An assortment of high-profile trades allowed the Everett Silvertips to remain a legitimate contender for the past couple seasons, but aggressiveness in the trade market has often forced the Silvertips to pay the piper in recent years in early May.
The price for being competitive is as steep as its ever been in terms of what lies ahead for Everett in the upcoming 2019 bantam draft.
Everett is without its first-and second-round selections in Thursday’s draft, which is hosted in Red Deer, Alberta. It’s the first time in the franchise’s history it won’t make a selection in the opening two rounds. The first-rounder (20th overall) was sent to Kamloops in the January 2018 deal for Garrett Pilon and Ondrej Vala and the second (42nd overall) was packaged to Seattle for Zack Andrusiak this past January.
Barring any movement up or down, the Silvertips won’t be on the clock until the third round (49th overall), a pick the Silvertips acquired from Kelowna in exchange for Mark Liwiski.
The absence of flashy, top-of-the-draft picks isn’t keeping the Silvertips from maintaining their usual draft philosophy, according to Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson.
“We don’t do it any differently,” Davidson affirmed earlier in the week before the draft, which begins at 7:30 a.m PT. A live telecast for the first round is free on the WHL’s website.
“We build our list and rank according to how we feel about the player and we draft off our list. And between now and Thursday morning, things can happen. Teams can trade their first-round picks. … As a scouting group, we have to prepare our list accordingly.”
Whether Everett decides to capitalize on any teams attempting to move early-round draft picks is up to Davidson, but Everett possesses some veteran assets that could be appealing.
The Silvertips have been able to build rosters in the past that haven’t been overly dependent on recognized valuable players in the middle-to-late rounds of the draft. Only 2002-born defenseman Ronan Seeley boasted a first-round pedigree on Everett’s 2018-2019 roster and 2002-born forward Jackson Berezowski was the only second-round pick on the squad.
The draft room tasked with finding more diamond-in-the-rough type players has a different look than it ever has under Davidson, as Bil La Forge is set for his first draft as general manager of the Seattle Thunderbirds after eight seasons concerting bantam drafts as the Silvertips head scout from 2011-2013 and director of player personnel from 2014-2018.
Alvin Backus, a NHL scout with Montreal for seven season, was hired as Everett’s director of personnel and Mike Fraser tabbed as head scout. But the Tips’ draft table still boasts much familiarity, as six of Everett’s nine area scouts boast previous experience scouting for the franchise, two of which, Garry Ryhorchuk (senior scout in Saskatchewan) and Doug Sinclair (senior scout in Manitoba), have scouted for Everett since the team’s inception in 2003.