We recently posted an article about Draft Eligible players to watch in the 2019-2020 season, now it’s time to look for other players to watch. Not all of these players are stars, but they might become stars this season!
Brandon Wheat Kings – Cole Reinhardt Left Wing 2000 6-foot-1 203 pounds
Reinhardt led his team to a win with three goals at the Canad Inns Intrasquad game. After a 45-point season last year, I fully expect that Cole will make the next step and perhaps challenge Luka Burzan, who most think will lead the team in points, for that spot. With 22 goals and 23 assists last season, he’s shown he has the touch to set things up and finish as well.
Calgary Hitmen – James Malm Left Wing 1999 5-foot-9 174 pounds
The Calgary Hitmen may have one of the stronger, more valuable 20-year-old classes in the WHL this season. Left-winger James Malm is a significant part of that along with captain Mark Kastelic and alternate Dakota Krebs. Malm is a four-year WHL veteran who over 230 games with Vancouver and Calgary has amassed 73 goals and 196 points. Malm has terrific hands and skating ability and will likely play significant power play minutes. The Langley, British Columbia product has a skill set that also includes impressive creativity and offensive awareness. The maturity and craftiness which Malm plays with also make him a possible linemate to some of the young talents on the Hitmen roster. Malm is a player that elevates the offensive potential of those who play alongside him. Aside from offering leadership, experience, and talent, Malm is also heading into a very important season in the individual sense. With it being Malm’s overage season there is certainly an opportunity to impress clubs at the professional level. The undersized yet skilled forward recently attended Calgary Flames development camp and with a strong enough season has the chance to gain attention and potentially earn a professional contract.
Edmonton Oil Kings – Dylan Guenther Left Wing 2003 6-foot-1 170 pounds
Oil Kings fans were able to get a sneak peek of Dylan Guenther last season, as the 2018 1st overall pick played in 8 games as a 15-year-old for the club, producing three goals and four points. This season, he has the opportunity to join the team full time, and make his mark in his rookie year. Guenther put together 58 points in just 28 games while playing with the Northern Alberta X-treme Prep in 2018/19. Showing that he was worthy of being the first overall selection in the WHL Draft. Now he looks to prove his worth in the WHL, and the talent this kid possesses should be putting the entire league on notice.
Everett Silvertips – Keegan Karki Goaltender 2000 6-foot-4 218 pounds
The Everett Silvertips brought in Keegan Karki from the U.S. in the off-season. Karki has not played much recently but looks to be completely healthy heading into this season. He was the fifth-ranked North American goaltender for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft after posting a 3.20 GAA and .890 save percentage in 41 games. Ultimately, he was passed up in the NHL Entry Draft. With Dustin Wolf in contention for a spot on the U.S. World Junior Squad, Karki could be relied on in the Silvertips crease for up to a month. If Karki takes the reins and impresses, the Silvertips could be in a position where they are able to deal one of their goalies for help in another area.
Kamloops Blazers – Kyrell Sopotyk Forward 2001 5-foot-11 176 pounds
“When you’re physical, it’s hard to play against, so for myself, I wanted to play physically [and] have that stronger presence. That training I did in the summer, it just transferred to the game. . .”- Kyrell Sopotyk after earning his second WHL fight last Friday night against the Rockets.
The Aberdeen, Sask. native had a slow start to the 2018-2019 campaign, tallying just two points in his first 21 games, but the final 21 games told a much different story. Sopotyk put up 10 points during that stretch, including four points in his final five games heading into the tie-breaker against the Kelowna Rockets. The playoffs served as somewhat of a coming-out party for the left-winger as he scored four goals in those seven games, including three on the man-advantage. Sopotyk’s offensive abilities are well-known going into his sophomore season, but the forward’s compete level is what stands out the most. Sopotyk is listed at a modest 5-foot-11 and 176 pounds but plays larger, his tenacity on the forecheck and non-stop motor from whistle-to-whistle create havoc for defenseman trying to break out of the zone. Sopotyk’s combination of skill and compete allow him to move up-and-down the lineup and contribute to all dimensions of the game, especially in crunch time.
Kelowna Rockets – Sean Comrie Defenseman 2000 6-foot 165 pounds
Comrie arrives for the 2019-20 season as a WHL mystery. Selected by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the second round at the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, he chose the Junior A route and his two-year stint with the Spruce Grove Saints garnered a scholarship to the University of Denver. After one NCAA season, Comrie has landed in Kelowna as a result of a deal at the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft. Comrie is also getting a look at the Philadelphia Flyers development camp. How the 19-year-old adapts to the rigors of the 68-game schedule in the WHL remains to be seen.
Lethbridge Hurricanes – Noah Boyko 2002 Centre 6-foot-1 176 pounds
Primed for a big season Boyko spent parts of last season alongside Captain Jordy Bellerive before the blockbuster trade that saw Jake Leschyshyn and Nick Henry come to Lethbridge. He also saw an increase in his role on the special teams as the season went along. With the number of open roster spots on the Hurricanes, the Fort Saskatchewan native is expected to take on even more. With questions on whether Bellerive will return or not could also factor into where in the lineup Boyko slots. A potential top-six forward and top power play unit is not out of the question.
Medicine Hat Tigers – Cole Sillinger Centre 2003 6-foot 187 pounds
Moose Jaw Warriors – Eric Alarie Forward 2003 6-foot-1 198 pounds
Portland Winterhawks – Jaydon Dureau Left Wing 2001 5-foot-11 165 pounds
Prince Albert Raiders – Boston Bilous Goaltender 2001 6-foot-3 214 pounds
Prince George Cougars – Ilijah Colina Centre 2000 5-foot-9 174 pounds
Red Deer Rebels – Josh Tarzwell Centre 2000 6-foot-1 205 pounds
Regina Pats – Dawson Holt Forward 1999 5-foot-11 194 pounds
Saskatoon Blades – Colton Dach Forward 2003 6-foot-2 174 pounds
Seattle Thunderbirds – Payton Mount Forward 2002 5-foot-8 183 pounds
Spokane Chiefs – Luke Toporowski Left Wing 2001 5-foot-10 179 pounds
Swift Current Broncos – Joona Kiviniemi Left Wing 2001 6-foot-1 176 pounds
Tri-City Americans – Sasha Mutala Right Wing 2001 6-foot-1 196 pounds
Vancouver Giants -Tristen Nielsen Centre 2000 5-foot-10 192 pounds
Victoria Royals – Carson Miller Centre 2000 5-foot-10 165 pounds
Carson Miller was a key piece in the deal that saw Victoria relinquish one of their top players in Dante Hannoun last season. This season, the Royals are excited about the potential Miller has as a 19-year-old, anticipating his best junior year to date. Entering his second season on the Island, the forward will look to capitalize on top-six minutes. The product of Yorktown, SK put up 107 points in 28 games in his final year in bantam, leading to him being selected in the first round, 21st overall, in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. In the playoff last year for the Royals, Miller had 5 goals in 10 games while the entire offense struggled to find the net. The crafty centre has a pedigree for offensive and looks to prove that this season at the WHL level.
Winnipeg ICE – Matthew Savoie Centre 2004 5-foot-9 179 pounds
Everyone around the Western Hockey League is watching Matthew Savoie this year. The 15-year-old Winnipeg ICE forward is set to play at least 30 games this season and many people are already asking, can he make history and win the Rookie of the Year award? Will the pressure get to him? I don’t think so and that’s why he’s your Winnipeg ICE player to watch.