Thursday, October 29, 2015

Imports, Trades & Other Stuff

Some of this is old news by now, this was written last week, but made a few changes with the recent trade, callups and injuries. Some of it is still outdated which I will edit later.

Tamas Laday
Tamas Laday has been waived. The Hungarian import was acquired from the Spokane Chief's in the off-season for an 8th round pick. He started out the season in the top 4 but was replaced fairly quickly into the bottom pairing. He was making some mistakes that maybe typical of a young 16-17 yr old defender, but not what you want to see from a veteran 19 yr old. Simple mistakes like rushing forward with an oncoming forward and consistently making the first move that was widely avoidable.

Alexei Platanov
According to Bob Ridley Alexei was sent back home to Russia. Alexei was the Tigers Import Selection last draft. I found from another source that Alexei was having difficulties blending into the Canadian culture with the language barrier and it was a mutual decision to be granted a release.

Jevne Suspended 4 Games
Ryan Jevne was suspended 4 games for a hit on Evan Polei of the Red Deer Rebels. Polei wasn't in the lineup for Red Deer Friday night. An aftergame interview by Sutter suggested he had some initial symptoms and they were following the concussions protocol but thought he would be back soon. Polei was listed day to day on the WHL injury report.

Jevne has served 2 of his 4 game suspension.

I Couldn't get a good replay of the hit. It looked like an open ice hit coming from the blindside where he clipped Polei. A suspension of 2 Games has been the standard for most hits to the head.

David Quenneville
Took a high hit last Saturday against Saskatoon and didn't return to the game. The WHL weekly report lists him out for 1-2 weeks as an "upper body" injury.

James Hamblin
Hamblin is off to the World Under 17's challenge.  The tournament  kicks off Oct. 30 to Nov. 7 in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, B.C.

Spokane Wednesday and 15 yr Old Callups
Spokane just got last year's leading scorer Adam Helewka back from San Jose's farm team. The Tigers had 2 15 yr old callups dressed in Josh Mcneil, and Baxter Anderson. They both played a regular 4th line shift alongside Zach Fischer where they received ample playing time. The young guys stepped up big time pulling an even plus/minus.

16-17 Crop
Wedmesday night we saw flashes into the future. Fantillo, Gerlach, Preziuso Shaw, the young guns led the way as they all had 2 and 3 point nights. Schneider was in the net for the first time since the trade acquisition of Austin Lotz. He had a tough start but turned aside 23 of 25 shots.

Trevor  Cox traded to Vancouver
Trevor Cox was traded to the Vancouver Giants. He became expendable after goaltending and defense issues prompted movement and an additional overage player. It is not very often you hear about a 100 pont player becoming expendable. The Tigers got a veteran defenceman who most likely will be here as a 20 to help out the inexperienced group.

The Tigers received a 2nd round pick in 2018, as well as 19 yr old defenceman Clayton Kirichenko.

Vancouver article on the trade:

Thoughts on the future.(This was written before the trade)

Breaking down the Roster 

The older the age group the more critical the criteria for skill. The 17's and below are judge more on skill and reachable potential, while the older players are more judge on current skill.

Josh Mcneil (15)
Ryan Chyzowski (15)
Baxter Anderson(15)

Too early to say the strength of this group. If these players can turn into core players, this age-group has the making for something above average, but judging strictly on potential is dangerous.

1999 (16's)
James Hamblin, Tyler Preziuso,  Rylan Rommelaere
This class is on par for average, but has potential to become above average and excellent with future additions. It is too early to judge.

1998 (17's)
 (Quenneville, Shaw, Gerlach, Fantillo, Jevne)

I would say this group right now sits at a half notch above average,. This group looks to be the best age group on the tigers in terms of skill\depth\reachable potential but their is still a lot of development needed.  I'm hoping that while they are young everyone shows marked improvement in the second half of this season.

1997 (18's)
Bradley, Fischer,. Rassall, Forrest, Heid, Schultz, Schneider

Right now the group is average calibre.  Their is some development here needed to bounce that into above average territory which can be reached.

Fischer is falling behind on the depth charts.

Rassall, Bradley, Schultz - I'm putting them all at a slight notch below core status. Rassall with his inspired play is  tracking to be there by mid-season if he can keep playing well consistently. Bradley I think needs to be pushed a little. He had a tough start to the season with his surgery. I am hoping that with the loss of Cox, and Sanford he steps his game up and takes over the leadership role in terms of scoring. Schultz is getting a ton of ice-time he will be leaned upon next season to be the Shutdown guy.

1996 (19's)
Owre, Butcher, Mowbray, Clouston

I'd say this group is average, perhaps a slight notch below just because they have less depth than most teams.

Sanford, Cox, Stanton, Lotz

This group is in the excellent category, even with the deletion of one overage.

Next Season
Forwards )
Owre(20) Bradley(19) Butcher(20)
 Rassal(19)  Shaw(18)  Max Gerlach(18)
Jevne(18) James Hamblin(17) Fantillo(18) 
Fischer(19) Tyler Preziuso(17) Ryan Chyzowski(16)
Josh Mcneil(16)

*This is pretty much the roster they are playing with right now with the injuries they had to cox/sanford. What we have seen over the past week and the next is what we will see next season.

Ty Schultz(19)   David Quenneville(18)
Brad Forrest(19) Connor Clouston(20)

Nick Schneider(19)
Rylan Rommelaere(17)

Season After
 Rassal(20)  Shaw(19)  Max Gerlach(19) 
Jevne(19) James Hamblin(18) Fantillo(19) 
 Josh Mcneil (17)Tyler Preziuso(18) Ryan Chyzowski(17)
Prospect Prospect Prospect

Ty Schultz(20)   David Quenneville(19)
Rylan Rommelaere(18)

Typical Championship team
They have a very strong ( at least 5 core/key guys) in each 18,19 year old age group supplemented by good quality 20's, which are generally found cheaper on the trade market. 

The Tigers generally like a consistent approach to all of their age groups, where eventually a couple above average crops comes along and they have an above average year. They really strive for balance so the down years are never terrible. 

Next " Peak Up Cycle"
The next "up cycle" appears to be in 2 seasons when the young forward/defensive core "matures" to the 18/19 yr old age group.  I should say that a lot can happen between now and then and this cycle may shift depending on the development of these players and the moves that are made.  I think it's a blessing in disguise with the injuries to Cox/Sanford as these young guys are forced into ice-time.

The Tigers also have room to add 2 imports, which could easily change the dynamic of the team depending on their skill.  It might be beneficial next season to look for 2 18 yr old imports( or 1-17, 1-18) so they both have a year to develop before the " up cycle"

The Tigers also have an extra 2nd and 3rd round pick in the 2018 draft, which could be used to bolster this group as well. The defense is potentially looking a bit lean in 2 years but their is potential for a strong base. In my opinion they need to add to this.

Schneider is debatable. He is signed so I'm unsure if he will be here as a 20, but with how his development is going it maybe wise for the flames to keep him in Junior for his 20yr old season. You could say he is tracking on a similar path to Langhamer of last season.

The weaknesses are size up front, defensive depth, perhaps goaltending depending on Schneider's status. Always wonder about scoring, but that is difficult to judge young players on.
 I really hope by the end of the season we have 3 or 4 of these young forwards starting to become semi-dangerous where they are winning the majority of battles regardless of if they are getting points or not. We are starting to see that with the young 17 yr old line of gerlach, shaw, fantillo.

What direction to go
The off-season defensive acquisitions fell flat which obviously didn't help the tigers.  Perhaps it's a good thing but the Central Division appears weaker than normal this year.

If I'm the Tigers I'm looking at bolstering the 15,16,17 year old age group as much as possible, with maintaining the ability still be a playoff team. The young guys will have good games and poor games

Bolstering the 18/19 yr age group is a short-term fix in a down year, which in the long-term strips value away from the team, however if they could look at getting a cheap solution if they do indeed trade one of their overage forwards as long as it is not the main piece in the deal and more of a throw-in.

Playoff Question
 I see a situation down the road where the Tigers are in the thick of making the playoffs, yet also have teams knocking on their door about players like sanford/Cox/Owre/Butcher. I could also see players such as Fischer, Mowbray, Forrest available but that would warrant young players in return. Still their could be another move made if a whl team is looking to add to their 18yr old group, and it could benefit the Tigers to add to their 17 or 16 group.

Best case scenario they make the playoffs and add to the young core. Next season they should be better than this year.   Mark down 2017/2018 as their talent projects to be at a "peak up cycle" barring massive unforeseen circumstances which no-one can predict.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Tigers Acquire Defenceman

The Medicine Hat Tigers and Portland Winterhawks struck a deal on Friday with the Tigers acquiring 97 born defenceman and Fridley, Minnesota native, Nick Heid in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2017 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft.

With the deal, the Tigers are sending back the pick they acquired last season for Miles Koules.

As a 16 year old, Heid put up 27 points in 20 games patrolling the Ohama “AAA” Lancers blueline prior to coming over to the WHL.

My Thoughts

Heid stands 6'4 195 lbs. He is on the NHL Central Scoutings "players to watch" listed with a C rating.
Seems like a very nice pickup that didn't cost a lot for a good young defenceman. Portland had 8 Dman on the roster including 3 16's, so they had room to move. I watched a few of his videos and he shows a physical presence.

We'll wait to see him play but my initial thoughts are: If he is worth of the C rating I really like this move. This puts the Tigers roster at 8 DMan. This move opens up some defensive flexibility.

Before this trade happened, and regardless of their decisions on the Overage front they needed to bring in another good young defenceman because their cupboards were pretty lean. Their next "up cycle" is in 2 or 3 years. So bringing in this player will greatly help boost that "up cycle"  if he turns out to be a solid player.

What Happens Next
If the Tigers are going to sell an overage forward I would expect they would want another forward in return. They now have the  manpower depth on the back-end to cut/move a Dman. Whether that Dman is Stanton we will wait and see however I think they will still be hurting big-time on the back-end if they do. I'd be more of a fan of moving Laday out,  but the import status makes that harder to do.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tigers Acquire OA Goaltender Austin Lotz

Calgary, AB – The Western Hockey League completed its 20-year-old cut-down draft on Thursday afternoon.
 The Medicine Hat Tigers added 1995-born goaltender Austin Lotz who was released by the Everett Silvertips. The St. Adolphe, MB product has posted a 73-61-7-8 record in four seasons with Everett to go along with a 2.95 goals against average and a .902 career save percentage.
 The Spokane Chiefs have added 20-year-old forward Luke Harrison who was released by the Kamloops Blazers. The native of West Kelowna, BC is in his fifth WHL season and has amassed 30 points (17g-13a) in 183 games played.
 WHL teams had until 10:00 a.m. MT on Thursday to reduce the number of 20-year-old players on their roster to the maximum of three.
 All other 20-year-olds who were available but not selected in the cut-down draft now become free agents.
What this means
The Tigers placed Cox on the IR. They will have 2 weeks to make a decision on who to keep after Cox comes off the IR.
Picking up an OA is the smart thing to do. They will still have a question on what direction to go after Cox is back from injury. Is Lotz just a couple month rental or can he force himself to be a keeper? If so who else goes? Do the Tigers make trades in other areas that will change the dynamic of the team? 

Lotz likely supplants himself temporarily as the #1 starter. Schneider as the backup, Johnson as the 3rd string. If the Tigers cut Johnson its a sign that other moves are imminent, but I think they will hold onto him for now.
Their defensive game is still an issue, but we will see how they perform with a veteran goalie behind them. 
I have a big post coming up after this weekend.