Overage players coming back?
At the start of the the 2017-18 WHL season, there were 24 players who had been signed to entry-level contracts and thus were eligible to play in the NHL, AHL or ECHL in the team who owned their rights’ system. Of those 24 players, five made it into at least one NHL game, all but Mathew Barzal played at least one game in the AHL and six players played some in the ECHL.
Just two of the 24 players made their way back to the WHL. Chaz Reddekopp, a big blue liner for the Victoria Royals spent the entire year with the Royals, despite being signed by the L.A. Kings late the season before. Jesse Gabrielle was the other player who came back as an overage player when the Prince George Cougars dealt his WHL rights to the Memorial Cup host Regina Pats. Gabrielle suffered an injury late in the year and missed playing in the Memorial Cup.
This year there are considerably more overage players who have signed professional contracts. In fact there are 10 more as it stands now with 34 WHL players looking to start their professional careers in the 2018-19 season as 20-year-olds.
Here is the list of 34:
|Player||Position||WHL team||NHL team|
|Cal Foote||D||Kelowna||Tampa Bay|
|Kole Lind||RW||Kelowna||Tampa Bay|
|Mason Shaw||C||Medicine Hat||Minnesota|
|David Quenneville||D||Medicine Hat||NY Islanders|
|Kale Clague||D||Moose Jaw||L.A.|
|Brett Howden||C||Moose Jaw||NY Rangers|
|Oleg Sosunov||D||Moose Jaw||Tampa Bay|
|Kieffer Bellows||LW||Portland||NY Islanders|
|Joachim Blichfeld||RW||Portland||San Jose|
|Noah Gregor||C||Prince Albert||San Jose|
|Kristian Reichel||C||Red Deer||Winnipeg|
|Libor Hajek||D||Regina||NY Rangers|
|Tyler Steenbergen||LW||Swift Current||Arizona|
|Josh Anderson||D||Swift Current||Colorado|
|Stuart Skinner||G||Swift Current||Edmonton|
|Beck Malenstyn||LW||Swift Current||Washington|
|Tanner Kaspick||C||Victoria||St Louis|
So which – if any- will be coming back? Of course each individual situation is different but there are a couple who seem a little more likely to return than the others.
One is Kamloops goalie Dylan Ferguson. Despite being needed as an emergency call up last year with Vegas, there are still quite a few goalies in the Golden Knights’ system. Marc-Andre Fleury was just signed to a long-term deal and Malcolm Subban, Oscar Dansk, Zach Fucale and Maxime Legace are all under contract as well. This does not seem to leave much room for the 1998-born Ferguson. Also, Kamloops currently only has two other 1998-born players on the projected roster, leaving a roster detective to wonder if they have gotten some type of guarantee that Ferguson will be back. Without the overager, they have 2000-born Max Palaga, 2001-born Rayce Ramsay and 2002-born Dylan Garand. There is not a lot of WHL experience in that group.
The other player who sticks out as having a possibility to return is Noah Gregor. The overage center who mostly played wing last year in Moose Jaw and Victoria was recently moved to the Prince Albert Raiders. The reason I think Gregor may be coming back is because of how deep the San Jose Sharks are at the forward position. They have 14 forwards under NHL contract and 17 under minor league contracts. Gregor, like Skyler McKenzie to Winnipeg, was also a late signing and thus his position with the San Jose Barracuda may not be as figured out as someone like Portland’s Joachim Blichfeld who was signed in December of 2017.
Gregor also did not improve much statistically last year, compiling 65 points in 60 games between Moose Jaw and Victoria. Now that his rights are owned by the Raiders – a team that looks ready to make a long postseason run – the Sharks may be tempted to send him down and hope he has a dominant overage season like another signing of theirs Jayden Halbgewachs did last year.
We will have to wait and see exactly what each of these NHL teams choose to do with these 35 players. An unexpected returnee to a WHL team may just swing a playoff series.
U17 Hockey Canada camp ends
The last games finished up today in Calgary at Hockey Canada’s U17 Development Camp and quite a few 2002-born WHL players had standout performances. Edmonton Oil Kings incoming 16-year-old Jake Neighbours had three points in three games, as did Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The 29 WHL-drafted and 25 WHL-signed players will be monitored at the start of their hockey seasons and then Hockey Canada will name three rosters of 20 players for the U17 Hockey Challenge in Saint John and Quispamis, New Brunswick this November 3-10.
It turned out to be a fairly even tournament with four of the six teams finishing with 2-1 records.
Starting tomorrow, U18 representatives for Hockey Canada will take over the ice as players vie for a spot on Canada’s U18 team for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Red Deer and Edmonton, Alberta.
|0||Gage Alexander||G||Kootenay||2.35 GAA, 0.900 Save %|
|1||Dylan Garand||G||Kamloops||3.53 GAA, 0.884 Save %|
|31||Bryan Thomson||G||Lethbridge||3.85 GAA, 0.881 save %|
|11||Noah Boyko||F||Lethbridge||0-1-1 point|
|14||Ridly Greig||F||Brandon||1-2-3 points|
|17||Payton Mount||F||Seattle||1-1-2 points|
|18||Justin Sourdif||F||Vancouver||0-1-1 point|
|1||Sebastian Cossa||G||Edmonton||3.08 GAA, 0.826 Save %|
|4||Luke Prokop||D||Calgary||0-1-1 point|
|12||Ben King||F||Swift Current||0-0-0 points|
|14||Jake Neighbours||F||Edmonton||2-1-3 points|
|19||Ethan Bowen||F||Kelowna (not signed)||0-2-2 points|
|4||Kaiden Guhle||D||Prince Albert||2-0-2 points|
|7||Joel Sexsmith||D||Vancouver||0-0-0 points|
|12||Seth Jarvis||F||Portland||2-0-2 points|
|19||Cole Shepard||F||Vancouver (not signed)||2-0-2 points|
|4||Tom Cadieux||D||Tri-City||0-1-1 point|
|7||Ronan Seeley||D||Everett||0-0-0 points|
|14||Connor McClennon||F||Kootenay||2-0-2 points|
|7||Anthony Kehrer||D||Brandon (not signed)||1-0-1 point|
|9||Ryan Helliwell||D||Portland (not signed)||0-0-0 points|
|19||Ozzy Wiesblatt||F||Prince Albert||1-1-2 points|
|1||Garin Bjorklund||G||Medicine Hat||4.56 GAA, 0.887 Save %|
|4||Vincent Iorio||D||Brandon||1-0-1 point|
|8||Daemon Hunt||D||Moose Jaw||1-0-1 point|
|10||Josh Pillar||F||Kamloops||0-0-0 points|
|12||Kyle Crnkovic||F||Saskatoon||1-0-1 point|
|14||Jack Finley||F||Spokane||0-2-2 points|
|17||Ethan Ernst||F||Kelowna||0-0-0 points|
Winterhawks invite Werner
The invitations to training camp are going out from WHL teams to unsigned prospects around Canada and the United States. One such invite was confirmed as DubNetwork recently learned that 2003-born forward Evan Werner was invited to Portland Winterhawks training camp.
Werner played last year with the Dallas Stars Bantam Major AAA program, potting 15 points in 12 games.
Werner played for Team Columbia at last month’s USA Hockey Select 15 Development Camp. He had a goal and an assist for two points in four games.
The 2003 age group will be one that scouts keep a close eye on as players passed over in the most recent WHL Bantam Draft continue to develop. WHL teams will want a closer look at those young players that intrigue them.
The date for the camp was also announced today as camp will begin Tuesday, August 21st and continue through Friday, August 24th.
🗓️MARK YOUR CALENDARS 🗓️
— Portland Winterhawks (@pdxwinterhawks) July 26, 2018
Links and notes:
New league in the U.S.
-More Texas-related news that also has ties with Portland as former Winter Hawks star Troy Mick was announced as the first president of the USA Central Hockey League.
Mick coached the Vernon Vipers to two RBC Cup titles. He was most recently general manager and president of the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
The new league is based in Texas and will be Junior A like the BCHL, MJHL and SJHL.
-ESPN had a big writeup on the Vegas Golden Knights and featured prominently was the first ever pick in franchise history, Cody Glass. The Winterhawks center apparently trained this summer with former NHLer Gary Roberts.