We are excited to post our second edition of the DUBNetwork mailbag. Previously, we asked for questions via Twitter, Facebook, and Email. Our team of contributors answered some of the questions we received.
If you want your question answered in a future edition, use the #DUBNetworkMailbag hashtag on twitter and be following @dub_network, respond to our tweet or Facebook post when we ask for questions, or you may email Josh Critzer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Question from @whlpatscast – Opinion on Kelowna’s lack of moves this year?
Answer from Glen Erickson (@glenerickson51) – Freelance Writer – DUBNetwork, Kelowna, BC:
Bruce Hamilton addressed this in an interview with DUBNetwork on the same day the organization announced jointly that former Kelowna Rockets captain Josh Gorges was retiring as an NHL player.
DUBNetwork visitors can review Hamilton’s comments in the “The trade deadline” section midway through the article at this link: https://www.dubnetwork.ca/b-c-division/kelowna-rockets-update/
Firstly, making the playoffs this season is crucial as there are a number of young players that do not have significant playoff experience. Strengthening the backend with three 20-year-olds was accomplished at the trade deadline. This will enable the young forwards to play more important minutes, hopefully speeding up individual development so the team can assess how the “kids” might fit in the short-term future.
The brain trust wants the current roster of players to experience post-season intensity to further their individual development – and also accountability. A first-round series against the Victoria Royals is a realistic possibility and arguably, is a series the Rockets could win. Advancing to the second round would be a tremendous triumph, given how inconsistent this team has been all season. And, a few playoff gate receipts certainly will not hurt the bottom line.
Secondly, there has been no obvious panic at all within the organization regarding the roster for the 2020 Memorial Cup. Of course, the fanbase is much more vocal and impatient. At least three or four current players (Nolan Foote, Lassi Thomson, Kaedan Korczak, Alex Swetlikoff, Roman Basran) are likely to be drafted in June and will return as part of the core group for next season. The team is currently scouting 19-year-olds across the WHL with an eye on putting together a solid group of overagers for next season.
Among current members of the Rockets, Kyle Topping and Leif Mattson are probably the front-runners to return as 20-year-olds. And, Bruce Hamilton has said he wants to select a forward at the 2019 CHL Import Draft, which could potentially land a player that is already property of an NHL team. So, that’s a core group of eight or nine players. Young rookies (16- and 17-year-old players) are not the priority in building for a Memorial Cup. Bantam drafted players in 2017, 2018 and 2019 are not really in the mix. The roster generally requires two strong forward lines, four strong defenceman and the hope that the goaltender has a very hot week. Television timeouts (3 X 90-seconds per period) during Memorial Cup games dictate that teams seldom have to rotate four lines. Of course, depth can help, but a healthy core group often stirs the drink at this tournament.
Question from @GoChiefsGo1 – Where do you see Matthew Savoie playing next season?
Answer from DUBNetwork staff:
The short answer is the WHL. If Savoie wants to play in the most exceptional league and accept his exceptional status, then he will play in the WHL with whatever team drafts him.
There is a longer answer here, but we can’t make assumptions about what the Savoie family wants to do. There are many options for him at this point and any one of them is a viable option. We have to wait and see what the family decides as it is ultimately their decision.
Question from Brian H. via email – Who is the biggest x-factor for the [Lethbridge] Hurricanes down the stretch run and into the playoffs?
Answer from John Easthope (@vintagejohnny84) – DUBNetwork Lethbridge Hurricanes Fan Columnist
Carl Tetachuk. After the departure of Liam Hughes from the Hurricanes, and with former number one Reece Klassen being traded at the deadline, the crease has been given to the 18-year-old rookie netminder. How Tetatchuk performs will directly affect the outcome, good or bad of the season.
Being backed up now by recent call up 16-year-old Bryan Thomson, the pressure is on. The downside is there is no safety net for the team, but the good news is over the course of the season to date Tetatchuk leads the team with 3.30 goals against average and .896 save percentage. The goaltender is always a focus, and important position, and it will be magnified in Lethbridge down the stretch in the midst of the tight Central Division race.
Question from Greg F. via email – What do you make of the [Victoria] Royals goaltending situation?
Answer from Ryan Sinclair (@RyanSinVic) – DUBNetwork Victoria Royals Beat Writer
The Royals have had zero questions in net the last three years as Griffen Outhouse has been a lock for the club. While many pundits had the 20-year-old moving at the deadline, it was clear that the Royals were expecting a hefty return in order to even consider. In addition, any trade conversation may have been a non-starter, as the Royals loyalty to their veteran players is well documented.
As the playoff picture shapes up, Victoria must like their potential matchups, as they are in a spot to play spoiler to teams that may overlook them. The Royals are often the underdog and under-appreciated, and you could argue there is no better example of that than Outhouse himself. Look for a big finish and final chapter to Outhouse’s time with the Royals.
Looking ahead, the future looks to be Brock Gould in net for Victoria. Gould has been getting stronger this season as he sees more action and is surrounded by people to help his development. Outhouse had the benefit of apprenticing under Coleman Vollrath and has the leadership to help Gould.
The Royals staff also boasts a couple of skilled coaches in goaltending coach Lynden Sammartino and goaltending and skills coach Dwayne Roloson. Another to keep an eye on is signed prospect Keegan Maddocks (’03). Maddocks was recently selected with other Royals’ prospects Nolan Bentham and Cage Newans to the B.C. team for the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer next month.
Question from @GoChiefsGo1 – Given the Spokane [Chiefs] started the season in the CHL top 10 predictions, what do you contribute their current position, which is less than stellar, to?
Answer from Brandon Rivers (@BriversWHL) – DUBNetwork Content Manager
Well things seemed to be going the way many expected after Ty Smith, Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Filip Kral returned from World Juniors. They reeled off four straight wins and started putting pressure on the Portland Winterhawks for that second seed and home-ice advantage in the first round of the U.S. Division playoffs.
Then the wheels fell off. They dropped a 2-1 game on the road against the Seattle Thunderbirds, before falling 3-0 in Kamloops and 3-1 in Kennewick against Tri-City.
Those three losses runs their losing streak to five games and has them tied for the three seed with Tri-City and now 12 points back of Portland for the two spot in the U.S.
For a team with so many playmakers, they are struggling to find the net. Over those three games, they had two goals on 120 total shots. They had the shot advantage in every single game and had a 48-31 advantage over Tri-City on Saturday.
Over the losing streak, they’ve created great scoring chances, but have been turned away by hot goalies. Since that 8-3 blowout home win – the last of their winning streak, things have just not been getting by the opponent’s netminders.
Despite all this, I’m not out on the Chiefs by any means. They have a talented group overall, but fact is they are in a really tough division where they see a whole lot of strong teams on a nightly basis. If they continue to win the shots on goal battle, they should be in every game and have a chance for their high end players to make a big play.
If they can get Bailey Brkin, who has now been tasked with more starts since Dawson Weatherill went out with injury, to play his best consistently they will be a tough out for any team come playoff time. With how good the U.S. is, if they end up losing the third spot to Tri-City, they could very well end up going over to the B.C. bracket.
In some ways they are very similar to the Tri-City team last year, in that they were under performing for much of the year. That team caught fire and blew through the B.C. en route to a trip to the Western Conference final.
This Spokane team has also not lived up to the hype for a lot of the same reasons that Tri-City team didn’t. Those being inconsistent goaltending and having their top players missing for large stretches due to injuries and international play.
The next week will be tough for Spokane and telling as far as where they will end up. They take on Portland at home Wednesday and Kelowna Friday, before going to Portland on Saturday. They need to right the ship and get their chemistry in order because they only have 22 games left and a whole lot of those are against U.S. Division teams.
Question from @hectorustwo002 Who are the Cougars top prospects?
Answer from Caden Fanshaw (@CadenFanshaw) – DUBNetwork Gameday Preview writer
1- Craig Armstrong, look for him to be a speedy force even as a 16-year-old next season. He’s a high skill guy with a great hockey IQ and next level awareness that looks to shape him into a great playmaking Centre.
2- Tyler Brennan, a goaltender that could fill the void after Taylor Gauthier, he’s a goalie that boasts a big body and knows how to stop a puck and stay composed doing it.
3-Blake Eastman, a forward padding his stats in the CSSHL this season, a scoring forward that combined with Armstrong is sure to be a dangerous duo in the future.
4- Colin Schmidt, an American forward that would be a huge addition if he came into the WHL, he’s a big body that has an offensive touch while getting the job done in the dirty areas.
5-Hudson Thornton, a defenseman playing in Manitoba, chosen in the 2nd round in 2018, he’s yet another great defensive product that’s likely to be a part of the organization in a big role on the back end.