By Nick Patterson Herald writer
EVERETT — Six Everett Silvertips have departed for NHL rookie training camps.
Now the main question as far as the Tips are concerned is: Who’s coming back?
Six of Everett’s top players headed out Tuesday to put their talents on display for NHL teams, and for three of them there’s at least a small possibility they won’t be returning to the Tips.
The six players who left Tuesday were forwards Reid Petryk (Edmonton), Jujhar Khaira (Edmonton) and Linden Penner (Calgary), defensemen Ben Betker (Edmonton) and Mirco Mueller (San Jose), and goaltender Austin Lotz (Carolina). Khaira, Betker and Mueller were drafted by their respective NHL teams, while Petryk, Penner and Lotz received invitations.
Petryk, Khaira, Penner, Betker and Mueller are participating in the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, B.C. Lotz is headed to the Traverse City (Mich.) Prospects Tournament. Both tournaments run from Thursday through Monday.
“It’s really exciting for them, and I think it’s really good for our organization that we have this many guys attending these camps,” Everett general manager Garry Davidson said. “I think it’s a great experience, and it’s a very exciting for them as young players aspiring to play in the NHL at some point.”
But it also comes with the risk that the team’s plans for the season will be disrupted.
The player who has the greatest possibility of sticking with the pros is Petryk, since as a 20-year-old he’s eligible to play professionally in the minors. Petryk, who had 16 goals and 24 assists in 70 games last season, received his first taste of professional hockey in the spring when he signed an amateur tryout agreement with the American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters, appearing in two games. Petryk received multiple tryout offers, but chose his hometown Edmonton over New Jersey. He’s hoping to impress the Oilers and earn a contract.
“It’s unreal, I worked for this my whole entire life and it’s really exciting,” Petryk said about receiving the invite.
“I just need to work as hard as I can and show what kind of player I am,” Petryk added. “Hopefully they like it and want to see more of me. I’m not too sure right now about my chances of earning a contract, but I’m going to try everything that I can to get one.”
The two others who have a chance of sticking are Khaira and Mueller. The 19-year-old Khaira was Edmonton’s third-round pick in the 2012 NHL draft, while the 18-year-old Mueller was San Jose’s first-round pick in this year’s NHL draft. Because of their age, Khaira and Mueller would need to make their NHL teams to play in the pros this season as they’re ineligible to play in the minors, and both are considered longshots. However, both are highly talented and there’s an outside shot they could play themselves into the equation. Both are already slated to advance to their teams’ main camps following the weekend.
“They’re there, so they have a chance and an opportunity,” Davidson said about the chance Petryk, Khaira or Mueller might stick in the pros. “We wish them the best. We would like to have them all back, to be honest with you, but that’s our selfish part of it. We’re here to grow and develop players and sometimes they leave sooner than you want. That’s the nature of the business.”
Penner, Betker and Lotz are all expected back in Everett following their respective tournaments.
Tips sign three
Everett announced Tuesday the signing of three prospects to WHL education contracts. Sixteen-year-old Patrick Bajkov, a native of Nanaimo, B.C., is a skilled winger who was a sixth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft. Seventeen-year-old defenseman Lucas Skrumeda, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, is a puck-rushing defenseman who was an undrafted listed player. Sixteen-year-old Jordan Wharrie, who hails from Port Moody, B.C., is a stay-at-home defenseman who was a fifth-round pick in 2012. Bajkov and Skrumeda both played in preseason games over the weekend and are still in the hunt to make the team. Wharrie was reassigned last week, but will rejoin the team for this weekend’s exhibition games at the Tri-City Preseason Tournament in Kennewick.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.