Rik Fedyck

2019-20 WHL Season Previews: Vancouver Giants

2018-19 Season:

Record: 48-15-3-2, 1st in Western Conference

Story of the Season: The Vancouver Giants came into the 2018-19 regular season with fairly high expectations after a seven-game elimination at the hands of the Victoria Royals in the opening round of the 2018 playoffs. Naturally, at the very least, a series win despite not winning one since 2010 seemed to be the consensus expectation; two rounds if you were feeling lucky. The club got out to a quick 8-2 start in their first 10 games of the season, which broke them away from the pack in the B.C. Division race early. Along the way, leading up to the January 10th trade deadline, GM Barclay Parneta made key acquisitions that included a one-for-one deal that saw the Giants acquire former first-round bantam pick Tristen Nielsen with local talent James Malm going the other way to Calgary. Defencemen Seth Bafaro and overage Dallas Hines along with Jadon Joseph rounded out the team’s additions to prepare for a long playoff run.

Tristen Nielsen (Photo by Lucas Chudleigh/Apollo Multimedia)

Having 23 wins in the team’s first 34 games was nothing to turn your nose at. But after stumbling along the Central Division after the holiday break, the Giants went on a massive tear from January 6th to the end of the regular season. A 25-3-1-2 record in the last 31 regular season games catapulted them to the top seed of the Western Conference going into the postseason.

Playoffs: Vancouver put together an unforgettable playoff run, going all the way to Game 7 of the WHL Final against the Prince Albert Raiders.

Round one saw the Giants given one of their best battles during the playoff run. They defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds, who earned the second wild card seed, in six games.

Round two against Victoria went more or less as expected, with the Giants making quick work of the Royals in four straight games, despite Game 2 and 3 needing extra time.

The Western Conference Final featured Ty Smith and the Spokane Chiefs, who finished second in the powerhouse U.S. Division. This was another series that, with a weird bounce, could have gone longer than the five games it did. Games 3 and 4 needed extra time, with the Chiefs getting their lone win of the series in the third game. This series was the only one Giants fans saw closed out on home ice.

The WHL Final did not disappoint. It featured both number one seeds in each conference, with the Prince Albert Raiders winning the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the league’s best team in the regular season. Despite the Giants winning Game 1, the Raiders rattled off three straight wins including an 8-2 drubbing of the Giants at the LEC. Vancouver continued to show what got them as far as they were and fought back to win Games 5 and 6 before ultimately losing in overtime of Game 7, thanks to a goal from longtime thorn in the Giants’ side Dante Hannoun.

photo – Chris Relke

Losses: The Giants have seven players from their final roster that will not be returning this season:


2018-19 Stats (with Vancouver) How They Left/Where They Are Now
Davis Koch (leading scorer) 67GP 28G 50A 78PTS

Aged out; signed a try-out contract with the Iserlohn Roosters of the DEL (Germany)

Jared Dmytriw (captain) 65GP 15G 23A 38PTS

Aged out; N/A

Dallas Hines 27GP 4G 6A 10PTS

Aged out; N/A

Dawson Holt 53GP 6G 13A 19PTS

Traded to Regina on 6/25

Yannik Valenti 52GP 4G 5A 9PTS

Returned to Germany; Adler Mannheim of the DEL/Heilbronner Falken of the DEL2

Aidan Barfoot 37GP 0G 4A 4PTS

Retired; going to school

Jadon Joseph

32GP 10G 18A 28PTS

Traded to Moose Jaw on 9/14

Additions: As it stands now, Vancouver has added four new faces to their 2019-20 roster:


2018-19 Stats How They Were Acquired
Cole Shepard (‘02) 53GP 7G 17A 24PTS (Penticton – BCHL)

Originally drafted 2017 second round (33rd overall); signed WHL SPA on 7/10

Jackson Shepard (‘00) 66GP 5G 17A 22PTS (Lethbridge – WHL)

Via trade on 5/25

Sergei Alkhimov (‘01) 66GP 13G 14A 27PTS (Regina – WHL)

Via trade on 6/25 for Dawson Holt

John Little (‘02)

53GP 10G 16A 26PTS (Salmon Arm – BCHL)

Originally drafted 2017 third round (60th overall); signed WHL SPA 8/12

Three Stories Coming Into The Season:

1: The overage situation. General manager Barclay Parneta has some tough decisions to make before the October 10th deadline to set the team’s three 20-year-olds. After spending the majority of the offseason with six 1999-born players on the roster, Parneta found a home for one of the three that will be victims of the numbers game. On Friday, the Giants sent Jadon Joseph to Moose Jaw for a pair of draft picks. Joseph was originally brought in just before the trade deadline last season in a trade with Regina and was a good contributor during the lengthy 2019 playoff run, where he put up 12 points (7G, 5A) in 22 games.

Milos Roman (photo-Rik Fedyck)

The air should start to clear a little more on the other two players that will need to be moved once NHL training camps conclude. Milos Roman is currently a “two spotter”, meaning if he remains with the Giants, he will take up an overage and import spot. Roman is an unsigned Calgary Flames prospect, and if signed to an entry-level contract, would be eligible to play in the AHL this coming season.

David Tendeck (photo-Rik Fedyck)

Another NHL prospect to look out for is goaltender David Tendeck, who is currently unsigned by the Arizona Coyotes. Though it is not common for teams to carry a 20-year-old goaltender, it’s not impossible. The Giants have a more than capable Trent Miner, who is also currently at Colorado Avalanche main camp after being selected in the seventh round last June. He will be looking to have starter minutes in his sophomore WHL season. The Giants could certainly get a good return on Tendeck should they decide to move him. The other current overage players on the Giants roster are forwards Brayden Watts and Owen Hardy, as well as defenceman Dylan Plouffe, who is fresh off of attending Montreal Canadiens camp.

2: Bowen Byram. Will he be back? That is a big question mark on the Giants season. Giants GM Barclay Parneta has stated that he is assembling this year’s roster as if they are not getting the star defenceman back, which is the correct way to go about it. If the fourth overall pick of the Colorado Avalanche is returned back to Vancouver, it makes them more of a favourite than they may already be. Byram had nothing short of a historic 2018-19 season for Vancouver.

The Cranbrook, BC, native broke the WHL single-season record for overtime goals with six, set a new Giants franchise record in goals by a defenceman, led the WHL in playoff scoring and assists, led the WHL in regular-season defenseman goals, and won a CHL Top Prospect Award. Byram played the majority of last season with Washington Capitals prospect Alex Kannok-Leipert, who will take on much of the workload along with Dylan Plouffe should Byram not return. Even if the Avalanche does assign him back, Byram will still miss a portion of the regular season as he will surely get a look in some NHL preseason games as well as being more or less a lock for the Canadian World Junior team. The Giants realistically won’t fully have him back until after the holiday break.

Bowen Byram (photo – Jay Wallace)

3: Early road trip. Just five games into the regular season, the Giants set out on a two-week trip to make their way through the East Division. Last season, Vancouver struggled during their yearly road trip, albeit against the Central Division, going 2-4. With the 2019-20 road trip being much earlier in the season, it will be far more crucial for them as a team. It will set the tone for their season, both on and off the ice, with hours upon hours of riding the bus together and staying in hotel rooms — lots of team building. On the ice, the trip starts with the Giants’ first game in franchise history played in Winnipeg when they take on the newly-relocated ICE and ends in Regina where they take on former Giant Dawson Holt and the Pats. Watch for an even more tight-knit team than usual upon returning home.

The regular season opens up on September 20th for the Giants when they make the trip up north to take on the Prince George Cougars for a back-to-back. Their home opener is on September 27th against the Portland Winterhawks where Giants fans can see both the 2018-19 B.C. Division and Western Conference Championship banners go to the rafters.






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