Noah Juulsen makes pro debut, and potential 2017-18 overagers

First off, the big news: 2016-17 Everett Silvertips defenseman and captain Noah Juulsen made his professional debut Wednesday when he skated with the St. John’s IceCaps in Game 3 of their AHL playoff series with the Syracuse Crunch.

Juulsen didn’t record any statistics in the IceCaps’ 3-2 loss to the Crunch, but clearly garnered some postgame attention. In a side note former Silvertip Byron Froese scored the game-winning goal for Syracuse.

Additionally, Carter Hart dressed as the backup goalie Wednesday for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms who won in overtime to force Game 4 in their AHL playoff series against the Hershey Bears.

Moving On:

This is Part 4 of our 2016-17 Silvertips postseason wrap-up series here on the blog. You can access the previous entries below:

Part 1 (Season Perspective) here

Part 2 (Outgoing Overagers) here

Part 3 (Coaching) here.

In this post we’re examining the potential overage player situation for the 2017-18 season, something I touched on here. Remember each WHL can have three 20-year-olds on its roster next season.

The 1997-born players who finished the season with Everett included forwards Patrick Bajkov, Keith Anderson, Matt Fonteyne, Devon Skoleski and Cal Babych, defensemen Juulsen and Kevin Davis, and goaltender Mario Petit.

Anderson and Babych were both late-season listed pickups so it’s hard to see either of them returning. However, Babych will forever hold a place in Silvertips and CHL lore as he scored the breakaway game-winner in the fifth overtime to end the longest game in CHL history when the Tips eliminated Victoria in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series. The goal won the CHL Showdown that week and deserves another viewing:

Juulsen is expected to play professionally next season in the Montreal Canadiens system. Petit was a more-than-serviceable backup to Hart, and will likely get a shot to start for another WHL team, but the Tips won’t use an overage spot on a backup goalie.

So that leaves Bajkov, Skoleski, Fonteyne and Davis as the leading candidates to return next season.

Bajkov, Fonteyne and Davis were all picked in the 2012 bantam draft, general manager Garry Davidson’s first with Everett and one of the most fruitful harvests in franchise history. Skoleski was a listed pick-up from Manitoba who played the last two seasons with Everett.

Bajkov had a breakout season on Everett’s top line alongside Fonteyne and overager Dominic Zwerger. Bajkov led the team in goals (29) and points (78) during the regular season and added five goals and six assists in 10 playoff games.

Davis quarterbacked the top power-play unit and finished with nine goals and 50 assists. He was one of the most productive power-play blueliners in the league as eight of his goals and 29 of his assists came on the man advantage. Davis had a goal and seven assists in the postseason and was named the team’s Most Improved Player while appearing in all 72 games.

Both Davis and Bajkov went undrafted by the NHL. As 20-year-olds they are be eligible to sign pro contracts this offseason, but there hasn’t been any indication one way or the other as to whether that is likely to happen.

“There’s interest in them, but to what extent or at what level, you’d have to ask the NHL teams about that,” Davidson said during exit meetings. “I just know that I field questions and those are two guys whose names come up quite often.”

Fonteyne finished with 20 goals and 27 assists during the regular season to go along with with two goals and two assists in the playoffs while centering Everett’s top line. He was an alternate captain who won the team’s Community Relations Award.

Skoleski centered Everett’s second line and finished with 14 goals and 20 assists in 65 games. He missed Everett’s first-round playoff series win over Victoria with an upper body injury and was held without a point in Everett’s four second-round games against Seattle.

That’s where things appear right now, but things could always change before training camp begins in August and even throughout the duration of the season. Last year the team entered the offseason with six overage candidates and just one – Lucas Skrumeda – concluded his career as a Silvertip.

For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.

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