This morning the Tips announce the signing of 15-year-old defenseman Jantzen Leslie, the team’s first round pick in this year’s bantam draft. Leslie, from Lloydminster, Alberta, was selected 15th overall and showed well during last week’s training camp. He becomes the second member of Everett’s 2014 draft class to pledge his future to the Tips, joining third rounder and longtime friend Bryce Kindopp. Both Leslie and Kindopp, a forward, are still practicing with the team, and since they’re both signed they’ll likely get at least a taste of the WHL during this weekend’s preseason games.
I’m sure this is a huge relief for the Tips, given all the drama that’s gone on with last year’s first rounder, Tyson Jost. That particular drama will continue, by the way. Even though Jost is playing for Penticton of the BCHL this season, Everett is still recruiting Jost for next season.
More on Leslie to follow after this afternoon’s practice …
—- UPDATE, 4:30 p.m.
After talking to all the parties, there’s just a few things to add about Everett signing Jantzen Leslie. Obviously, the Tips are thrilled about getting a commitment from Leslie, as well as getting it done quickly. Everett general manager Garry Davidson liked what he saw from Leslie during training camp, saving his greatest praise for Leslie’s hockey sense and leadership skills. Leslie said there was a smidgen of doubt about whether to sign, but his experience at camp sealed the deal.
Both of the 15-year-olds still with the team, Leslie and forward Bryce Kindopp, will appear in preseason games this weekend at the Holiday Inn Preseason Classic. Then they’ll return home for their midget seasons.
Davidson also said other signings were imminent. If my math is correct, there’s just four players still with the team who have not signed WHL education contracts: goaltender Mario Petit, defenseman Tristen Pfeifer, and forwards Nik Malenica and Gunnar Wegleitner. I’m unclear about whether the WHL requires a player to sign in order to appear in a preseason game, but I do know it’s Everett’s policy not to ice a player unless he’s signed. Therefore, those four would need to sign in order to play this weekend.
A couple other notes:
– Two members of the Everett Junior Silvertips, 16-year-old forward Sean Mallonee and 15-year-old defenseman Wyatte Wylie, have practiced with the team this week in order to even up the numbers. No doubt that will be valuable for their development.
– Taking a closer look at Everett’s roster, I’m not sure there’s much in the way of cuts left to be made with regards to the skaters. Everett currently has 30 players. But of those 30, four are goaltenders and two are 15-year-olds. Pair away two of the goalies and the 15-year-olds and Everett is at 26. But wait, four of those remaining are 20-year-olds and the team can only keep three, so eventually one of those has to go. That brings the total down to 25. If any of those unsigned players remain unsigned, that would essentially give Everett a standard regular season roster. So unless Davidson swings some deals, he doesn’t have much work left to do with regards to the roster.