This is the start of 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: Well it was season of change for the 2018 Ed Chynoweth Cup winning Swift Current Broncos. They lost Manny Viveiros to an assistant coaching gig in the NHL and also saw the departure of many scouts. Jamie Porter also left for Edmonton and a director of scouting job there.
In came head coach and new director of hockey operations Dean Brockman and new director of player personnel Gary Aubin.
The two got to work trying to piece together a competitive roster with so many players leaving to play professionally. Along the way Brockman and co. did a solid job of gaining all kinds of assets for players on their roster. They acquired six draft picks for goalie Joel Hofer and listed Alec Zawatsky at the start of the year before swinging him at the trade deadline for more picks.
On the ice though they struggled as expected. They finished with an 11-51-4-2 record for 28 points. That is the least in the WHL by a significant margin. Import rookie forward Joona Kiviniemi led the teams in goals with 16 and Ethan Regnier had the most points with 31. Suffice it to say they struggled at scoring.
Isaac Poulter was the main man between the pipes after Hofer was traded. He put up a 4.25 GAA and 0.891 save percentage in 25 games.
2019 WHL Bantam Draft: The lottery balls falling the way of the now Winnipeg ICE has to privately take a little of whatever sting there would be about trading away a second, first round pick for Josh Anderson last season that ended up being the first overall. Instead the Prince George Cougars will use Swift Current’s pick to select second overall on May 1st.
The Broncos will be drafting in the first round twice though, thanks to getting Portland’s first round selection as part of the six different draft picks they got for 2000-born goalie Joel Hofer. By my math, that is the 14th overall pick.
The other pick for them is the 21st overall selection they got from the Vancouver Giants in exchange for 2002-born defenseman and former first-round pick Joel Sexsmith.
The Broncos moved their second round pick back at the 2016-17 trade deadline as part of the package for goalie Jordan Papirny from Brandon. However, they have two extra third-round picks (Hofer and Kaden Elder to Calgary deals) and an extra fourth-round pick (part of Jacson Alexander deal with Edmonton).
Brockman and the Broncos will be making lots of picks early on and will have opportunities to rebuild through the draft.
Possible 2019-20 Roster (25):
1999 – Ian Briscoe, Ethan O’Rourke
2000 – Tyler Lees, Tyler Smithies, Owen Blocker, Ethan Regnier
2001 – Matthew Culling, Carter Chorney, Eric Houk, Joona Kiviniemi, Kye Buchanan
2002 – Dawson Springer, Ben King, Alex Thacker, Sam Schofield
2000 – Garrett Sambrook
2001 – Roope Pynnonen, Austin Herron, Connor Horning, Christian Riemer, Alex Moar
2002 – Billy Sowa
2003 – Devin Aubin
2001 – Isaac Poulter
2003 – Jordan Fairlie
Aged Out: Forward Tanner Nagel, goalie Riley Lamb and defenseman Matthew Stanley all move on.
Overage Shuffle: With MacKenzie Wight released, the Broncos have just two 1999-born players as of now. Briscoe and O’Rourke were fifth and third on the team in scoring last season and should be back. They have an open spot but with 2019-20 looking like another retooling seaosn, who knows if they will fill it.
Import Issues?: Kiviniemi and his rocket-hard shot should be back. Pynnonen will still only be hockey 18 and the Broncos may want to see what kind of improvements he can bring in his second WHL season. But with the Broncos having one of the top picks in the CHL Import Draft at the end of June, that may be too tempting to pass on.
2019 NHL Draft: Connor Horning is the only one ranked by NHL Central Scouting (164th). He played a ton of minutes on the back end for the Broncos and is an always coveted right-shot d-man.