Noah Boyko(16) 16th overall 2017
Lethbridge should have a very strong Top 6 with 4 players that could hit the PPG mark.(Taylor Ross, Jordy Bellerive, Jadon Joseph, Dylan Cozens) A couple more squeaking close by (Jake Elmer, Logan Barlage).
They have a veteran roster with a bundle of depth 18's looking for ice-time on the 3rd and 4th lines.
It may be unlikely that overage Ryan Vandervlis returns to the Hurricanes. He suffered a devasting off-ice accident involving fire. They may look to acquire another Overage Player if he isn't quite ready to return.
Merezhko's status is uncertain being an OA import. I've left him off, but he is eligible to return. If he comes back the canes will have to drop an import as well as an OA (likely Matthew Stanley)
Their top 4 has veteran experience, supplemented with some younger players looking to crack the team.
Addison, a 2nd round NHL draft pick, is a great puck mover who sees the ice very well. He can put up some points on the back-end, but was one of the lowest +/- guys on their team. Prefontaine saw 1st line minutes with Merezhko last season.
Stanley and Wilson were 3rd pairing guys who had more ice-time than your typical 3rd line pairing in the regular season.
I see this defence as veteranly average. Similar to the Tigers defence from last season. (older veteran guys with experience that can hold their own, but beatable by Top Line players)
They don't have the strength or defensive depth they have had the last couple seasons. They do have a potential 3rd OA spot they can use, that could bump this group into the above average category.
Akira Schmid(18) G - Signed
Danila Palivko(17) D - Signed
Igor Merezhko D (20) - OA
Reece Klassen(19)(.887) (23 games experience)
Akira Schmid(18) 5th round NHL New Jersey Selection
Bryan Thomson(16) WHL 2nd rounder in 2017
I'm going to put their goaltending at average with a big question mark??? Akira Schmid, their 20th overall Import selection is relatively unknown. The scouting reports I read on him says he has a lot of potential, but is still a little raw. He put up excellent showings at international events but played for poor teams back home. He will likely compete for Switzerland at the world juniors as he was their 3rd string goaltender last season. This spot seems volatile.
Other OA& Player Notes
Ryan Vandervlis(20)(1.00) - Suffered a Serious and unfortunate accident over the off-season. He spent a few weeks in the ICU with burns over half his body. He has undergone 5 surgeries and will need a few more. His family says they expect him to make a full recovery. I have no idea on if he will be able to play this season.
Note: Suggests this year should be their "peak up-cycle" with their strong 2014/2015 drafts. Late positions in their 16 and 17yr old class suggest they may not have high-end depth in those age groups, however..........
They managed to draft an exceptional player in Dylan Cozens. He is a potential Top 3 NHL pick for next years NHL entry draft. Lethbridge also traded for the 4th overall WHL pick in the 2016 draft in Logan Barlage.
Memorial Cup 2020
I feel that this bid according to their drafting outlook seems very risky. There is pretty high potential that Jordy Bellerive will not be back as an overage (signed with the Penguins last season). It could be possible that Dylan Cozens may be playing in the NHL next season. Their other 18yr olds are underwhelming with their later positions in the draft.
IMO Lethbridge should have drafted 2 older Imports, beefed up their overage crop and looked to make some noise for this season. I worry about their depth for 2020. As of now they are too thin for 2020 and will need to make some moves to beef up. As Regina found out a couple seasons ago it is very expensive to acquire 18yr olds.. I fear Lethbridge might be on a path that leads to the same mistake and the new trade rules will make it more difficult for them.
I feel that is why they traded Zane Franklin(19) away for an 18yr old. I expect more moves to be made especially on defence as it is nowhere near championship calibre for 2020.
I take a big breath and go. "It could work" but I feel the chances of them failing are higher than their chances at succeeding. Nonetheless, I fully expect them to considerably alter their path for this season, or I'd rate their bid potentially behind other candidates in terms of having a competitive team.
They have excelled at making deals which has bolstered their positions in the standings the last couple seasons. I think their path this season is very interesting because they should be tempted to bolster for this year, but may very likely try to push it back to next season.
.500 Winning Percentage
The strength of this team the last couple seasons has been with their defensive gameplay and goaltending. Combined with a couple elite forwards it has catapulted them far into the playoffs. This season their roster is a bit different.
Their offence looks stronger with solid depth and scoring. Their goaltending is unknown and their defence might not be as strong as the past couple seasons. Their current goaltending group only has a combined 23 games of experience. If their Import goaltender is a little bit raw, it could be an area of concern.
If they intend to host the Memorial Cup in 2020, I feel like this season will be "very tempting". I also feel like they need more oomf for next year if they want to host the memorial cup as mentioned above.
I personally feel it is a mistake to gear up for 2020 and they would be better served gearing up for this season. I see them finishing anywhere from 1st to 3rd, depending on what route they take.
Canes Fans, let me know your thoughts!
Medicine Hat Tigers ( Won't be put up for about a week)