Coming into the New Year of 2019, it is a good time to sit and reflect for all of us, sports teams included. This time allows us the time to ask questions. After making the big trade just a few weeks go to bring in Jake Leschyshyn and Nick Henry from Regina, many asked are the Lethbridge Hurricanes done? What more can they do? Or the big question on a lot of minds is can they upgrade the goaltending? Quickly, the answer to all of these is yes. Peter Anholt has proven he is not afraid year in and year out to pull the trigger on a deal. They can always do more to improve the roster if they have the assets to do it. The big question that will circle around the team is the goaltending.
Reece Klassen and Carl Tetachuk are currently splitting duties in the Hurricanes crease. Their numbers, while not league bottom, shows an area of concern. Klassen is 11-4-4-3 with a .891 sv% and 3.57 GAA while Tetatchuk is 7-5-0-0 with .892 sv% and 3.49 GAA. Above average goaltending is what this club has been blessed with the last few seasons with Logan Flodell and Stuart Skinner. After being acquired by the Canes last season Flodell posted very respectful numbers going 14-10-1-0 with .904 sv% and 3.21 GAA in the 26 regular season games he played. He went on to help lead the Canes to the east final against the eventual WHL Champions from Swift Current. Stuart Skinner has similar results in his career with the Canes. His final season with the club saw a 14-15-2-0 record with a 3.38 GAA of and .897%. While the current duo isn’t far off those marks, the question still remains, is there a move to be made that makes sense? And that also gives the team the level of goaltending to push them over the top?
Let’s look at a few options.
First, the easiest is to put faith in the current duo. While not being world beaters they seem to have the faith of the general manager and the head coach. Both guys are doing a respectable job while splitting the crease, they have led the Hurricanes to second in the Central division. What they have been seeing is an elevation in play from Tetachuk in his backup role. Klassen has seen his starts cut down a bit and maybe that’s what he needs to help him stay fresh for the stretch run.
Trade, easier said than done in any league. With certain teams struggling or looking at options for next season there are a few veteran goalies that could be on the move around the WHL. If the Canes are looking at the market and you better believe Anholt is, they will definitely be in the middle of the mix for the big names.
Who are those big names?
-Griffen Outhouse (98) currently the top guy with the Royals, who sit third in the BC division. Outhouse has posted a 13-10-1-0 record with a 2.67 GAA and .917 sv%. Those numbers rank him seventh in the league. Its unsure if he could be had from Victoria and would command a big return but the results of bringing in a guy like Outhouse could mirror that of the work Flodell gave the Canes down the stretch last season
-Dawson Weatherill (99) almost seems to be on the outside looking in with Chiefs who sit third in the US division. Weatherill has been used in just 15 games this season and looks like a change of venue may suit him well. His numbers don’t suggest an upgrade but the sample size is smaller than the others on this list at 6-6-1-1 on the season. Definitely, the riskiest on this list to take a chance on, but the price would be smaller.
-Joel Hofer (00) With Swift Current in the rebuild mode after winning it all last season one has to wonder if the struggling Broncos would use the starter to acquire assets. At the same time, not sure moving the 2000 born goalie is wise. Obviously, his numbers are not all-star level while playing on the last place team but wouldn’t deter anyone interested in this guy with the upside he possesses.
-Dylan Ferguson (98) Kamloops Blazers currently sit in a wild card spot this season and it could be pricey in order to pry him out of BC. He would be a serious upgrade to most teams around the WHL. His posting of .909 sv% and a GAA of 3.18 reflects more on the defensive play of his team. Ferguson who has already had a small cup of coffee in the NHL with Vegas bring experience and leadership to the table. It would be a blockbuster to add the 20-year-old.
-Liam Hughes ’99 born goalie currently with Seattle is a late add to this list. Having just signed 2000 born goalie Roddy Ross, the crease is crowded for the Thunderbirds. That could mean Hughes may be had. Seattle has stumbled to last in the west and seems to be heading into a sell mode style to rebuild the team. Despite the last place, Hughes numbers are still decent with a 10-16-3-0 record and he has posted .899 sv% and 3.67 GAA.
The Hurricanes are set up to win and win now. They have seemingly hit their stride under Head Coach Brent Kisio and could very well be headed back to the East conference final with the current netminding. But to get over the hump a small upgrade could do the trick. Whichever way general manager Peter Anholt decides to go, the decision will not be made lightly and it will be in the best interest of the team. With the trade deadline close, buckle up this could be a wild ride.