EVERETT — Although it comes under disappointing circumstances, Snohomish County native Wyatte Wylie will have one last encore with the Everett Silvertips.
After being sent back by the Flyers to Everett for a final season in the WHL last week, Wylie hasn’t pouted or sulked after leaving Philadelphia without an entry-level contract.
Quite the opposite, really.
“He’s been awesome,” Everett head coach Dennis Williams said. “You know there’s a little disappointment, right? (He) went there to get a contract and sign and play in the American (Hockey) League. A player can come back in one of two ways: They can come back and mope about it and feel sorry for themselves, or they can come back and take it on the chin. As I’ve seen with Wyatte, he’s taken it on the chin.
“He’s been unbelievable with the young guys. (He’s got) energy, (he’s) talking out there. Everything he was last year, but better. It’s really encouraging in the way he’s taking it.”
It was an important summer for Wylie, but one that ended without an entry-level contract from the Flyers, who drafted the Everett native in the fifth-round of the 2018 draft. His hope was Philadelphia would sign him and place him on their AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley. This upcoming season is the first he can play in that league, per the Canadian Hockey League’s agreement with the NHL.
Wylie spent a good chunk of the summer, at the Flyers’ recommendation, training in Philadelphia at the team’s training facility and he departed for training camp early to settle in.
There were no regrets in terms of his own personal volition from Wylie’s point of view.
“I was definitely frustrated, because I worked really hard (for that contract),” Wylie said, “but that’s how it goes sometimes. I’m not discouraged at all. I’m coming in with the mindset to get better and to have a good year. I’m happy with my summer and it was awesome to go there and train, and I felt like I got better.”
Wylie is an unique situation, as he has a “late birthday,” which in hockey parlance applies to anyone born between Sept. 15 and Dec. 31. CHL teams draft by birth year, but the NHL draft’s threshold for players is Sept. 15, meaning players born after it are draft eligible the year after their other birth year counterparts.
Per the NHL CBA, teams can keep drafted players on a 90-man “reserve list” for two seasons before teams need to sign them or their draft rights expire. In Wylie’s situation, it means Philadelphia doesn’t need to make a decision on whether or not to sign him until June 1, 2020.
Wylie said he’s made a point of not being fixated on things he can’t control.
“I learned a long time ago that when you hold on to stuff and think about it too much, it ruins the way you function,” Wylie said. “It does suck, but I use it as a learning experience and to get better.”
Based on Wylie’s past performance in the WHL, it begs a rather fair question: What else does Wylie have left to prove at the junior level? The right-handed defenseman put up 47 points last season (11 goals, 36 assists) and was dispatched against several team’s best lines in last year’s WHL playoffs in a pairing with Artyom Minulin.
Wylie said the Flyers left him with the main goal of rounding out his overall game, and playing top minutes in Everett was the best way to do that.
“They left me with some fix-its and some things I do really good,” Wylie said. “I’m going to work on those this year so when I go back next year, there’s no excuses.”
Through two games, Wylie has already posted three points, which includes a two-goal outing in Everett’s 6-0 rout of Victoria last Saturday.
“There’s always something in your game that needs to be rounded out, but I really do think he’s taking it all the right way,” Williams said. “He’s been just awesome in the locker room with the younger D-corp, coaching and helping them out.”
Depening on if Jake Christiansen returns from his amateur tryout with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, Wylie will be the eldest defenseman in what is a youth-laden blueline for the Silvertips this season. Seventeen-year-old rookies Aidan Sutter and Dylan Anderson, as well as 16-year-old Olen Zellweger, are expected to play big roles in Everett’s back end this season.
Mentoring those younger players is something Wylie takes pride in, he says.
“I was in their shoes, too, and I had guys like Kevin Davis and Noah Juulsen to help me,” Wylie said. “They did a great job of showing me that it’s OK to be nervous some times and it’s OK to mess up. I just try to emphasize that with the guys that you’re not going to be perfect every shift and you’re here for a reason. Just give it your all and you’ll be fine.”
Wylie will undoubtedly have a chip on his shoulder to prove he’s ready for the next step. But for now, he’s taking his unfortunate homecoming in stride.
“I don’t take this as a bad thing coming back here,” Wylie said. “I’m taking this as a building step and I’m trying to prove that I belong there next year. I’m not going to take a step back, I’m going to take a step forward and be ready to go.”
— Injured skaters, defenseman Gianni Fairbrother and center Michal Gut, were wearing red non-contact jerseys at Silvertips practice this week, and both are doubtful for Saturday’s road contest at Kelowna. Both are listed as week-to-week with upper-body injuries.
— Along with being named the WHL’s player of the week, Silvertips forward Bryce Kindopp was named to the CHL’s team of the week after posting six points (three goals, three assists) in Everett opening two games.