Jayden Halbgewachs led the WHL in scoring a season ago with 70 goals, 59 assists and 129 points. With Halbgewachs aging out of the league, we will have a new scoring leader in 2018-19. In fact the top-six scorers from a season ago are likely not returning to the WHL.
Lets take a look at who has the best shot at piling up the most points in the Western League.
Since 2013-14, a player in top-38 or higher the year before in scoring, has gone on to win the scoring title the following season.
2017-18 – Halbgewachs – 5th in 2016-17.
2016-17 – Sam Steel – 35th in 2015-16.
2015-16 – Adam Brooks – 38th in 2014-15.
2014-15 – Oliver Bjorkstrand – 3rd in 2013-14.
2013-14 – Mitch Holmberg – 20th in 2012-13.
Cody Glass– center – Portland Winterhawks – 1999 – sixth in scoring a year ago
-Glass potted 37 goals and added 65 assists for 102 points in his 18-year-old season. He would seem to be the easy front-runner but there are several factors that could cause him to struggle to match his 2017-18 pace, First of all he will be without linemates Kieffer Bellows and Skyler McKenzie who both signed pro deals and will not be back as a 20-year-olds. He also could miss games at the start of the year while at the Vegas Golden Knights camp. He could be gone for 10-plus more games around Christmas time too if he makes Hockey Canada’s World Junior team. If he finds some good chemistry with his linemates, he may still lead the league in scoring even if he misses a bunch of games.
Justin Almeida – Center – Moose Jaw Warriors – 1999 – 10th in scoring in 2017-18
-Almeida, who came over to Moose Jaw from Prince George as part of the Nikita Popugaev deal had a breakout season last year. It will be interesting to see how he reacts to being the focal points of the offense this coming season with so much offense lost off the team.
Jordy Bellerive – LW – Lethbridge Hurricanes – 1999 – 12th in scoring in 2017-18.
-He seems to be recovering well from his injuries sustained in that fateful incident outside Calgary. Bellerive has one of the best shots in the league and with Lethbridge looking like the leading candidate in the Central, the team will be gearing up for a long playoff run. He is a good candidate to break 50, maybe even 60 goals even if he makes Canada’s U20 WJC team -which I suspect he will.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan – Center – Spokane Chiefs – 1999 – 15th in scoring in 2017-18.
-Spokane loses Kailer Yamamoto and Hudson Elynuik off their top-six forward group but there is still plenty of talent left. Anderson-Dolan worked well with Riley Woods (who is a dark horse candidate to make a run at the scoring title) a season ago and is primed to have a huge statistical season. If I were making betting odds on this list, I would have Anderson-Dolan right behind Glass as a favorite. He is also a candidate to make Canada’s WJC team.
Stelio Mattheos – Center – Brandon Wheat Kings – 1999 – 16th in scoring in 2017-18.
-This group of 19-year-old centers is a great one. Add Mattheos to Anderson-Dolan, Almeida, Glass and Tri-City’s Michael Rasmussen and you have quite the load of Canadian talent (all five are at Canada’s WJSS camp). Just like with Anderson-Dolan and Bellerive’s teams, Brandon looks like a contender and I would expect them to bring in some more talent to play with Mattheos. As it stands, the Carolina Hurricanes draft pick should be considered another front-runner.
Trey Fix-Wolansky – RW – Edmonton Oil Kings – 1999 – 18th in scoring in 2017-18.
-Fix-Wolansky made the most of his situation in Edmonton last season. On a team that finished at the bottom of the standings, Fix-Wolansky consistently piled up points. This got him drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2018 NHL Draft. He now leads the way for a team that should be climbing out of the cellar and making a run at a playoff spot.
Dante Hannoun – Center- Victoria Royals – 1998 – 33rd in points-per-game in 2017-18.
-Overage forwards usually are in the running when it comes to the scoring title. This year though, the class of 1998-born play makers is not awe-inspiring. Of those likely to be back for their overage seasons, Hannoun is the only one who finished in the top-35 in scoring. He put up 79 points in 2017-18 after potting 64 a season earlier. Over his 258 WHL games, he has 212 points. Hannoun will be losing a whole lot of support in Victoria though this year and his team – on paper – looks like it will struggle. To recoup some assets, would the Royals be interested in moving Hannoun to a title-contender? If they do, we could see a production increase like we saw with Garrett Pilon in Everett a year ago.
-Others who could be in for big statistical years include Nolan Volcan (Seattle-1998-36th in 2017-18), Zack Andrusiak (Seattle-1998-42nd), Cole Fonstad (Prince Albert-2000-43rd), Ty Smith (Spokane-2000-44th), Henri Jokiharju (Portland-1999-47th), Max Gerlach (Saskatoon-1998-49th).
Links and notes:
-The Calgary Hitmen hired former Edmonton Oil Kings bench boss Steve Hamilton as their head coach. Our own Tyler Lowey will have more on this soon.
-Ryan Smith landed a new assistant coaching gig in Medicine Hat. He joins the staff of head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston.
The Medicine Hat Tigers are pleased to announce the hiring of Ryan Smith who will join the club as an assistant coach.
Welcome to the Tigers Family Ryan!!
— Medicine Hat Tigers (@tigershockey) July 17, 2018
-Former Seattle Thunderbirds captain Turner Ottenbreit signed with the Colorado Eagles of the AHL.
-Former Kamloops blazers goalie Connor Ingram is a funny guy.
-The general manager of the Kootenay ICE, Matt Cockell gave an interview with the Kootenay Business site. He talks about his first year in Cranbrook and the team’s engagement with fans program.
-Interesting decision made by the NCAA to allow Murphy Stratton to commit to the University of North Dakota despite playing 45 games with the Calgary Hitmen. Stratton was a recent participant in the L.A. Kings development camp.
-Former associate coach of the Vancouver Giants Dean Chynoweth took an assistant coaching gig with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.
-Former Kamloops Blazers forward Brendan Ranford was drafted into the National Lacrosse League.
-Former Vancouver Giants d-man Mason Geertsen signed a one-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche. The big blue liner won an ECHL title with the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Comets in 2017.
— PG Cougars (@PGCougars) July 17, 2018