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: After an injury-ravaged, disappointing end to their 2017-18 season, the Victoria Royals looked like they might be rebuilding. Instead, led by Kaid Oliver up front, Scott Walford and Ralph Jarratt on the blue line and overage goalie Griffen Outhouse in net and an aggressive forecheck, they found their way to the second seed in the B.C. Division. Head coach Dan Price had his team battling every night and while no one broke 50 points, they threw four lines at you that were a pain for opponents to handle.
The Royals moved longtime Royal, Dante Hannoun to the Prince Albert Raiders, but even then did not seem to be giving up on 2018-19, by getting overage winger Kody McDonald as part of the return.
The Kamloops Blazers were playing great hockey going in their first round series but Outhouse and the Royals handled them, beating them in six games and ending their magical run.
McDonald was involved in a stick-swinging incident that kept him out of the start of their second round series against the heavily-favored Vancouver Giants. The under-manned Royals lost twice in overtime and were swept by the eventual Western Conference champions.
2019 WHL Bantam Draft: The Royals drafted nine players on May 2nd. Their top pick was defenseman Jason Spizawka who is from Victoria. They also took his twin brother Ryan Spizawka, a forward. Their first, second round pick was the only other d-man they took in Kalem Parker. Otherwise they went forward heavy with Carter Dereniwsky (2nd round), Tanner Scott (3rd), Brayden Schuurman (4th), Carter Briltz (5th), Lukas Shipley (6th), R. Spizawka (7th) and American Charlie Stramel (10th).
Signed Players (32):
1999 – Igor Martynov, Tanner Sidaway, D-Jay Jerome
2000 – Brandon Cutler, Kaid Oliver, Dino Kambeitz, Carson Miller, Sean Gulka, Phillip Schultz
2001 – Tyus Gent*, Tarun Fizer, Logan Doust
2002 – Alex Bolshakov*, Ty Yoder
2003 – Trentyn Crane*, Cage Newans*, Matthew Hodson*
1999 – Scott Walford, Jameson Murray, Jake Kustra
2000 – Matthew Smith, Mitchell Prowse
2001 – Remy Aquilon, Parker Malchuk
2002 – Noah Lamb*, Carson Golder*, Kaden Reinders
2003 – Nolan Bentham*
1999 – Shane Farkas~
2001 – Brock Gould
2002 – Connor Martin*
2003 – Keegan Maddocks*
*=Played less than 10 regular season WHL games in 2018-19.
~=Acquired from the Portland Winterhawks on May 2nd.
Aged Out: Some big losses from the group of 1998-born players. Chiefly goalie Griffen Outhouse. They also see McDonald and Jarratt move on.
Going Pro: Walford is the biggest threat to not return because he will be playing pro hockey. He may be doing so for a different team than Montreal. It is still a possibility for a d-man who improved a lot following his season-ending injury in 2017-18 that cost him Montreal’s training camp prior to the 2018-19 season.
Overage Shuffle: Once again the Royals have far too many overage players. This time around they have three forwards, three defensemen and a goalie for seven total. Shane Farkas was acquired for essentially a conditional pick in next May’s Bantam Draft. Farkas and Brock Gould could make for a solid combination in net. With the loss of Outhouse, they could very well need both of them to fill the void.
Igor Martynov would be a two-spotter as an import as well. He was tied for third on the team in scoring in 2018-19 with 42 points. The player he was tied with was another overage forward in D-Jay Jerome.
If Walford is not signed by the Montreal Canadiens, who took him in the 2017 NHL Draft, he is the biggest lock for a spot as an overage, forcing moves elsewhere. He played the most minutes on the blue line and was second on the team in scoring.
Tanner Sidaway played the game exactly the way Victoria likes and was productive. Jameson Murray also found a groove with the Royals and saw his minutes increase as the season progressed.
Lastly, d-man Jake Kustra had a single assist in 20 regular season games and another in 10 playoff games. He will have a hard time beating out those already mentioned.
Import Issues?: If Martynov does not come back, they will have a pick to make in the CHL Import Draft. Phillip Schultz should be back and will look to improve on his 36 points.
2019 NHL Draft: Tarun Fizer was the only player listed on the last NHL Central Scouting’s rankings at 199th among North American skaters.