Friday, February 26, 2021

Initial Roster Thoughts

The Tigers have a lot of changes this season. Players not returning
Soogard, Brinkman, Plouffe, Hamblin, Gavlas, Brown, Lockner, Anderson,McNabb, Plouffe, Perna

The Equivalent of 2 full lines + 1. Big changes usually bring some volatility.

Forwards
McCarry Chyzowski Hopwo
Danielson Svejkovsky Kemp  
Glover Weisblatt  Wilms
Boehm/Shtrom Patton Ferster

Initial Thoughts
The Tigers could go with a top-down approach of giving a lot of ice-time to a powerline of Chyzowksi, Kemp, Svejkovksy, which they may do in crunch time, powerplay, and late in games. For overall health and longevity, they may decide to spread the wealth out for more balance which is the typical direction of Desjardins coaching style.

 Experience wise this is probably one of the leanest or more polarizing forward groups the Tigers have seen in a long time. The loss of the imports not coming back dampers secondary depth up front. They have some top-end strength and then a lot of inexperience. They have a record high of 5 16yr olds up front...which will probably mean a more powerful forward group in a few years

The interesting thing is that when the USHL season ends and Cole Sillinger returns it will change the dynamic of this group to be above average barring any significant covid tests or injury issues. 

Youthful lineups tend to do well early and then fade quickly. With a shortened season let's hope that this youth comes out of the gate strong and then Sillinger is able to return to provide some stability.


Defence

Baker Clayton
Krebs Van Impe
Agyman/Brook/Parsons

A balanced and above-average group. Great veterans in Baker and Clayton. A good mix of future top liners with Krebs and Van Impe and some youth.  I think Van Impe has been a little under-rated. I've seen flashes of incredibly strong smart play when he's on his game and playing with confidence
Krebs is a puck mover who will likely be a cornerstone for fast transitions in years to come. With that top 4 there is a degree of strength there.


Goaltending 
Bjorklund
Langkow

Bjorklund competed for the top position last year and we have full confidence that he will become a top goaltender in the league and should be again next year.


Overall Thoughts
The Tigers defence and goaltending are above average. A veteran defensive group and strong goaltending. Their forward core has a very high turnover and there is potential volatility there. An injury to a key player could spell a bit of trouble.  Defencemen may need to adjust based on if they are playing with the experienced forwards vs the inexperienced youth.

The positive is that the Tigers have 3 players in the top 2 rounds of the whl bantam draft entering as 16 yr olds, including highly-touted Oasiz Wiesblatt. It could not be a better time to infuse youth into the lineup with a short season.

However...there is a catch22  Does the competition stack their lineup with shortened benches? Jumping right into the season the risk/reward ratio of using older players with more ice-time is definitely a factor. There could more a lot more recovery time than usual, which also comes with the risk of losing those players to injury with a shortened season.  If you are a coach that has an "overwhelm" type strategy or is at risk at their job expect them to quickly shorten their bench. 

We don't know the full schedule and it's very possible that we see 1 or 2-week gaps between schedule releases so other divisions can catch up to games being played.

Normally I would have gone through all the opposition rosters and grabbed a feel for their strengths but I haven't this season. I know Edmonton is going to have a team to beat and probably a favorite to win the league and the Tigers play them twice in the first 4 games.

In this 24 game short season anything can happen and it will be exciting to watch all these new younger kids. 

Some News Articles





Friday, February 19, 2021

2020-2021 Season

Who knows If anyone still checks this blog, but I've decided to start posting occasionally again. It will be read-only no comment mode.

Us Prospects Draft
The whl now performs a 3rd draft called the US Prospects draft. All WHL eligible US regions are eligible. The first draft was online almost a year ago and the first batch of  players hopefully arrive in the 2021-2022 season depending on the covid situation.

Banff Hockey Academy
The Banff Hockey Academy has moved to Medicine Hat.  Former Tigers Stefan Meyer, Emerson Etem, Jarred Sauer, Ben Thomson, Lorne Toews are listed as instructors. Tigers goaltending coach Matt Wong as well as Willie's son Brayden are listed as coaches.   The Tigers organization will have great insight to some High Caliber Alberta prospects with this school in their backyard. Unfortunately due to covid Hockey Alberta has cancelled all remaining games for the 2020-2021 season with a possibility of a spring season.


2021 Season Format
The WHL has announced they will compete in a 24 game season. The playoff format has yet to be announced. 

Teams will be competing against teams within their own division. To make things interesting, some divisions will be starting at different times

The U.S division will start play on March 18th
The Central division Starts play February 26th.
East division "intended" start date is March 12th.
The B.C division is not settled yet.

The East Division will have a "hub city" in Regina where all games will be played. 
In the BC division it's suspected they will have 2 Hub Cities in Kamloops and Kelowna; however details are still being worked out.

 The Calgary Hitmen will be playing out of the Tsuut'ina Nations Seven Chiefs Sportsplex as the saddledome has been taken up by the Flames and AHL's Stockton Heat


2021 Season Roster & Predictions
I'm not going to do a prediction this year as everything is so different and it takes up a ton of time.  
Their are a handful of players who are playing in other leagues. A positive covid test to a coach or key player could change everything as well.

 I've read that a few Imports are playing back in their home countries. There are also handful of American and Canadian kids who are playing in the USHL. There are older players and potential overages who've decided to play in leagues closer to home or elsewhere.

From what I remember Edmonton has an expected powerhouse team and is likely a strong candidate to win the league. Both Red Deer and Lethbridge seem to have youthful backends, but decent goaltenders.
 Every central team except Calgary has their rosters up on the WHL website.

Talent Losses Tigers
For the Tigers Imports Mads Sogaard, Jonathan Brinkman are playing in their home countries of Denmark and won't be back and I don't see the newly drafted import oskari kuntonen on the current roster

Cole Sillinger is expected to report after his season with the USHL Sioux Fall Stampede where he is putting up a 2PPG pace. The USHL season goes until April 24th. I don't know the status as to their playoffs. Sioux Falls has a 13-14-3-0 record for 6th out of 8 teams.

 It's also unfortunate that the plethora of good quality overages the Tigers have developed will be lost without any return value. Players such as Elijah Brown, Cyle Mcnabb, and Bryan Lockner appear to either be playing for other leagues or have been dropped from the roster.  In a normal year, I would think the Tigers could get an extra couple of draft picks from that.

Teams that were high in the cycle in terms of skill and experience will lose a lot of value, teams that are low in the cycle will highly benefit. I expect the overall age of the league may decline as a shortened season would benefit a rebuilding team.

WHL Fans & LIVE Stream
The whl has announced they are not letting fans in to watch games. As such the only method for viewing games would be online.

The CHL has changed its broadcasting partner to Verizon and I'm optimistic that means better quality.
They haven't said anything yet about the costs to watch. The season gets underway next Friday so hopefully, they have something in place shortly.

Is the broadcasting platform. All Home Openers will be available for free

Other Reading Material About the Tigers






Thursday, March 26, 2020

This Season And

Disappointing Finish
Such a disappointing end to this season. I don't really know what to say. For everyone's health cancelling the playoffs was likely inevitable, I just wish it could have happened in a season the Tigers didn't have a legitimate title shot.

The unknown of what could have happened is almost worst than if they were to have lost in 4 straight. It's for the best and one-day hockey will be back, but damn is it ever disappointing.


Back In November
Back in November, the Tigers were playing such good hockey that I thought they had a legitimate chance at winning the East.

My opinions however definitely wavered through the season. They could score goals, but they were also giving up 3 goals a game.

A month after their big trade I felt they had a good team, but it wasn't quite championship material. They weren't playing championship hockey..... More on this down below......

Made Some Moves
Willie Desjardins' first season back saw him make a bundle of solid hockey moves bringing in-depth and experience. Looking not only for this season but the next couple seasons.

Tigers made a big splash in the Trade Market giving up a 1st round pick, conditional 5th, Trevor Longo and Tyler Preziuso, for Dylan Plouffe, Lukas Svejkovsky and two 3rd round picks.

If you count total playing years, the Tigers got younger by a year. They traded away a 20 and 19 and received a 20 and 18 in return.

Svejkosvky could very well put up a ppg season next year and likely will be here as a 20. If that story comes true the Tigers gain 2 years of a ppg player. Yes, they loose an almost guaranteed player with their first-round pick, but they have an opportunity to make that up with 2 3rds coming back.


The Tigers also acquired some depth in Nick Perna, and important and underrated pickup in Cyle McNabb.



My True Thoughts on the Big Trade
I never expected Longo to get dealt.  I'll admit straight up after a month I still wasn't sure if I liked the deal. The Tigers hadn't regained their form from November and it felt like to me they were giving up more goals against. There were some early defensive gaffes by the new defenceman and he took some time to fit in. He slowly won me over though especially later in the season when I started seeing his influence in other defencemen on the team.



Something Changed With the Tigers
Maybe it was an easier schedule followed by ample practice time, but over the course of 2 weeks, my opinion of them, the big trade, and their season drastically improved.

 They made Calgary looks like a non-playoff team. Edmonton gave them a good matchup but the Tigers held an edge through the majority of the game.

They showed flashes of this back in November and now that the season was coming to a close this championship flash was back. I was extremely excited for this upcoming playoffs as they were starting to peak at the right time.



Defensive players such as Cole Clayton and Parker Gavlas were turning into monsters with an added ability to join the rush and create offence. This gave them some newfound confidence on the back-end to escape from high traffic situations. It was like they both flipped a switch in their games.

The forwards went from out of sync to completely in-sync and Mads found the old form that got him drafted in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. There is probably more to it than that, but they were playing like they were ready for the playoffs.

What Could Have Happened?
We will never know for sure, but IMO when they played as a team for a full 60 minutes they were the best team in the East.  The question is if they could have sustained their aggressive attack and stayed healthy for the duration of the playoffs.

Epic Playoffs
There was a high potential for epic playoff matchups. What if they were able to beat their rival Lethbridge, the Top Contender in Edmonton, last years memorial cup representative PA, and what if they were to have found a WHL Championship matchup against Kamloops? The Team that former longtime coach Sean Clouston was hired onto and found early success with. Maybe they would have dropped 4 straight games to Lethbridge, who knows?

We will never know and this season is going to Irk me for a long time.

Shout out to the Overage players (Hamblin, Gavlas, Plouffe) who had their season unexpectedly cut short, as well as some of the 19's who may not be back due to overage restrictions.


It's Been Fun
 Having said that, it's time for this blog to largely say goodbye. It's been an amazing 12 years hosting Tiger Content. The sole reason I started this blog was that back in the day the odd Newspaper article wasn't enough for me.  Every day I checked the standings and the box-scores and I wanted more. The world and social media have sure changed things.


 For those of you who enjoyed reading this blog, I thank you for sticking around. It is kinda cool to have created something with over 1.2 million views in 12 years, in a city with a population of 60K. We've even had players and scouts comment on here directly.

I've been burned out for some time now as you can tell by only a couple posts this season.
I'm still considering making 1 post a year for pre-season predictions right before training camp but I haven't truly decided on it yet.

 If someone wishes to create a new fan forum on whatever platform feel free to do so,  I will help in getting the word out.  Thanks again for everyone who ever made positive comments in a respectful manner!  I will be shutting comments off in a couple weeks.


Stay Healthy!
-TigerTurf

Friday, March 20, 2020

WHL Classic Game 7: Tigers Vs Giants Live @ 7:30

The WHL will be broadcasting the best WHL Finals Game Every Played Live at 7:30PM on youtube.
Tigers Vs Giants





https://youtu.be/jWZsbPOPhoI

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

WHL Announces conclusion of WHL Season - Tigers Finish 2nd In Central

WHL Announces the conclusion of the WHL Season. The Standings will be used based on winning percentage

Standings
https://whl.ca/article/western-hockey-league-announces-conclusion-of-regular-season
So Officially the Tigers earned 2nd spot in the Division.

The planned regular-season finish would have been this Sunday
----------

TypicalPlayoff Matchups
I don't believe the WHL has officially announced playoff matchups. It could very well be possible that the format is changed due to the virus

But here is what the playoffs would like under normal circumstances.

Central
Medicine Hat(2) Vs Lethbridge(3)
Edmonton(1) Vs Saskatoon(8)

East
Winnipeg(2) Vs Brandon(3)
Prince Albert(1) Vs Calgary(7)

B.C
Vancouver(2) vs Victoria(3)
Kamloops(1) vs Kelowna(7)

US
Portland(1) vs Seattle(8)
Everett(2) Vs Spokane(3)


Typical Playoff Round Start Dates
Round 1 - March 28th
Round 2 April 11th
Round 3 - April 25th
Round 4 - May 9th

Memorial Cup
May 22nd

COVID-19 Reschedule
The virus obviously changes things, so who knows what will happen.
If the virus lasted 2 months that would coincide with the start of the memorial cup.

Teams being off for 2 months would need some sort of mini-training camp to get their legs under them again. I could see a very short best of 3, or even best of 1 scenario playout IF COVID-19 is able to complete before June.  A Team like Calgary or Kelowna who have significant injuries could largely benefit from a delayed playoff.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, March 12, 2020

WHL Season Paused

https://whl.ca/article/chl-statement-2019-20-season-paused-until-further-notice

Toronto, Ont. – The Canadian Hockey League and its three regional leagues the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Western Hockey League, take the health and safety of our players, fans, volunteers, staff, and general public very seriously. CHL President Dan MacKenzie with Commissioners David Branch, Gilles Courteau, and Ron Robison have been monitoring the situation in regards to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) including what local, provincial, and federal health agencies have recommended. Following consultation with medical professionals and meetings today among the CHL Executive Council, and regional league Board of Governors, the CHL announces that the balance of the 2019-20 season and all hockey activity shall be paused immediately until further notice.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Tigers Make Blockbuster Deal With Vancouver


Links
https://whl.ca/video/giants-tigers-strike-blockbuster-deal-saturday-afternoon
https://tigershockey.com/article/tigers-make-blockbuster-deal-with-giants
https://vancouvergiants.com/article/giants-acquire-preziuso-longo-2020-first-round-pick-blockbuster-trade-medicine-hat

To: Vancouver
20 Tyler Preziuso
19 Trevor Longo
1st round Pick 2020
Conditional 5th round pick 2021


To: Medicine Hat
20 Dylan Plouffe
18 Lukas Svejkovsky
3rd Round Pick 2020
Conditional 3rd round In 2021

Dylan Plouffe



Lukas Svejkovsky

Thoughts
Both players were with Vancouver last season when they made the conference Finals. This is a very interesting deal. I don't feel it's a typical "blockbuster" but more of a balancing act within the lineup.

Preziuso + Svejkovsky

As Tiger fans, we know Preziuso had a lot of speed, but he had troubles with his finishing touch and puck control around the net.

I feel like here the Tigers were thinking if we could get a younger guy to take his place with more potential to be a finisher around the net and have chemistry with Hamblin it could be a big win.

Lukas only stands 5'9 159lb, but after watching him play his style reminds me of Edmonton Oil Kings centre Trey Fix Wolansky. Small speedy and intelligent with a long stick. Poised with the puck and has an ability to make quick skilled plays in traffic. I can see why the Tigers targetted him upfront.

I could be wrong here, but I think their lines of thinking are to pair him up with Hamblin and they might be able to squeeze out a lot of value. Svejkovsky put up pretty good points in the playoffs last season as a 17. I'm crossing my fingers he can click on the top line.



Longo + Plouffe

In terms of defence, I was surprised longo was moved. Plouffe is a 20 with whl finals experience last season.  This year he had an A on his jersey.

From what I've seen he seems to be a good 2-way defenceman with an offensive flair to his game. He has the ability to walk in from the point and put up some points.


Overall
The Tigers did give up a 1st round pick but they also have 2 3rd rounders coming back.  They also had an extra 1st rounder from the Gerlach/Lockner deal a couple years ago. They also gained 1 playing year in getting slightly younger.

 I do wonder if that 1st would have been better spent on a more proven goalscorer but if Svejkovky can find a magic touch with the Tigers I could see the Tigers being quiet at the trade deadline and this being their last major move.  If not they have a month yet to evaluate. They currently have the 2nd best record in the WHL & this is definitely a sign that the Tigers are going for it

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Tigers Aquire Defenceman


Trade Details
Tigers Aquire Defenceman Nick Perna from Portland for a 4th round 2020 draft pick. Perna is in his 18yr old year. Last season he recorded 10 points in 40 games as a 17yr old.

Nick Perna


Thoughts
This is interesting as this brings the Tigers defensive group to 8 players. One wonders if someone like Damon Agyeman might be sent down as he has only dressed in 7 games, whereas Krebs has dressed in 22. 

Nick Perna has also only dressed in 7 games with portland so this looks like Portland didn't have enough room in their lineup for him and the Tigers were looking for some slightly older depth.

Scouting Report
I've read that he is a tall rangy guy with a good stick. He is very calm and poised and will take a hit to make a play. A guy with a good first pass and noted as a puck-moving defenceman who needs to get stronger physically, but has a very intelligent and active stick.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Tigers Swing A Deal With Saskatoon


Tigers Aquire Cyle McNabb for a 6th round pick from Saskatoon.

Cyle McNabb is a RW 6'1 190lb.


---

The WHL injury report came out today.
It lists Bryan Locker as day to day,
Nick McCarry is listed at 5-10 days.

I think Jonathan Brinkman may be in conversation make Team Denmark. Their Division 1 tournament runs from December 9th to 15th in Belarus. At this time I'm unable to find any information on if he was invited or not.

This move also puts the Tigers forward roster at 14 players, which is commonly a whl standard.
Like the article mentions above this looks like a straight deal for extra depth.


Friday, September 20, 2019

Opening Game In Lethbridge

I can't believe in this day and age the WHL still uses a potato to broadcast whl games. I wish they could provide better quality. 1080P shouldn't be too difficult in this day and age. /EndRant


Thoughts
I thought overall the Tigers play looked quite scrambly, but they got a lot better as the game went on. Willie D was saying pregame that he wished he had a couple more exhibition games. 

I was pretty impressed with the Hurricanes providing they were down at least 3 and potentially a 4th key veteran and they had a ton of new faces in their lineup. There was only 7-8 names I recognized from the previous year. I thought they played pretty well.

The Hurricanes scored the games first two goals and the Tigers didn't really turn on the jets until their first powerplay in the 2nd period. 

Unfortunate Goal To Go Down 3-1
The Tigers were pressing pretty hard and had a big edge in territorial play until they ran into an unfortunate hiccup. On the powerplay, A blocked shot/pass was chipped over a jumping Tiger defenceman at the point and 17yr old Jacob Boucher was sent in on a breakaway and buried an impressive shot past Mads Sogaard. At that point in the game, it was 3-1 hurricanes and it was a bit unusual to see Mads Sogaard looking angry.


The ComeBack
It was started by the new Import Jonathan Brinkman. Brinkman made a beautiful play out of nothing. It was a 1 on 4 and slipped past a couple hurricane defenders wide and sent a pass out to Lockner who just skated into the zone and was unguarded.  Lockner one-timed it past Tetachuk in a bang-bang what the hell just happened type of play.

A minute later it was the Tigers turn for a lucky bounce. A shot by Trevor Longo at the point and Ryan Chyzowski was battling hard in the slot for positioning on the rebound. He outmuscled his man down low and was able to slap the backhand passed an outstretched Tetachuk. TIE GAME

Moments later the Tigers had a pair of breakaways but Tetachuck stood tall. What a turnaround

OT
The hurricanes had the better of the chances but nothing was solved.

Shootout. 
The first 4 shooters all scored. Hamblin, Kemp for the Tigers, D-Jay Jerome and Dino Kambeitz for Lethbridge.  Zach Stringer was stopped by Sogaard and Chyzowski was able to pot the winner. 

Player Thoughts
Brett Kemp stood out for me. After the first period, he was routinely dangerous in the offensive end. He made a beautiful no-look, behind the back pass, out front to Cole Sillinger for his first regular-season goal. 

James Hamblin was also good, but perhaps a bit of a slow start out of the gate.

Jonathan Brinkman - He impressed me.  He is very slick and seems like the playmaker type that will make things happen. I loved his first game. Imports sometimes get off to very quick starts, followed by a lull. I look forward to seeing some more games from him but I was really impressed. Really good puck control and an ability to make some plays in tough situations. 


Parker Gavlas - I'll need a few more viewings. He seems solid, but I feel like he could be a bit stronger on the puck at times.  He was involved in a fight after a strong hit, he got a couple punches in, lost his footing momentarily and overpowered his hurricane opponent quite quickly. I think he should be a decent fit on the 2nd line.

Brown & Preziuso - I was a bit disappointed because I didn't notice much of an improvement from either. They didn't look any-more dangerous than last season with perimeter outside plays.  Preziuso had a lot of shots and some outside speed, but I do expect a bit more from a 20.

I think ostir deserves a game in the lineup.

Sillinger - Looked very strong on his feet. You can just tell he is going to be an impact player because he wins the majority of the small battles and he is exceptionally strong on his feet for a 16.

Defense - It was sometimes hard to tell who was on the ice due to the poor potatoe quality webcast. After a bit, I could start to see who was who. I don't remember seeing any major gaffes, although I'm sure if you watch video there are things they could do better. I think they gave up a few odd-man rushes from players not knowing how to recover, but I think that onus is more on the forwards.

Goaltending - Mads had a tough game because the Hurricanes were in his face the entire time they were in the offensive zone. Hurricanes were doing a great job at just skating in front of him as a shot was taken. I felt like only 1 shot really beat him clean. The 2 other goals were a mass of players in front of him where a shot ping-ponged around the scrum. 

Krebs looked bigger than the 5'11 167lb's he is listed at.

After the first game here is my armchair coaching lines I like
Brinkman Hamblin Kemp
Sillinger Chyzowski Ostir
Brown Lockner Hopwo
McCarry Anderson Wilms/Danielson

Backer Clayton
Longo Gevlas
Krebs/Agyeman/Watson Van Impe

Who do you like?