The defending Western Conference champion Vancouver Giants have stayed fairly busy during their short offseason heading into the 2019/20 season.
I’ve been busier this summer away from hockey than I had originally expected, and for that, I apologize for not keeping up with all the Giants news.
I’ve decided to do quick rundowns of all the news that happened with the club in the offseason for those that may have missed it or may need a refresher on what the team has done coming into this WHL season.
General manager Barclay Parneta made a handful of changes that included two trades, an import selection, and four player signings. With training camp concluding and exhibition starting up, there are roster decisions to be made, and Parneta also has until October 10th to address the team’s overage situation, narrowing his ’99 group to three players.
The First Shepard
No time was wasted in starting to build the ’19/’20 Giants when the team acquired local talent Jackson Shepard from the Lethbridge Hurricanes just 11 days after their heartbreaking Game 7 overtime loss in the WHL Final. Here’s the story from the time of the trade:
A Mile High Summer For Byram
Giants star defenceman Bowen Byram had a summer to remember after leading the WHL in playoff scoring. It all started with being named the recipient of the Sherwin-Williams CHL Top Prospect Award at the CHL Awards held in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Just two days prior to the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Byram was named to the Canadian National Junior Team Summer Development Camp in Plymouth, Michigan, where the Cranbrook native collected two assists in two games played.
Despite being widely regarded as the top WHLer of the 2019 draft class, Byram was second to be picked when the Colorado Avalanche selected him with the fourth overall pick after the Chicago Blackhawks selected Saskatoon Blades forward Kirby Dach with the previous pick. After a successful first NHL Development Camp, the Avalanche signed their top prospect to a three-year Entry-Level Contract.
As day two of the draft was coming to a close, the Colorado Avalanche circled back to Vancouver when they selected Giants goaltender Trent Miner in the seventh round, 202nd overall, sending both drafted Giants to the same organization.
Vancouver came into June’s CHL Import Draft owning picks 59th and 119th overall, opting to only pick once. The Giants selected 2002-born defenceman Samuel Knazko out of Slovakia. Here’s the story:
Hlinka With Giant Flavour
It was announced on June 7th that Giants head coach Michael Dyck was named head coach of Canada’s Summer U-18 Team which competed in the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in both Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia. Dyck chose to stick to what he is familiar with and named 2020 NHL top prospect Justin Sourdif to the roster. Sourdif put up five points (1G, 4A) in five games en route to a silver medal, losing to Russia in the final.
From Russia With Love
A day after it was announced that German forward Yannik Valenti would not be returning to the team, instead staying in Germany to play, the Giants announced a trade that involved them acquiring Russian 2001-born forward Sergei Alkhimov from the Regina Pats, along with swapping 2022 conditional picks, in exchange for four-year Giant and incoming overage forward Dawson Holt. Alkhimov recorded 27 points (13G, 14A) in 66 games with the Pats. The Giants now sit with two filled import spots despite making only one selection at the CHL Import Draft, with the other being unsigned Calgary Flames prospect and overage forward Milos Roman.
Four prospects were signed to WHL Standard Player Agreements, with the first signing easily being the biggest of the summer.
The Vancouver Giants announced they received a commitment from 2002-born forward Cole Shepard, brother of previously acquired Jackson, at a media conference on July 10th. The former Harvard commit was originally a second-round pick (33rd overall) in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.
The team’s second offseason signing started a string of three signings in eight days, inking 2018 fourth-round pick Nicco Camazzola to a SPA. The Burnaby, BC, native stands at six-foot-one, 187 pounds and spent this past season with the Vancouver Northeast Chiefs, recording six assists and 78 penalty minutes (a team-high).
Second up was 2002-born forward John Little who was the team’s third-round selection (60th overall) in 2017. The Parksville, BC, native spent his first year of junior hockey in the BCHL with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks where he put up 26 points (10G, 16A) in 53 games, good for eighth on the team. Little was teammates with Giants forward Justin Sourdif on Team BC that captured the 2017 WHL Cup.
The most recent player to sign with the Giants is another local talent in Brendan Pentecost. The 2003-born defenceman out of Surrey, BC, originally came to the organization through the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft where he was selected in the sixth round. Dubbed as a “reliable, two-way defenceman” by general manager Barclay Parneta, Pentecost already stands at six-foot-one, 161 pounds with room to fill out. Last season with the Delta Hockey Academy Elite 15s, he recorded 12 points (5G, 7A) in 24 games. He is expected to play for their Midget Prep team in 2019/20.
Two weeks ago, the Giants announced they have added Dave Chyzowski to their coaching staff. The former second overall pick in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft joins Vancouver after spending 14 seasons in the Kamloops Blazers organization, predominately as the Director of Sales and Marketing. He is the father of Nick, who played 343 regular season games for the Blazers and currently plays hockey at the University of Waterloo and Ryan, who is a veteran of 195 WHL games with the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Five days later, the club announced they had extended the contracts of head scout Terry Bonner and scouting director Daryl Anning through the 2020/21 season.
Bonner has been a part of the Giants organization since their inception into the WHL in 2001 and is responsible for drafting all the team’s stars throughout the years such as Gilbert Brule, Jonathan Blum, Evander Kane, and countless others that have had successful WHL and professional hockey careers.
Last season was Anning’s first with Vancouver after coming over from the Swift Current Broncos organization where he spent 20 seasons scouting and played a key part in the team’s 2018 WHL Championship. He also has his fingerprints on drafting players such as Adam Lowry, Jake DeBrusk, and Tyler Steenbergen.
Big League Teddy Bear Toss
The Vancouver Giants announced that they have partnered up with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks to play their annual Teddy Bear Toss game on December 8th at Rogers Arena, home of the Canucks, against the Tri-City Americans. Learn more here:
Koch Going Overseas
Most recently, Giants alum Davis Koch (2017/18-2018/19) signed a try-out contract with the Iserlohn Roosters of the DEL — the top league in Germany. Koch, a native of White Rock, BC, spent the last season and a half of his junior hockey career with the Giants and led the team in scoring during the regular season with 78 points en route to Game 7 of the WHL Final. In 95 games with the Giants, he recorded 97 points (32G, 65A) and a total 255 points (91G, 164A) in 320 career WHL regular season games.