This is an ongoing series as we start the long road to the 2019-20 WHL season. We will be going in the order that teams were eliminated from contention. Keep in mind that the roster guesses vary because of information made available to us. We did our very best to capture all of the signings, but could be missing some.
2018-19 WHL Season: In a tight Central Division, the Medicine Hat Tigers were very much in the mix. They finished with a 35-27-4-2 record for 76 points and the first wild card spot. They were only two points behind the Calgary Hitmen for third in the division.
Incoming import goalie Mads Sogaard came in and stabilized things in net as they gave up 30 fewer goals than their division-winning campaign the season before.
The division was much tougher though and without high-end scoring, the depth scoring had to come through and be the difference.
That was dealt a blow when Josh Williams had to be moved out to Edmonton at the deadline and Henry Rybinski left the team and was dealt to Seattle. Those were their top two picks from the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.
Captain James Hamblin led the committee in scoring and Ryan Chyzowski added 55 points.
Medicine Hat leaned on Sogaard to roar out to a 2-1 series lead against Edmonton, before the somewhat inexperienced Oil Kings righted the ship and ended their season in six games in the first round.
2019 WHL Bantam Draft: The Tigers drafted Oasiz Wiesblatt with their first pick, 12th overall. They also took six of the first 57 players picked due to trades with Seattle and Spokane over the past two seasons. Forwards Cayden Glover, Brayden Boehm and Oren Shtrom, defensemen Henry Smith and Ryan Nolan and American goalie Dylan Silvertstein were chosen with those selections.
Medicine Hat added four more players with later draft picks.
Signed Players (29):
1999 – Logan Christensen, Tyler Preziuso, James Hamblin, Hayden Ostir
2000 – Elijah Brown, Jaxon Steele, Baxter Anderson, Brett Kemp, Bryan Lockner, Ryan Chyzowski
2001 – Corson Hopwo, Nick McCarry
2002 – Caleb Willms*, Noah Danielson*, Kadyn Chabot*
2003 – Cole Sillinger*, Ashton Ferster*
2000 – Cole Clayton, Trevor Longo, Joel Craven
2001 – Daniel Baker, Eric Van Impe
2002 – Damon Agyeman*, Ryan Watson*, Brayden Kapty*
2003 – Dru Krebs*
1999 – Jordan Hollett
2000 – Mads Sogaard
2002 – Garin Bjorklund*
*=Played less than 10 regular season games in 2018-19.
Aged Out: The dynamic duo of Linus Nassen and Dylan MacPherson on the blue line has aged out. Second highest scorer, winger Ryan Jevne (68 points) has also moved on.
Overage Shuffle: Currently, they have five overage players for three spots. Forwards Hamblin (77 points) and Tyler Preziuso are proven scorers. Logan Christensen came over in a trade with Saskatoon during the 2018-19 season and Hayden Ostir missed some time after a productive 18-year-old season. Jordan Hollett is the last overage was a sixth-round pick by the Ottawa Senators in 2017 and has until June to get signed or he will be a free agent. With Sogaard likely to get the nod for the starting job after his regular season and playoff run and Garin Bjorklund looking to get some starts, Hollett may be on his way out via trade.
Import Issues?: Nassen leaving opens up a spot. The Tigers went big trying to get Russian forward Vasili Podkolzin, who is going to be a high first-round 2019 NHL Draft pick but fell back on Nassen once he didn’t report. They struck a home run with Sogaard in the second round. They will try to get another key player in late June with their open spot.
2019 NHL Draft: Sogaard’s stock rose and rose as the season went on. The huge goaltender nearly got his Tigers an upset of the Division-winning Edmonton Oil Kings and that certainly did not hurt his stock. He finished the season as the top ranked WHL goalie in NHL Central Scouting’s rankings and second among all draft eligible North American goalies. Brett Kemp was the only other Tigers player ranked and he was 171st among NA skaters.