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: The Vancouver Giants were the favorites to take the B.C. Division as the calendar turned to September 2018. They did not disappoint. The Giants, led by new head coach Michael Dyck, his defensive system and an outstanding pair of goalies in David Tendeck and Trent Miner dominated the B.C. Division and took the number one seed in the Western Conference with a 48-15-3-2 record.
Bowen Byram was a first team Conference all star and set a franchise record for goals by a d-man with 26 goals and the WHL record for overtime goals with six.
Vancouver traded play maker James Malm for power forward Tristen Nielsen and acquired Jadon Joseph from the Regina Pats and Dallas Hines from Kootenay. Besides Malm, they did not have to move too many pieces.
Despite not making the big moves, the Giants made their way to the WHL Final and were just one goal away from their first WHL title since 2006.
Vancouver found their way past a stout Seattle Thunderbirds squad in the first round and then swept away the Victoria Royals. They then beat the Spokane Chiefs in five games to set up a battle for the Ed Chynoweth Cup with the Eastern Conference’s Prince Albert Raiders.
Vancouver took a game in P.A. to set themselves up heading back to Langley. In Game 3 though, the Raiders blew the doors off the Giants 8-2 and then took Game 4 to go up 3-1 in the series and seemingly end the Giants long playoff run.
Instead Vancouver showed a ton of character and will by battling back to win the next two games and set up a winner-take-all Game 7 in P.A.
The Giants had chances of their own to win the game and the league, but alas it was an overtime marker by the Raiders’ Dante Hannoun with 1:35 left in overtime.
2019 WHL Bantam Draft: The Giants took 12 2004-born players in the Bantam Draft. Eight were forwards and four were defensemen. Their top pick was second rounder Joshua Niedermeyer, son of hall of famer Scott.
1999 – Owen Hardy, Dawson Holt, Brayden Watts, Jadon Joseph, Milos Roman~
2000 – Tristen Nielsen, Yannik Valenti, Tyler Ho, Hunor Torszok*
2001 – Evan Patrician, Aidan Barfoot, Lukas Svejkovsky
2002 – Justin Sourdif, Krz Plummer*
2003 – Zach Ostapchuk*, Justin Lies*
1999 – David Tendeck~
2001 – Trent Miner
2002 – Braedy Euerby*
2003 – Drew Sim*
*=Played less than 10 regular season games in the WHL in 2018-19.
~=Has been drafted by an NHL team.
Aged Out: Captain Jared Dmytriw moves on as does regular season leading scorer Davis Koch and defenseman Hines.
Going Pro: Milos Roman and/or Tendeck could be signed at any point by the NHL teams who drafted them last June. Roman being an import as well means that signing overseas is a strong possibility. The Calgary Flames (Roman) and Arizona Coyotes (Tendeck) could do a variety of things with them that would lead to them playing professionally somewhere. Tendeck’s strong play in the last three rounds of the WHL playoffs might be enough for Arizona to just sign him outright and have him play in their system next season.
Byram is expected to be drafted in the top five this June and there is a possibility the team that drafts him has hm go straight to the NHL and forego his 18-year-old season in Junior. As good as Byram is, 18-year-old d-men do not make that jump very often, even those drafted super high.
Overage Shuffle: Tendeck and Roman’s futures are wild cards and will impact who Vancouver keeps for their two overage spots greatly. Miner’s strong 17-year-old season in a way makes Tendeck expendable considering the return the Giants would assuredly get for a proven netminder.
Some other possibilities are forward Jadon Joseph, Dawson Holt, Owen Hardy and Brayden Watts and d-men Dylan Plouffe and defenseman/forward Landon Fuller.
All but Fuller are strong contenders. Joseph came over from Regina and was nearly a point-a-game guy for the Giants. Watts, Holt and Hardy were all good depth guys that were key to the Giants playoff run.
Watts led the trio in regular season scoring, but Holt came through in the playoffs with three game-winning goals and 16 points. That was good for fourth in team scoring and second among players eligible to return to the team.
Plouffe is the biggest lock of the ones most likely to be back. He had an incredible playoff run putting up 16 points and scoring four goals and three assists in their first round series win over Seattle alone.
Import Issues?: Roman is the wild card, but Vancouver will likely still draft an import to set themselves up in case he does not come back. Yannik Valenti struggled on his way to just nine regular season points, but had three big goals in the playoffs and started to look more comfortable.
2019 NHL Draft: Byram was the second-ranked North American skater and is being projected by many to go third overall. Miner was ranked sixth among NA goalies in NHL Central Scouting’s final list.