TRAINING CAMP 2016-2017: DEPTH CHART
(Photo Credit: Lethbridge Hurricanes)
2016-2017 training camp gets underway tonight with on-ice sessions at the Enmax Centre. All the rookies will be fired up to hit the ice and show off the skills and fitness gains they’ve been refining throughout the summer. As it stands, a good showing during rookie camp could eventually translate into a shot with the big club.
The 2016-2017 Hurricanes roster will not be drastically different from what it was at the end of last season. There’s a large contingent of players returning – something that I believe bodes well for the team. Players who were on this team last season will know what to expect. They will arrive with a purpose and (hopefully) confidence in the program. Stability, in this case, cannot be a bad thing.
As is the case with the turn of every WHL calendar, last season’s overagers are no longer eligible to play. With Millette, Atwal, Gutierrez off on the next season of life, and Andrew Nielsen eying a pro career, the Hurricanes are left needing to fill a number of holes in the roster. There may not be a significant number of vacancies, but the roles available are not insignificant.
Today I want to very quickly analyze the Hurricanes depth chart and try to help frame the next few weeks of training camp.
Let’s first take a look at the forward corps. With the departure of Millette, Gutierrez, and more recently, Barrett Sheen, there will be some shake-up that needs to be sorted out in the coming weeks. We will get our first look at the recently acquired RW Jesse Zaharichuk in the next few days and it will be interesting to see how he fits. From all accounts, he makes up for his lack of size with good vision and play-making ability. He should be a nice complimentary skill player that can hopefully replace the offense left behind by Gutierrez and/or Millette.
Things get interesting when you look at the overage situation. Assuming that captain Tyler Wong is a lock, and the club elects to keep an overage defenseman (likely Kord Pankewicz), that leaves winger Carter Folk and centre Ryley Lindgren to fight for the remaining overage roster spot. A good showing in camp is a must for both, but based on the Canes depth up the middle, I think Carter Folk will be fighting an up-hill battle. While Folk brings an essential physical element to the roster, Lindgren is a proven centre on a team that sorely lacks proven WHL centres.
Regardless of how it all shakes down, the Hurricanes will have to say goodbye to a good player and a well-liked teammate. For that reason, it’s never a fun time of year to talk about overagers.
With all that out of the way, it looks for now that there are 2-3 open roster spots available for younger forwards to step in. While it’s difficult to predict at this time who will excel, here are a few names you may want to keep a close eye on throughout camp and the exhibition season.
- Josh Tarzwell
- Zane Franklin
- Jadon Joseph
- Drayton Thunder Chief
- Dylan Cozens (15, ineligible for full season)
What we know for sure is the Hurricanes bottom-six will have a very different look than it did a year ago. Anything is possible for the young players eager to make a good impression. Last year it was Brett Davis, Barrett Sheen, Jordy Bellerive, and Ryan Vandervlis that emerged in the bottom six. Who will it be this time around?
If you want to see the other forward prospects the Hurricanes have in their system, check out this .pdf guide that I’ve prepared. I took the excellent work of Alan Caldwell and organized the data into an easy to navigate document. If you’re planning to head down to the Enmax and check out some of the on-ice sessions, this might be a valuable asset.
With the departure of Arvin Atwal and the offensively gifted Andrew Nielsen (barring an unforeseen circumstance), the Hurricanes defense will need to step up in a big way. Atwal and Nielsen were huge minute-munchers and both consistently chipped in on the offensive side as well. Who will step up and replace those lost minutes and points?
It’s hard to imagine anyone is able to replicate the success that Nielsen and Atwal shared last season but there are reasons to be optimistic. Kord Pankewicz was an underrated rock for this team last season and he should have no problem bearing the weight of added minutes and responsibilities heading into this campaign.
Darian Skeoch will have a great opportunity to prove his value and is a good bet for those looking for potential breakout performances on the back end. With a greater understanding of the league and a better off-season training regiment, we may also see quiet Ukrainian defender Igor Merezhko take some big steps in 2016-2017. Many forget that Igor was only 17 for most of last season – his first in a new country. He’s big, he’s young, and I think with more confidence and comfort with North America, Igor is another candidate to have a breakout year.
Assuming Nick Watson can stay healthy, and Brady Reagan can build on last season’s strong second half, the Hurricanes defense may quietly surprise. It’s likely not going to be as flashy as last seasons back end, but if this group can pull together and defend by committee, the team should be just fine.
If we assume top prospect Calen Addison is a lock, there’s really only one, maybe two, open roster spots on the back end heading into camp. Some names to watch for include:
- Quaid McBean
- Ayden Roche-Setoguchi
- Koletrain Wilson
- Tyler Strath
There really isn’t much to say about the goaltending. We all know about Stuart Skinner and what he brings to the table. This is a massive season for him and he will have all the opportunity in the world to grab the ball and run with it.
Things get interesting when it comes to the back-up position.
We have no idea who is going to step up and fill the role. Excluding a few picks made at this spring’s WHL Bantam Draft, the goaltending depth is questionable right now. None of the players in the system are proven at the WHL level and it has to be an area of concern heading into camp.
Take a look at our goaltending prospect guide and draw your own conclusions.
We will have to wait to see if any of the players in the system can step up and prove they are ready to make 15+ starts in the WHL.
So there you have it – a breakdown of the 2016-2017 depth chart heading into training camp. Surely I have excluded something. If you have something in mind, drop a comment and let us know who you expect to see make this year’s team!
Remember to hop on Twitter and give us a follow for more Hurricanes related thoughts and coverage.
See you at the rink and thanks for stopping by!
Average uncoordinated tall man. Oilers super fan. U of L Graduate. I like to write about hockey and pretend I know what I’m talking about. I play too much Battlefield and Counter Strike. Snapchat devours my phone bill and data plan. Twitter: @Dasboot34