Keith Hershmiller

Regina Pats 2020-21 preview: defense

 

We have previously covered the goaltending situation with the 2020-21 Pats. Now it is time to move on to the Pats’ defense.

Looking back at 2019-20

Gone is Zach Wytinck who graduated as the Pats leading defenseman scorer in the 2019-20 season. The Glenboro, MB product scored eight times and assisted on 36 others in 52 games after being acquired from Brandon.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, Nikita Sedov will not be returning for the 2020-21 season. The veteran and alternate captain leaves the Pats with 126 games of WHL experience.

Also, no longer with the Pats is Steven Zonneveld who played in 64 games over a pair of seasons. The Calgary, AB product ends his time with the Pats scoring one goal and adding seven assists.

Returning players, acquisitions and rookies will be discussed next.

The 2020-21 season

With nine defensemen on the current roster, it will be hard to get all of them quality minutes.

A 24-game schedule does not give much leeway to the club, so two or three defensemen will be sitting out each game depending on how head coach Dave Struch creates his lineup. It will be a tough juggling act between playing the veterans and not playing the young guys. There will most definitely be an interesting mixture throughout the shortened schedule.

The returning players

Kyle Walker
(Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

Leading the defense is 20-year-old Kyle Walker. The fourth-year veteran scored a career-high five goals in the shortened 2019-20 season. He also added nine assists for a career-high 14 points. The Leduc, AB product was named an alternate captain for the second time. He will be counted upon for leadership and has the most experience among the returning Pat blueliners with 163 games.

Ryker Evans (Photo- Portland Winterhawks/Donovan MacGowan)

Newly minted alternate captain Ryker Evans will be a key contributor along the Pats’ blue line. Originally a 10th round bantam pick, Evans has blossomed into an offensive talent along the blue line. His 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists) were nearly triple that of his 11-point rookie campaign. Look for him to be a catalyst on the powerplay. The 19-year-old heads into his third season as the second most experienced defender on the Pats backend with 108 games played.

18-year-old Makai Mitchell skates into this season with 52 career games of experience with the Pats. Originally a listed player, Mitchell signed with the Pats in September of 2018. In parts of two seasons, Mitchell has picked up 4 assists and 32 penalty minutes. Last season, Mitchell missed time due to a facial injury.

Jake Johnson
(Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

Another of the 10th round picks in the Pats’ arsenal, Jake Johnson came into his rookie season and performed extremely well. As the season went on, Johnson continued to make strides and finished with a pair of goals and six assists in 58 games. The now 17-year-old will undoubtedly have an expanded regular role in the new season.

The new acquisition

Tom Cadieux (photo-Doug Love)

Not really a new acquisition anymore, Tom Cadieux was acquired from the Tri-City Americans on October 20. The 18-year-old Saskatoon product was originally a 2nd round pick (34th overall) of the Americans. Cadieux comes to the Pats with 96 games of WHL experience over parts of three seasons in Kennewick. He has ten career points on a goal and nine assists.

The rookies

Parker Berge
(Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

After getting into two games in 2019-20, Parker Berge is looking to make the Pats on a full-time basis. An 8th round pick of the Pats in 2018 (157th overall) played the 2019-20 season for the Northern Alberta X-Treme. The Edmonton Alberta product played 36 games scoring seven times and adding 21 assists.

Yet another late-round pick of the Pats, Marcus Taylor got into one contest in 2019-20 for the club. The ninth rounder (192nd overall) from Coquitlam, BC played for the Burnaby Winter Club playing in 23 contests. Not really an offensive defenseman, he collected seven points (1G, 6A).

Layton Feist (Photo- Portland Winterhawks/Donovan MacGowan)

2019 first-rounder Layton Feist skated in three games with the Pats. The offensive-minded defenseman had 24 points (8G, 16A) in 35 games for the Okanagan Hockey Academy. As time goes on, the 16-year-old will be counted upon to bring that offensive talent to the Pats blueline.

Another 16-year-old along the blueline, Jacob Dewitt is among the biggest players on the 2020-21 Pats. The Sicamous, BC product skated with the Pursuit of Excellence in the CSSHL. He played in 36 games picking up 14 points (4 G, 10A).

Looking past the shortened season

With only Walker playing as an overage, the shortened season will give the Pats’ management some idea as to where the other eight players will be for the 2021-22 season. Most of them will not get the opportunity due to the current pandemic. It is unfortunate that many of them on the roster and the prospects will all but lose a year of development.

There will be two unknowns for the 2021-22 season… will Sedov be back? It will be tough to get him in the lineup as he would be a two-spotter. As an import defenseman and an overage, he has most likely played his last games as a Pat.

The other unknown is 2020 import pick Stanislav Svozil, who was selected 15th overall. He would come to the Pats with two seasons of professional hockey in the Check Republic.

With those two and the few recently drafted defensemen, it should be an interesting time in Regina.

One more sleep before the puck drops!

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    Kevin Shaw
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      We have previously covered the goaltending situation with the 2020-21 Pats. Now it is time to move on to the Pats’ defense. Looking back at 201
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