Portland Winterhawks/Megan Connelly

Looking ahead to the 2020-21 WHL season: Overage situations

 

With the 2019-20 WHL season getting cut short and the 1999-born players not getting the send-off they deserved, we are left in this awkward position ahead of next season. Should everything be somewhat back to normal and the next WHL season be able to start in a normal way, there are many teams faced with tough decisions.

This is because they will need to cut down to the allowed number of 20-year-old players. This coming season it will be those born in the year 2000.

With WHL teams again able to make trades on Monday, we could see many of the names listed below on the move.

Let’s take a look at each team’s 20-year-old situation ahead of next season.

I have listed trades made during the 2019-20 season as teams acquiring players then may be more inclined to keep them for 2020-21. I also have only allotted for those players that ended the 2019-20 season on the roster of their WHL teams. 2000-born players signed by NHL teams have not been figured in as a vast majority of the time they do not come back to their WHL clubs.

Luka Burzan
(Photo – Brandi Pollock)

Brandon Wheat Kings:

Six 2000-born players

  1. Luka Burzan- F – 207 points in 270 career games. He was drafted by Colorado in 2019 but has yet to be signed.
  2. Cole Reinhardt – F – 114 points in 181 games.
  3. Duncan Pierce – F – 44 points in 142 games. He was acquired from Regina in exchange for Caden Daley.
  4. Lynden McCallum – F – 40 points in 110 games.
  5. Markus Sekundiak – F – 33 points in 190 games.
  6. Reid Perepeluk – F – 26 points in 119 games. He was acquired from Prince George in exchange for Jonny Hooker.

Thoughts: A lot hinges on whether or not Burzan comes back. If he does come back, he and Reinhardt are locks for two of the spots, in my opinion. That would also mean Brandon would return its top six scorers from 2019-20. That last spot is probably up for grabs really with Pierce and Perepeluk both having the best chance.

Calgary Hitmen

Five 2000-born players

Riley Stotts (photo-Candice Ward)
  1. Riley Stotts – F – 185 points in 247 career games. He was drafted by Toronto in 2018 but has yet to be signed.
  2. Carson Focht – F- 161 points in 262 games. He was drafted by Vancouver in 2019 but has yet to be signed.
  3. Orca Wiesblatt – F – 73 points in 125 games.
  4. Josh Prokop – F – 64 points in 122 games.
  5. Andrew Viggars – D – 5 points in 43 games.

Thoughts: Defensemen Jett Woo (Vancouver) and Egor Zamula (Philadelphia) are signed and thus very likely to play next season professionally. Wil Kushniryk and Layne Toder also spent some time with the team in 2019-20, but I do not expect them back as overagers with Calgary. Stotts and Focht are the biggest slam dunks, and Wiesblatt had 57 of those 73 points last season — a breakout campaign. With so many of their top eight scorers not returning, I would expect them to go with the most proven point producers.

Edmonton Oil Kings

Six 2000-born players

David Kope (Photo-Andy Devlin)
  1. David Kope – F – 90 points in 183 career games.
  2. Scott Atkinson – F – 70 points in 175 games. He was team captain last season.
  3. Ethan Cap – D – 70 points in 265 games.
  4. Wyatt McLeod – D – 54 points in 204 games.
  5. Samuel Stewart – D – 40 points in 136 games. He was acquired from Tri-City for a fourth-round pick in 2023.
  6. Loeden Schaufler – D – 14 points in 112 games.

Thoughts: Some really tough decisions will need to be made in Edmonton. The Oil Kings should get four of their top five scorers back, so maybe they decide to keep two of Cap, McLeod, and Stewart with the latter having been acquired mid-season for a fourth-round pick in 2023. Cap should end up second all-time in games played for the franchise and McLeod has been a mainstay as well. If they decide to go with those two, they will have to decide between Kope and Atkinson. Do they pick the most proven scorer in Kope or a heart-and-soul guy with Atkinson? I would bet Kope will bring the Oil Kings some strong assets so maybe he is the one they move. A really tough choice for a team that should be a contender again next season.

Everett Silvertips

Seven 2000-born players

Reece Newkirk and Gianni Fairbrother (Photo: everettsilvertips.com)
  1. Cole Fonstad – F – 247 points in 270 career games. He was drafted by Montreal in 2018 but has yet to sign with them.
  2. Ty Kolle – F – 86 points in 197 games. He was acquired from Regina for the rights to prospect, Ean Somoza, a fourth-round pick in 2020 and a fifth-round pick in 2021.
  3. Ethan Regnier – F – 68 points in 184 games. He was acquired from Swift Current along with Kasper Puutio for Martin Fasko-Rudas, Parker Hendren, a first-round pick in 2020 and a second-round pick in 2022.
  4. Gianni Fairbrother – D – 66 points in 137 games. He was drafted by Montreal in 2019 but has yet to sign with them.
  5. Dawson Butt – F – 39 points in 155 games.
  6. Justyn Gurney – F – 31 points in 175 games.
  7. Hunor Torzsok – F – Four points in 39 games.

Thoughts: So much depends on what Montreal wants to do. We will know about Fonstad within two months while the Canadiens have a lot more time to sign Fairbrother before risking him becoming a free agent. If both are returned, then they have to be the biggest locks of the group. That last spot comes down to Kolle, Regnier, and Butt for me. While Kolle has more career points, Regnier played on a lot of struggling teams. Pairing him with players like Fonstad, Michal Gut, Gage Goncalves or Jackson Berezowski should set him up for a big overage season. I would expect Kolle to get some time with Everett while Fairbrother does the whole pro camp thing and I think Everett could get something back for him in a trade as well if they decide to go that route.

Orrin Centazzo. Photo by Allen Douglas/Kamloops Blazers

Kamloops Blazers

Seven 2000-born players

  1. Orrin Centazzo – F -167 points in 244 career games.
  2. Brodi Stuart – F – 116 points in 205 games.
  3. Montana Onyebuchi – D – 63 points in 238 games. Team captain.
  4. Libor Zabransky – D – 49 points in 159 games. Also an import player. He was acquired from Saskatoon for Martin Lang.
  5. Sean Strange – D – 37 points in 179 games.
  6. Tyler Carpendale – F – 30 points in 89 games. He was acquired from Seattle for a conditional third-round pick in 2020.
  7. Ryley Appelt – F – 29 points in 162 games.

Thoughts: With the losses of Zane Franklin, Ryan Hughes, and Max Martin, the Blazers will likely only return two of their top five scorers. That means proven producers like Centazzo and Stuart are that much more valuable. Zabransky has been rumored to be signing professionally overseas so that could leave one spot for Onyebuchi, Strange and Carpendale. Whichever two are left out could be shopped by the Blazers for a good return.

Sean Comrie

Kelowna Rockets

Four 2000-born players

  1. Michael Farren – F – 84 points in 225 career games.
  2. Liam Kindree – F – 78 points in 143 games.
  3. Sean Comrie – D – 17 points in 35 games.
  4. Devin Steffler – D – 11 points in 121 games.

Thoughts: Four of their top six scorers move on with Nolan Foote (Tampa Bay) and Dillon Hamaliuk (San Jose) being NHL-signed 20-year-olds. That leaves them with a puck-moving d-man in Comrie and a couple of top-six forwards in Farren and Kindree. It will be interesting to see if Bruce Hamilton and co. try to move players to recoup assets. Defenseman Kaedan Korczak would certainly gain them a lot of assets back should they choose to deal him.

Lethbridge Hurricanes

Oliver Okuliar (Photo: Erica Perreaux)

Two overage players

  1. Dino Kambeitz – F – 72 points in 190 career games.
  2. Oliver Okuliar – F – 68 points in 55 games. Also an import player.

Thoughts: General manager Peter Anholt said on Canes This Week recently that the team is looking at keeping Okuliar as a two-spotter and seeking a defenseman for its open overage slot. Easier said than done, but I like this as a potential home for Cole Moberg, Onyebuchi or Strange.

Medicine Hat Tigers

Eight 2000-born players

Ryan Chyzowski (Photo: Portland Winterhawks/Keith Dwiggins)
  1. Ryan Chyzowski – F – 188 points in 257 career games.
  2. Brett Kemp – F – 187 points in 232 games.
  3. Elijah Brown – F – 98 points in 208 games.
  4. Bryan Lockner – F – 90 points in 253 games.
  5. Cole Clayton – D – 58 points in 191 games.
  6. Cyle McNabb – F – 41 points in 175 games. Acquired from Saskatoon for a sixth-round pick in 2021.
  7. Baxter Anderson – F – 27 points in 172 games.
  8. Mads Søgaard- G – Drafted by Ottawa in 2018 but has yet to be signed. He is also an import player. 2.58 GAA, 0.915 save percentage and 40-21-3-3 record in 74 games.

Thoughts: Sandwiched in between two of the teams with the fewest number of overage players is the one tied for the second most. A lot depends on whether the Senators or another professional team sign Søgaard. Chyzowski has an opportunity to end up top five in franchise history for games played and has been a reliable scorer for years now. Kemp had a breakout campaign and has been great for the way Willie Desjardins likes his teams to play. The last spot comes down to the rest of those players. Brown, when healthy, has the skill to play on their top line so maybe they go with him. On defense, the Tigers do lose a lot of experience in Dylan Plouffe and Parker Gavlas so maybe they go with Clayton.

Moose Jaw Warriors

Tate Popple (photo-Lucas Chudleigh Apollo Multimedia)

One 2000-born player

  1. Tate Popple – F – 55 points in 174 career games.

Thoughts: Losing the Taphorn twins really leaves a lot of questions in this age group. Popple is a reliable player who did pretty much everything but play goal for them this past season. I would not be surprised if the Warriors add a couple overagers through waivers or with later draft picks.

Portland Winterhawks

Mason Mannek (Photo- Portland Winterhawks/Keith Dwiggins)

Two 2000-born players

  1. Mason Mannek – F – 77 points in 188 career games.
  2. Nick Cicek – D – 27 points in 114 games.

Thoughts: Joel Hofer (St Louis) and Johnny Ludvig (Florida) signing leaves a lot more opportunity here for Portland. Mannek is a do-everything winger who kills penalties with the best of them and can play everywhere in the lineup. Cicek had a breakout season in 2018-19 and was steady this past season. Portland did not make any big moves at the deadline in 2019-20 and could make a big swing here if someone is whom they really like is available. They could use some help on the blue line with team captain Ludvig likely moving on.

Prince Albert Raiders

Spencer Moe (Photo by Lucas Chudleigh/Apollo Multimedia)

Three 2000-born players

  1. Spencer Moe – F – 120 points in 264 career games.
  2. Justin Nachbaur – F – 74 points in 194 games.
  3. Max Paddock – G – Acquired from Regina for Jakob Brook, a second-round pick in 2020 and a conditional third-round pick in 2022.

Thoughts: This seems like a pretty locked-in group. Moe has been a big playmaker for the Raiders and, while Nachbaur did not increase his point production last season, he is a leader and a big net-front forward who does a lot of the little things right. Moe could end up second all-time in games played with a healthy overage campaign. Paddock was brought in to stabilize the net for the Raiders and did just that. He also has some big-game experience which could be key for a team expected to make a run.

Prince George Cougars

Cole Moberg (photo-Brett Cullen)

Five 2000-born players

  1. Cole Moberg – D – 89 points in 187 career games. Drafted by Chicago in 2019 but has yet to sign with them.
  2. Ilijah Colina – F – 79 points in 200 games.
  3. Jack Sander – D – 38 points in 181 games.
  4. Marco Creta – D – 27 points in 137 games. Acquired from Winnipeg as part of a package sent for Jackson Leppard.
  5. Nikita Krivokrasov – F – 14 points in 73 games. Acquired from Tri-City for a conditional eight-round pick in 2020.

Thoughts: P.G. will surely get teams like Lethbridge and Portland calling about Moberg. Should he not get signed, the asking price for his services may be a high one. It could be the Cougars want to try for a playoff run, but they are losing three of their top four scorers and seem better set to build around a strong 2004-born core. Along with Moberg, I like Colina and Sander as their three overagers barring any trades. Creta ended the season on a long absence from the team for personal reasons.

Red Deer Rebels

Josh Tarzwell (Photo-Andy Devlin)

Three 2000-born players

  1. Josh Tarzwell – F – 101 points in 237 career games.
  2. Chris Douglas – F – 85 points in 227 games.
  3. Ethan Anders – G – 3.26 GAA, 0.901 save percentage and 50-59-11-4 record in 134 games.

Anders was ceding more and more starts to Byron Fancy as the season continued and that does not bode well for him staying on as an overage goalie. As it is, Brent Sutter doesn’t generally hang onto 20-year-old goalies. If he does stick, there is a good chance he overtakes Darcy Kuemper for the most games played by a goalie in franchise history. Both Tarzwell and Douglas finished top five in team scoring last season and will look to build off that on what looks to be another young team.

Regina Pats

Carson Denomie
(Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

Four 2000-born players

  1. Carson Denomie – F – 86 points in 198 career games. Acquired from Moose Jaw for Garrett Wright.
  2. Riley Krane – F – 57 points in 129 games.
  3. Kyle Walker – D – 32 points in 163 games.
  4. Donovan Buskey – G – 3.80 GAA, 0.873 save percentage and a 28-26-2-1 record in 64 games.

Thoughts: What the Pats decide to do between the pipes will ultimately decide which three they go with. Can 2002-born Spencer Welke and 2004-born Matthew Kieper step up and take the reins next season. Regina also has 2001-born Danton Belluk as a stop-gap. Of the four, Buskey is the most experienced as together the other three have only played in 17 regular-season WHL games. If Welke and/or Kieper prove they are ready, I would expect Regina to go with Denomie, Krane, and Walker. If keeping Buskey is looking necessary, then maybe they go with Denomie and Walker. This is especially because of how inexperienced the blue line is and how much Walker would be a stabilizing force back there.

Saskatoon Blades

Chase Wouters (Photo- Portland Winterhawks/Keith Dwiggins)

Five 2000-born players

  1. Chase Wouters – F – 159 points in 259 career games. He was team captain last season. If he stays healthy, he could end up third all-time in franchise games played.
  2. Caiden Daley – F – 78 points in 259 games. Acquired from Regina for a sixth-round pick in 2021.
  3. Martin Fasko-Rudas – F – 72 points in 170 games. Acquired from Swift Current for Matej Toman, Cale Ashcroft and a sixth-round pick in 2022. Also an import.
  4. Zach Huber – F – 39 points in 180 games.
  5. Randen Schmidt – F – 20 points in 129 games.

Thoughts: Wouters and Daley seem like they are set to come back, especially since Daley really seemed to find a fit after coming to the Blades. Fasko-Rudas also started putting up a bunch of points after making his way over from Swift Current. He would need to take up two spots though so maybe the Blades try to bring in a younger import. They could use help on the blue line with Nolan Kneen and Scott Walford graduating out.

Seattle Thunderbirds

Keltie Jeri-Leon (photo-Brian Liesse)

Three 2000-born players

  1. Keltie Jeri-Leon – F – 83 points in 227 career games.
  2. Owen Williams – D – 43 points in 190 games.
  3. Roddy Ross – G – 3.03 GAA, 0.912 save percentage and a 36-26-5-5 record in 74 games. Drafted by Philadelphia in 2019 but has yet to be signed.

Thoughts: These seem like a very likely trio to be the ones they go with. Jeri-Leon had 41 of his points last season and with his shot, 40 or more goals in 2020-21 seems like a possibility. Williams was a mainstay on the blue line last season and seems like a good fit to play a lot of minutes and help guide the younger d-men next season. Ross I would expect to come back and be a workhorse for the T-Birds again next season.

Spokane Chiefs

Eli Zummack (Photo- Portland Winterhawks/Keith Dwiggins)

Six 2000-born players

  1. Eli Zummack – F – 217 points in 233 career games.
  2. Brad Ginnell – F – 93 points in 230 games. Acquired from Winnipeg for a fourth-round pick in 2020 and a sixth-round pick in 2021.
  3. Michael King – F – 61 points in 251 games.
  4. Bobby Russell – D – 43 points in 157 games.
  5. Matt Leduc – D – 25 points in 153 games.
  6. James Porter Jr. – G – 3.11 GAA, 0.900 save percentage and a 38-24-7-2 record in 83 games.

The Chiefs lose three of their top four defensemen, so Russell will play an even bigger role next season. Zummack is an elite playmaker who put up 86 points last season despite not playing regularly with WHL leading scorer Adam Beckman. He could very well lead the league in scoring himself next season as he pursues a pro deal. I believe that the last spot will be between Ginnell and King. Both bring different things to the table. It could very well come down to the preseason and early part of the regular season so see who stays.

Swift Current Broncos

Ty Prefontaine-Tyler Smithies (photo-David Zammit)

Five 2000-born players

  1. Tyler Smithies – F – 35 points in 136 career games.
  2. Kaleb Bulych – D – 34 points in 213 games. Acquired from Vancouver for Connor Horning.
  3. Garrett Sambrook – D – 25 points in 163 games.
  4. Matthew Benson – D – 24 points in 148 games. Acquired from Moose Jaw for a seventh-round pick in 2023.
  5. Isaiah DiLaura – G – 3.85 GAA, 0.889 save percentage and 11-23-1-5 record in 54 games.

Thoughts: The Broncos cycled through quite a few overagers in 2019-20 before landing on D-Jay Jerome, Jaxan Kaluski and Hayden Ostir. They ended up leading the team in scoring. Now all three are gone. Smithies is the second-leading returning scorer with 21 points last season. Bulych is a key d-man and will be leaned on to play heavy minutes.

Tri-City Americans

Luke Zazula (Photo-Judy Simpson)

Four 2000-born players

  1. Luke Zazula – D – 73 points in 222 career games. Acquired from Kamloops for a second and a third-round pick in 2021.
  2. Nick Bowman – F – 56 points in 190 games.
  3. Paycen Bjorklund – F – 32 points in 153 games.
  4. Jayden Platz – D – 11 points in 123 games.

Thoughts: Tri-City gave up a couple of picks for Zazula and he is a valuable puck moving d-man for them. The other two spots will be interesting. Bowman and Bjorklund finished top-10 in club scoring, and the team did struggle to keep up with its opponents, but Platz also played quite a few key minutes on the blue line. It would not surprise me if the Americans hang on to all four and just let them prove their mettle.

Vancouver Giants

Eric Florchuk (Photo-Rob Wilton and Stanley Lee)

Eight 2000-born players

  1. Eric Florchuk – F – 166 points in 248 career games. Acquired from Saskatoon along with a seventh-round pick in 2021 for Evan Patrician, a first-round pick in 2020 and a second-round pick in 2021. Drafted by Washington in 2018
  2. Tristen Nielsen – F – 143 points in 266 games.
  3. Jackson Shepard – F – 75 points in 243 games. Acquired from Lethbridge last May for a fifth-round pick in 2021.
  4. Alex Kannok-Leipert – D – 65 points in 137 games. Drafted by Washington in 2018 but has yet to be signed. He was the team captain last season.
  5. Seth Bafaro – D – 45 points in 206 games.
  6. Michal Kvasnica – F – 40 points in 104 games.
  7. Trevor Longo – D – 33 points in 135 games.
  8. Holden Katzalay – F – 18 points in 98 games.

Thoughts: So much of what the Giants decide to do depends on the Capitals. At this point, you would expect them to pass on both Florchuk and Kannok-Leipert, leaving both open to return as two very good overagers for the Giants. The last spot would be left for Nielsen who led the team in scoring last season and seems primed for a huge overage campaign.

Kaid Oliver (Photo- Portland Winterhawks/Matthew Wolfe)

Victoria Royals

Nine 2000-born players

  1. Kaid Oliver – F – 128 points in 234 career games.
  2. Brandon Cutler – F – 90 points in 236 games.
  3. Carson Miller – F – 87 points in 233 games.
  4. Mitch Prowse – D – 81 points in 239 games.
  5. Phillip Schultz – F – 62 points in 106 games. Also an import and team captain.
  6. Jacob Herauf – D – 52 points in 225 games.
  7. Matthew Smith – D – 32 points in 189 games.
  8. Sean Gulka  F – 27 points in 80 games.
  9. Adam Evanoff – G – 3.10 GAA, 0.905 save percentage and 47-38-7-3 record in 101 games. Acquired from Moose Jaw as part of the trade for Brayden Tracey.

Thoughts: The WHL team with the most 2000-born players on its final roster in 2019-20. The Royals have a whole lot of tough decisions to make. Losing a goalie in Shane Farkas already would appear to open the door for Evanoff as an overage netminder in Victoria. That leaves a whole lot of very qualified players for the other two spots.  Schultz was team captain, but he would also take up both an overage and import spot. Of all the overage dilemmas, this is the most difficult to figure out in my opinion. It seems there are many here who could play in the WHL in 2020-21, so general manager Cam Hope will be busy.

Winnipeg ICE

Jackson Leppard (Photo-Brian Liesse)

One 2000-born player

  1. Jackson Leppard – F – 105 points in 228 career games.

Thoughts: The ICE should get nine of their top 11 scorers back from 2019-20, setting up an interesting 2020-21 campaign with two overage spots open. Nino Kinder has moved on as well, meaning they have an import spot also. Matt Cockell made a lot of good moves last season for Winnipeg so maybe he can bring someone like Moberg or Strange in to help stabilize a blue line which loses two key right-handed d-men in Reece Harsch and Dawson Barteaux.

DUBNetwork Forums Looking ahead to the 2020-21 WHL season: Overage situations

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