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2018-19 WHL Season Previews: Victoria Royals

It’s that time of year again! We at the DubNetwork always try to come up with a new order for previews each year and this season we are going with least recent to most recent Ed Chynoweth Cups for our order of previews. They will run 2-to-3 a day until September 20th. Then on September 21st – the day the season opens – we will have our predictions.

Victoria Royals (2017-18 season: 39-27-4-2-84 points, lost in the second round to the Tri-City Americans

2017-18 Recap
The 2017-18 Victoria Royals went for it all but were eventually limited by injuries and could not overcome a strong opponent in the playoffs. Loaded with firepower after the trade deadline, the Royals suffered injuries to key players and a hot Tri-City Americans team dispatched them in the second round of the WHL playoffs. The team saw franchise record seasons from 20-year-old Tyler Soy, dominant offensive streaks from captain Matthew Phillips and rock-solid goaltending from Griffen Outhouse. Victoria were buyers last year, loading up during the season and trade deadline with the likes of Tanner Kaspick, Lane Zablocki, Noah Gregor, Braydon Buziak, Jeff De Wit, Andrei Grishakov, D-Jay Jerome and Kade Jensen. Unfortunately, all the changes resulted in similar second round exit from the playoffs, the fourth such time in the last five years

Dante Hannoun checks Brennan Riddle in Game 7
(Photo:Christoper Kelsall, Victoria Sports News)

Offseason departures

  • Tyler Soy- Aged Out: leaves Victoria as the franchise leader in goals (151) and points (327)
  • Chaz Reddekopp- Aged Out: spent his entire WHL career with the Royals; drafted and signed by the Los Angeles Kings
  • Kade Jensen- Aged Out: hard-nosed defenseman was needed acquisition by Victoria in 2017
  • Noah Gregor- traded to Prince Albert Raiders for conditional compensation
  • Jeff de Wit- 20-year-old not returning: signed with Red Deer Rebels
  • Braydon Buziak- 20-year-old not returning
  • Andrei Grishakov- signed with Ladia Togliatti (MHL)
  • Jared Freadrich- traded to Portland Winterhawks for a conditional pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft

 

2018-19 Victoria Royals

Head Coach Dan Price finds himself back behind the bench for a second year, with his coaching staff intact. Price guided his team to a two win improvement over the previous season, followed by gutsy seven-game series win versus the Vancouver Giants in round one.

Newcomers

  • Phillip Schultz (’00)- centre from Rodovre, Denmark, selected in round one (38th overall) of the import draft
  • Tyler Lees (’00)- centre acquired trade with Saskatoon Blades, drafted in 2015 by Saskatoon in the 5th round (94th overall)
  • Tanner Sidaway (’99)- LW acquired in trade Regina Pats, Victoria BC native
  • Brandon Cutler (’00)- LW acquired with a 2nd round pick in trade with the Red Deer Rebels in exchange for the rights to unsigned prospect Dallon Melin and a 5th round pick in 2019.
  • Jameson Murray (’99)- D acquired from Everett Silvertips for 7th round pick in 2019
  • Logan Doust (’01)- centre acquired from Saskatoon for a 2020 9th round draft pick and a conditional 5th round draft pick.
  • Tyus Gent (’01)- LW selected by Victoria in 2016, 4th round draft pick (88th overall)
  • Remy Aquilon (’01)- D signed by Victoria in 2017
  • Parker Malchuk (’01)- D signed by Victoria in 2018
  • Brock Gould (’01)- G selected by Victoria in 2016, 8th round draft pick (170th overall)
  • Ty Yoder (’02)- centre selected by Victoria in 2017, 5th round draft pick (93rd overall)

Overage situation

20-year-old Ralph Jarratt anchors the defense
(Photo: Christoper Kelsall, Victoria Sports News)

The overage situation for Victoria is one of the most interesting stories in the league.  Finishing the season last year with ten 19-year-old players, the guessing game among fans began in the offseason as to who would remain. Although most Royals fans would be happy to see Phillips take the next step to professional hockey, many also would dearly like to have him back for one more season on junior hockey. Kaspick, who made such an impression in the short time he was with the Royals last season, looks to stick with the St. Louis Blues organization.

With a series of  offseason moves, Victoria is now down to three overagers on the roster in Dante Hannoun, Griffen Outhouse and Ralph Jarratt. All three are original draft picks of the team, developed in the Royals program, and are great selections for veteran players.

All might not be set in stone, however, as there is the possibility of Lane Zablocki returning from the Detroit Red Wings camp. A possible top line of Zablocki, Hannoun and Fizer sounds intriguing, but with that, we are back to some hard decisions on Outhouse and Jarratt. Like many WHL clubs, the overage situation may still be a fluid one.

Import situation

Phillip Schultz (1st round -38th overall 2018 import draft) of the import draft has looked strong in preseason action and has come to the Royals with likely something to prove after being passed over in the 2018 NHL Draft.  The Danish U-20 international recorded five points in four preseason games and looks to be an impact player.

Igor Martynov (1st round -30th overall 2017 import draft) is back for his second season with the Royals and looked strong in training camp. The shifty forward from Krasnoye, Belarus will be counted on to carry more of the offense this season.

Returning scorers

2017-18 Pts rank Player GP G A Pts
35 Dante Hannoun 66 25 54 79
121 Igor Martynov 63 18 25 43
185 Scott Walford 69 2 30 32

Returning goalies

Player GP GAA Sv % Record
Griffen Outhouse 60 3.08 0.914 35-17-4-1-2
Dean McNabb 28 4.52 0.870 4-10-0-0-0

Forwards

Dante Hannoun will be counted on to be a leader on the offense
Credit: Christoper Kelsall, Victoria Sports News

The offense is clearly led by Dante Hannoun, as the roster does not scream firepower like it has in years past.  The 20-year-old Hannoun had a great training camp, and for the second camp in-a-row looked like the sharpest player on the ice. Likely joining him on the top-line is second-year winger Tarun Fizer.  Fizer looked stronger as last season progressed and looks ready to take on a bigger role. As mentioned, imports Martynov and Schultz will also be leaned upon to provide some offensive spark. Wildcards could be D-Jay Jerome and Tyler Lees, both of whom put up some nice offense in preseason action. Heart and soul players Kaid Oliver and Tanner Sidaway will be counted on to shut down the opposition while contributing to the scoresheet as well. Ty Yoder made the roster as a 16-year-old and looks to make the successful jump to junior after starring in the CSSHL.

Defense

Just as his fellow 20-year-old teammate Hannoun leads the offense, overager Ralph Jarratt leads the Royals defense this season. Jarratt gave it his all in the playoff series versus the Giants, sacrificing himself nightly. When he was out of action, Victoria struggled to clear the net in front of Outhouse, showing how key he is to the team. Scott Walford will be counted on to quarterback the power play, however he is still recovering from a late-season injury that forced him to miss the entire playoffs. His expected time frame for a full return is early October. Mitchell Prowse had an excellent season last year, putting up 18 points with a +21. Matthew Smith (’00) made the roster out of training camp and did not look out of place in 65 games with the team.

Goalies

Griffen Outhouse will once again shoulder the load in net for Victoria
(credit: @Fedyck_Fotos)

There is no question mark in the Victoria net.  Griffen Outhouse has been spectacular minding the net for the Royals. While his numbers last season were not quite as good as his phenomenal 2016-17 season, one could argue that Outhouse stole more games than ever last season. He is an athletic goalie who sees a lot of action, playing 60 games or more the last two seasons. When his d-men are clearing the traffic and allowing him to see the puck, he is extremely hard to beat. Dean McNabb struggled at times last season in relief of Outhouse, but in other times played well, making many game stealing saves himself. He will split the backup duties with Brock Gould to start the season, and they will likely work in tandem to give Outhouse occasional rests.

Season Outlook

The Royals are coming into this season as underdogs in the competitive B.C. Division. After making the playoffs for each year that they have been in Victoria, it would be expected that the team will not let that streak easily slip away. Although they are featuring a young roster, opposing teams would be wise to not take the Royals lightly. There is a precedent, with the 2015-16 Royals initially looking like a “rebuild year”; that team captured the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the regular season champion of the WHL with 106 points.
President and General Manager Cameron Hope continues to make moves to adjust the roster and has not been one to shy away from making a bold move if needed. The possibility of Zablocki – who is not signed by Detroit – returning may trigger another move, as he or the other team 20-year-olds have definite value.
The ultimate scenario that would change the entire dynamic of this team would be the return of captain Matthew Phillips. Should the Calgary Flames decide that another year of junior hockey is what is best for their prospect, then all expectations change.

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