DUBNetwork got the chance recently to chat with Everett Silvertips General Manager Garry Davidson.
Everett is sitting at 35-12-1-1 with 72 points through 49 games. That is the best record in the Western Conference and is second only to the Prince Albert Raiders for best record overall.
At the trade deadline, Davidson and the Silvertips were not happy to sit pat and instead added one of the purest goal scorers available in overage forward Zack Andrusiak. That acquistion, in which Davidson dealt fellow 1998-born forward Sean Richards, unsigned prospect Brendan Williamson and three draft picks was one of two that Davidson made after the month of January began.
That is where we kicked things off.
“Zack had shown over the last year and a half that he has the capability of putting the puck in the net. That was the whole idea – to add someone with some natural finish,” Davidson said.
Andrusiak has seven goals and three assists for 10 points in his 11 games so far with Everett.
The other move that Davidson made was for 1999-born forward Robbie Holmes. They traded unsigned seventh-round pick Sloan Stanick, a second-round pick 2020 and sixth-round pick in 2022 for the Regina Pats winger.
“We needed to add a 14th forward because of injuries and Robbie is certainly a big, strong physical forward that has played a lot of hockey in the league and lots of playoff hockey.”
Holmes played with Regina in the WHL final back in 2017, where he scored a key goal and was on the Pats when they hosted the Memorial Cup last May.
“We thought those were some qualities we were looking for in adding another guy. I think he will be important for us as he gets familiar with us here over the last 20 games and into the playoffs.”
Holmes has two assists with Everett since coming over.
While he was not brought in via trade, the Everett Silvertips went out and picked up 2000-born forward Justyn Gurney.
“Justyn had played in the league and was sitting out there. I remember him personally as a bantam and I was always thought there was a little something in his game. So we decided to put him on our protected list and the next thing to do was to approach him about his interest level. I thought at first he might just be an AP (Affiliate Player) and join us after his season in Surrey, but after talking to him and looking at the situation, he wanted to come right away. I think that is a real plus. He’s played in the league.”
Gurney played 85 games with Calgary over the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, before being let go. He then played in one game with Regina earlier this season, before ending up in the BCHL with the Surrey Eagles.
“He’s big and strong and he’s only 18 – he can play another year or two in the league. He’s someone we took a flier on and it’s working out.”
Gurney had an immediate impact with three assists over his first two games with Everett. He added a goal on 1/12/19 against Victoria.
A key reason why Davidson was out looking for forwards via trade and otherwise is the absence of 1999-born center and Washington Capitals signed prospect Riley Sutter.
Sutter last played on 12/29/18 and has 41 points over 38 games this season.
“There’s no question Riley is a big part of our team and he’s a big, strong two-way center-man who is good on faceoffs. He plays both power play and penalty kill and has some tremendous playoff experience for us last year. He’s our number one guy. Right now we are playing without our number one center.
Everett is 6-5 over the 11 games without Sutter.
“Actually in some ways you have to look at the cup as half full or half empty – so other guys are getting to play and getting some experience. Hopefully that will help their games. Of course we need Riley back if we expect long term success.”
Sutter was recently listed as out week-to-week with a lower body injury.
Helping the Silvertips still pull out wins without the services of their top center is 2001-born goalie Dustin Wolf.
“It’s been really positive in all regards. Dustin is somebody we desired in the draft but were never sure would come our way, being a U.S. boy. He decided to come and when he did, I was pretty excited. We had a guy who was going to be able to step in when Mr. Hart moved on and that is how it has worked out. Mentally he is way beyond his 17 years old and he works hard. He has a real professional approach to what he does. I’m not surprised by what he’s done so far. We are really fortunate to have him here.”
Wolf has posted a 1.82 GAA and 0.930 save percentage and a WHL-high 31 wins through 44 appearances this season.
Wolf has been locked in as their number one guy in net since the start of the season. Backing him up originally was 16-year-old Blake Lyda.
Unfortunately, Lyda was injured and Davidson had to look outside the organization for a backup for Wolf. He ended up finding 2000-born netminder Max Palaga and traded a sixth-round pick for him.
“The problem was that (Blake Lyda) was injured and we knew he would be out for awhile. Palaga was out there, so we acquired him and as it turned out, Blake felt like he needed to go somewhere to play more so it was an easy thing to have him reassigned to Midget, where he is playing. Max has come in here and I know that James Jensen our goalie coach really likes what he sees in him as a young man and his potential.”
Palaga has a 1.64 GAA and 0.944 save percentage in eight appearances with the ‘Tips.
“We were fortunate to add to our depth and so far he has risen to the occasion. He’s been a good sport because I’m sure he wants to play more. But again another real positive addition for us.”
A key strength for the Silvertips this season has been their blue line. One of those has been recognized consistently this season by NHL scouts.
2000-born d-man Fairbrother was recently ranked the 85th skater in North America by NHL Central Scouting.
“Gianni has been really solid. He’s one of those guys that you know what you are going to get from his every night. He’s got a little old school in him. He’s hard nosed. Game in and game out, he gives you a pretty constant performance. Never too high and never too low. Our coaches and the management side look for that in our players. I’m expecting to see him go in the draft and he deserves to. I think we’ve only seen a little of what Gianni can do. We will see more from him.”
Lastly, Davidson touched on a young forward who has stepped up and, at times, has played top line minutes. I’m talking about 2001-born forward Gage Goncalves.
“He’s benefited from the injury to Riley. He is one of the guys that has gotten more opportunities to play. Gage came to us as a 15-year-old in camp and we always liked his hockey sense. He’s starting to add some other teams to his game. He had a really good year, least year as a Midget.”
Goncalves posted 71 points in 41 games with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds in the BCMML last season.
“I anticipate that he’s going to do some things for us offensively. Right now, it’s not that he hasn’t made some plays, but some more pucks will start going in at some point.”
Everett rebounded from a three-game losing streak, to take both games over last weekend. One of those was a 9-1 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Next up for Davidson and the Silvertips is a home-and-home with the Seattle Thunderbirds this Friday and Saturday.
With the Portland Winterhawks cutting their once comfortable U.S. Division lead, Everett will be looking to get some more key U.S. Division points in the standings and former Thunderbird Andrusiak will be looking to light up his old team’s net.