First of all, I need to start with an apology. I’ve been away with my ankle surgery and have not made the time to do this article. Things have been busy with some changes happening around DUBNetwork one of which includes adding a scouting division. If you are interested in joining the team, send us an email email@example.com.
On to the topic I’d like to get to this week, and that is making a case for the eight players drafted in 2018 to be signed (or not signed) by their team that owns their rights. The teams that selected the players have until June 1, 2020, to secure the players’ rights otherwise those players will be eligible for redrafting.
Here I will go in order in which they were drafted.
Riley Stotts – Calgary Hitmen, drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs 3rd round 83rd overall
The just-turned 20-year-old Stotts has developed nicely as a member of the Calgary Hitmen. In his draft season, he earned 44 points in 69 games. 22 of those games were played with the Swift Current Broncos. Since then Stotts has played in 117 games and scored 41 goals to go with 75 assists, which amounts to about a point per game pace. He is the leading scorer for the Calgary Hitmen this season and helped the team to the second round of the WHL playoffs last season and currently has the Hitmen within striking distance of third in the Central Division.
Verdict: Sign him as soon as possible
Milos Roman – Vancouver Giants, drafted by the Calgary Flames 4th round 122nd overall
The Slovakian import and the Vancouver Giants have struggled this season. Things have turned around for the team and Roman over the last 10 games as he has 12 points in that stretch. His development has stagnated some as he has become less of a playmaker than in his last two seasons. He has just 38 points in 54 games this season, well off of last season’s pace of 60 points over 59 games. He struggled in last season’s playoffs, producing just 12 points in 22 games as the Giants made it to the WHL Finals.
Verdict: See if he can impress in this season’s playoffs, if not, allow him to re-enter the draft.
Wyatte Wylie – Everett Silvertips, drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers 5th round 127th overall
How can you not like how the hometown defenseman has developed in Everett? He does a little bit of everything including pile up points. He has 13 goals on the season (7 on the power play) and 39 assists (23 on the power play) and has continued to develop as a good two-way defenseman. Over his career in Everett, he has produced points per game of .14, .43, .70, and .98 (to-date). It shows he has been able to continue his growth at the highest level of junior hockey and would make a good candidate that will continue that growth at the AHL level and move up to the NHL in the future.
Verdict: Sign him before the deadline
Cole Fonstad – Prince Albert Raiders (now Everett Silvertip), drafted by the Montreal Canadiens 5th round 128th overall
Fonstad continues his development at the WHL level at a steady pace. Last season on a stacked Raiders team, he had 73 points. This season on a very good Silvertips team he has 64 points through 50 games. His goal scoring has taken a dip (13 goals vs. 29 goals) but he is now expected to be more of a set-up man than a goal scorer. This is especially evident on the Silvertips power play where he has 22 assists and just two goals. He also spends some time killing penalties for the Silvertips and has a short-handed goal and an assist this season.
Verdict: Worth taking an extremely hard look at. The Canadiens have a penchant for not signing their drafted WHL players.
Filip Kral – Spokane Chiefs, drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs 5th round 149th overall
Another defenseman that has shown steady progression through his three seasons in the WHL with the Chiefs. He is the Chiefs leading scorer among defensemen, including Ty Smith this season. He has 12 goals and 35 assists over 51 games. This is an improvement over last season’s 10 goals and 26 assists. Trouble is, he is not all that great in his own end at the best of times. The 20-year-old Kral could be snapped up if the Maple Leafs are unable to get him signed.
Verdict: He’s good enough to play in the AHL next season as a 20-year-old, the Leafs should consider signing him. If not he will be among the redrafted and could make their AHL team out of camp.
David Tendeck – Vancouver Giants, drafted by the Arizona Coyotes 6th round 158th overall
With great underlying numbers, you would think that Arizona would have signed the Giants netminder by now. There are a few problems though. Tendeck platoons with Trent Miner (another NHL drafted goalie) and the team in front of him has not been helpful. His 2.21 goals-against average is good for fourth in the WHL currently and his .922 save percentage is good for a tie for eighth. It’s his record that leaves a lot to be desired. He is 17-13-1-1 this season and that is propped up by a personal six-game win streak that coincides with the Giants current 10 game win streak.
Verdict: Goalies are tough, many expected the Giants to be better and for Tendeck to have been picked earlier in the draft. Don’t be surprised if the Coyotes decide to pass and allow him to re-enter the draft. It could also be a “wait and see” about the playoffs now that the team has found its way.
Alex Kannok-Liepert – Vancouver Giants, drafted by the Washington Capitals 6th round 161st overall
If the Capitals are looking for leadership and a stay at home type of defenseman, then Kannok-Liepert is their guy. He isn’t flashy. He isn’t going to score a pile of goals but he will work hard and keep pucks out of the back of the Giants net. In about 60 games per season, Kannok-Liepert has been good for about 20 points and a little bit of muscle from his 6-foot-0 195-pound frame. It seems he does best when expectations are that he remains a steadying leadership kind of player.
Verdict: While players of his ilk serve a purpose, he hasn’t taken the next step in his development. Naming him captain was a great choice for the Giants, but it’s not enough to be signed by the Capitals. Expect him to re-enter the draft, possibility of getting chosen again.
Eric Florchuk – Saskatoon Blades (now Vancouver Giant), drafted by the Washington Capitals 7th round 217th overall
His career has been marred by injuries and what seemed like languishing with the Blades, Florchuk was dealt to the Giants around this season’s trade deadline and has had a renaissance. The Florchuk we all expected to see has emerged and helped the Giants with their resurgence and 10-game win streak. He had 24 points in 33 games before joining Vancouver and has added 26 points in 17 games with the Giants. He is now the second-leading scorer on the Giants and has reached the 50 point plateau. Definitely has found a home as a setup guy on the power play for the Giants, he has 13 power-play assists in 17 games.
Verdict: Get him signed. This is the player we all expected him to develop into now that injury woes are behind him.
Vladislav Yeryomenko was also drafted in this WHL draft class but has signed overseas in the KHL. Jermaine Loewen was drafted by the Dallas Stars as an overage, then signed with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.