The Victoria Royals are not afraid to make roster moves. Like most teams in junior hockey, some adjustments are by choice. Others are forced, as in situations of players aging out.
With the moves, however, the aim of the Royals hockey operations staff to remain competitive each year remains a cornerstone. The changes they make play into the long-term plan.
Traditionally not buyers or sellers, the club does not typically trade prospects for a one-time playoff run. Alternatively, veteran players are not shipped out of town for future assets if the club struggles.
Some fans feel this leads to middling clubs, not able to break through the second round of the playoffs. Does the steady approach hurt the Royals and their championship chances?
The team doesn’t think so. In fact, they plan for that consistency.
“There’s no question that you can really hurt your franchise,” said Victoria Royals President & General Manager Cameron Hope.
“Our plan as Victoria Royals hockey operations has always been to make the team a sustainable success. Strive for excellence every year, trying to avoid the sine wave of terrific years followed by years of drought. We think that a team can retool without having to be terrible.”
The league has seen teams make sweeping moves to increase their championship chances. The Swift Current Broncos and Regina Pats come to mind as clubs who have made the push, only to immediately fall the next season.
“Every team has its own situation,” added Hope. “Some teams have more to start with when they’re making their run. They don’t have to be quite so aggressive. We like to keep that sine wave a little bit less extreme. But having said that, we’re all guilty of it a little bit.”
The Royals were indeed guilty of going for it in 2017. Of the nine years the club has been in Victoria, that year appears to be the exception.
“That year, (we) gave up a lot of future assets and draft picks. The team had a great group of players in Matthew Phillips, Dante Hannoun, Tyler Soy, and others. We brought in Tanner Kaspick, Jeff de Wit, Lane Zablocki, and Kade Jensen on the back end.”
“We really thought that was going to be our year, and then were defanged by injuries. So, it can all go wrong.”
Victoria withstood any collapse after that season, and any repercussions have passed. The club made the playoffs last year and went into the second round, beating the predictions of many of a full rebuild.
“It definitely takes a little bit out of the out of your club when you do that. The difference with us is that we had drafted so strongly for so many years, we didn’t have to go through a big downturn.”
“We’re building back up again.”
With a solid core of 19-year-old players returning, the club likes its chances for next season. More moves are likely through the summer and training camps, but fans should expect any adjustments to follow the long-term plan.