Before the 2019-2020 season was cut short due to COVID-19, the Vancouver Giants were on their way to a playoff birth, and a chance to replicate their 2018-19 run to the WHL final. Unfortunately, we never had the opportunity to see what this team was capable of. This season, however, the Giants may be granted with a rare opportunity. With not much known about the AHL and if their league will play this year, some Giants players may get another opportunity to fight for the Memorial Cup. Here is a look at four key players the Giants will want back for the 2021 season.
Byram is a top prospect of the Colorado Avalanche who will most likely be with the NHL team next season. The Giants can only hope that their #1 defender finds a way back to Vancouver for one more season. Byram is also a name that Team Canada hopes is available to them for the World Juniors, as they look for back to back gold medals. Byram would provide the Giants with a strong presence on the backend, and the ever-elusive defensemen who can score. This would be a big win for the Giants, but very unlikely.
Alex Kannok Leipert:
The captain of the Giants is entering into his last year of eligibility with the Giants. With Vancouver most likely losing Byram, keeping Kannok Leipert is crucial to their defensive game. He also brings leadership as he played a big role in the Giants run to the WHL finals two seasons ago. Kannok Leipert’s strong defensive game will be crucial for Vancouver to make it out of the BC division this season.
Florchuk was brought in midway through the 2019/20 season from Saskatoon to solidify the first line for the Giants. He went on to put up 33 points in 25 games and was proving to be the difference-maker the Giants needed. Drafted by Washington, Florchuk is another player the Giants could lose if the AHL or ECHL run this year. Florchuk will be a key piece of the offense, especially if the Giants lose Byram this coming season to the NHL.
The Giants’ leading scorer from last year should be back for his overage year. Although not drafted, Nielsen could still explore professional opportunities through training camps, or even Europe. This leaves a massive hole for the Giants to fill if he leaves. There is also the added issue of who the Giants three overagers will be this year. The Giants would be smart to ensure that their leading scorer sticks with the team as he will be an important part of the success of this season.
If the Giants can recapture the form they had in 2018-19, this season could be an exciting one for fans in the lower mainland. The Giants still have to sort out which of their eight overagers will stay so expect a few trades to occur between now and the beginning of the season. The Giants have the talent and experience to go on a run this season. With a good mix of young players like Cole Sheppard surrounded by the experience of players like Justin Sourdif and Trent Miner, the Giants could be on their way to an exciting and successful season.