Welcome back to Part 5 as we continue our six-part series putting a wrap on the 2016-17 Everett Silvertips season.
You can check out the previous four installments below:
Part 2: The overagers
Part 3: The coaching
Part 4: The future overagers
Today we’ll look at the the players entering their 17-to-19-year-old season who figure to return when training camp begins in August.
First, however, we should add some follow-up to Wednesday night’s developments that saw Noah Juulsen make his pro debut with the St. John’s IceCaps and Carter Hart dress as the backup goalie for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
You can hear from Juulsen here (you have to scroll down a bit) as he met with the media following Wednesday’s game.
Also, it looks like Carter Hart will be back to sitting in the stands as the Phantoms recalled Mark Dekanich from the Reading Royals, who were recently eliminated from the ECHL playoffs:
📰 Read more ⤵️https://t.co/GJhZCkc0qT
— LehighValleyPhantoms (@LVPhantoms) April 27, 2017
Nevertheless I’m sure it has been and will continue to be a positive and learning experience for Hart.
In the WHL a team’s strength is often derived from its 19-year-old players. There’s no limit on how many a team can have and players at this age have one-to-three years of experience in the league. The Tips, however, are very thin in this group due to the 2013 bantam draft that yielded only Hart. Granted he is perhaps the best goaltender in the entire Canadian Hockey League, but that’s still a difficult proposition to deal with.
The good news is that Hart must return to Everett unless he makes the Philadelphia Flyers roster out of training camp. That seems very unlikely with a number of goalies in front of Hart in the Flyers pipeline and the fact that goaltenders are usually the last position to mature into consistent NHL players. So look for Hart to win his second straight WHL Goaltender of the Year Award next week in Calgary and return following a season in which he went 32-11-6-2 with a 1.99 goals-against average and had a .927 save percentage.
As far as the rest of the 1998-born players? They’re scant. General manager Garry Davidson acquired Sean Richards (eight goals, 15 assists) from Regina as part of the Dawson Leedahl trade while Brandson Hein (six goals, two assists) was a listed player from Manitoba who made the team out of training camp last fall. Finnish import Eetu Tuulola (18 goals, 13 assists) was a significant offensive contributor this year and would be a welcomed returnee, but he is under contract to HPK in Finland and his NHL rights are held by the Calgary Flames, so it’s tough to say definitively he will return.
There is considerably more depth among the 1999-born forward class. Riley Sutter made marked improvement from his rookie season with 20 goals and 19 assists. As a late birthday Sutter isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2018 and he figures to draw plenty of interest. Fellow forwards Connor Dewar (14 goals, 16 assists), Unsung Hero Award winner Brian King (four goals, 14 assists) and Bryce Kindopp (seven goals, seven assists) will all need to make another step forward in their offensive production as 18-year-olds.
On the defensive end Everett returns Jake Christiansen (six goals, 13 assists) for his third season and 1999 late-birthday and Everett native Wyatte Wylie (10 assists) for his second season. Both were blueline stalwarts as Christiansen spent most of the season with Kevin Davis on the second pairing while appearing in all 72 games while Wylie played alongside Aaron Irving on the third pairing and played in 71 contests.
Among the 2000-born players entering their second season are big blueliners Montana Onyebuchi (6-2, 205) and Ian Walker (6-2, 170). Their size is important given that Noah Juulsen is gone and was Everett’s biggest defenseman at 6-3, 190 last season. The Tips were seriously outsized by Seattle’s defensive unit in the Thunderbirds’ four-game sweep. Forward Orrin Centazzo also is slated to return after his season was cut short due to a broken collarbone in February that required surgery.
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