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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Game one down, 98 to go

The Birds are on pace for a 99-0 season (7 preseason games, 72-0 regular season, 16-0 playoff run, 4-0 memorial cup champions).

I love these games in the Everett preseason tournament.  They listed the official attendance on the scoresheet as zero (0, nil, blank, no one).  And that is pretty close to what it really is for the Friday game. But what I really love about that is I can sit anywhere I want, and get different views on the game.
First period, I always sit behind the bench a couple rows back, so I can see how the coaches and players communicate with each other, react to things, teach, etc.
The second period, I sat across from the benches.  This gives the same sort of view, except not staring at the players backs.
The third period I watched from high up to see the entire action.

I was very curious with two new coached how the interaction would be.
The first thing I noticed is the Coach K was very vocal to everyone.  Walking up and down the bench, giving orders, giving feedback, etc.  His first couple of years I watched him, he was very quiet and non animated.
Assistant Coach Matt O'Dette handled the defenders (of course, that is what he was hired to do).  He is less vocal and animated then former coach Rumble was, but he did talk to each defender rather often.
Then there was Tyler Alos.  This is the one that interested me the most, to see how it would work for a former player the same age as the current players.  Tyler had a great view of the game, and spent more time talking to trainer Phil then the players.  Ok, just kidding, Tyler was quiet, learning the ropes, patting the players on the back and heads after shifts and goals, listening to Coach K, and at times gave one on one feedback to players.

My thoughts on the actual game

If you like tight checking, physically grinding, in your face defense, well, then this game was a bore to you.
Despite the shot totals, I thought Seattle spent a lot more time controlling play then Tri did.

Goaltending could easily have been the story line for this one.
Logan Flodell had a very impressive game.  I have said it before, but I leave judging how a goalie did to Tyler, but I thought Logan looked very good.
Comrie was the type of goalie he is (great), and if not for him, Seattle easily would have been up instead of tied at the half way point when the goalie switch happened.
Trombley took Comrie's place, and also looked good.
Really, I am not sure you could fault any of the goals in this game on the goaltenders.

This is going to sound funny, but honestly, I thought all Seattle forwards had a very good game.  Top to bottom, the lines rolled, the players went, skated hard, backchecked well, made good passes, and got scoring chances.  Sure, at times, they went to the wrong places, missed assignments, etc, but I really thought they played well.

On defense, you could find a lot more issues (but then again, this could be said about all teams all preseason).  I thought Forsberg really struggled this game.  He seemed to be fighting the puck a lot, and overall, it just didn't work for him on the ice.  Wolf, Douglas, and Bear all had times of greatness followed by times sheer terror (ok, not that bad).

Speaking of struggling, Seattle was whiffing on quite a few passes and shots all game.  Maybe the puck was sticking, maybe the sticks were pucking, just quite a few times the players went to pass, but the puck didn't go anywhere.

The line of Holub, Elliot, and Folk had the most success, and I thought was the best overall line Seattle had.  Two goals for this line, but it was the little things.  The work along the boards, the getting back on defense, the physical nature of the game.
To me, this is what a really good third line is going to be on this team.  Go out for some big hits, energy, hard work, and any scoring you can get is bonus.
Michal Holub was probably my pick for best player of the game (non-goalie).  Every time he hit the ice, he was flying, hitting, back checking, and getting rewarded.  Great to see this out of him (and his dad was a little happy also).

But as I said up above, I really thought all of Seattle's forwards played great.
The two 15 year olds playing in their first WHL games fit in nicely.
And Scott Eansor continued to impress me with his skill and hard work.

Delnov and Lipsberg were already giving up their bodies to block shots.  I just didn't like the way they were throwing, or maybe I should say sliding, in front of the shots.  Looked like it could really have hurt.

I know teams haven't practice special teams much, but the last three power plays, big Mitch Elliot went right to the front of the net. Good to finally see the team use one of it's big, big, big players to create trouble on there.

Barzal's goal was an amazing thing of beauty.  But, his first goal should have come one period earlier when Comrie robbed him.  Barzal was behind the net, and looked to be bringing the puck up the half wall, but instead made a very hard pivot toward the front of the net and let a shot go labelled for the upper corner.

Other thoughts in general 

  • Mitch Elliot is tied for the team lead in points (sorry, just a little jab at all the people that made fun of me earlier about him) <g>
  • Tri Cities has some very good young talent also.  Comrie's younger brother and Toppings younger brother both looked very good out there.
  • Lucas Nickles for Tri played a very physical game, and looked like he was ready to drop the gloves any time.  I was kind of surprised he and Carter Folk didn't have a go towards the end of the 3rd.
  • I thought the officiating was very good this game (and really, the other games of the day).  They let them play, called the ones they needed to, and didn't turn it into a special teams practice.
  • Portland's experienced vets destroyed Spokane's rookies.  This from the amazing Alan Caldwell "Portland dressed 8 rookies & 13 players aged 18 or older to Spokane's 16 rookies and 6 players 18 or older".  Petan and Liepsic looked amazing shredding apart a Spokane defense that consisted of two 15's, 2 16's, 1 17, and 1 18, 5 of which were rookies.
  • The night cap game was a good tilt between Everett and Victoria.  Love those Victoria Royals jersey's.  This game was the most physical game, and included a couple fights (well, not good fights, but fights).


Q&A with General Manager Russ Farwell

General Manager Russ Farwell was generous enough to answer some questions for Jon going into the first exhibition games this weekend up in Everett. Here is what he had to say.

Jon Whiting: From your perspective, did training camp go as expected?

General Manager Russ Farwell: Yes, camp went pretty much as expected in a lot of areas.  Returning guys came in good shape and are excited about the year.  We have had very good drafts the last few years and the young players are a very high quality of skill when looked at as a group.

JW: The format of Rookie Camp seemed to work well this year because of the influx of quality 16 year old players. Would you agree with that?

RF: We like the format because it allows the new drafts to compete for those 4 sessions against their own age group which give us a good read on where they sit in their development.  We need the 16s in that group because it pushes the quality of the group and makes everyone play harder.  When there are players like Barzal, Bear, Flodell, Pederson, and Kolesar in the group it really elevates the level of play for sure.

JW: Did any new players sign standard WHL agreements?

RF: We will be playing both Vulcan and Elder in the Everett tournament so they are both signed.  We had very good conversations with a number of other players and hope to be adding them at some point into the new season.

JW: How was the camp process affected by the addition of two new assistant coaches?

RF: Training camp was not altered much by having two coaches (we probably went through more coffee). But we think the benefits will be in allowing a bit more attention to detail in the player development area.  Besides contributing an opinion when they meet as a staff Tyler will have specific focus on individual skills and player development throughout the season.

JW: There appears to be more American players in camp this year than have been in the past. Would you attribute that to Coach Konowalchuk or something else? Perhaps increased scouting presence?

RF: Actually no. We had very few free agents from the US.  We have the guys on our team but hockey starts very early in the US in the fall and a lot of players were not free to attend due to the start time of our camp.  We were disappointed in the numbers of US players that we had this year because Colin had identified a fairly large number of US players we were interested in.

JW: The preseason games are scheduled against more teams then normal (5) with only playing the same team twice.  Was this a conscious decision to see more teams for scouting purposes or just luck of the draw?

RF: Just the luck of the draw really.  We schedule the date as much as the opponent at this time of year.  We like to play 3 on the first weekend then the two in Tri and home and home on the last.  There is no need to travel a greater distance in preseason in our opinion.

JW: Can you shed some light on why you drafted Devon Fordyce in the Bantam Draft as opposed to listing him?

RF: Players that are de-listed as part of the bantam draft process are eligible in the next round to be drafted. We had interest in him and a goalie with experience in the league was attractive to us at that time.  We did not feel he would last to the end of the draft to be added as a free agent.

JW: Is there a date where you would like to be down to two goaltenders (or maybe you are planning on keeping three or four)?

RF: We need to play the games and let the guys sort that out themselves.  We have no date we are working towards and we will get down when we have it figured out.

JW: There seemed to be a larger than normal amount of 20 year olds being traded and or released earlier in the offseason.  Is this just a fluke or are teams in trying to get situated on their three earlier and did that come into play with the trading of Connor Sanvido?

RF: I do not know about other teams but we like to get down if possible.  It creates a negative dynamic in the room when you go too long with more than 3 - 20 year olds because everyone knows only three can stay.  I like to find a place for guys that have been with us for a number of years so when it comes up we like to move on the opportunity.

JW: The general feeling of fans and parents I talked to during camp was extreme excitement.  Are the players feeling that kind of excitement as well?

RF: A number of guys were in a day or so early and all of them are excited to get started.  A number of guys have really worked hard and gained significant strength and that makes all of us excited to see them play.

JW: How active have trade talks been with other clubs? More? Less? Normal? Especially considering the number of quality defensemen the club currently has.

RF: Normal at best.  The quality of our defense might be the best kept secret in the league. I think we need to play some games and let teams see our guys before we make any moves.  We also have to work through the puzzle and see where guys are at.

JW: The club currently has no forwards from the ’95 draft class. Is that a concern going into this season and looking forward towards 2014-15?

RF: No 95’s means a chance for a young player to fill that spot.  We simply need to plan to fill that hole but we are not going to make trading for an 18 year old forward a priority unless he can help our team.  We have some very good 17 and 16 year old players and 8 19 year old forwards. We can have 3 of them back in 14-15 and the other guys will have to fill that gap.  We might be able to directly add in that area in the next Import draft but right now we are focused on this year and this team and next year will be here soon enough.

Jon's look at the roster, with a huge surprise thought

I am going to do something a little different then Tyler did for the roster.
This is mainly due to the fact that I know Seattle has made some player movements (players sent back home), so it wouldn't be fair.

What this season means

I think (and most everyone I talk to agrees) that last season was a stepping stone year.
One to build on, get your feet wet, see what the playoffs are like.

This season is supposed to be a building block.
Move up the standings, get home ice in the first round, make it to the second round, compete every night.

And next season is the season you make a big run.
Compete for first overall, deep run into the playoffs, should win most nights.

This years Roster

I will use the roster Tyler gave, and look at it by age
It is basically the exact same that I had, with two differences (Folk instead of of Pederson, and I added Osterman)

20 year olds (2): Elliot (20), Swenson (20)19 year olds (6): Lipsbergs (19), Hickman (19), Delnov (19), Honey (19), Sheen (19), Troock (19)
18 year olds (0):
17 year olds (2): Holub (17), Eansor (17)
16 year olds (3): Kolesar (16), Pederson (16), Barzal (16)

20 year olds (1): Forsberg (20)
19 year olds (1): Wardley (19)
18 year olds (4): Smith (18), Foulk (18), Hauf (18), Theodore (18)
17 year olds (2): Wolf (17), Douglas (17)
16 year olds (1): Bear (16)

20 year olds (0):
19 year olds (1): Fordyce (19)
18 year olds (1): Myles (18)
17 year olds (1): Mumaugh (17)
16 year olds (0):

The single biggest thing I notice is NO 18 year old forwards.
The forward group is top heavy in older players, where the defense is top heavy right in the middle.

Does this roster support what the season means

If this season is a building block, then to me, no it doesn't.
This roster has eight 19 and 20 year old forwards, two 19 and 20 year old defensemen, and one 19 year old goalie.
I am going to argue that because both Hauf and Theodore played so much as 16's, that they might actually be counted in the 19 year old range, because of experience.
By doing that, the roster goes to eight 19 and 20 year old forwards, four 19 and 20 year old defensemen, and one 19 year old goalie.
That is 13 players that are 19 or 20 years old.
That is a team that is built to make a run this season, not next.
Those are roughly the same number of players that both Portland and Edmonton used last season.

The future

If next season is the make a run season, then lets take this roster, and move it out a year
I have filled in a couple of players that we said don't make the team, and a couple 16's just to make the numbers fit

20 year olds (6): Lipsbergs, Hickman, Delnov, Honey, Sheen, Troock
19 year olds (0):
18 year olds (2): Holub, Eansor, Folk
17 year olds (3): Kolesar, Pederson, Barzal
16 year olds (2): Volcan, Elder

20 year olds (1): Wardley
19 year olds (4): Smith, Foulk, Hauf , Theodore
18 year olds (2): Wolf, Douglas
17 year olds (1): Bear, Osterman
16 year olds (2): Khaira, Fabbro

20 year olds (1): Fordyce
19 year olds (1): Myles
18 year olds (1): Mumaugh
17 year olds (1): Flodell
16 year olds (0):

But, there are still eight 20 year olds, and we only get three, so lets pair them down.
Lipsbergs and Delnov both gone because they are also Euro's.
I will argue that Fordyce is not kept, because Myles or Mumaugh will be a 2 year backup, and ready to take over.
Lets say Troock stays healthy all season, and moves up to the AHL.
That still leaves four: Hickman, Honey, Sheen, Wardley.
Probably not going to keep all three forwards, so lets just for argument say Honey makes it to the AHL.
So that leaves the roster looking like

20 year olds (2): Hickman, Sheen
19 year olds (0):
18 year olds (2): Holub, Eansor, Folk
17 year olds (3): Kolesar, Pederson, Barzal
16 year olds (2): Volcan, Elder

20 year olds (1): Wardley
19 year olds (4): Smith, Foulk, Hauf , Theodore
18 year olds (2): Wolf, Douglas
17 year olds (2): Bear, Osterman
16 year olds (2): Khaira, Fabbro

20 year olds (0):
19 year olds (1): Myles
18 year olds (1): Mumaugh
17 year olds (1): Flodell
16 year olds (0):

So does that line up scream WHL championship quality.
Anyone, Anyone, Anyone?
Bueller, Bueller, Bueller? (movie reference for anyone that doesn't understand it)
That looks to me like a team that can keep the puck out of the net.
But counting on a bunch of forwards that are basically 17 years old, or 18 with not much experience to score.
Obviously, there would be two new euro forwards (assuming the CHL doesn't change the rules again that makes it so Seattle gets screwed <g>).

So where do we go from here

I did all this to prove a point to Tyler and someone else in email.
The point was that we were overall in good shape for this season, thinking that it was a building block year.
When I wrote all this out, and looked at next years roster, I actually used the argument to convince myself of something completely different.

Seattle should add high end talent now, and try and make a run this season

Go out and get a true veteran goaltender for this season.
Go out and add two very good 18 year old forwards (note, I didn't say amazing high end studs).

What do you have to trade

Obviously, you have to give talent to get talent.
The days of GM's taking your garbage, and giving up their talent doesnt happen any longer.

Trade one of the goalies you don't keep, because Flodell (or one of the other goalies at camp) looked good.
Trade one of the younger defenders, because looking at this, next season would have 10 defenders, and we know we cant keep that many.
Because you have had four 1st round picks in the last two years (compliments of Marcel Noebels <g>), you can get away with offering up a higher end pick.
If you have to, you had some good 16's forwards that didn't make it, offer them up.

I don't get a top end 18 year old unless the price is right.  A great one, would probably be too expensive.
And, I know a few are going to say go get Alex Forsberg from PG.  The price might be right because he is known to have, shall we say some head issues (notice no NHL teams even used an 8th round pick to take a chance, that should tell you something), but there is no way I bring that into the locker room.

I make these moves earlier in the season if I can.
I want to put distance on other teams early, so you are not playing catch up further into the season.  I would much rather have a 5 point lead with 18 games to go, then be 5 points back.

One other reason to take this approach for this season

Here is how I view the US division and Western Conference overall.

Start with the US division.  Portland should have the best returning talent, and most I see are predicting them to win the division, and possible the conference again.  I think everyone else (including Seattle), have about the same level of talent right now.  Spokane maybe has a little more.  Tri-City has good talent and a great goalie.  Everett has lots of new talent, and a new coach, but does all that mesh?

Then move to the Western Conference.  I think Kelowna should be good and compete against Portland. Kamloops was built for last season, PG should be better, Vancouver will be better, but still young.  Victoria, heck, there on an island and think they are royal, so who knows how they will turn out.

But basically, I see a couple high end teams, and everyone else right around the same level.  So by making the moves, you easily could put yourself up into 3rd in the conference, and if things work out well, you can make a very deep run.

So there you go, have fun telling me I am a complete idiot for thinking this way


Projecting the Roster - Tyler Edition

Watched the scrimmage yesterday and came away with a few thoughts and overall I was pretty pleased.

I personally think that the team isn't done making moves (Jon agrees) so I don't really think this is the "final" roster. I will however take a crack at what I think the roster will look like based on who was still around yesterday.

Forwards: 13


First off... Barzal is a lock to make the team and I think Kolesar is a lock as well based on his play last year and his status as a 1st round pick. I also think Pederson makes it simply because he has looked so solid and I know they are very high on him but I don't know that he is a lock. If the team has to pick between Kolesar and Pederson... I think unfortunately Pederson goes home. You may not like that but I think that's a little truth serum for you.  If two (possibly three) 16 year old forwards are going to make the team I think that pushes out any other 16's because you simply won't have enough playing time to get them their minimum games.

I think that means that Holub makes it over Folk and guys like Holowko, Neuls, Kreklewich and Weber all go home. I think Holowko has a very good chance to make the team as a 17 year old, I just think the numbers game catches up with him this year.

Defense: 9


This is where my numbers get a little bit fuzzy. I have the team probably carrying 9 defenders and I really think that's one too many. The question becomes whether the team feels strongly that Bear could be a solid option for your 6th defender and would that mean a trade of either Smith, Foulk or possibly Hauf. Or do you roll with what you have and possibly send away Wolf or Douglas? My hunch is that they are both sticking around for different reasons. Luke Osterman is the other big question here. The kid has really impressed in camp and has played quite well... but I think Bear probably is the 16 to stay and you simply can't get another 16 year old enough dressed games.

Goaltenders: 3 (technically)

Mumaugh (injured)

I saw enough from Fordyce that I think he starts the season as the starting goaltender but I think his hold on the job is tenuous as best. He struggled early in the scrimmage with rebound control and body control but was able to calm himself, refocus and played pretty solidly the rest of the way. To me... that's almost just as important as technical aspects. He didn't start well but he was able to recover and not let things snowball. Mumaugh is hurt, so I think you carry Myles as the backup for now and figure it out once Mumaugh recovers.

Flodell looked pretty sharp in net but I don't see the point in keeping him around as a 16 unless you are pretty darn sure that he is your backup and he's going to play. I'd rather have him go back to Regina and play another full year and be ready to compete for the starting job next year.

That's a full 25 players (technically 24 with Mumaugh injured) and I can't remember the last time Seattle carried that many players to start the season.  Translation = Expect a trade.  I think Seattle might still look for an upgrade in net and I'm still not convinced they are keeping Elliot around as a 20 year old.

So expect things to change. I don't think they will stay this way and of course I could be totally wrong... but this would be my best guess going into the Everett tournament this weekend.


The comments are getting dumb and tiresome. I'm just going to turn them off for now until people can calm down.

Edit: For now, I'm going to open things back up, but you'll have to register and if I see anything that goes beyond basic common decency and discussion I'm just going to delete it. This isn't permanent. 


A Reminder About Comments

I leave for a weekend and clearly the inmates start running the asylum.

Just a reminder about leaving comments here on the blog. Comments are kind of a pain in my ass because I love hearing from the fans but there was a time ago where I required people to register and create SOME kind of commenting idea and people stopped commenting. Seriously... people are so lazy that they couldn't take 5 minutes to register IHA8FARWELL so they could make a comment on the blog.

As a result... we're now stuck with 100 keyboard tough guys that can post anonymously and never identify themselves (even with a fake name or handle!).

I'm fine with this. I'd rather have 100's of anonymous comments than no comments at all.


There is only a couple of clear rules I have here.  Be respectful to each other. Don't be racist.

You can disagree with each other (and/or me and Jon) as much as you want but keep it classy San Diego. If the best you can do is say "You're an idiot", please don't bother commenting.

Carry on...

Second to last day of Camp, take one

I am heading out the door right now to watch the morning session.  So here a place where ideas can be made


Elders join the youth movement today at 3pm

I will be there, but wanted to create something so people had a place to post thoughts about the game and just how bad players looked <g>


What is a goon? Is Mitch Elliot one? And is he worth a 20 spot?

This was brought up in a comment on another post, but I wanted to move it to its own entry to open it up for discussion.

I must have a totally different definition of goon than most.  To me, a goon is a player who does cheap shots, and when they are on the ice, they are looking to fight, and get into players faces after the whistle.

I can tell you from watching Mitch Elliot play for 4 years now, and also talking to him off the ice, that that is the last thing he is. Does he fight? Of course he does.  At his size, if he didn't, everyone would say he is soft and doesn't use his size.  Does he go looking for a fight when he is on the ice. Not a chance.  If one comes to him, or one is needed, he is the first to answer the bell.

Is Mitch a first line scoring machine? No. Ask him, and he will tell you the same.  Does Mitch fit a roll on this team?  I would say yes, others say no, and everyone can have a great discussion about it. 

Mine turns into what a 20 year old spot should be.  Of course there is your top end forward or defender capable of dominating a game (aka, Gregg Scott, Aaron Gagnon, Brendan Dillon).  But then there are your quiet behind the scenes, work your ass off, do whatever the coaches want and ask, and be an example in locker room, on the ice, and off the ice.

Every year, Farwell has gone out and traded for a former captain that fits this role.  This year, I am not sure he has too.  If we had a top end 20 year old forward, he (or she, not to be sexist), would take ice time away from someone.  Now maybe we don't care about that, because on the ice it looks good.  But then who is the tough guy when you need it?  If it is Wardley, do you really want him in the box for 5 minutes, and add a 10 if the instigator?  If it is Forsberg, see the same question I just asked for Wardley?  If it is someone else, then who?

Am I saying Elliot is the best 20 for this team? Maybe, maybe not.  Do I think Mitch fits a valuable role on this team (protecting Barzal)? Yes I do.  Do I think we should keep him if we could find a 20 year old goalie that puts us into the WHL final? Well, that might be a totally different discussion we can have.

Jon and I chat about the Roster

Jon and I actually do this on an almost daily basis during the season... so I thought it might be cool to actually put it on paper and share it with you guys.


Tyler Hunnex: So here is what I think the squad looks like going into camp. 
I have 9 on Defense: Forsberg, Theodore, Wardley, Hauf, Smith, Foulk, Bear, Wolf, Douglas... with Wolf and Douglas probably the odd men out on most game nights.

That leaves me with around 14 forwards: Elliot (for now), Swenson (for now), Hickman, Troock, Honey, Sheen, Delnov, Lipsbergs, Eansor, Holub, Barzal, Kolesar, Pederson and Holowko/Folk. 2 Goalies: Fordyce and Mumaugh. 

I think it would be best to only keep 2 goalies around but I wouldn't be shocked if they kept 3 around and Myles stuck around as well.  That probably eliminates a D man but I feel like Douglas and Wolf will probably be on the roster. I think there are also a few guys on that list who aren't a lock to make the team (including a returner or two) and need to have a good camp to secure their spot. What do you think Jon?

Jon Whiting: This team has some very difficult decisions to make.

These are my locks for the team as of right now:

Defense (7): Forsberg (20), Wardley (19), Foulk (18), Hauf (18), Smith (18), Theodore (18), Bear (16)Offense (12): Elliot (20), Swenson (20), Delnov (19), Lipsbergs (19), Sheen (19), Troock (19), Hickman (19), Honey (19), Folk (17), Holub (17), Barzal (16), Kolesar (16)
Goalies (0): Note, I said locks for the team

That leaves me 1-2 defenders, 2 forwards, and 2 goalies.

I will start with goalies - If Fordyce (19) puts up good numbers during camp, he moves to a lock.  Then the remaining spot totally depends on how Logan Flodell (16) looks.
If he looks good, and they think he would be ready to be a backup next season, then I think they keep Mumaugh (17), and find a trading partner for Myles (18).  If they think Flodell is a couple years away, then I think they keep Myles (18), and trade Mumaugh (17).  Now, if Fordyce doesn't put up good numbers, and they are not comfortable with him, then I think they keep both Myles (18) and Mumaugh (17).

On the defenders - I keep 2 around for the first couple weeks of the season
I am told that Douglas (17) has improved quite a bit from last year's training camp.  And he was a 2nd round pick.  So I suspect he will be the one.
Since Wolf (17) has a year under his belt in the league (well, kind of), I would think he is the other. But, there are some other very good young defenders that will make it difficult, if Osterman (16), Durdle (17), Lamothe(17) play better than either of the above, they could be it.

On the offense - I have room for 2, and well, based on the fact there are no 18's as locks, I would guess they would try to fill with that age group. But, last time I looked at the list, there were only two, Leer (18), and Peterson (18).  Leer is from Alberta, and one the Telus cup last season, and then played one game in the AJHL.  So maybe he is coming to camp.  Peterson is Minnesota boy, and you never know about them making the trip.

Trades I think will be made.

I have said this before, and I will say it again, I personally think this team waits until the 2nd week of the season, or possible the 20 year old cut down date, and trades for a veteran goaltender.
I also don't think there is room for both Forsberg and Wardley on the same team.  I think one of the two will be traded.  If a 20 goalie is brought in, might be Forsberg.
With these trades, I think they will be looking for an 18 year old forward.

So Tyler, if Wolf is the odd man out most nights, do you really keep him around for his 2nd season, hoping he will come around as an 18?

TH: Well the question really comes down to whether his development is better off being here or playing in more games somewhere else. I know people always assume that game experience matters but sometimes being around the coaching staff and playing against tougher players in practice every day. So I guess I would reluctantly say that even if he might be the odd man out that he is probably better off sticking around. You never know when a guy is going to get hurt and you need him in the lineup. On the other hand, if a few guys pass him and he finds himself more like 10th or 11th on the depth chart I think it might be better for him to play somewhere else.

You think Wardley gets traded? I’m really high on Wardley eventually being an intimidating, punishing defender and I thought he really stepped up his game in the playoffs.

JW: About the first thought you had on ice time vs. practice.  Russ Farwell once told me that for players from certain provinces, it was better for them to practice at the WHL level, then going back and completely dominating where they are from.  That led to a BC player being kept, and an Alberta player being sent back.  Now, I think the province's levels have changed, so that might have changed now.

I will agree Wardley stepped it up at the end of the season.  I personally think he is already the intimidating player.  But, I think he also can be punishing, but also misses on the punishment far too often.  When he makes the hit, it is usually the open ice type, and it gets thing going, no arguing there, but when he is close to the net, or playing a 2 on 2, he can’t step up with that type of hit.  Also, if you are placing players in order, I would argue that he could land as a 5/6 player.  Is that where you want a 19 year old?  Now maybe you can say he is 3/4, and that makes him “keepable”.  Now with the new assistant coach being a tough physical type, maybe he would fit really well.  I also bring up special teams.  Since Wardly is not offensive, not sure you can play him on the PP.  And is he too physical to play on the PK?

It appears you may keep up to 5 16's (Barzal, Kolesar, Bear, possibly Pederson, possibly Holowko).  If it is true that you have to play 16's 30 games, can you really get that much ice time for all those?

TH: I think if you have visions of being a really good team you absolutely can and should keep a 19 year old as a 5/6 defender and I would argue that he may even be as high as #3 if he became more responsible. I think Forsberg and Theodore are your clear 1 and 2 (for different reasons) but I don’t think Hauf, Smith or Foulk are clearly ahead of him.

Playing time for 16’s is clearly an issue. Barzal and Kolesar won’t have problems and I don’t think Pederson winds up with an issue because the team is so short on Centers. That leads me to Holowko and Bear. Bear probably has the inside edge towards the 6 spot in the lineup, so he is probably ok. That leaves Holowko…. He probably doesn’t make the team. However, if he doesn’t that makes Folk more of a lock as a 17… or… a wildcard.

Are you comfortable with the goaltending situation? I forget that Myles is actually an 18 year old now, so maybe he is ready to step up and step in if he can stay healthy. I have to imagine Mumaugh makes the team regardless because of his commitment. I wouldn’t be very worried about this if it was 2011 and you knew the team was rebuilding but considering the goals for 2013-14 this situation scares me.

JW: I have said from the end of last season that Seattle needed an older goalie.  I was shocked they didn’t get Cheveldave from Kamloops (but Kamloops got a great offer), or Boes from Brandon (and Brandon got a great offer).  I will not comment about Fordyce, since I have never seen him play.  I am worried that since he couldn’t make it in PG last year, he can't make it as a starter here.  Myles worries me since he has been hurt each of the last two years.  Take one hit this season, and he could be done.  Mumaugh worries me, he got better as the season went on, but even by the end I think he looked over his head.  Right now on the roster, they will have 8 19's.  So they lose quite a bit at the end of the year.  I know you don’t look forward a year when you haven't even started the current year, but man, that is a lot.

TH: Yeah I agree with you. It isn’t that I don’t think they can get it done… I just have my doubts. Maybe Fordyce just needed an adjustment and he’ll be better than his numbers in PG. It will certainly be interesting to see how the goalies look in training camp and in the first few weeks of the season. What does Farwell do if the team is scoring plenty of goals but the goaltending just isn’t where it needs to be? How quickly do you pull the trigger? I think that has to be the most interesting battle in camp.

Off-season Video

Training Camp Day!!

I should have posted this sooner... but I didn't.  Over the long off-season we all get bored and we wait desperately for late August to come around. At some point back in June I decided to pass the time by making a little off-season highlight video.

Let me preface this by saying that I went into this knowing absolutely nothing about video editing and after spending a couple of hours putting this together I kind of gave up. I intended the format to be kind of an intro video and I'm not sure it really fits in that way but I thought it was pretty cool anyways. Enjoy.


Training Camp is Upon Us

Training Camp starts tomorrow and even though it doesn't seem like it, Jon and I have been working on a few different entries to kick off the season. I will be heading to Tri-City for a hockey tournament this weekend (weird timing right?) but I will make it to the late session tomorrow and the scrimmage on Monday. Jon will be attending all weekend and logging entries about what he sees.

This season is one of the most important seasons for Seattle in many years and we're excited to try to bring more content than ever to you people, the fans. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors and hopefully we can deliver.

For Russ Farwell and the Tbirds... I think this season has to be the season of progress or I think every fan will have the right to be frustrated and angry. The team has been mostly bad for 4 seasons now and were pretty lucky to make the playoffs last year with a losing record. The roster is likely to be loaded with 18 and 19 year old players in addition to a very talented 16 year old. Steve Konowalchuk will be in his 3rd season and most or all of these players should know what he expects.

I don't usually get too crazy with predictions but I think Seattle has to expect to have home ice in the first round of the playoffs or something went wrong in the regular season..... but we'll save that for another post for another time.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow

I personally love this day more then any other day of the year.  Yes, even Christmas.  Well, OK, the joy on my kids faces on Christmas I guess out does tomorrow (but it's really close).

I don't think I have to tell anyone reading this that tomorrow is the opening day of training camp (but I will anyways).

Since I have the best job in the world, I will be at both scrimmages tomorrow, one at 9am, and one at 4:30pm.

I love to meet any parents, players, fans, concession workers with free food, etc.
I most likely will be sitting in the top couple of rows, somewhere near center ice.
If I had to guess, I will grab a clean pair of jeans off the floor, and throw on a TBird shirt.

Come find me if you want to chat.
Also, since there is a long window of time between games, I will gladly go grab some food with poeple, as long as they are buying.

Hope to see a bunch of you tomorrow, or the rest of the weekend for that matter.


Quick comment on Green trade spurred by a comment

A couple of comments on the "Tbirds games in Portland" post made me want to follow it up with a little thought on Green as a player development.

Anonymous wrote "With draft picks and trades like that no wonder why the team has been bottom dwellers for the recent past."

Then I assume a differnt anonymous followed it up with "They haven't drafted worth a crap for a while now. I actually don't have a problem with the returns being obtained for Sanvido, Johnson & Green. That's fair market value in my eyes. My issue is that the team overpaid on the front end. Sanvido was a 1st round bantam pick. Johnson cost a 4th round bantam pick to acquire. Green was a 2nd round bantam pick. My question to you is what would you have them do? All I can see is that until (if they ever) draft well, they need to continuously purge the roster of bad acquisitions to make room for new players and give them a chance to turn this organization around. It's an unproductive loop until (if they ever) get it right."

Anyone that knows me can tell you my belief on why this team has struggled the last few years.  Bad and unlucky drafting (players getting injured).  So this person and I are on the same page here.  But, while I don't completely disagree with the rest of their argument, I do totally believe in what someone said a little further down in the comments.

"sometimes people just don't pan out"

It happens in Seattle, it happens to all teams in the WHL (some more then others).

But the fact this is being discussed about Green is what got me to

Kelly McCrimmon, the owner, GM, and coach in Brandon that traded for Green, had the following to say on Luber's Lounge (

"He's a guy with a lot of upside and a player we thought was worth taking a chance on and giving an opportunity," said McCrimmon, "At that time, we was a guy that was highly regarded by a lot of teams and a guy, because of his size, had great potential and great upside."

Its the second part of his statement.  He basically says that at the time of the bantam draft, a lot of teams were very high on Green, and felt there was a lot of upside to him.  So it wasn't a case of Seattle misreading his talent, or potential talent, and selecting when no one else would have.  It appears like a lot of teams felt the upside was there, and in this case, the upside hasn't come yet.  Of course, there can be a discussion on why that upside didn't come around.

But in the end of the day, this type of potential upside sometimes just happens.


TBird games in Portland

Just a quick note that Portland has released their promotion schedule, and location of all their games.

Seattle plays six games in the wonderful Rose City.

They play 3 games in the old / new "Veterans Memorial Coliseum".  I say new because I dont think the Birds have played a game in there since the new full size ice went in.  I have been to a game there since then, and I must say, the difference is well, same building, bigger ice.  Nothing else really has changed.

And the Birds get to play 3 games in the old "Rose Garden" / new "Moda Center at the Rose Quarters".  I say old because that was the name until this week.  The building rights have been acquired by Moda Healthcare of Portland, OR.  They have not released a logo yet, but I think it is safe to say that if a player gets hurt while playing there, their medical bills are covered.

As far as promotions go, a new one this season, two old ones, and one missing.

As we all know, for the first time in what seems like 213 years, Seattle and Portland will not play their annual New Years Eve game.  So out goes the old, and in comes the new (Ha, ha).

The first that stays the same is the Mascot game.  Seattle has been involved in a couple of these lately.  The other that stay the same goes for a very good cause, so I cant complain about it, is the Teddy Bear Toss".  Ah heck, I can complain about it.  Great cause, great event, but why cant it be like the first two years Everett did it against Seattle, and got shut out both times.

And finally, the one I cant wait for, the new one this season.  It is the "The Boeing Company Paper Airplane Toss".  I am hoping this goes by the same rule as the Teddy Bear Toss, and every time the visiting team scores a goal, all the visiting team fans get to throw a paper airplane onto the ice.  Honestly, this one does sound like a lot of fun.

Date      Time      Location      Promotion
Sat. Sept. 28      7 pm MC
Tue. Nov. 12 7 pm MC
Sat, Dec. 14 7 pm VMC Les Schwab Teddy Bear Toss
Sat, Feb. 1 7 pm VMC
Fri, Mar. 7 7 pm MC Sterling Bank Mascot Night
Sat, Mar. 15 7 pm VMC The Boeing Company Paper Airplane Toss


New import draft rules hurt Seattle and help a close rival

Just to state the basic Import player rule, a team is allowed to have two import players on their active roster at any given time (Non Canadian or USA).

As you may recall from the Import draft a month or so ago, there were some new rules put in place.  The ones I will discuss here are:

  • You are not allowed to trade picks in the import draft
  • If one of your import players is an NHL 1st round pick, you can pick a 3rd player
  • You are only allowed to trade an import player that has been on your roster a year

Lets go over the second rule:

Team A has a 1st round NHL picked player on their roster.  Normally, they would only be allowed to select one more import player in the draft.  But, because of this NHL player, they are allowed an extra pick in the import draft, and can have three import players listed for a period of time.  Because it is basically a free pick (not really, but kind of), they can take a flyer on a really good player.  They do, not expecting to get that player for at least a year or ever.  Instead, he decides to come over and play this season.  Lets say the NHL drafted player, and the newly drafted player both decide to come play also.  So now they have a problem, since they can only have two import players on their active roster.

On to the third rule above:

If the team wants to trade the extra player, they are forced to trade the returning import player that was 1st round NHL player, because the other two players have not played a year for the team.  So, the team is forced to trade a very high end talented player.  You would expect them to get very good trade value back because this player is very good.  One might argue that if just trading to a prospect, you would expect to receive a very high end 15 or 16 year old.  If you were looking to fill a hole on your team, you might be able to land that player, plus a good pick in the future.

Now back to first rule:

Team B has two very good import players.  Because they have two they want to keep, but neither are NHL 1st rounders, that team is not allowed to pick any other players.  In the past, teams like this used to be able to get value from the pick anyways, by trading the pick.  Depending on where that pick fell in the draft, you might be able to get a decent player in return.  But with the new rule, you forfeit the pick, and that is all.  So you get zero value for that pick.  If you were a really bad team the previous year, and happen to hold a very high pick in the import draft, well, too bad.

The situation:

Seattle is returning forwards Alexander Delnov and Roberts Lipsbergs.  I have heard a GM in the league say that they are possibly the best 1-2 in the US division, if not the entire WHL (that's open for debate).  So the Birds fit into rule number one from above.

Everett had two import players from last season, but only Mirco Mueller is returning.  He was drafted in the most recent NHL draft 18th overall by the San Jose Sharks.  Because of this (rule two above), Everett was allowed to draft two players,   Waltteri Hopponen and took a flyer on Ivan Nikolishin.  Some say that Nikolishin will be a very high NHL drafted player next season, and is a huge talent.  Hopponen is also projected as a very good player, playing as a 16 year old on a under 20 team.  Yesterday it was announced that both have committed to coming to Everett this season.  So that puts Everett into rule rule three from above.

Assuming Mueller does not make San Jose's roster (not very likely), and if Everett decides to trade, they are only allowed to trade Mueller, because the other two players will not have played a full season for them.  Mueller is 18 this season.  Which means his choice for this season and next are NHL or WHL.  So a team trading for him may be looking at a 2 year top end talent.  Whats that get you on the open market?  Looking at a couple recent trades (not completely like this one, but somewhat), David Musil's rights went from Kootenay to Vancouver to a 1st round pick.  And Martin Marincin (and 3 picks) went from PG to Regina for a half season for the price of a 1st, a 2nd, a 4th, and a player.  Those are both great returns.

The point:

This situation is turning out to be the perfect storm for Seattle.  They finish low in the standings, and end up with the 13th overall pick in the import draft (5th overall for WHL teams).  For that finish and two good players coming back to play for them, they get NOTHING for the pick at all.  For the evil empire from the north in Everett (ok, their not evil, but I had to add some drama to it), because they have a stud import player, they get the right to add even more talent.

It seems to be a case of teams with talent being rewarded with the ability to add even more talent, and teams that have some talent not even being given the chance to add talent.

(Hunnex Edit: What I don't understand is the purpose of the new rule in not allowing teams to trade their import picks. I've seen it mentioned in a few places that the league was trying to ensure that the "wealthy" teams weren't able to just trade up in the import draft and "take" all the top talent from Europe from the smaller market teams. The problem is... all it is forcing teams to do is make safer selections on players they know will report because they don't have the ability to extract value from the pick. OR... in the case of Seattle... they get completely burned by a new rule and get no value from the pick. This, to me, is less about the Seattle vs. Everett situation as it is about a situation where the intent of the rule doesn't actually accomplish the intended goal. It doesn't make a ton of sense to me... or Jon.)


Sanvido Era Over and Johnson Included

Seattle just announced that they have traded Connor Sanvido and Andrew Johnson to Swift Current for a 4th round Bantam Draft selection.

Sanvido was a candidate to make the team as a 20 year old player and this trade will mark the end of his disappointing Seattle career. Drafted 14th overall in the 2008 Bantam Draft, Sanvido just never seemed to improve very much with Seattle and his skating ability just never seemed to translate to the WHL level. In 2011, he was sent home from the team for disciplinary reasons before reconciling with the coaching staff and returning. He enjoyed his best season (by far) in 2012-13 as he posted 15 goals and 14 assists with a -7 rating. This leaves Seattle with only Jesse Forsberg, Seth Swenson and Mitch Elliot as possible 20 year old players from last season's roster.

This appears to pave the way for Seattle to acquire a 20 year old goaltender. We'll have to wait and see if that happens.

Johnson came over at the trade deadline last season and played 30 games with Seattle registering just 6 goals and 8 points with a -9 rating.  I had assumed that his place on the team was fairly secure with a lack of experience at the Center position. It will be interesting to see who Seattle tries in the middle and whether they can get the job done. Currently I'd consider Mathew Barzal as the only Center on the Tbirds roster... although I know Alexander Delnov played there quite a bit (unsuccessfully) last season. You'd have to think this probably moves Delnov back to the middle and Justin Hickman will probably see time up the middle as well.

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