Let’s do a little math.
Everett scored 215 goals this season. Of those 215 …
… 47 were scored by Joshua Winquist.
… 15 were scored by Matt Pufahl.
… 15 were scored by Manraj Hayer.
That’s 77 goals from graduated overagers, who won’t be back next season. In addition …
… 16 were scored by Jujhar Khaira.
Khaira has already signed a contract with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, and he’s fully expected to play professionally next season as a 20-year-old.
There’s a good chance Everett will lose just five players among the 24 who were with the team during the playoffs (three overagers and two of the five 19-year-olds, as just three of those 19s can be retained as overagers next season). But between the four mentioned above that’s 43 percent of Everett’s goal scoring, a phenomenal amount to lose from just four players.
So how will the Tips compensate?
There’s no easy answers there. When I look at Everett’s likely returning forwards, I don’t see anyone ready to take over from Winquist and be the focal point of the offense, someone who can go and get the team a goal when it desperately needs one. Therefore, it’s going to require a collective improvement among all of Everett’s forwards.
Everett’s offensive cupboard isn’t completely bare, but just about every player has a question mark attached. Ivan Nikolishin finished second on the team in scoring as a 17-year-old rookie, but he did the majority of his work on the power play. Will he be able to produce five-on-five? Carson Stadnyk took a nice step in his second season, particularly as a goal scorer. But can he take that next step to become a top-line player? Tyler Sandhu has shown he has offensive skills. But can he shrug off what was an injury-plagued and somewhat disappointing season? Kohl Bauml’s production slipped as he was deployed in more of a checking role. Can he get back to being an offensive factor? Zane Jones scored goals for Calgary, but hasn’t yet for Everett. Will he rediscover his goal-scoring ways? Dawson Leedahl had a nice bump in production as a second-year player. But can he prove that increase was more than an incidental result of increased ice time? Patrick Bajkov had a promising 16-year-old campaign. But will he develop physically and be able to withstand defenses better? Carter Cochrane scored a lot of points as a defenseman in the BCHL. Will that translate to the WHL?
The Tips have players who are capable of stepping up. One can still piece together two full scoring lines for Everett next season that one can envision being capable of scoring goals. But the Tips are going to need a lot of things to break right to be able to tread water offensively.
Next: What will we see: Truculence?