Was ice time a factor in Tyson Jost’s decision?

A reader directed me to Kelowna Rockets broadcaster Regan Bartel’s blog, in which Bartel speculates as to why Silvertips first-round bantam pick Tyson Jost elected to commit his 16-year-old season to the Penticton Vees of the BCHL instead of Everett. Jost played midget hockey this season in Kelowna, so Bartel may have access to some inside information. He wrote:

“Reading between the lines, I don’t think Jost believes he will be granted the ice time he needs to improve his game under the defensive minded coach (Kevin Constantine). Constantine traditionally likes to ride his older players. I don’t think Jost would get the type of minutes that Nick Merkley was granted under Ryan Huska in Kelowna last season. I could be wrong, but I think I’m right.”

If this truly is Jost’s reasoning for not coming to Everett next season, it’s nonsense. Constantine gave regular shifts to two 16-year-old defensmen last season (Kevin Davis and Noah Juulsen), which demonstrates an almost unprecedented amount of trust in 16-year-olds if they’re worthy of it. Going back to his previous stint with the Tips, he had an astonishing eight 16-year-olds on his team in 2004-05, the most a WHL team has ever fielded, and that included top-six forwards in Zach Hamill and Brady Calla. In 2006-07 Kyle Beach scored 61 points and earned WHL Rookie of the Year honors as a 16-year-old. If a 16-year-old shows Constantine he deserves to play, he’s going to play.

Indeed, with Everett losing top-six forwards Joshua Winquist, Manraj Hayer and Jujhar Khaira, I suspect Jost may have played more for Everett than he will for Penticton next season. Junior A teams can field six overagers instead of three, and they usually do. Penticton also typically has a roster filled with NCAA recruits (a whopping 17 NCAA committed players last season), and those players are going to get ice time, too. A top-six spot was waiting for Jost in Everett. Can the same be said of Penticton? I really don’t know.

Do I think it’s possible Jost feels some reluctance to play for Constantine? Sure. Constantine is known as a demanding coach, and sometimes players need thick skin to play for him. And warranted or not, Constantine has the reputation of being a defensive-minded systems coach. He’s stated that he’d install an offensive style if he had the players for it, and last season we started to see signs of the Tips playing more of a puck possession game. But I can see where an offensive-minded player might raise some questions about playing for Constantine, because the Tips didn’t score a lot of goals last season.

But if Jost was truly concerned about getting ice time as a 16-year-old in Everett, he shouldn’t have been. If he’s as good as his reputation he would have played, and he would have played a lot.

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