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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Don't take stock into line combos, just for depth purposes.
Shaw isn't a right-winger and would slot in as a centre.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I'll put an estimation out in the summer with the Eastern Conference Review as well as a projected goal total.
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?