Eight WHL players unsigned by the NHL teams who drafted them in 2016

With 5pm EST coming and going without eight different NHL-drafted players being signed, the NHL teams who took them no longer retain their rights and the players can be drafted by another team in this June’s NHL draft in Dallas. They can also be signed as free agents after that time, if they are not drafted.

Player Birth Year NHL Team WHL Team Drafted 2017-18 pts
Hudson Elynuik 1997 Carolina Spokane 3rd-74th 31-55-86pts
Jordy Stallard 1997 Winnipeg Prince Albert 5th-127th 44-47-91pts
Vojtech Budik 1998 Buffalo Prince Albert 5th-130th 14-27-41pts
Jakob Stukel 1997 Vancouver Calgary 6th-154th 37-27-64pts
Brandon Hagel 1998 Buffalo Red Deer 6th-159th 18-41-59pts
Braydyn Chizen 1998 Minnesota Kelowna 7th-204th 6-13-19pts
Tyler Soy 1997 Anaheim Victoria 7th-207th 36-56-92pts
Dmitri Zaitsev 1998 Washington Moose Jaw 7th-209th 6-22-28pts

-Elynuik was the third-highest unsigned player and with the improvements he made this year, Carolina passing on him was a bit of a surprise. He’s got a lot of size and had become quite good at using it to give himself room near the net. He was also one of the better forwards in the league at getting his stick on shots from the point. It would not be a surprise if someone took him in this June’s draft and had him start in the AHL. If he is passed over, he and all the other 1997-born players on this list could certainly find a spot with a U-Sport team in the CIS up in Canada.

Hudson Elynuik (Brian Liesse)

-Stallard had a breakout year with the Raiders but it’s possible the Jets did not have room in their stacked system for another forward.

-Budik and Zaitsev will both be eligible to return but would take both an overage spot and an import spot. With the Raiders looking like contenders, they may go ahead and use two spots on Budik, but I don’t see the same happening for Zaitsev. The Warriors will likely be retooling this year and if Zaitsev sees an opportunity to play in Europe professionally he may just do that.

-I thought for sure Soy would be signed by Anaheim after a strong camp there, but health woes plagued him this season and Anaheim is another team with a deep pool of prospects. Of the players on this list, Soy may just be the most likely to be drafted by another team.

-Hagel and Chizen are the only non-import players on this list eligible to return as overagers. Hagel is one of five eligible 20’s for Red Deer next year, but Kristian Reichel is draft eligible and could very well end up playing in the AHL, leaving them with four possibilities. At this point it would appear that Hagel as the leading returning scorer would be a lock for one of those spots. With a big year, he could find himself with an NHL contract like Glenn Gawdin did this year. Of those unsigned players coming back, Hagel seems the most likely to have a big year and make the team that did not sign him regret it.

-Chizen is one of only two likely overage returnees for the Rockets, as Cal Foote, Dillon Dube and Kole Lind have all signed with their NHL teams. Chizen and goalie Brodan Salmond are the only 1999-born players that will be back and with Salmond losing his job to James Porter Jr. last year, Kelowna may have multiple overage spots to fill. With Foote gone and Gordie Ballhorn and James Hilsendager both aging out, the Rockets lost three blue liners off of their 2017-18 team. Chizen should thus be a lock for one of the spots on a team that will lost its top four scorers from last season and looks to be, on paper one of the most inexperienced Rockets teams in quite some time.

 

 

Brandon Rivers

Longtime Portland Winterhawks' blogger on hodgesheroes.blogspot.com. I also write for SB Nation on the for the Seattle Sin Bin at http://www.sonicsrising.com/seattle-sin-bin. Further, I have a Seattle-sports podcast over at 206sportsjocks.com Originally from the Portland area, now living in Seattle. Proud husband and Father.