The current rules allow each Western Hockey League team to include three 20-year-old players on their roster. These are seemingly interchangeable spots on a WHL roster throughout the season, often devoted to players with high-end skills or, perhaps just as important, high-end character.
At 20 years of age, a WHL player might be fully four years older than some of his teammates. It’s a disparity that has been spoken to and debated in many quarters over the years, with many conflicting opinions.
The effectiveness of these 20-year-old players is crucial throughout the grind of the 68-game regular season. They can also have an enormously positive impact on their younger teammates, both on and off the ice.
The 2019-20 season provided WHL followers with tremendous excitement, highs and lows associated with triumph and despair, achievement and injury, development and progress. The 20-year-old players are a huge part of this experience.
The current campaign, unique for many reasons both on and off the ice, marks the first time the DUBNetwork 20-year-old All-Star team includes three overage players from the same team – the Everett Silvertips. Each of these players suited up for the ‘Tips for the entirety of their respective careers.
As a group in the WHL this season, the 60+ overage players have devoted the majority of their teenage years to junior hockey. Many will move on to play hockey during their post-secondary lives, thanks to the WHL’s generous scholarship program. Some of these wily veterans will earn National Hockey league contracts or play professionally around the globe.
As a tribute, DUBNetwork has selected our own WHL All-Star team, consisting of only 20-year-old players, those of whom have all played their final WHL game.
Our annual selections are based solely on the regular season performances.
James Hamblin, Medicine Hat Tigers (1999-04-27)
Hamblin completes a storied career in Medicine Hat, where he spent the last two seasons as team captain.
Offensively gifted, Hamblin led the Tigers in scoring this season with 36 goals and 56 assists in 63 games, good for 92 points along with a plus-27 rating. Hamblin finished third overall in WHL scoring.
From Edmonton, Alberta, the five-foot-ten, 181-pounder appeared in 324 regular season games and another 17 in the post-season. His career numbers are solid – a combined 122 goals and 174 assists.
Hamblin played in all situations for the Tigers, he exuded leadership qualities, and was patient and thoughtful with the media.
Unselected in the National Hocley League draft, Hamblin has enjoyed free agent tryouts with both the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs. He played his entire WHL career in Medicine Hat.
Off the ice, in testimony to the challenges these young players experience during their junior hockey careers, Hamblin endured the passing of his mother, Gina, who succumbed to cancer in September of 2017.
WHL – Medicine Hat (2014) Round: 1 (#17)
Zane Franklin, Kamloops Blazers (1999-01-05)
Franklin completed his fourth full WHL season, the last two as a member of the Kamloops Blazers.
From Marwayne, Alberta, the five-foot-ten, 200-pounder led the Blazers in scoring each of the past two seasons. During the abbreviated 2019-20 campaign, Franklin hovered near the top of the league scoring race for much of the season, finishing fourth with 29 goals and 62 assists in 63 games, while compiling a plus-31 rating.
The Blazers acquired Franklin from the Lethbridge Hurricanes on July 31, 2018, adding a veteran fresh off two straight trips to the Eastern Conference final and a total of 30 playoff games experience. All told, he appeared in 269 regular season games and 36 playoff contests.
A thick and sturdy forward, Franklin adjusted easily to the rigors of the physical play out west and often initiated contact. He provided healthy amounts of grit and leadership in Kamloops while forming one of the most productive forward units in the WHL with Orrin Centazzo (his cousin) and elite youngster Connor Zary.
WHL – Lethbridge (2014) Round: 2 (#43)
Bryce Kindopp, Everett Silvertips (1999-06-14)
Kindopp completed a productive four-year career with the Silvertips, leading the team in scoring.
From Lloydminster, Alberta, the six-foot-two, 190-pounder scored 40 goals and added 34 assists for 74 points in 63 games, while compiling a plus-30 rating. All told, Kindopp appeared in 266 regular season games and a total of 42 playoff games, collecting a combined 118 goals and 95 helpers.
Kindopp led the Silvertips in goals scored last season with 39 and earned the organization’s Unsung Hero Award. Then, prior to the 2019-20 season, he was named Everett’s 17th team captain.
WHL – Everett (2014) Round: 3 (#49)
Jake Christiansen, Everett Silvertips (1999-09-12)
Christiansen completed rather a unique 2019-20 season, emerging as a reliable offensive threat from the backend with the Silvertips.
From West Vancouver, British Columbia, the six-foot-one, 190-pounder scored 22 goals and 28 assists in 38 games for the Everett, along with a plus-29 rating. He finishes his WHL career with 297 regular season games played and 51 playoff games to his credit.
Christiansen began the season on an amateur tryout with the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League, the Calgary Flames affiliate, where he appeared in nine games. It was rather a prolonged stay in the minors until he was returned to the WHL on Dec. 5.
His 22 goals in 38 games was tops in the WHL this season among defencemen. Near the conclusion of the current campaign, Christiansen signed an entry-level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
WHL – Everett (2014) Round: 5 (#105)
Wyatte Wylie, Everett Silvertips (1999-11-02)
Wylie, the only USA-born member of our overage All-Star team, completed his fourth full WHL season.
From Everett, Washington, the hometown lad was an offensive catalyst for the Silvertips this season, scoring 14 goals and 50 assists in 62 games, while compiling a plus-28 rating. He appeared in 272 regular season games and 43 playoff contests.
Wylie’s goals and assists production increased each season during his stay in the WHL and his output this season was good for second place in league scoring among rearguards – behind only Alex Cotton of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Wylie is the only member of our overage All-Star team to have been drafted, selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2018. He signed an entry-level contract on March 10, 2020.
NHL – Philadelphia (2018) Round: 5 (#127)
WHL – Everett (2014) Round: 6 (#128)
Shane Farkas, Victoria Royals (1999-01-12)
Farkas concluded his WHL career on the injury list, but his performance this season was more than enough for our panel to recognize his important role on an upstart Victoria Royals squad.
The Penticton, British Columbia native, last played on Jan. 24. The six-foot-two, 187-pounder compiled a record of 18-7-1, but went on a mid-season run of outstanding play that elevated the Royals into the western conference playoff conversation.
In 28 appearances for Victoria, he managed a 2.20 goals against average and a .929 save percentage with two shutouts.
The Royals acquired Farkas from the Portland Winterhawks at the 2019 WHL Draft to fill the rather large shoes left by our 2018-19 DUBNetwork overage All-Star goaltender, Griffen Outhouse. DUBNetwork’s Ryan Sinclair featured Farkas in an article on Sept. 19, 2019.
All told, Farkas appeared in 84 games for the Winterhawks prior to landing on Vancouver Island.
WHL – Lethbridge (2014) Round: 4 (#67)
Jaden Joseph, Tri City Americans (1999-05-22)
Joseph endured perhaps the most unique season among overagers in recent memory, appearing on the roster of four different teams.
The Sherwood Park, AB product played four full seasons in the WHL and finished his career as a member of a non-playoff team for the first time. DUBNetwork chronicled Joseph’s extraordinary junior hockey career path in a three-part series last month.
Among the current class of 20-year-old players, Joseph leads the way in post-season games played with 58, seven more than the next highest total (Christiansen: 51).
WHL – Lethbridge (2014) Round: 5 (#98)
Second Team All-Stars (2019-2020)
F: Riley Sawchuk, Edmonton Oil Kings (Tri City Americans)
F: Mark Kastelic, Calgary Hitmen
F: Isaac Johnson, Winnipeg Ice (Tri City Americans)
D: Max Martin, Kamloops Blazers (Prince Albert Raiders, Prince George Cougars)
D: Scott Walford, Saskatoon Blades (Victoria Royals)
G: David Tendeck, Vancouver Giants
LIST OF OVERAGE PLAYERS BY TEAM AT CONCLUSION OF 2019-20 SEASON
F: Joachim Blichfeld, Portland Winterhawks
F: Tristan Langan, Moose Jaw Warriors
F: Brandon Hagel, Red Deer Rebels
D: Dawson Davidson, Saskatoon Blades
D: Nolan Reid, Spokane Chiefs
G: Griffen Outhouse, Victoria Royals
C: Jayden Halbegwachs, Moose Jaw Warriors
R: Ty Ronning, Vancouver Giants
L: Brayden Burke, Moose Jaw Warriors
D: Austin Strand, Seattle Thunderbirds
D: Turner Ottenbreit, Seattle Thunderbirds
G: Kole Kehler, Portland Winterhawks
C: Adam Brooks, Regina Pats
R: Tyler Wong, Lethbridge Hurricanes
L: Ryan Gropp, Seattle Thunderbirds
D: Aaron Irving, Everett Silvertips
D: Coltyn Bobyk, Red Deer Rebels
G: Ty Edmonds, Prince George Cougars
(Special thanks to DUBNetwork panel of Paul Figler, Josh Critzer, Stephen Hawco, Ben Dooley, Liam Horrobin, Chris Clark, Jordan Bremner, Ryan Sinclair and Fred Mayer who contributed to this article.)