Sure, Everett has players who we pretty much know will be added to the team next season, like defensemen Carter Cochrane and Jordan Wharrie. There's players we know will be battling for roster spots, like goaltenders Nik Amundrud and Carter Hart. There's talented Americans like Alec Mehr and Jake Durflinger, who would make the team should they choose to come, but are still pondering their NCAA options.
But the one player who really matters this offseason is Tyson Jost.
Jost will likely be the most important story of Everett's offseason. Everett's first-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft is about as good a prospect as it gets. He led the B.C. Major Midget League in scoring this season with 88 points in 36 games, setting a new league record by scoring 44 goals. He led the league in scoring again during the playoffs, notching nine goals and nine assists in seven games as his Okanagan Rockets claimed the league title. He's led the Rockets to the Telus Cup, the Canadian's midget national championship, for the first time in the Kelowna-based program's history. I can't think of any Everett prospect ever having a better season at the midget level.
But there's no assurance Jost is coming to Everett.
Jost has not signed a WHL education contract with the Tips, meaning he's still eligible to play for an NCAA team. He appeared in three games for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL, a team that's become an NCAA factory. It would seem he's giving serious consideration to the NCAA route.
It's not just that Jost is a top prospect who's uncommitted -- Everett's had plenty of big-name talents who never reported. But the Tips expended a huge resource on Jost by selecting him with the seventh-overall pick last year. First-round bantam picks are precious commodities that need to be used well if teams want to have success, because these are the players most likely to develop into stars. Jost, being a Canadian rather than an American, would have been seen as less of an NCAA risk. I doubt Everett felt much danger when it selected Jost, or else the Tips wouldn't have selected high-risk, high-reward American Patrick Khodorenko in the second round.
And Jost is exactly what Everett needs, too. The Tips could use an infusion of elite offensive talent. Jost as a 16-year-old won't be expected to replace what Everett lost from the graduation of leading scorer Joshua Winquist. But he would help ease the pain of that loss, and he would have the potential to be a major impact player in the future, perhaps helping lure some of the other elite talents on the protected list who are on the fence, such as U.S. National Team Development Program players Khodorenko and Auston Matthews.
Everett has never had any drama with recruiting its top pick in the bantam draft (Seth Jones was a first rounder, but was selected after Nick Walters in 2009). But Jost could very well provide Everett's biggest bit of drama this offseason.
Well, that concludes another year of season-ending blog posts. Hopefully they proved insightful and entertaining. The end of the series brings an end to daily updates on the blog, at least until training camp approaches in August. However, there's always things that happen in the offseason, and those happenings will be catalogued on the blog. In addition to Jost, there's the bantam draft on May 1, the NHL draft on June 27-28, and the import draft sometime that following week (Everett will again have Mirco Mueller privileges). So make sure you check in once in a while during the offseason. Otherwise, have a great summer, and I'll see you at training camp.
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