Petryk, Bredo, Valk, Zakaryan, Sheen, Oulette, Mospanchuck, Frazer??
This season feels similar to the 06-07 season. Lots of questions then Keetley and dorsett both came back for their overage year and proved to be team leaders. Similar situation with Coyle, and Hamilton.
I was a little surprised that the CHL or thn writers didn't look at this years team with the potential that I did, but then I thought they probably expect both Coyle, and Hamilton to play pro. The Tigers will still need to gel as a team, and communicate effectively to become an elite team. They will need to get over that 1/2 -3/4 season slump that seems to hit them every year, however this year with players going to wjc camps at christmas its almost bound to happen.
Owuya, pitlick, and the rookies are not used to long seasons. Many vets will have long seasons from being invited to pro camps, and potential WJC camps at Christmas. Etem layed out a tweet last month that sounded like he was feeling a little hockey overloaded in the summer months. I think its important that they dont burn out and can get some time away from the game to refresh during the season.
The Tigers have potential to make some noise. I hope that the fans dont get on their case if they struggle early. It may take them a little while to gel, with all the questions and 9 players off to nhl camps. All that matters is how their playing at the end of the season. The early season is just a building block.