Everett may not have been able to land Seth Jones, as his signing with the Portland Winterhawks is being made official as this is being posted. But the Silvertips came away with a tidy consolation prize, picking up four prospects for the elite defenseman who chose not to play for Everett. All four of these players were either drafted or listed by Tips general manager Garry Davidson while he was Portland’s director of player personnel. The four prospects (listed with position, age for next season, height and weight):
– Reece Willcox, defenseman, 18, 6-2, 185
Willcox, from Surrey B.C., was a third-round pick in the 2009 bantam draft. This season he played for the Merritt Centennials of the BCHL, where he had five goals and 18 assists in 52 games. Willcox, described by Davidson as a good puck mover who’s very smart, is well regarded as he was ranked 90th among North American skaters by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau for the upcoming NHL draft. However, Willcox is committed to Cornell University, so the Tips have some recruiting to do to land Willcox.
– Ben Betker, defenseman, 18, 6-4, 185
Betker, from Cranbrook, B.C., went unselected in the 2009 bantam draft and was listed by Portland last June. He played this season for the Westside Warriors of the BCHL, where in 59 games he had five goals and 13 assists. Davidson said Betker, a player who moves the puck well and is an above-average skater, has made big strides over the past 18 months, growing five inches and improving his game. Betker was already signed by Portland, so he will definitely be present when training camp begins in August. He’s also a late birthdate, meaning he’s not eligible for the NHL draft until 2013.
– Tyler Sandhu, center, 16, 5-11, 150
Sandhu, from Richmond, B.C., was a second-round pick in last year’s bantam draft. This season he played for the Greater Vancouver Canadians of the BCMML, where he had 18 goals and 27 assists in 38 games to lead his team in scoring. He’s a skilled playmaker who Davidson said could develop into a top-six forward and be key on the power play.
– Mitch Skapski, left wing, 16, 5-8, 140
Skapski, from Abbotsford, B.C., was a fourth-round pick in last year’s bantam draft. This season he played for the Fraser Valley Bruins of the BCMML, notching 26 goals 23 assists and 86 penalty minutes in 40 games, finishing second on the team in scoring. He’s described as an agitating player who gets around the ice and scores goals in the dirty areas.
So all-in-all, it seems like quite the haul for a player who decided he wasn’t going to play in Everett, and who may end up being a one-and-done in the WHL.
The Tips clearly had defensemen who could step straight into the lineup as a priority. One look at the depth chart for next season shows why. Everett could lose its top four defensemen from last season — Brennan Yadlowski and Josh Caron as graduated overagers, Dominik Bittner as a doublespotter and Ryan Murray to the NHL — so that area needs to be shored up. The Tips also are looking real deep with its 1996-born forwards, with Sandhu and Skapski being added to top prospects Ty Mappin and Dawson Leedahl.
It’s also an indication the Tips are still looking toward the future. If Willcox comes to Everett, these are all players who theoretically would still be on the team in 2013-14, and the organizational depth is now in the 1994-96 age groups. So next season is still shaping up like it’s part of the building process.
Finally, with 13 players taken in the bantam draft, and now three more spots needing to be opened up to accommodate this trade, I have no idea who all survived on Everett’s 50-player protected list. There’s no doubt it looks a lot different now than it did a couple weeks ago.