We are taking a look at who each WHL team should have back for the 2018-19 season. As part of this practice we are factoring that each overage player signed to a professional contract will not be back.
The first year under new coach Dennis Williams was a great one for the Everett Silvertips. While many had them as an also-ran in the West and possible trade deadline dealers of star goalie Carter Hart, they ended up as buyers at the deadline and won the U.S. Division.
They utilized a terrific overage trio of Kevin Davis, Patrick Bajkov and Matt Fonteyne and three NHL-signed 19-year-olds in Hart, Ondrej Vala and Garrett Pilon to win their first Western Conference title in 15 years.
Five of the top eight scorers in that playoff run are now gone along with the best goalie in franchise history in Hart.
After looking at the roster that is expected back, you may think that they look primed for a rebuild.
However there is a lot of experienced young players on the roster and Everett has a history of doing better than expected.
How the development continues without Mitch Love working with the defense will be something to watch. Love left his assistant general manager and associate coach positions to be the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades. Everett also had their director of player personnel Bill LaForge leave to take the general manager spot with the Seattle Thunderbirds.
|Sean Richards (98)^||Riley Sutter (99)||Connor Dewar (99)|
|Martin Fasko-Rudas (00)#||Reece Vitelli (01)||Bryce Kindopp (99)|
|Bronson Sharp (99)||Ethan O’Rourke (99)||Luke Ormsby (99)|
|Ty Westgard (98)^||Gage Conclaves (01)||Dawson Butt (00)|
|Brandson Hein (98)^||Mark Liwiski (01)||Spencer Gerth (98)^|
|Alex Moar (01)*||Jackson Berezowski (02)*|
Dewar was named captain of the 2018-19 Silvertips on May 31st, and he looks ready to lead the way after piling up 26 points in 22 playoff games. His spot on the top power play unit seems set as well as he put up six power play assists in the postseason.
Sutter will likely be drafted and has good chemistry playing with Dewar. Those two will be counted on to provide great two-way play. If the WHL kept track of time-on-ice, I would expect those two to be above 20 minutes every night. Sutter was named Assistant Captain today.
Richards plays a gritty game as Seattle Thunderbirds fans can attest. He did play well on the top line last year and I would expect him to get a chance there this year as well. Richards appears to be the only certain overage in my book as Westgard, Gerth and Hein were depth players when they were even with Everett and Hein specifically appears to have gotten comfortable when he left Everett to play for Flin Flon in the MJHL. With no likely overage options elsewhere, it should be expected that general manager Garry Davidson will try and make some moves, especially if Everett is in the playoff mix.
Vitelli and Fasko-Rudas broke out in the playoffs and moved from fourth liners up to the third line. Fasko-Rudas even filled in at times on the top line. They should be a lot better in their second seasons in the WHL and could provide the ‘Tips with some consistent depth scoring.
Kindopp is another player who should feature in the top-six.
Outside of those six are a lot of unknowns. I would expect Everett to use their open import spot on a forward come draft time later this month and that could help. Sharp, Ormsby, O’Rourke and Butt all had to fight for playing time, taking turns being scratched. They are all entering their 18 or 19-year-old seasons now though and with all the losses up front, they will be expected to play much larger roles in the coming year. The competition among that group will surely be fierce.
Liwiski was a former second round bantam pick, who was sent home after apparently violating a team rule. Whether or not he comes back to Everett in 2018-19 is unknown at this point, but if the relationship between him and Silvertips’ management has withstood this situation, he will have every chance to play a big role with the team in his 17-year-old year.
Moar, Conclaves and Berezowski are three more young guys that will try and earn full time roles come preseason.
Everett will be needing a lot from the 2001 group and Berezowski – plus any other 2002’s – like former NHLer Brendan Morrison’s son Brayden – they sign – as they have depleted a lot of their prospect pool with trades.
Let’s take a look at some of the players they have dealt away:
2014: First round pick Jantzen Leslie dealt to Saskatoon.
2015: Second round pick (the highest they had) Brett Kemp traded to Edmonton as part of Dysin Mayo trade.
-Third round pick Montana Onyebuchi and fifth round pick Orrin Centazzo traded to Kamloops as part of Pilon and Vala trade.
2016: First round pick Ethan Browne traded to Prince George for O’Rourke.
2017: Third round pick Nathaneal Hinds and eighth round pick Kalen Ukraientz dealt to Kamloops as part of the Pilon/Vala trade.
|Left Defense||Right Defense|
|Jake Christiansen (99)||Wyatte Wylie (99)|
|Gianni Fairbrother (00)||Ian Walker (00)|
|Kyle Walker (00)||Jameson Murray (99)|
|Ronan Seeley (02)*||Dylan Anderson (02)|
|Riley Bruce (99)|
Gone are mainstays Davis and Vala, but there are still a trio of blue liners who played quite a bit last year. Christiansen had a knack for
picking big moments to jump up into the play and create something and Wylie – a local product – came out of nowhere to get a lot of love in the NHL draft rankings.
Fairbrother was trusted in some pretty important spots in the playoffs and he fared well. He should find himself with a large increase in minutes this coming year.
Both Walkers and Murray did not play much last year. They will find their spots on the blue line challenged by a couple 16-year-old, highly touted d-men in Seeley and Anderson. Seeley was just named the MVP of the Telus Cup in his 15-year-old year which is not something that happens very often.
|Dustin Wolf (01)|
|Danton Belluk (01)|
|Blake Lyda (02)|
Hart was named the WHL’s goalie of the year three years straight and watching an Everett team without him in the crease will take some getting used to. Wolf has pretty clearly been named the heir apparent with the Silvertips and he looked solid in limited starts when Hart needed rest last year.
Oddly enough, he played a few minutes in the playoffs as well when Hart was battling an illness and had to leave the ice. Wolf has two other young goalies battling for starts as well. Both Belluk and Lyda got a taste of the WHL last year and showed well.
*=has not played a regular season or playoff game in the WHL.
Unsigned 2000, 2001 or 2002-born players not committed to an NCAA school:
|Player||Birth year||Position||Acquired||2017 Team|
|Nick Castro||2000||Forward||2015 Draft 5th round||Granite City (NA3HL)|
|Ethan Scardina||2000||Forward||2015 Draft 6th round||Cowichican (BCHL)|
|Zachary Bennett||2000||Goalie||2015 Draft 7th round||Selkirk (MJHL)|
|Curtis Ireland||2000||Defense||2015 Draft 9th round||Steinbach (MJHL)|
|Aaron Hladiuk||2001||Defense||2016 Draft 6th round||Calgary Flames (AMHL)|
|Conrad Mitchell||2001||Forward||2016 Draft 7th round||Leduc Oil Kings (AMHL)|
|Alex Young||2001||Center||2016 Draft 8th round||Canmore (AJHL)|
|Brayden Morrison||2002||Center||2017 Draft 5th round||Calgary Flames (AMHL)|
|Ryley Morgan||2002||Forward||2017 Draft 7th round||St Albert Flyers (AMMHL)|
|Caleb Brownell||2002||Defense||2017 Draft 8th round||Rocky Mtn 16U (NAPHL)|
|Kent Johnson||2002||Forward||2017 Draft 10th round||Trail (BCHL)|
|Nicolas Porchetta||2002||Forward||2017 Draft 10th round||Delta E15s (CSSHL E15)|
|Maxwell Goldade||2002||Defense||2017 Draft 11th round||CNHA Blazers (AMMHL)|
-Scardina was dealt as part of a six-player trade, to Nanaimo on June 1st.
-Ireland won the MJHL with Steinbach.
-Morrison won a silver medal with Team Alberta at the WHL Cup.