Friday, September 23, 2022

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Season Preview

I'm going to keep the reviews fairly light, because I'm rusty.  I've barely watched the Tigers let alone the WHL very much the last 2 seasons.   

Brandon Wheat Kings

Goaltenders (B)  - Their starter will be Carson Bjarnason whom was a backup on Canada's Under 18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup gold winning team. He is only 18 this season. They will have a couple other rookies battling for the backup job.  I'm giving a B here because they don't have the depth at backup yet. This could be a B+ or an A- if their starter plays really well. Goalies are fairly volatile and their is potential this rating is too high and too low.

Defenceman (B-)
 At first glance it looks like they may lack experienced depth. Mason Ward and Logen Hammett will likely anchor the top pairing. again my knowledge is lacking but my understanding is they are average defenceman.     They do have a couple interesting kids who are 16,17 but that is quite young still. They brought over an 18 year old import to help their depth.  I feel like they are also volatile in this position in terms of skill as they could have both good or bad seasons.

Forwards (B+)
Their strength looks to be the forward group. They'll have a very elite top line. If they can spread that out they should be able to dress a very solid top 2 lines. They have 3 WHL first round picks turning 18 who are all primed for big Up years, as well as NHL drafted Jake Chiasson.  They are probably another impact forward away from bumping into the A- category, but their depth up front looks really good

They have 4 Overagers. 3 Forwards and a Defenceman.  They may have an OA forward who can put up .65-.75 PPG for sale. If they sell a defenceman, their defence will be an achilles heel and I'd downgrade them  C+

Draft Positioning
Their 19 year old age group had 2 extra 2nd round picks, but they didn't work out. Their 18 year old group has 3 first round picks and an early draft order. Those extra picks in those age groups suggest they should be making noise at forward this season. They also have 3 first round picks in the 16 year old group, so it suggests they should have some really young talent stepping up. It suggests that they should be near the middle rungs and pushing up.


My first instincts is that this looks like a team that will be fighting for the middle rungs of the playoff ladder. Their offense looks too good to miss the playoffs. If their defence was more experienced I'd push them up a notch or two.  

 Edmonton Oil Kings

It's never about what you loose, but what you keep. Having said that the Oil Kings lost a kings ransom worth of depth.  They already made a trade in the off-season, trading away one of their bigger scorers who may or may not come back for 2 roster players and a 2nd round pick.

Their backup last season on the best team in the league had a .846 save percentage as a 17 year old. That could be misleading as he may not have faced many shots. 

 They also have 2 rookies in camp.  Their will be a lot of new faces in Edmonton so they may be under-load often and with no experienced veteran guys I feel like a C+ is a worthy ranking. 

Defence: C+:
They have a decent mix of ages on the back-end, but high end skill is shallow.  Their work-horses will be Logan Dowhaniuk back for his overage year and Ethan peters who is a 19 year old. After that the depth falls off.

Forwards: C+
Very Top Heavy. Future NHL'er Dylan Guenther may start the season in Arizona with the Coyotes. The coyotes have no real reason to keep him as they are dressing a borderline AHL lineup. Once he is back whatever line is one should be able to score at will.   They should have import Jakub Demek back for another PPG forward. Overage Jaxsen Wiebe compliments the rest of the higher skilled forwards.  

After that depth falls off dramatically with a lot of younger players. I expect some selling at the deadline

Does Dylan Guenther come back as a 19? He could probably make Arizona because they are terrible, but it may not be a good idea to do so. I think they should give him a few NHL games and send him back. Play him at the world Juniors and the Oil Kings trade him for some exceptional value.

Draft Positioning
They modified their roster to go for it last season. After that they have late picks and few picks in the top rounds, so the depth they have will be behind other teams.  

They will be at the bottom of the totem poles for a few seasons recovering. It was unlucky that they had big UP years during pandemic shortened seasons.

I think they will be near the bottom of the rungs because I also expect them to sell.  I have their offence as one of the worst in the league and that is with counting Dylan Guenther scoring at a 1.75ppg rate and 19 year old Import Jakub Demek at a 1.2PPG rate. Very likely both players may be shipped off at the trade deadline.

Red Deer Rebels 

Goaltending (C)  They had a big unfortunate and unexpected blow. Expected starter Chase Coward(19) did not report to camp with a congenital defect to his lower body. They made a trade in the off-season to shore this area up, but have 2 goalies with no whl experience.  It's uncertain if chase will return this season. If he does it boosts this rating to an A-.  If that doesn't happen this position will be volatile and could be a weakpoint.

Defence (A-)
Defence is a big strong point for the rebels. They have some depth. Christoffer Sedoff,  Tanner Brown and Blake Gustafson are 3 OA's. The rebels will likely part with 1 of them. 
The rebels have another pair of strong 18's in Mats Lindgren, Jace Weir and Hunter Mayo That gives them 5 strong defenders. They also have a young 17 year old import stepping in freshly drafted.

Forwards (A-)
Their forward core looks average on an initial graze through, but IMO has a lot of potential. I think this will be a hidden strength for them. They have some guys who broke out last season. (Kalan Lind, Kai Uchacz, Jhett Larson) who could be poised for big years.  Combine that with Ben King and some older veterans in Jayden Grubbe and Craig Armstrong and their is the makings for a very solid group with a good mix of ages. Maybe I'm over-rating them, but with an older defensive group I think their is some hidden scoring by committee potential. I could see them getting stronger as the season goes on.

They have 2 overagers for sale.  Their goaltending situation could be their Achilles heel. They have some dark horse strength, but goaltending may hold them back.

Draft Positioning
Their 16's through 19's had early draft positioning. They did do some tinkering, but their draft positioning suggests they should be at a place of strength right now. 

They have strong depth and skill in their lineup. I just get a feeling that they may start slow and finish very strong with the uncertainty in the goaltender position and some players who maybe ready to take a step forward in their game.

I would say they would be near the top rungs of the ladder with the exception that their goaltending is very poor and inexperienced.  It is tough to see an 18 year old with 1 game experience or an 16/17 combo carrying the load. 

If they can shore up the back-end they will be near the top of the East, but it's a big enough hole that could sink them further back into the middle rungs.

Moose Jaw Warriors

Goaltending (A-)
20 year old Connor Ungar was traded from the Rebels to Moose Jaw.  He was a split time starter last year as a 19 year old. They also have an 18 year old backup who played in 18 games last season.

Defence (A-)
Their have an older defensive group highlighted by NHL 1st round pick 18 year old Denton Mateychuk who put up 1ppg numbers on the back-end.  They are complimented by 19 year old and NHL draft pick Max Wanner and overage Cole Jordan.   For depth they have 19 year old Lucas Brenton and 18 year old Matthew Gallant, giving them 5 players 18 or older

A couple solid 19's and a couple 18's on the back-end.   I don't know enough about their defenceman to give a better rating, but judging on stats they look very solid on the back-end.

They have some heavy young firepower and a good compliment of 19's.  Jagger Firkus will be 18 and he put up 1.21PPG last season as a 17 year old. Brayden Yager is 17 and he put up almost a PPG last season. Complimented with 19 year old Eric Alairie who should be a ppg player, 19 year old Atley Calvert and a couple of import picks with Robert Baco and Martin Rysavy who will be at or near that figure.  You could say their forward group is similar to Red Deer.

They have room for a 3rd overager. I suspect they would go with a forward. Another forward near the ppg mark could really power some of the 18's to put up very strong years. 

Draft Positioning
Moose jaw had an interesting strategy because their were 3 years in a row where they had no 2nd or 3rd round picks in years where they had mid to later draft positions.   Their draft positioning based off that with later picks suggests they should have a slightly weaker team.

However their drafting jumps out to me in a big way. They have done extremely well with what they had.  Their 2019 draft was incredible. They had no 2nd, or 3rd round pick, but their 1st and 4th rounders turned into incredible players.  Their 1st overall selections in 2018 and 2020 were also elite players. Their Import selections are good players. They have found some players picked up as free agents who are contributing like Atley Calvert and NHL 7th rounder Maxximus Wanner.

 By all means it looks like they will have a couple interesting good seasons predicated on insanely excellent drafting and recruiting and I'm going to watch this going forward because what they are doing is working. 

Moose Jaw is likely in the A Tier this season. I expect them to compete in the top rungs of the East Division.  They have an older solid defensive core. They have a great young offense and veteran presence. They have another room for an Overager spot.. Their youth is impressive.  Next season they should still have some elite players at both offense and defence.

Prince Albert

Goaltending (A)
19 Year old Belarus goaltender Tikhon Chaika is back for his 2nd season as a starter. He was their starter last season putting up a .904 save percentage.  18 year old Max Hildebrand will be back in net as the backup. 

Defence (A-)
It looks like they will have an older veteran group and this will be a strength. 20 year olds Landon Kosior and Trevor Thurston to go along with 1st round NHL draft pick 19 year Nolan Allen, will anchor the blueline with a very strong presence. Their top 4 are 19 or older.

Forwards (B)
Good Top line: Forwards Evan Herman, Sloan Stanick and 4th round NHL draft Pick Carson Latimer, should all be near the ppg mark.  Import Vladisalv Shilo will be their secondary scoring presence up front. After that depth falls off. Their age mix is decent, but they have a bunch of inexperienced youth in the bottom 6.  

4 Overagers in camp. Do they keep Keaton Sorenson(F) or Trevor Thurston(D). I think they'll go with thurston. 

Draft Positioning
Suggests a slightly above average crop of 19's, an insane 20's,  and a slightly below average 17+18 year old core. The 15 and 16's should be slightly above average. Basically it suggests an average team, slightly top heavy with weaker depth.  

Everything I see tells me average. They aren't going to be pushovers as they have some really good players in all 3 positions. They just lack depth on forward.  From what I've seen teams with strong back-ends can outperform their offensive reach. 

  IF their younger players can provide depth they have a shot to push up from the mid-rungs of the ladders. If they cannot provide depth, they do have a lot of very tasty pieces for trade bait and potential to fall back especially if a key injury occurs.  They also have an extra 1st round pick already in next years draft from Edmonton. I'd place them in the 5th to 7th category

Regina Pats

Goaltending (B+)
 They traded for an overage in Koen MacInnes who was a split starter in Everett as a 19.  They also have last seasons split starters with 19 year old Drew Sim and 18 year old Matthew Kieper. A big battle here.

Defence (C+)
They have a lot of older defenceman. 4 guys are 19, but 3 of them are pure depth guys. They will be led by NHL 3rd round pick and 10 year old import Stanislav Svozil, and 18 year old Layton Feist. After that the depth tends to fall off.  

I don't know enough to read their defence. It's tough to tell based on stats if a defenseman is a good stay at home guy, or the lack of offensive production is just a lesser quality defenseman. I do see that they have 2 guys with decent point production but after that it falls off quick. It feels like they lack some depth on the back-end as predicated by their later draft positions in the older age groups.

It looks like in training camp they have some decision to either go with an older crew, or go with some youth and experience. It's both possible they try to add for Bedard, but they could also have a disappointing season and have top of the line trade bait.

Offense (A-)
They have some HEAVY HEAVY firepower up front. Connor Bedard, Tanner How, and overage forward Cole Dubinsky.  They have a solid 2nd line with Zach Stringer, Borya Valis, and newly acquired import and 3rd round NHL Draft Pick Alexander Suzdalev. I've pegged Connor Bedard at a ridiculous 2 PPG pace as he scored at a 1.61 PPG pace in his 16 year old season....that is insane, nuts, those numbers don't happen with anything other than generational players. 

They have 4 Overagers on their roster. Likely a decision between defenceman Luke Bateman and Jakob Brook. This is likely Connor Bedards last season in the WHL. If they can't make a push he would demand a kings ransom in a trade.

Draft Positioning
They are still suffering from going for it in 2016-2017 as their 19 and 20 year old age groups had no first,2nd or 3rd round picks in those corresponding draft years, so their older talent maybe lesser quality.

 Their 17 group should be strong with the #1 overall pick in Connor Bedard as well as 2 extra 4th round picks, but their 16 year old draft might be slightly weaker with a late 1st, and no 3rd rounder.  Their recent drafts are mixed, they have a lot of deals and a lot of picks that aren't their own. Their is no set conclusion from here other than their older group maybe weaker.
Their offense and overage goaltender are strong points. They don't have much of a 4th line so when the game is on the line you can expect them to run 2 lines. I don't have a good read on their defence, but it doesn't look elite and could be a weakness. Their offence could catapult them into a home ice playoff. I could see them fall and drop back as well.  


Goaltending (C-)
Their goaltending has a combined 14 games of experience. They have 2 18 year old's, and a rookie in camp. This is probably a weakpoint.

Overage Aidan De La Gorgendiere will anchor their blueline. 19 year old Charlie Wright is likely to be alongside him on the top line. The blades do have 4 defenceman 19 or older, but 2 of them are depth defenceman that may not play as 20's. They seem to be missing 2nd line caliber defenceman

Offense (A)
The blades have 2 very good offensive lines and that will be a big strongpoint. They have 6 forwards that should hit near the PPG mark. even with a terrible defence and goaltending the potential is there for Home Ice playoff spot potential.  However, they also have 7 forwards that are 17 or younger. They are going to be a team that overplays their top 2 lines when the going gets tough because depth is not there. I could see trades happening for more experienced depth vs their younger depth.

They have room for a 3rd Overager slot. Their pre-season interviews state they think they can make some noise this year. They could use both depth up front and another defenceman. 
Draft Positioning
They made so many trades this is a poor metric for them. They spent 5 years out of the playoffs from 2013-2018. They should have been SWIMMING in talent now as all those higher draft picks should be blooming. 

It's like they concentrated on offence and forgot about everything else. Their roster is very top heavy and they have weak depth.  I think it would make sense to use the extra Overage slot getting a defenceman, and then perhaps deal one of their older depth 19's for a return on forward.

I see them as a 2nd/3rd place team after an overage acquisition and some tinkering. Because of the weaker depth they could potentially run cold against the better teams with more depth. Their is a lot of volatility here.


Goaltending (A-)
17 year old Daniel Hauser was a split-time starter with the majority of games. It's very rare to see a 17 year old be the main backstopper, but he did go undrafted in the NHL entry draft. (likely due to his size at 5'9). NHL likes seeing goalies 6'2 or bigger.  Winnipeg was heavily, heavily scouted last season with 3 first round NHL draft Picks.

Hauser will be back for another season as their main guy. He was their main guy in the playoffs last season. We may see them look to add for depth purposes on a run as their other 2 goalies in camp don't have much WHL experience. 

Defence (B)
Ben Zloty and  NHL first round pick Carson Lambos anchor the back-end. They do have an older group with 5 of their top 6 18 or older.  But 3 of their 18 year olds look "fresh" as they lost 3 of their top 6 defenceman last season.

At first glance they look a bit top heavy and they lack depth; however their top line D pairing are exceptional players. 

Offence (A+)
OMG. Their top end offensive potential is insane, IF they get everyone back from pro's. My projections have 3 players scoring at a higher pace than 1.5 PPG ratio. Followed with 2 more at around 1.3-1.4 ppg pace, and another one at just over 1ppg.    (That doesn't include 2 defenceman who will be over the ppg mark). Or a 4th overage forward who they also have, but may have to deal away. That makes 8 guys in total who should reach that mark.

Connor Geekie and Matthew Savoie were the #11, and #9 overall NHL draft picks. More on them in the questions section.

 They do seem a little lean on the potatoes part of their lineup. They have 6 PPG forwards(not including the extra overager) and 2 more that are close by. After that it's all rookies.  They may want another 3rd line body or 2.

Winnipeg has 4 overages' on the roster. 3 of them are forwards who will be at a point per game pace. Mikey Milne was drafted in his 2nd year of eligibility with Minnesota in round 3. He hasn't signed yet, so he is probably back.  Winnipeg also has the #9th and #11th overall NHL draft picks in Matthew Savoie and Connor Geekie.  When players are taken that high their is always a risk of them being plucked into the NHL at 18. 

I've read it's likely both are back. Buffalo(Savoie) has 13 signed NHL players. It could be likely that he starts the season in the NHL and then gets sent back.  Geekie is with Arizona and they should be in no rush to bring their prospects up. He too could see a game or 10 of action before being sent back.  As such winnipeg could be slow starters with their draft picks away at camp.

Draft Positioning
They have 3 NHL first round draft picks on their roster. They also have a 17 year old who put up a 1ppg pace as a 16 year old who may be another future 1st rounder. 

Their whl draft is unique. In 2019 they had the first and 2nd overall picks with Matthew Savoie and Connor Geekie. The year after they had the 2nd overall pick with defenceman Carson Lambos. Those groups have matured and so has their talent.

Their 15-17th age group has a lot of picks missing with late draft positioning.  This suggests a Top Heavy roster, which is relatively true and in 2 years they will be weaker.

I could say top heavy, but they are so Top heavy it should carry their team to an amazing year. They do lack of a bit of depth. If injuries bite, especially on the back-end it could play a concern. I see them adding depth at every position. They won't need stars, they may just need some bodies to not give up goals. so it doesn't become a concern. I don't know enough about their roster to conclude on if they have that depth or not, so it's possible I'm out to lunch by suggesting that. If their is a year to go for It, it's this season. I expect them to be top Dog

Calgary Hitmen

One of the few Eastern Conference teams with a set starter and backup. Brayden Peters(20) the overage started most games last season with .906 save percentage and was backed up by now 18 Ethan Buenaventure. The hitmen also have a couple younger goalies looking to crack the roster.

Defence (B)
Their defence is really old. They have 5 19 year olds on the roster; however I think all but 2 are more of the depth type quality and not the top 4 pairing type.   They also have 4 17 year olds looking to crack the roster.  I don't really see top end depth, but a bunch of solid 3rd - 5th type defenceman.  For that I'm going to rate them as a B as the depth looks average.

Forwards (B)
I would consider their forward group average. 3 near PPG forwards, then 6 forwards who I project around the .4 - .6 ppg mark.  So decent depth, but they may run into secondary scoring issues at times.

They have room to add an Overage. I could see them getting younger with removing some of the 19 depth defenceman and adding an overage.  Or we could see them add depth up front. They can't really go wrong

Draft Positions
When I look at the hitmen they look average and "stuck".  Their draft positioning suggests they should be right in the middle of the pack with mid round picks from their 17 through 19 year old drafts. Too good to be bad, but not bad enough for good drafting positions.
Their 16 year old class maybe slightly weaker with no 2nd round pick and a late US prospects pick.
They do look like they should be building around their 15 year old draft class. They drafted in the early rounds, with 2 extra 2nd round picks. If they could compliment next draft, or their 16's it would set them up well for a few years down the road.

They have depth at all positions. They have 18 players who are 18 or older and as such maybe more likely to float in the higher middle rungs in the standings.


Goaltending (B+)
Overage Bryan Thomson is back. He was their starter last season as the canes finished as the 7th seed.
Backup Jared Picklyk is back for his 19 year old season. They also have a couple younger goaltenders still in camp. They have a bit of a decision to make.  Next year they have a strong crop of overagers. They may be better suited to trade their 19 year old and bring up a rookie goaltender. This will allow them to keep an extra Overage next season. Their also may be some demand for a 19 year old goaltending this season.

Defence (A-)
They have some experience on the back-end with 3 19 year olds and 18 year old Logan McCutcheon who put up good numbers last season as an undersized 5'9 156 defenceman. Their top 4 is pretty solid. 

Offence (A-)
They have a well balanced group in terms of ages. All 3 of their 20's are forwards. Their top 6 are 19 or older. They have 3 players who I think will come very close to a ppg pace, and 3 more lurking around that area in a 2nd line role. 

Do they make a push or become sellers? Both options maybe available to them. They will probably see how the season goes and make a path forward from there.

Draft Positioning
Their draft positions was rather mixed. Bunch of traded picks.They  didn't have a 1st/2nd round pick in their 18 year old age group so that suggests the 18 yr old core may have weak depth. 

They have a maturing group of players. Like calgary they have some depth to their roster.
Their will be a degree of turnover the next couple season. I think their will be a lot of temptation to add to this group. I see them as competing for a Home Ice playoff spot.

Edit: Recently made a trade to upgrade an Overage Forward spot.

Swift Current

Goaltending (A-)
They have 2 NHL drafted goaltenders. 20 year old  6'7 Alexander Gage who was a split-starter/backup last season for Winnipeg. As well as 18 year old Reid Dyck who played in 23 games last season. Both goalies still seem a little raw by their numbers, but if NHL teams have drafted them it means they show potential. 

Defence (B)
Led by NHL first round pick Owen Pickering and Overage Sam McGinley. They have a nice balance of ages, but they also have 4 of their 8 guys as 17 or younger. I'm unsure what to think of this. Their top 4 looks decent enough so I'll grade them a B. 

Forwards (B+)
They have a very strong group of up and coming 18 year old forwards who should get better as the season goes on including 3 NHL draft prospects in Josh Davies, Josh Filmin, and connor Hvidston. Pair that up with Overage Raphael Pelletier and 18 year old Matthew Ward and that is 5 players on or close to the PPG mark.  

They have 4 overage's on the roster, but I think it's an easy decision.

Draft Positioning
The pandemic years with no playoffs was a benefit for them as they had drained their cupboards for the run in 2017-2018. They've had 4 years of terrible seasons because of it. They were able to recoup a lot of draft picks but it still left their 2018 draft with a single 3rd round pick. That draft of players is 19 this season, so they will be lean there.  The 18 year old group has an extra 1st rounder and an extra 4 picks in rounds 3 and 4. That group could be stronger than normal.  They do have lots of early picks coming up through the 17 and younger age group and we should see them start becoming strong over the next couple seasons.

Their 19 year old group is lean, but they have an exceptional 18 year old forward group. I keep thinking they could be a big dark-horse, to hmm maybe it will take another year before they get stronger....

Medicine Hat Tigers

Goaltending (B-)
19 year old Beckett Langkow is the starter in his 3rd season with 30 games experience. The backup is 16 year old rookie Ethan McCallum. It's on the rare side to see a goalie make the team at 16. It could be a sign the Tigers found a good one.  20 year old Garin Bjorklund is gone to pro's.

Last year Langkow's stats were underinflated because of such a young team with limited scoring potential. The Tigers still have a youngish team and Langkow is still likely to be peppered. He started the season off strong last season, but when you are getting peppered every game with odd man rushes it's easy to loose confidence.

Defence (B)
They have an older backend with 3 19's and an 18 year old. Anchored by Dru krebs and Bogdans Hodass. They also have a bunch of younger guys with 3 17's.  The depth looks pretty good as their are quite a few teams with very weak defensive depth this season. Tigers could be fielding trade calls all season. 

Forwards (B)
They completely changed their overage group adding 3 players with Dallon Melin, Alex Dover, and 20 year old Import Oskari Kuntonen. They also have Overage Brendan Lee on the roster,.   It's extremely rare to see a first year overage import.   They will also likely start 15 year old Gavin McKenna in Medicine Hat for a few games as previously stated in media interviews.

I count them as having ten players popping in at at least a .5ppg rate. I counted the entire Eastern Conference and they lead the league in that category. 

They have 3 2nd lines. They just don't have a bona-fida top line.  Secondary Depth is a strong point for the Tigers and their game will be to wear the opposition out.  Tyler Mackenzie could probably get close to a point per game pace. 

 Their depth maybe able to pushup to a B+ Category.

They have 4 Overage forwards. 3 of them are New to the Team. 

Draft Positioning
Suggests their 20 year old group should be weaker with the 2nd last pick in that draft.   The 19 year old draft was just average and unfortunately their star pick Cole Sillinger only played for 1 year, so that kinda makes the current group below average because of it.

 The Tigers had 8 extra picks in the top 3 rounds in the 15 to 18 year old age groups.
Where the Tigers shine is the 2021, and 2022 drafts. (The 15 and 16 year old age group). They have early draft picks with an extra 1st, 2nd and 3rd.  That's a 2-3 year wait until those picks are ripe.  

The positive thing about taking Gavin McKenna first overall is that he has a late birthday and as such guaranteed to play in his 18 year old Junior season because if you are born after Sept 15th, you don't get draft until you turn 18. His birthday is December 20th.

The hype is still a couple years away, but this season they have potential to be surprising due to their depth.  AT first glance you don't see elite talent, but they have the most depth out of every team in the East. Their 3rd and 4th lines will likely have edges on their competition.

 It is a year of tinkering and they have already tinkered quite a bit trading away Ashton Ferster, James Venne and releasing Noah Danielson who I projected at a .75ppg pace(although he hadn't played a full season because of injuries)

 They may face interesting questions at the deadline as they have some  3 19 year old defenceman that maybe heavily sout after. They may be offered a bunch for them, but it could also hurt their playoff push chances. 

Tiered Standings

Championship Tier: 

Home Ice Playoff Tier
Red Deer/Moose Jaw/

Middle to bottom rungs
Swift Current/Calgary/Prince Albert/Regina/Brandon/Lethbridge/Medicine Hat/Saskatoon

Bottom Rungs

This was very very difficult to separate teams. I see volatility everywhere. So many teams with strong elements, and weak elements.  Some teams have great offence, but poor defence, some teams have great depth but no elite talent. Some teams have great depth, but poor goaltending...

Who wins and looses in that scenario? Their were times I had both calgary, Lethbridge, swift current,calgary and saskatoon up a rung higher. Then I'd compare them to one of the other teams and I'd think they are awfully close in talent and drop them. 

Usually when I have troubles making a ranking it's a sign of parity. I expect a super tight and close race. The only prediction I'll make is that their will be a 1 game tiebreaker to make the playoffs.

Interesting Notes
I think Edmonton will become trade deadline sellers even though they may not be 100% out of it. They still have a potent top line, but for their long term development it may be wise to become sellers. 

I think Saskatoon is the team most likely to trade to add to their team. They have 7 potential ppg players and the ability to add another Overage.  Their depth is an issue and I dropped them a rung because of it, but I do think they may seperate themselves from the pack and Join the Home Ice playoff tier after making some moves. 

Regina is also in a weird spot because they have a generational talent, yet the supporting cast is weak.
Red Deer has a strong roster, but goaltending issues....
Medicine Hat doesn't really have top line offence, but they could have the best overall depth with 10 players that could hit the .5 ppg mark. 

Goal Scoring Index

This is my estimation of offensive potential. Winnipeg is a clearcut runaway

Winnipeg 317  
Moose Jaw 263   (May increase after adding an OA)
Red Deer: 263 
Regina: 258  
Swift Current 233  
Lethbridge 234  
Calgary 221  
Brandon 216   
Saskatoon: 217   (This will increase after adding an OA)
Medicine Hat: 209    
Prince Albert: 195   
Edmonton 199   

Projected Point Per game Players

Winnipeg: 8
Saskatoon: 7
Moose Jaw 4 ( 1 close)
Red Deer 3 (2-3 knocking on the door)
Brandon: 3 
Price Albert: 3
Swift Current 3 (Another one close)
Regina 3
Lethbridge 3
Calgary 3
Edmonton: 2
Medicine Hat:0 (Mackenzie or Dover could be close)

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Working On A Season Preview

 Working on a season preview post with rankings. I will release before season starts. It won't be as big or as specific as past seasons as I haven't watched much WHL the past 2 years.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Sykora sticks with HK Nitra

 The MH News released an article saying that Sykora will be playing for HK Nitra this year. 
This is a bit of a blow losing the top overall import selection.

They definitely haven't been getting the luck of the draw with Sillinger being plucked to the NHL last year and Sykora not coming over this season. The Tigers say they will keep the door open and watch him play at the world juniors. I think it may still be possible he could come over for his 19 year old season the year after next.  

The Tigers traded forward prospect Diego Buttazzoni to the Portland Winterhawks in exchange for two conditional draft picks, a 2024 second-round pick and a conditional 2025 fourth-round pick.

This likely was precipitated by the player being asked to be moved. He was a 2nd round selection in the 2021 draft, so the Tigers recouped the pick and got a 4th.

Next Season preview
*Just for depth Purposes* Some of the prospects I have listed might be wrong/outdated.


Brendan Lee(20)Owen MacNeil(19) Noah Danielson(20)
Tyler MacKenzie(18) Oasiz Wiesblatt(18)Ashton Ferster(19) 
Oren Shtrom(18)   Steven Arp(18) Brayden Boehm (18) 
Andrew Basha(17) Tomas Mrsic(16) Gavin McKenna (15)
Cayden Lindstrom(16)
Hunter St. Martin(17)
Cru Hanas(17)
Shane Smith(17)


Dru Krebs(19) Bogdans Hodass(19) 
Rhett Parsons(19) Pavel Bocharov(18)
Reid Andresen(17)(.35) Josh Van Mulligen(17)(.2)


Beckett Langkow(19) (.900)
Ethan McCallum(16) (.865)
Ben Vatis(16)(.865)
Garin Bjorklund(20)(.910)

Garin Bjorklund - Will he be back as a 20???  He signed an ELC from Washington a few weeks from the signing deadline. That usually means he is headed back because a late signing is indicating they just want to keep his rights...however....Washington did a Goalie Overhaul this off-season and I think he may be at risk for being lost the ECHL.

Washington did not re-sign their 2 NHL starters and signed 2 Free Agents.

For depth in the AHL they have 4 goaltenders signed including Garin. 2 of their AHL goaltenders are 27 and one the last year of their deals. They may be looking at Garin to be in the AHL in 2 years, which means they could send him to the ECHL this season.
Their isn't room for him in the AHL, but I easily see a scenario where he starts with splitting time in the ECHL and a possible starter should he play well.

A MH news article gave some interesting things to think about. In the Article Bjorklund says: "Bjorklund said when he left Hershey it was hinted he would playing professional hockey next year and that’s what he is focused on."

 With the luck that the Tigers have been getting and the quote mentioned in the paper, I'm very nervous he won't be back and think the Tigers should plan without him in the lineup.

Forward Thoughts
They didn't loose much at forward and everyone is a year older. This year will be about seeing who's improved and who has fallen off the radar.   I don't expect anything earth breaking, but I've never been more uncertain as to what type of offense the team will have.

The Tigers have a lot of potential for players to have smaller breakout seasons and they do have a lot of 2nd/3rd line type depth, which is better than last years 3/4th line depth.

The problem is that they don't really have top scoring line depth. They have some veterans, but their are later bloomers and overagers.  They are more of the guys you want on your checking line or supplementing the 2nd lines.

Their lineup seems to be more of a scoring by committee group. I do see a case at the end of the season, where their offense picks it up a notch or two.  I think we will see Gavin McKenna play more than 5 games.  The Tigers could play him 5 games at the start of the season, then call him up on emergency basis later in the year. Similar to what Winnipeg did to Matthew Savoie 

Going by the numbers Tyler Mackenzie looks primed for a breakout season. I think a .9PPG season is possible. 

Oasiz Weisblatt, 19 of his 29 points came after the new year, so I have him reaching .7PPG which may be optimistic. (A bunch of points later in the season is usually a sign a player is closer to breaking out)

Brendan Lee was almost a .5 PPG player after his trade, but a late bloomer type so I'm expecting around a .65 ppg rate.

Owen MacNeil doubled his previous point totals from the previous season.  I expect around a .65 to .75 ppg rate.

Oren Shtrom had a real quiet season last year. The pandemic year saw him scoring 14 points in 22 games, and last season managed 19 points in 60 games. When he had points they came in bunches, but he also had a slow finish and didn't record a point in the final month last year. I guess we shouldn't expect a huge year, but eventually I think it's very possible. I've put him at a safer figure of around .5 ppg, which is what I was expecting around last year. It's possible he pushed hard up quick though if he can stay healthy.

 Noah Danielson missed a lot of time last year, and their is potential for a breakout season if he can bring a consistent work ethic and stay healthy. I think he is capable of having a .75ppg season.

Brayden Boehm had a lot of speed, once he develops some finish and other players around him improve that could see an offensive explosion as well. Although for a lot of players 18 is a bit of an up and down year, and it's not until their 19 year old year where they really breakout. it will be interesting to see Braydens' Progress. I think he may be more of a candidate to breakout at 19 than 18, but we'll see.

They still have some inexperience and are missing great top line depth. Their were dead last, the previous season with 154 goals scored. My initial prognosis puts them at around 206 goals scored which puts them very close to the last playoff spots taking into consideration the past years goals scored among teams in the playoffs.

Gavin McKenna is also a wildcard. He is only eligible for 5 games, but I expect him to get some sort of emergency callup role and play more than 5 games. It could be very possible he ends up in a similar path to Lethbridge's former star Dylan Cozens who played 3 regular season games, then scored 8 points in 12 games in the playoffs as a 15 year old.

Defenceman Thoughts
This group looks pretty solid. 3 Solid 19's an 18 year old looking to have a breakout year and 2 good younger players in their 17 year old years.  Even if the Tigers give up some goals, the defensive group will be much much stronger and possibly the biggest strength of the group.  

Dru Krebs and Bogdans Hodass are both primed for big breakout seasons. Rhett Parsons was a huge physical presence last year and he will be a year older. Pavel Bucharov will be looking to make a big impact after going undrafted in the NHL entry draft.

A lot of times a strong defensive group can greatly lift a team with a weaker offensive output, although last season the Tigers offence was too weak.

Goalie Thoughts
At this point I'm expecting Garin to be gone. If he comes back that fills out the 20 year old spots.. If he doesn't come back I'd expect the Tigers to look at an overage forward, or maybe even an overage goalie, depending what is out there.

Beckett Langkow and a rookie 16 year old goaltender is a lot different than a 20 year old NHL drafted and signed goalie in net.  I think Langkow is a solid goaltender, but I also think his confidence was likely shaken up a lot as the Tigers were the weakest in the league last season. We will see what happens, but this group could be very similar to the offence in a developing group.

Overall preliminary Thoughts
This will be a year of. "Let's see what we have, and make tweaks if necessary". This will be the type of year that can define their future success. It will be easy to sway into temptation to get better in a push for the playoffs.  They are still a little too young, but should be miles better than last season.

I think a successful season will be making the playoffs.   An ultra successful season would be sneaking into the 6th or 7th seed and creating havoc in round 1 of the playoffs.
I do think missing the playoffs is also a possibility but I have yet to delve deep into the other Eastern Conference and Central Division teams. I hope to have that out as the season gets closer.

Age Breakdown
20- 2 (3)
19 - 6
18 - 6
17 - (3-6)

This is a much better spread than last season, where their was I think at times the only 19 in the lineup was the goalie.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Adam Sykora Signs with Rangers

NY Rangers
Tigers first overall CHL Draft Import pick signed and Entry Level contract with NY Rangers today.
 This will kick in a clause called the NHL-IIHF transfer agreement.

If the NHL team decides to send Sykora to any minor league team (including the Tigers) his home club back in Slovakia has the right to call him back since he is still under contract.

Sykora's Future
Sykora has said in a news release that he plans to make his decision on where he wants to play after the World Juniors next month. 

I'm not sure if he didn't sign would that would mean for his eligibility on coming over as I don't know the details on his current contract and not up to date on the transfer rules. 

 The only assurance this signing does is give him potential eligibility to play in the AHL, which makes me warry.  I'm not sure if the signing gives him a better chance of coming to the WHL or not? so I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. 

I don't know enough to understand what this signing means for his chances on coming over so we will have to wait for more information.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

CHL Import Draft - Adam Sykora

 The Tigers draft Adam Sykora 1st Overall

Sykora is listed as 5'11 174 lbs and plays Centre/Left Wing. Last season he played in the Slovakia's mens league, recording 17 points in 46 games and added 5 points in 19 games in the playoffs. His team lost in the Slovakian Finals last season. Sykora will be in his 18 year old season next year.

He has not signed with the Tigers and hasn't committed. He is on record saying he will play where the NHL team that drafts him wants him to play.

NHL Draft

Adam Sykora was picked late in the 2nd round 63rd overall by the New York Rangers.

Scouting Report

Sykora's scouting report says he is an in your face, speedy defensive forward with an insane work ethic. He is great on the Penalty Kill.  A "pain in the butt" type player and he models his game after Boston Bruins Brad Marchand. He creates a lot of little turnovers from stealing the puck away from opponents.
A type of player you hate to play against, but teammates love him and are thankful when he is on your team.

I guess we could compare him to former Tiger Derek Dorsett, however Sykora doesn't take many penalties. The scouting reports says Adam Sykora has an elite level work ethic and compete level. He excels in creating turnovers and hunting the puck down from oppositions top players. He could improve his passing decisions and physical strength, but he is reliable getting the puck out of his end. 

He is listed as on the "raw side" with the online scouts predicting a bottom 6 potential in the NHL due to his offensive game being a bit raw.  His compete level alone could see him playing in the NHL one day.

Important Intangible's

Because Sykora was not signed by the Tigers he isn't under the CHL-NHL agreement. That means he can play AHL at 19. Like I mentioned in the previous post, Picking a player who is 18 next season came with the risk of having a 1 year player who is gone at 19.    

Since Sykora's scouting reports list him as raw and a defensive forward, it seems unlikely he would make a jump to the Pro's at 19. The Rangers traditionally give their prospects lots of development time. 

The Tigers have had a couple Imports drafted by the Rangers and they have played with the Tigers as 20 year old Imports (Roman Psurny 5th round, and Tomas Kundratek 3rd round). Kundratek played 30 games in the NHL with washington and played 5 seasons in the AHL.

Derek Dorsett a former Ranger seems to be the most comparable Tiger to Sykora with the compete level, although Sykora doesn't take many penalties.  

Where Will the Rangers Send Him?

Willie Desjardins - He is known for developing small, fast speedy players.  This seems like a match made in heaven for Sykora. 

We don't know yet where he will go. It sounds like he will look for a recommendation from the Rangers and go where they recommend.  

The Slovakian's Mens' league used to be highly rated, just behind the swedish elite and german elite leagues but that was prior to the KHL. The website lists the AHL and OHL as higher quality leagues now. 

 If you look at the slovakian leagues top canadian players you see a couple former CHL'ers who were mostly 2nd/3rd line players and some players who played Junior A and went the NCAA route. Their are a few players who had good points in the CHL but they've also hopped leagues every couple years with most of them not playing in the swedish/german/russian elite leagues or minor pro in the AHL.

I would think playing in the WHL would give him a better opportunity to develop this offensive game and strength but we will see what the Rangers recommend to him.   

Sykora has only played in the Slovakian Junior and men's league within the HK Nitra organization so having him branch out to a different organization could be a good thing for adaptation to the pro's.

The New York Rangers Development Camp 

The Rangers just announced their prospect development camp and Sykora is listed on the Roster. We may find out more information after camp on where they want Sykora to play. 

I think the chances he comes over are very high. Their Prospect camp concludes July 15th, so it's very possible we'll know more information about this immediate future after camp.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Interesting Memorial Cup Observation - Defenceman & CHL Import Draft

Memorial Cup 

I was running through the rosters of this years' memorial cup teams and I noticed Hamilton had 3 Overage Defenseman. I thought that was interesting and it peaked my curiosity, so I started looking more into championship teams and the age of their defenseman.

2022 Memorial Cup
Edmonton - 5 of their top 6 defenseman are 19 or older. Average age of 19.2
Hamiltion - Their top 5 defenseman have an average age of 19.4 ( 3 OA defenseman)
Saint John - 5 of their top 6 defenseman are 19 or older average age of 19.2
Shawinigan - Average age of their top 5 defenseman is 19

Basically it means the winners of all leagues had stacked defensive groups.

Previous Memorial Cup Winners.  (Average Age of Top 5 Defenseman)

2019 - Rouyn Noranda Huskies - Avg: 19
2018 - Acadie-Bathrust - Avg:19.2
2017 Windsor -  Avg: 18.8  
2016 London Knights - Avg: 18.6   (OA Goalie)
2015 - Oshawa - Avg: 19.6  (3 OA defenceman)
2014 - Edmonton Avg: 19

 It makes sense that these teams are older on the back-end, but I was a bit surprised that so many of these teams defensemen were heavily, heavily, stacked on the back-end. It  means high risk/high reward. You fail and don't make it, next season your at the bottom.

Oshawa who won a Memorial Cup in 2015 had 3 Overage Defenceman.  London in 2016 is the lowest average defensive age of their top 5 among recent winners at 18.6  Their defensive roster had 6 NHL drafted players, with 2 players currently playing in the NHL and an overage goaltender.

In recent years the lowest defensive age group of WHL winners I could find was In 2013.  Portland had an average Top 5 defensive age of 18.5. This was a transition year of sorts for them as they made the WHL Finals in the previous year, as well as the next.  During 2013 they also had 2 NHL first round draft picks as well an an NHL 2nd rounder as well as an Overage Goalie. 

Based on these numbers is seems like if your average top 5 defensive age is below 18.8 you need an OA goalie and future NHL'ers on the roster.

The Last 2 WHL Tiger championships.

2006-2007 WHL Championship Tigers: Avg Age: 18.8  ( 6 defenseman, 18 or older) OA Goalie
Memorial Cup Winner: Vancouver Avg Age:19

2003-2004 WHL Championship   Avg Age:18.8 (7 defenseman 18 or older)
Memorial Cup Winner Kelowna Avg Age: 18.6 ( OA Goalie. They had 3 future NHL defenceman including Josh Gorges, Shea Weber, Kyle Cumiskey)

If you want to win the WHL or the Memorial Cup, your average age of the defensive group needs to be very close to 19 and if it's not you better have an Overage Goaltender or a couple NHL Calibre defenceman on the roster.  

Tigers Current Roster
Dru Krebs - 19
Bogdans Hodass - 19
Rhett Parsons - 19
Pavel Bocharov - 18
Reid Andresen - 17
Josh Van Mulligen - 17

Tigers Roster
Tigers average age of the Top 5 next season is 18.4, which suggests above average experience and high for a rebuilding team. Because their average age is higher and they are decent players, it's possible to have a better year than initial expectations, (which aren't super high)

Nonetheless it also gives flexibility to add to the future of the team and get younger. We know that 19 year old Defenceman are in demand for championship teams and the Tigers have 3 good ones.

Upcoming CHL Import Draft
The CHL has banned Russian and Belarusian players from this draft. Last year their were 27 players from these 2 countries that were picked, so it will likely leave slim pickings and some shallow Import depth.

Luckily for the Tigers they have THE Top pick in the entire Import Draft. It doesn't make sense not to use it. It is very likely that Gleb Ivanov is then relegated if this pick doesn't come over. 

CHL Import Draft 
Since the Tigers are building around the youth movement and taking the average age of defenceman into consideration it looks like it may make a lot of sense to use that Top Import Pick to draft a 17 year old defenceman to compliment the 17 year old group. 

The risk of taking an 18 year old Import Defenceman first overall is that they may only be here for 1 year. They would likely AHL Eligible at 19 so that is an added risk.  You don't have that problem with a 17.

The Tigers forwards are still pretty young, so an immediate need is more scoring. 

If they do get a scoring forward though, because of the potential slim pickings of Imports, that could be a huge Immediate benefit as well as a potential huge trade bait peace. It's high risk high reward. If they do pick an impact scoring forward, I wouldn't mind it either. It addresses an immediate need, you also wonder about potential future returns should that spot be traded to a contender.  

It wouldn't be ideal though if you got a good scorer for one year and he was gone the next.
It's really tough to go wrong at that draft unless they get someone who doesn't come over. 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Season Thoughts

Season over 

I'm not nearly as active as I used to be but this season didn't really matter a whole lot. We knew the Tigers were going to have a down year. We hoped that they could still be competitive, but when Cole Sillinger stuck in the NHL, it made a youthful team even younger.

My thoughts are I really don't care if they win 23 games or 5 this season.  This is not their year. To be honest, neither is next season. They are a full good year of seasoning away before this youth starts maturing.

For this season, It's always nice to win some games and make the playoffs, but with the youth they had on the roster, it just wasn't going to happen. 

Protip: If you know someone that says the Tigers coaching staff is washed up or they won't last long, they are outing themselves as having zero hockey knowledge. Read on to find out why I say that.

Age Is King

 In the WHL age groups are king.  As an example of this, let's look at the WHL leading scorer Arshdeep Bains.  He finished this season with 112 points in 68 games.

 As a 16 year old he had 7 points. As a 17 year old he had 18 points. 

Let me re-iterate that. The WHL scoring leader had 18 points as a 17 year old.

If Red Deer had a whole team full of Arshdeep Bains' they would have been terrible 3 seasons ago. A team full of this type of player would have set records for scoring.  This is something that many WHL GM's don't fully realize, let alone fans. 

What I Care About - Improvements

The Tigers made a couple trades. In total they picked up an extra 1st, 2-2nds 3rd, and Pavel Bocharov.  

When a team is going through a down year, attempting an upgrade and giving away assets is very tempting, but it is also the wrong thing to do for long term success. You are fighting gravity and their is no point in battling it.  Desjardins stayed the course and picked up some improvements. It's a good season in that regards, because buying in a down year is the sole destroyer of future championships. 

More Interesting Stats

I pulled this from a couple years ago when I tracked all points among player age groups. The following shows us how much of a scoring difference their was per age group in 2017-2018. 

2017-2018 (72 game season) Forwards

20 Yr Olds = 1.02 Pts/Game = 73.4 Pts
19 Yr Olds = 0.76 Pts/Game = 54.9 Pts
18 Yr Olds = 0.58 Pts/Game =  41.98 Pts
17 Yr Olds = 0.32 Pts/Game = 23.26 Pts
16 Yr Olds = 0.30 Pts/Game = 21.82 Pts

Lets Remember the current whl scoring leader at 17 years old, had 18 points as a 17 year old in a 72 game season, compared to the 68 games that are played this season. 

Compare The Current Tigers Roster To Average WHL Scoring Stats

Players- AgeGroup - Notes
3 - 20's  (3 players below Pace |1 defenceman) 0% on pace
3 - 19's  (1 goalie, 1 player on pace, 1 slightly below pace) 50% on pace
7 - 18's  (4 players on Pace, 3 players below pace)  50% on pace
6 - 17's    (6 On Pace or above pace)  100% on pace
2 - 16's   (2 full time players Both Above pace)  100% on pace.
Note: Can't really count defenceman for meeting these as it's forward only stats, but I did anyway.

Team Summary and Outlook

We can now clearly see why the Tigers missed the playoffs and why this wasn't unexpected.   Youth equals less scoring.  Older players not meeting WHL Averages equals less scoring. 

This shows the strength and potential of the Tigers is in the 17 year old age group and very likely 16 year old age group.  The 18 year old group is split, but by the time that age group is 20, a team can only have 3 of them anyway.

If we count how many players that could potentially double their scoring, it's 11 players. 2+6+3(18year olds) 

This is exciting! 

Next Season Early Thoughts
The sign of a team starting to Emerge is a late season Push. We didn't see that this season.  The Tigers basically return their entire team and everyone is a year older. A safe bet is to place the Tigers on the "border" of the playoffs next season. However, I look to their roster and definitely see a big "surprise" type of potential. 

The 2003 age group is strong on defenceman who will be 19 next season.  They also have a potential overage goaltender. From what I've noticed is that teams that have a strong back-end, but their forwards lack scoring, can still be quite surprising.  If they can get some finish around the net, they can realize some of that "surprise" potential.  

At the surface we see a team who only won 11 games, but in my viewings it was youth and a lack of finish around the net.  When I talk about "surprise" sort of potential, I view that surprise as more of a 4th-5th place finish, rather than bordering the edge of the playoffs. Still they will need a few players to step up scoring wise to get there.

I think they may repick one of their Imports and look to use it for a forward.  A good question is whether to try for an 18 year old who could be back for a 2nd year, or a 19 year old and likely re-pick the following season.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Trade Deadline Comes Early

 Tigers Make 2 Big Trade

First off I haven't followed the whl very much the last 2 season. I used to feel a ton more knowledgeable on happenings, player talent levels etc, but you can quickly loose key insights into the league and players if you don't pay attention.  As such my comments are basically trash. 

Lukas Svejkovsky

Their biggest trade piece has left the table. Lukas Svejkovsky has been traded to Seattle in return for a 2022 first round pick, conditional 2nd round pick in 2023, and conditional 3rd round pick in 2025.

Svejkovsky was the only point per game player in the lineup. It also left the Tigers temporarily down an Overager. 

The Tigers ended up filling that slot by signing a player that was let go earlier in the season to OA numbers.  Carter Chorney.  He had .5ppg as a 19 year old in the WHL and this season was near a ppg player in the AJHL.

Chorney has played for rebuilding teams in Regina and Swift Current. He will be looked upon to provide some guidance and experience for this young squad.

2nd Big Deal
This was a 3 way deal involving 3 teams. I will just point out the returns for the Tigers and players sent away.

Leaving the Tigers:
Carlin Dezainde(17) - F
Cayden Glover (17)- F
2023 Second Round Pick (conditional)
Ryan Nolan(17) - F

I might be wrong on this, but as far as I'm aware a team can only trade 17 year olds if they request a trade as per the new rules in 2018. This meant all 3 players requested a trade. 

Coming to the Tigers

Pavel Bocharov(17)
Brendan Lee(19)
2025 5th Round Pick

The key piece to this deal is likely landing Bocharov. Also the Tigers are going into next season with just 2 overagers. Picking up a 19 complements the need to balance out the age groups and have 3 20's for next season.

Pavel Bocharov
Pavel Bocharov, a defenceman, played for the under 18's and was the captain of team USA.  He is in his 17 year old year and put up 7 points in 30 games for Saskatoon. As a 17 he must have asked for a trade.  He is listed as  "C" prospect for the upcoming NHL draft.

Brendan Lee
Is a 19 year old who's put up 11 points in 30 games for Saskatoon.

The Tigers gave up  youth that have been in and out of the lineup.  Bocharov is probably the key piece in this deal for the Tigers, but this deal to me feels like it was initiated by players requesting trades. 

Ryan Nolan was only dressed in 8 games
Cayden Glover was only dressed in 15 games
Carlin Dezainde was dressed in 21

I haven't watched a lot of Tiger games this year or last year, so my thoughts on talent are not accurate in the least.  The few games I saw,  Cayden Glover seemed like one of the better 17's on the Tigers team. I say that with hesitations because watching a player casually for a few games is a terrible way to judge a players talent.  Glover only has 15 of 27 games games this season so he was a player that was scratched on and off and so perhaps saskatoon saw a young player who wasn't being utilized as a big return for them.

In Total

Their lineup changes quite drastically with the addition of 2 older players, and the loss of scoring leader as well as 3 younger players. 

Their is still 41 games left in the season. The WHL playoff format has changed back to a conference formatt. The conference is very top Heavy which means the majority of teams are around the .500 mark. The Tigers only have 14 points in 27 games, and are 13 points back of a playoff spot. 

These big changes as well as lots of time remaining in the season means their is still lots of time for them to catch up. 

Friday, December 3, 2021

Tigers Losing Streak

Normal Expectations

 Being completely honest I don't think this losing streak is anything out of the ordinary. You have a team that pretty much lost all their scoring power over the past 2 seasons. 

The Covid Cancelled Season

The covid year really put a dent on the Tigers talent as they had numerous overagers expiring and they couldn't get any value from them. This is an area Willie Desjardins is really great at. Recouping those late round draft picks and extracting value.

 The covid year also cut short a team that had merit to go on a whl finals run. It was the first time in a long time I had felt that way. Especially as they had laid a beating down on Edmonton late in the season who were the Favorites.

The Covid Shortened Season Last Year

Last season they still had a pretty strong team, but it didn't matter. The season was super short, and their was no playoffs. The Tigers had a split roster of very mature players and a very youthful contingent backing them up.  Their were very few trades last season so it was basically a poor year to have an older core. 

One of the Few teams who suffered Worse than the Tigers.

Edmonton is also a team that has suffered a lot because of Covid. They had been basement dwellers and had been recovering with 4 of 5 seasons of missing the playoffs.   The past 3 seasons and this season was their prime. They lost out to a Dominant PA team in their first Up season. Then Covid basically cancelled their last 2 seasons.  This could be their last shot before their "up" cycle runs out of juice for championship contenders...*This part was written before their last big trade**

If we compare their current roster to the Tigers roster;  12 of 15 Edmonton forwards are 18 or older. Half of them are 19 or older. When you have a core of 19's  playing against a core of 17's, it's too much of a gap.

Medicine Hat - Young Team

8 of their 14 forwards are 17 or younger. Three of their 18 yr olds had a combined 15 points in the WHL prior to the season starting. They have one 19yr old forward. They have 2 OA's who have scored half their goals and 1 of them is out week to week with an injury and the other is not playing against Winnipeg Ice tonight.

  It's simple math why they are on the losing streak. By their numbers they should be last or near the bottom of the league.  In a league where experienced mature players dominate, it's simply not their turn.  A successful season is making the playoffs. The thing about Willie Desjardins teams is that they are always 100% better going into the playoffs than they are during the season, but they literally have a roster than is a non playoff contention type roster.  I'll talk more about this down below...

Going Forward

Come Trade Deadline Time it's possible we see some movement. Lukas Svejkovsky could be an attractive Overager should a team need some veteran scoring. He would demand a 1st rounder Plus extra's.  If their is demand for Overage scoring we possibly might see Hopwo generate some interest. I think he may be less likely to go but it's a possibility. 

Season Progress

Typical progress of an above average core player is often something akin to  0.5-0.2ppg as a 16 year old. 0.2-.4ppg as a 17 year old.   0.4-0.65 as an 18 year old.    .7-1ppg as a 19.  1ppg+ as a 20.

As the Tiger forward core is 16 and 17 their numbers are in line with that. It also means their scoring isn't as high as it's been the past few years.

Positive Progress

Tyler MaKenzie has quintupled his point production going from 2 points in 19 games to 10 points in 17 games as a 17 year old. 

Ashton Ferster(18) has roughly a .5ppg pace after going pointless in 10 games last season.

Oasiz Wiesblatt(17) is up .15ppg to a .37ppg pace as a 17 year old. 

Teague Patton(18) has doubled his goal totals from last season. (Current .26ppg pace)

Cayden Glover(17) has tripled last seasons 1 point in 15 games to 3 points in 10 games. (.3ppg)

Tigers have a 16 year old defenseman who's played 30 whl games already. His plus minus of +1 this season is very solid when you factor in the Tigers as a whole are -26 at the time of writing this.

Their Import defenceman Bogdan Hodass and Gleb Ivanov have some skill and they could both be around next season. 

Their are some players who have had their production drop off including Dru Krebs and Oren Shtrom, but they also do not have the supporting cast they were playing with the previous season.Shtrom has had some minor Injury issues as well as he has only appeared in 16 of 21 games. Krebs in the few games I watched had a weird game where He was terrible for the first half, but played well the second half. To be honest though, the 18year old season is usually the toughest season for players. It's filled with ups and down so that is a bit normal.

My Armchair Thoughts

  I haven't watched the Tigers very much and when I turned on the webcast I was expecting a team that was losing battles and in general slower team speed, but that isn't what I saw against Winnipeg even though they were down big in the game. 

It's obvious their is some skill in the Tigers lineup. They win lots of small battles a LOT more than I expected facing the top team in the league. They were trying and skating hard.   They also make some nice outlet plays out of their zone. Speed or skill isn't their issue, experience is.

Their finish around the net seemed "panicked' or "youthfull" What I mean by that is it looked like they would run out of ideas at the net. Like they had to be perfect in order to score. Looking for a lot of cross icepasses with 3 defenders in the way. 

  Last minute shots that would miss the net or passes that went to nobody in prime scoring areas of the slot.  A sign of youth. A feeling they need to be perfect to score goals or rushed opportunities. 

I saw One Main Issue

Their biggest flaw is their defensive positioning in the offensive zone. What I mean by that is....When a defenceman would pinch, covering by a forward was an afterthought. Their was also quite a few instances where their forwards were on the wrong side of the puck.

The Tigers cycle in the offensive zone created a lot of pressure, but Eventually it would break down. Pretty routinely 2 forwards would be caught deep and flat footed. When Winnipeg won a battle it would be out from a scrum of 2 Tigers deep in the zone flat footed and it would result in Winnipeg coming out full speed with the control of the Neutral zone.  That puts a ton of pressure on the Tigers defenceman. 

I actually felt that the Tigers won more small battles, but with the winnipeg game  speed routinely caught the Tigers with their pants down after a simple outlet pass as described above.

I feel like if they can be on the right side of the puck more often in the offensive zone it will help them.  When they loose a battle it will be much harder for the opponent to skate out easily with speed. 
Still they are youthful and I don't expect much. Honestly I'm not expecting much from them. 

I also find it kinda funny about some fans who post things on facebook. This season was super obvious to me and really anyone who understand anything at all about how the WHL works.  I hope the players  concentrate on having fun and learning.  They arne't supposed to do well this season and making the playoffs will be considered a success.