Eight WHL players remain unsigned from the 2017 NHL draft

Just a few hours remain to sign the final eight players from the 2017 NHL draft that were products of the WHL. Should the remaining players not be signed, they will be eligible to re-enter the draft hosted by the Canucks on June 21-22, 2019 in Vancouver, BC.

Scott Walford

Walford recorded his 100th WHL career assist Saturday

Drafted by the Montreal Canadiens 68th overall in the third round. Drafted by the Victoria Royals 18th overall in the first round in 2014.

The 1999-born defenseman was drafted following a breakout season with the Victoria Royals. In his draft year, Walford scored six goals and added 24 assists in 60 games of WHL action. Since then he has played in 131 WHL games and scored 11 times, he also has 68 assists over those games and was named assistant captain for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. He then pitched in seven assists in the 2018-19 playoffs for the Royals.

Montreal has not really shown it’s hand regarding Walford, and they have 11 contracts they are able to use heading into the NHL off-season and a lot of cap room. There are several prospects ahead of him in the Canadiens system including fellow WHLer Josh Brook, who is signed. Noah Juulsen and Cale Fleury are also former WHL players for their AHL affiliate in Laval.

Lane Zablocki

Lane Zablocki

Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings 79th overall in the third round. Drafted by the Prince George Cougars in the fifth round 109th overall in 2013.

After collecting 54 points in 64 games with the Regina Pats and Red Deer Rebels, Zablocki bounced around the Western Hockey league. By the time he reached his overage season, he was playing on borrowed time in Kelowna and was eventually let go. He then moved down to the Junior A ranks and played for the Vernon Vipers. There have been injury concerns for Zablocki throughout the last few seasons.

The Detroit Red Wings have room for ten contracts in 2019-2020 and it is not likely they will use one on a player who did not stick in the WHL in his overage season.

Kyle Olson

Kyle Olson Photo: Doug Westcott

Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks 122nd overall in the fourth round. Drafted by the Tri-City Americans 45th overall in the third round in 2014.

The 1999-born Olson had a pretty good draft eligible season, tallying 20 goals and adding 37 assists in 72 games for the Americans. He also played for the U-18 Canadian team adding three points in five games. Since his draft season Olson has dealt with an injury, limiting him to 36 regular season games in the 2017-18 season. This season as an assistant captain, Olson has gone over a point-per-game pace, piling up 70 points in 62 games for the Americans. He also adds 19 games of playoff experience to the Americans as they made a run toward the Ed Chynoweth cup this spring, falling in the first round.

The Anaheim Ducks have room for 15 contracts in 2019-2020 but the cap space is limited by their need to sign players for the upcoming season.

Zach Fischer

Brett Kemp-Zach Fischer (photo-Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oil Kings)

Drafted by the Calgary Flames 140th overall in the fifth round. Was undrafted before playing with the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Zach Fischer is the oldest player on this list, as a 1997-born player he was drafted by the Flames following his 19-year-old season. He then decided he did not want to play in Medicine Hat following his third season with the team and went home to await a trade. He played out the remainder of his season with the Spokane Chiefs adding 35 points in 43 games. He has since played in the ECHL on an AHL deal, remaining unsigned by the Flames. He has 11 points in 35 games with two different teams in the ECHL this season.

Calgary does have room for 18 contracts but are limited by cap space. With Fischer’s struggles at the ECHL level it appears he is destined to remain unsigned by the Flames and will be left to sort out his aspirations for 2019-20.

Jarret Tyszka

Jarret Tyszka (photo-Brian Liesse)

Drafted by the Montreal Canadiens 149th overall in the fifth round. Drafted by the Seattle Thunderbirds 16th overall in the first round in 2014.

The 1999-born Thunderbirds defenseman had put up some decent numbers as a 17-year-old before being drafted by the Canadiens, scoring six times and adding 19 assists before helping his Thunderbirds to a WHL championship. He added seven points in 20 playoff games that season. Following his draft year, Tyszka has played in 111 games and added 70 points. This season he has dealt with injuries as well as the team trading away some of their best players. Tyszka has 49 games of experience in the post season.

Montreal’s contract situation has been stated previously. Tyszka may benefit from another team selecting him next month.

Brett Davis

Brett Davis (Photo: Andy Devlin)

Drafted by the Dallas Stars 163rd overall in the sixth round. Drafted by the Lethbridge Hurricanes 78th overall in the fourth round in 2014.

Davis is an interesting study. He played well enough with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Kootenay ICE to earn a look at the draft. His 33 points in 59 games were not exceptional but scouts gave him consideration based on his play with the teammates he had. A good season following his draft year made him valuable to teams looking for a playoff boost on a team that was spinning its wheels. He had to wait another season but was dealt to the Red Deer Rebels. His development has become stagnant and his role with the Rebels is not as pronounced as it was with the ICE. In a lesser role for the Rebels than he had on the ICE, Davis produced 13 goals and 18 assists in 41 games.

The Stars have room for 10 contracts but have some cap space available to them. Sources have stated that the Stars will not sign Davis and will allow him to re-enter the draft. His 20-year-old season, whether with the Rebels or another WHL team will determine his appetite to play himself into a contract or if he seeks USports as his next career move.

Brendan De Jong

Brendan De Jong (Dayna Fjord)

Drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes 166th overall in the sixth round. Drafted by the Portland Winterhawks 154th overall in the seventh round.

The six-foot-five defenseman had a good draft season, scoring eight times and adding 15 assists. The team and De Jong have been consistent, playing themselves into the playoff picture in all five seasons that De Jong has been a part of. Since his draft season, De Jong has played 119 games and added 52 points. This season when he was an overager, he battled some injuries but was granted an ‘A’ as a 20-year-old. He has played in 33 post season contests.

It is unknown how the Hurricanes view De Jong’s development. He had an up-and-down overage season while battling an injury with Portland. USports may be the route he decides to take should he not be re-selected.

Jordan Hollett

Jordan Hollett (Andy Devlin)

Drafted by the Ottawa Senators 183rd overall in the sixth round. Drafted by the Regina Pats in the first round, 13th overall in 2014.

In his draft year, the 1999-born Hollett was the back up to Tyler Brown as the Regina Pats made a run to the WHL Championship. He played well in that 2016-17 season posting a 15-2-2 record, a 2.83 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. Following his draft eligible season, Hollett was dealt to the Medicine Hat Tigers and split duties with Michael Bullion and then Mads Sogaard. He has not really found his groove with the Tigers going 30-32-6-0 since he was brought over in 72 games.

The Ottawa Senators have lots of contract room now that the season is over. The soon to be 20-year-old goaltender is in tough as the Senators have six goaltenders signed to contracts including a buried contract. He may re-enter the draft and will be hopeful to find a place where he could be the starting goaltender for the 2019-20 season.

Contract and cap information taken from capfriendly.com

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