EVERETT – Three years ago the Everett Silvertips laid the foundation for what became one of the greatest inaugural seasons in North American sports history.
Today the Silvertips experience that same process from the opposite perspective as another franchise tries to follow in Everett’s footsteps.
The WHL expansion draft for the league’s newest team, the Chilliwack Bruins, takes place today, conjuring up memories of when Everett went through its expansion draft in 2003.
“Absolutely it brings back memories,” Everett director of player personnel Scott Scoville said. “It’s a little different, but we’re kind of trying to approach it the same way. We’re trying to put ourselves in Chilliwack’s shoes, go through every team’s depth chart, see who may be available and who will be protected.”
Chilliwack, which begins play in September, stocks its roster today. The Bruins will select one player from each team’s 50-player protected list. Each team has the option of protecting one overage player plus 14 younger players, or three overage players plus 13 younger players. Players born in 1990 and 1991 are exempt.
The Bruins will pick three players from Tri-City because of the deal arranged to keep the Americans in Kennewick instead of moving the team to Chilliwack. Kamloops, Medicine Hat, Portland and Vancouver made previous trades to avoid the expansion draft.
“It’s a little disheartening knowing you’re going to lose a player,” Scoville said. “That’s always tough. The last couple days we’ve been looking at who we’re going to protect, different variables and different scenarios. It’s never easy because you know in the back of your mind you’re going to lose a player who you’ve come to know and respect and like. That’s the hard part.”
Chilliwack will receive the protected lists from the other 15 teams at 8 a.m. and have until 2 p.m. to make its selections as well as any trades, making for a hectic six hours.
“It was pretty busy,” Scoville recalled about Everett’s expansion-draft day. “It was very exciting. You had your team name, you had all your office employees, but you had no players. So it was really nice to finally get some guys who were going to wear your jersey for the next year”
Chilliwack could take a couple different tacks with its selections. In 2003 Everett took primarily older, more-experienced players in an attempt to build a team capable of competing immediately. That eventually turned into a team that broke every WHL expansion-team record and made a memorable run to the Western Conference finals.
However, in 2001 Vancouver made several trades for younger players and draft picks and although the Giants struggled early, they eventually built a team that reached the Memorial Cup this season.
” (The Bruins) have made a few deals and most of those are for younger guys, guys that aren’t in the league,” Scoville said. “So I would think that they’re going to have to look for guys who are going to play for them this year, some older guys who have played in the league.
“It’s probably a very similar talent pool to our year,” Scoville added. “Nobody’s going to leave exposed a top defenseman, a top goalie or a 50-goal scorer. So I think you’re going to the second- and third-line guys, maybe get a 19-year-old who’s been stuck on a third line and hasn’t really been given the power play time and hopefully can score. But the reality of it is you’re going to have to get a team that’s a hard-working group, can play in a system, and obviously you have to find a goalie who’s going to steal you a win or two.”
Everett could be more involved in the action today than just losing a player. With potential overagers John Lammers and Karel Hromas likely to play professionally next season, the Silvertips have just two overagers – defensemen Cody Thoring and Jason Fransoo – lined up for next season, leaving one spot open. Everett could fill that spot by having Chilliwack select an overager from another team, then arranging a trade with the Bruins.
Slap shots: June 1 came and went without the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks signing Hromas to a contract. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s extremely unlikely that Hromas will return to Everett next season. Because Hromas was drafted while playing in Europe, the Blackhawks own his rights for more than two years, and Hromas also has a backup arrangement to play professionally in his native Czech Republic in the upcoming season. … Former Everett captain Torrie Wheat is getting a shot an an NHL contract. The right wing, who is the leading career scorer in Silvertips history, was invited to attend the Tampa Bay Lightning’s rookie camp this summer. … The Bruins named Jim Hiller as their first head coach. Hiller was the head coach of the British Columbia Hockey League’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs the past two seasons, and before that spent two seasons as an assistant with Tri-City.