The Tigers season officially came to an end Saturday night in Edmonton as they lost a 4-3 decision to the Oil Kings. The Oil Kings Take the Series 3-1.
Congratulations to Dylan Bredo who on Saturday night played in his 400th career WHL Game. (including playoffs, all with the Tigers)
Congratulations to Curtis Valk who played in his 319th Career WHL game, again all with the Tigers. Watching the transition this kid made from getting stapled in the corner every game, to someone who could turn signed WHL defenseman inside out and put up massive points. It's probably the biggest improvement I have seen from a player in the whl with the Tigers.
Congratulations to Jake Doty who scored his first career playoff goal in his last playoff game, and put up big improvements in his last two years here as a Tiger.
Cole Sanford - Went from 11 points to 73. He also led the Tigers in scoring during the playoffs.
Tommy Vannelli - The Tigers unexpectedly received a star 2nd round defenseman after he decided to not go the NCAA route.
Marek Langhamer - had a bit of an up and down season early, but turned into a star goalie and was a HUGE factor on why the Tigers made it to the 3rd round of the WHL playoffs.
Hunter Shinkaruk - Despite a season ending injury mid-season from Shinkaruk, the team was able to come together and play better overall.
Year in Review
This might not be a popular opinion but I thought that with the tools the Tigers had to work with this season it is a little bitter sweet. With how the season played off the Tigers had a good year with the roster they had making it to the 3rd round.
I thought they had the pieces to be a WHL contender. With the injury to shinkaruk, and the decision to keep Doty instead of Leier, those two players in the lineup could have given the Tigers a potent top two scoring lines instead of just one, and they probably didn't add players based on what they had.
It's just a little bittersweet knowing that the Tigers could have been more of a threat had the season played out differently.
Players To Watch For Next Season
Chad Butcher - Has last years Cole Sanford written on him. 3 Game Winners in the swift series, the 5'9 forward has been able to to win quite a few battles in the corners and could be a key cog in next years top 6.
Blake Penner - Every-time this kid gets on a roll he seemed to get injured. If he can stay healthy he is one of the Tigers better 2 way forwards. Like Butcher he wins a lot of the small battles. He should be able to play in a bigger role next season
Connor Hobbs - He looked like a veteran when he was called up at the end of the season. He threw a big hit every game, and his smarts looked like he had played a full season up here.
Trevor Cox - He doubled his point totals last season and scored 8 playoff goals. He will be looked on to provide a lot of offense next season
Cole Sanford - 11 points to 73 points. I thought Sanford missed about 4 chances for every chance he scored on. He is sneaky and smart. His 11 goals in the playoff tells us that he can put up big numbers again next season.
Dylan Bredo - Graduated
Jake Doty - Graduated
Curtis Valk - Graduated
Hunter Shinkaruk - Pro's - Even though I don't think he is 100% ready for the next level, it is likely the Canucks will have him in their system for next season.
Tommy Vannelli - He quickly showed why he was a 2nd round draft pick, but over the course of the season showed a little wear and tear and became apparent that physically he is not ready for the next level. The Blues have signed him to an ELC contract. Since he was drafted out of high school he will be eligible to play in the AHL at 19. Its up to the blues on where they want to put him. They have a lot of Dman in their system, so I'd put the odds at a 50-50 chance he is back next season.
Tyler Lewington - I thought Lewington's game took off in the playoffs. He was consistently one of the top blue-liners every night. The intense physical nature of the playoffs seemed to spark his game up a notch. Prior to the playoffs I thought he was a candidate to back next season. We will have to see what Washington wants to do with him for next year they will still have to sign him.
Competing for Next Year's Overager's
Miles Koules - Likely to come back for his overage season.
Tyler Lewington - Questionable - He is not signed yet, but if he does sign he could play pro next season.
Kyle Becker - Probable to be back
Marek Langhamer - Phoenix has already said it is likely he plays in the WHL as an overager. Based on his performance in the playoffs he is a lock.
Barring trades I think the top 3 are: Koules,Lewington,Langhamer, if Lewington doesnt return Becker is in there. (there is also an outside chance Koules could get picked up in the off-season)
Depth Charts (not estimated line combos)
Cox(19) Sanford(19) Koules(20)
Ast(19) Owre(18) Butcher(18)
Penner(18) Eisenschmid(19) Broadhead(19)
Labelle(19) Mowbray(18) Bradley(17)
Looking at the roster for next year a big factor will be the return of their experienced blue-liners. Missing your #1, and #2 guy could be a big blow to the back-end if both move on to play pro's. If both (lewington/vannelli come back the Tigers defense with their goal-tending will be a strongpoint. It is looking like their will be a logjam back there.
Next year it will be Cox and Sanford who will be the guys who are targeted on offensively. It seems at first glance that they will have a similar Calibre team next year to this year if their blue-liners return, although they will miss a game-breaker like Curtis Valk, hopefully sanford, and cox can prove to be game-breakers next season.