EVERETT — One of the themes of the season for the Everett Silvertips has been the search for secondary scoring.
Everett has won games this season, but it largely has been without scoring goals in bunches. Overager Joshua Winquist is having a tremendous season, but the Tips have been searching high and low for a dependable source of offense beyond Winquist and his line. General manager Garry Davidson’s entire focus in the run-up to last week’s trade deadline was on acquiring players who could lift Everett’s scoring output.
Meanwhile, Carson Stadnyk has been doing everything he can to solve the secondary scoring issue himself.
Stadnyk has quietly become one of Everett’s go-to goal scorers, and his emergence could be crucial for the Tips going forward.
“I’ll take them, as of right now,” Stadnyk said about his recent goals. “Our line has been doing well and we don’t want to stop that right now.”
Stadnyk has been Everett’s most dependable source of goals during the past month. In Everett’s past nine games, the 18-year-old winger from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, has scored eight goals. No one else on the team scored more than five during that stretch.
“He’s playing well,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said of Stadnyk. “All year long we talked about the importance of getting scoring from multiple sources and not being dependent on any one player or any one line. We’ve been looking for that all year. Over the last little bit, Carson’s line has produced more offense than any other line, and Carson has produced most of the goals. It’s what we were looking for. He’s given us some secondary scoring — it’s kind of become primary scoring over the last month.”
Stadnyk’s recent goal binge gives him 17 this season, which is second on the team behind Winquist’s 27. His 27 points are more than double the 13 he tallied last season as a rookie, and his points this season have come in 44 games, where he needed 70 games to accumulate his points last season.
Stadnyk came to Everett with an offensive reputation. At training camp in 2011 Stadnyk, an eighth-round pick in the 2010 bantam draft, came out of nowhere to show himself as one of Everett’s most skilled prospects. Then after a big season playing midget hockey in his hometown as a 16 year-old, he made the team last season. However, his impact was limited as he spent much of the season on Everett’s fourth line.
But WHL players often take a big step forward during their second season in the league, and such as been the case for Stadnyk.
“It’s a better year than I had last year so far,” Stadnyk said. “It’s just more fun. The team is more well-rounded this year than last year, and I’m playing with higher-end guys. They just have more confidence and know what to do with the puck.
“Being a year-and-a-half in the league, you have more confidence to make plays,” Stadnyk added. “You have more time with the puck and you’re not as scared to give the puck away.”
A big part of Stadnyk’s breakthrough has been his partnership with Jujhar Khaira and Dawson Leedahl. Stadnyk and Khaira have been on a line together off and on for much of the season, and early on it didn’t quite click. But after Leedahl was added to the line in December, the trio became Everett’s most productive line. In the past nine games those three have combined for 13 goals and 15 assists. Stadnyk and Khaira, in particular, seem to have developed a good understanding with one another.
The line’s production was vital to the Tips as Winquist, Manraj Hayer and Tyler Sandhu, who comprised Everett’s most productive line throughout the first half of the season, have all spent time sidelined by injury during the past nine games.
And Stadnyk has been right at the heart of it.
“He got a little bigger over the summer, so he’s a little stronger player than he was last year,” Constantine said. “He’s got a pretty good offensive skill set. I think he and Jujhar have found some chemistry together, and I think he continues to work hard at his game to make it better. A combination of experience, growth and having some chemistry with a linemate has gotten some results lately.”
Now that the Tips are beginning to return to health, the emergence of Stadnyk and company means opponents can no longer focus solely on shutting down one Everett line.
“Teams will have to account for our top-end guys, and that will help out the rest of the team with more offensive chances,” Stadnyk said.
And just maybe the Tips have solved their secondary scoring issue from within.
Everett received good news on the injury front as Hayer is on the verge of returning. The overage center, who has 11 goals and 17 assists in 33 games, suffered a concussion on Dec. 11 at Spokane and hasn’t played since. However, Hayer returned to practice this week, made it through practices without complications, and is likely to return tonight when the Tips welcome Spokane to Comcast Arena. … Everett will also have the services of center Brayden Low tonight. Low has completed the two-game suspension handed down by the league for his checking-to-the-head major penalty against Portland on Jan. 8. … Everett has had little fortune against Spokane this season. The Chiefs are just one point ahead of the Tips in the standings, but Spokane has won all five meetings with Everett. None of those games were decided by more than two goals, and twice the Chiefs won in overtime.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at https://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.