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On the day that training camp opens, let's take a look at what the roster might look like from my eyes.

The usual disclaimer applies... the reason why this is called "Rosterbation" is because it might be a fun exercise to do but it really doesn't get you anywhere and it is ultimately unsatisfying. Things are bound to change a lot before opening night, there are always a few camp surprises and I can guarantee you there will be another couple of trades made before the start of the season.

Without further ado and bad metaphors... let's start with the 20 year old situation.

Last week, General Manager Russ Farwell took a muddy situation and turned it into mere murky waters by trading Jaimen Yakubowski to Moose Jaw in exchange for a 3rd round pick.  We also sent a 7th round pick as part of the deal but I really don't care about that. This felt like really good value to me. Yak was a nice player who added some toughness, defense and accountability to the group but with the number of returning candidates for the 3 O/A spots I think it was going to be an uphill climb for him to make the team.  Do I think this makes the trade last year for Yak and Sam McKechnie a bust? No, I don't. Riley Sheen was going to be in the same situation as both Yak and Mac and losing Carter Folk seems appropriate for the chance to get better overall (and I think you did).  Trading Yak to get back the 3rd you gave up in the deal means it was essentially Carter Folk for MacKechnie and if you wind up either keeping Mac or trading him for a pick to replace Folk the deal seems quite reasonable.

Mac and Yak didn't quite give Seattle the offense they might have thought they were getting but they formed a stout shut down defensive line that logged some pretty important minutes down the stretch.

So who does that leave. Russell Maxwell has elected to forego his final WHL season. Alexander Delnov and Roberts Lipsbergs were not going to be coming back and Seattle has replaced them with two new Import players. Branden Troock signed a contract and won't be back. That leaves us with Taran Kozun, Justin Hickman, Evan Wardley, Adam Henry, Connor Honey and McKechnie.

Who stays? I'm betting on Kozun, Hickman and Wardley. Here is why.

Kozun played lights out after coming over from Kamloops in a mid-season trade and even though Seattle's defense should be improved it will also most likely be the featured strength of the team. Seattle's offense will be much younger up front and a 20 year old goaltender would likely form the best defensive core Seattle has seen in several years. Farwell loves to have veteran goaltenders and the combination of his age, experience and play last year justifies giving him a spot. I don't think being a camp counselor at Tbirds hockey camp is a sign that he is assured a spot but I do think it is an indication of where they are leaning.

Justin Hickman was Seattle's Captain last year and most teams don't willingly cast aside their Captain. I'm not saying that it never happens but I'm very doubtful that Hickman won't have a spot on this team. He is known for being a hard worker and a popular figure in the locker room. I'm more sure of this pick than Kozun.

I think they keep one experienced defender around and I think that man is Evan Wardley. Am I sure of this? Not a chance. I think the situation with the 3rd spot is very fluid and could change depending on how things shake out this weekend. Wardley and Adam Henry play the same position but they bring very different things to the table. Wardley destroys things on skates and Henry prefers to do more of his work with a puck. Henry's skill set is one that I think Seattle can replace with their other defenders while I don't believe that anyone in the rest of the defensive unit can replace the physicality that Wardley brings to the table.

Connor Honey.  I don't have any knowledge about the health of Connor Honey. I hope he is healthy and I think even if he is I wouldn't put him on this team. To me, it's too much of a risk when a guy has been out for the amount of time that he has. O/A spots are tough to fill and would present a problem should he go down to injury again. If he's healthy and Seattle is in a gambling mood... I could certainly see a scenario where they might go Kozun, Hickman and Honey to solidify the front lines. In that scenario I think Seattle could probably still get trade value for both Wardley and Henry and they would probably do that.

Sam McKechnie also has a very real chance to make the team and that will become a little more obvious after I break down the numbers... so let's get to it.

Assuming my first scenario of Kozun, Hickman and Wardley/Henry here is what the rest of the roster looks like.

Justin Hickman (20)
Sam McKechnie/Connor Honey (20)
Forward Spot (19)
Ryan Gropp (18)
Calvin Spencer (18)
Scott Eansor (18)
Mathew Barzal (17)
Lane Pederson (17)
Keegan Kolesar (17)
Alexander True (17)
Florian Baltram (17)*
Luke Osterman? (17) Per Andy Eide Tweet
Nolan Volcan (16)
Kaden Elder (16)
Forward Spot (16)

Others who could be in the mix dependent on being at camp: Latrell Charleson (19), Ashton Clark (18), Michael Sauer (18), Donovan Nuels (17) and Nick Holowko (17)

*Baltram was said to be reporting to the team but as of this moment I don't see a transaction confirming this. I *think* he is going to be here.

Evan Wardley/Adam Henry (20)
Shea Theodore (19)
Jerret Smith (19)
Jared Hauf (19)
Kevin Wolf (18)*
Ethan Bear (17)
Luke Osterman (17)*
Sahvan Khaira (16)

*I'm not sure Kevin Wolf is a lock to make the team but depth would dictate that he has a very good chance to make it if he plays well. Luke Osterman has not signed yet and I'm assuming he will be at camp. He'll have a pretty good shot to make it if he signs.

Taran Kozun (20)
Danny Mumaugh (18)
Logan Flodell (17)

As you can quite clearly see, under the first scenario Seattle carries only 12 forwards for sure (hint... that isn't enough) and upwards to 8 defenders (hint... that's probably too many) and 3 goaltenders (hint... you don't really *need* 3 goaltenders).

This opens the door to a number of scenarios where the team may take a chance on Connor Honey being healthy or they keep a guy like Sam McKechnie.  I also think there is a strong possibility that we will see one of the goaltenders traded for a forward. If I had a choice, I probably move Danny Mumaugh for a 19 year old forward (or any forward) not because I don't like Mumaugh but I think you'd get a little more value out of a goaltender who has already proved he can play in the WHL and also sets things up a little better for Flodell to be an understudy to Kozun this season and be ready to take over in his 18 year old year. Mumaugh would also probably welcome a trade if it was to a team that would give him a chance to be their #1 goaltender.

The other thing you'll notice here is just how many spots are truly up for grabs. If Seattle chooses to go with Mac or Honey instead of a 20 year old defender that opens up at least one other spot on defense (possibly two). If Seattle chooses to go with Wardley/Henry on defense that probably opens a spot in the forwards for either another 16 year old forward or a player they bring in via trade (which I think is much more likely).

I think we will see Farwell go out and grab another body on either Forward or Defense as I think they would probably prefer not to carry more than three 16 year old's if they could help it.

As I said when I started this, the situation is very fluid and I think the only thing we know is that this roster won't really be confirmed for us until they hit the ice opening night.


Jon said...

Do you think Neuls takes one of those forward spots? 17, so no worry about GP

Thunnex said...

Yup. Just an oversight. Fixed.

I definitely think he'll have a shot.

Anonymous said...

Andy Eide at 710 ESPN just tweeted that Osterman is now a forward.

Thunnex said...

Noted... thanks.

Anonymous said...

Obviously I don't know the situation but if Honey comes to camp healthy with his old fire and ability, I think he's worth the risk. I would take him over any other 20 including Hickman if I thought there was a good chance he could play. And if we sacrifice Mac or Wardley or Kozun or Henry to take a chance on Honey, what do we really lose? None of those guys is going to take the team to the next level by himself, but Honey just might end up a point per game player again. All those other guys can be replaced relatively cheaply.

Thunnex said...

I think it's a little bold to say none of those guys can take the team to the next level.

Kozun did that very thing last year and Hickman is a Captain who is capable of scoring 30 goals (had 22 in 67 games last year).

I think what you have to lose is that you trade away those other players and Honey goes down in the 7th game of the season and you're forced to try to replace him.

I think it's a pretty big risk actually.

And don't get me wrong. If Honey was completely healthy and didn't have much of an injury risk I think he's a fantastic player.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone confirmed if Honey is at camp or not? Andy Eide's article about yesterday's game said he wasn't there...

Thunnex said...

I have not seen confirmation either way to this point.

Kodi said...

Looks like we may be able to go shopping in Lethbridge again this year. They have quite a few hold-outs and are in need of a goaltender since Myles (yes THAT-Myles) who Kamloops traded to Lethbridge looks to be retiring.

We just happen to have an extra goaltender.

Unknown said...

Slightly off topic, but in regards to the comment about Hickman, I think he is a sure bet to at least score 30 goals (I would bet on it and if anyone wants to take me up on that I am listening ;) ), if not more this season (as long as he and Barzal stay healthy... I would of course like to see Gropp stay healthy too, but I think Barzal is more important to the number of goals Hickman scores and Gropp is the easiest of the three on that line (although it would still be relatively difficult) to replace if an injury were to occur).

Yes, Hickman only had 22 goals last year, but with the amount of line movement at the beginning of the season, this could have hampered Hickman's numbers (also considering the number of games Barzal missed due to injury and the fact that it took him a little bit to return to his "normal" self even after returning. Before his injury he was averaging just under a point per game (31 points in 32 games), but then for the reminder of January after he came back, he was down to just over .5 points per game (.57 to be exact as in 4 points in 7 games). Once February rolled around until the end of the season he was basically back to a point per game (19 points in 20 games), but this does highlight a noticeable difference after his injury).

I also believe that no matter who you put on a line with Barzal, their goal total will go up (that's how good he is). So now we will have a season where from day one (pending something catastrophic), Hickman will be paired with Barzal and Gropp... And although I was not able to make it down to the Blue - White game last night, I'm expecting to see a lot more of what I read in regards to those three during the season.

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