Tri-City Americans – who is coming back from last year’s stacked team?

For the first time since 2012, the Tri-City Americans got to the Western Conference final. They rolled by the Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals with eight straight wins on the way. Morgan Geekie and Michael Rasmussen ran up crazy stats and eight Ams hit 10 or more points through the 14 games they played in the postseason.

With Geekie signing with Carolina and likely not coming back, Tri-City could be without five of those eight players for the 2018-19 campaign.

Even with the losses all over the ice, Tri-City still has some proven, high-end talent coming back up front and they should be in the mix. They could be a teams to pay attention to as far as trades as we get closer to the start of the regular season.

LW Center RW
Nolan Yaremko (98)^ Michael Rasmussen (99) Isaac Johnson (99)
Parker AuCoin (98)^ Kyle Olson (99) Sasha Mutala (01)
Brett Clayton (98)^ Riley Sawchuk (99) Blake Stevenson (01)
Kaden Kohle (02)* Connor Bouchard (01) Paycen Bjorklund (00)
Booker Daniel (01)*

-Up front the Americans will be hit pretty hard by departures but could still put together quite a talented group.

Gone are overage center Jordan Topping and winger Maxwell James. Also leaving to play professionally with the Carolina Hurricanes organization is center Morgan Geekie.

Rasmussen (photo-Judy Simpson)

Geekie and Topping leaving leaves the Ams pretty depleted up the middle but they do have a pair of NHL-drafted forwards with experience in the middle in Rasmussen and Olson.

Rasmussen’s return could be a story line to watch come September as the Detroit Red Wings are not as deep an organization as they used to be and another strong camp from the former ninth overall selection in the 2017 NHL draft could find him in their lineup to start the year.

Whether or not he comes back would have a huge impact on a team that has the makings of a contender in the U.S. Division.

Yaremko and AuCoin would look to have two of the three overage spots locked down as two of the top-five returning scorers from last year’s team.

Johnson and Olson give the Americans a set of forwards who seem primed for breakout seasons as one was a rookie last year and the other battled injuries. I would expect Johnson to get drafted and thus both will be trying to be signed by their NHL teams.

Key to the success of the this coming year’s Americans might be the emergence of Bouchard and Mutala who had great moments during their 16-year-old seasons and will be trying to have strong years during their draft-eligible seasons.

Clayton could end up being one of the odd overagers out, but he does have size and might find a home with another WHL team.

Kohle was Tri-City’s first round pick in 2017 and you have to think that they will give him a chance to stick around for a 16-year-old season in the WHL.

I would expect Tri-City to use an import pick later this month on a forward as they would use some help.

Left Defense Right Defense
Roman Kalinicheko (00)# Dan Gatenby (98)^
Anthony Bishop (98)^ Austin King-Cunningham (99)
Tyler Jette (98)^ Mitchell Brown (01)
Liam Belcourt (00) Tom Cadieux (02)
Samuel Stewart (00) Landon Fuller (99)
Jarod Newell (02)* Colten Gerlib (99)*
Carson Haynes (03)* Marc Lajoie (03)*

-This will be a position to watch for Tri-City come the preseason. They had three NHL-signed blue liners last year and all three (Dylan Coghlan, Juuso Valimaki and Jake Bean) will be playing professionally during their 20-year-old campaigns.

If you look at their playoff scoring, those three had 49 of the 54 points scored from the blue line.

Dan Gatenby (Brian Liesse)

Gatenby would seem to have the inside track among himself, Bishop and Jette for an overage spot. Bishop was a strong play-maker but made big errors in the postseason that at one point got him benched. I’m not entirely sure Jette is still on Tri-City’s protected list as the once promising d-man had a concussion during the preseason back in 2016 and that kept him out of game situations for a year and a half. He landed with the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the AJHL in December of 2017 and then worked his way up to a quintet of games with the Ams. He scored in Kamloops on January 7th – his first WHL goal. He is someone you can’t help but pull for as he tries to keep his hockey career going.

Brown had some strong moments last year and could be one tasked with eating up some of those minutes left over from Bean, Coghlan and Valimaki. King-Cunnigham could be another as he was brought over in exchange for a draft pick at the trade deadline.

Haynes and Lajoie can’t play more than five game stints, but Newell and Cadieux could get extended looks as 16-year-olds and may find themselves sticking around with strong preseasons.

Kalinichenko was a player who as he adjusted to the WHL, showcased strong skating and big hits. He should markedly improve in the other areas of his game this coming season.

Goalie
Beck Warm (99)
Talyn Boyko (02)*
Xavier Cannon (01)*

-The starting job has to be Warm’s to lose. He again had a solid year and was dueling Patrick Dea for the starting job in the playoffs until he went down with an injury.

The fact that there are two players behind him that have yet to play a WHL game has to help his standing as the number one netminder.

Beck Warm (Brian Liesse)

Boyko was a third round pick by Tri-City and put up strong numbers with the Pursuit of Excellence program last year. I would expect him to be given every chance to earn a spot as Warm’s backup.

^=overage player

#=import player

*=has not played a regular season or playoff game in the WHL.

 

Unsigned players born from 2000-2002,  not committed to an NCAA school:

Player Birth year Position Acquired 2017 Team
Seth Fyten 2000 Forward Listed Spruce Grove (AJHL)
Colin MacPherson 2000 Defense Listed Grande Prairie (AJHL)
Jack Barnes 2000 Forward 2015 Draft 5th round Penticton (BCHL)
Riley Wallack 2001 Forward Listed Delta (CSSHL)
Ross Duthie 2001 Defense Listed Edge School (CSSHL)
Bryan McAndrews 2001 Defense 2016 Draft 5th round OHA (CSSHL)
Kash Rasmussen 2001 Forward 2016 Draft 5th round Bonnyville (AJHL)
Bruce MacGregor 2001 Forward Listed NA X-treme (CSSHL)
Jacob Brockman 2001 Forward Listed LA Jr Kings
Kyle Crewe 2002 Defense 2017 Draft 7th round OHA (CSSHL)
Landon Roberts 2002 Forward 2017 Draft 6th round SW Cougars (MMHL)
Sequoia Swan 2002 Center 2017 Draft 6th round Rink HA (CSSHL E15)
True Crowe 2002 Defense 2017 Draft 6th round Rocky Mtn (NAPHL 16U)
Kobe Pane 2002 Defense Listed Anaheim Jr Ducks(NAPHL 16U)
Tristan Rand 2002 Center 2017 Draft 8th round LA Jr Kings (NAPHL 16U)
Riley Stuart 2002 Center 2017 Draft 5th round Phx Jr Coyotes (T1EHL 16U)

-Fyten is the younger brother of the Swift Current Broncos forward Andrew Fyten. He won the AJHL title with the Spruce Grove Saints in 2018.

-Barnes is the son of co-owner and former Americans star Stu Barnes.

-McAndrews is the brother of former Tri-City forward Devon McAndrews.

-MacGregor won the CSSHL title in 2018.

-Roberts played for Team Manitoba at the WHL Cup.

-Swan was the most penalized player in the CSSHL E15 league.

The list above was generated off of a prospect list Tri-City has on their team website that was last updated in January of 2018.

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.