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2019-20 CHL Season Preview Series: WHL’s U.S. Division

 

Day 7 of a 12-day coast-to-coast series previewing the 2019-20 Canadian Hockey League season features the Western Hockey League’s U.S. Division:

Everett Silvertips

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 43-20-3-6, 95 Points (1st in U.S. Division)
2015-16: 38-26-5-3, 84 Points (2nd in U.S. Division) ▼
2016-17: 44-16-9-3, 100 Points (1st in U.S. Division) ▲
2017-18: 47-20-2-3, 99 Points (1st in U.S. Division) ▼
2018-19: 47-16-2-3, 99 Points (1st in U.S. Division) ◀▶

Best Playoff Result: 2018 – Lost 4-2 vs. Swift Current in Ed Chynoweth Cup Final

Need to Know

Head Coach: Dennis Williams, 3rd Season
2018 Bantam Draft (Top Pick): 2/42 (D) Olen Zellweger (OHA Edmonton Bntm Prep)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/57 (C) Michal Gut (Chomutov Jr.)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (LW) Zack Andrusiak, (C) Connor Dewar (Minnesota), (D) Sahvan Khaira, (D) Artyom Minulin
NHL Prospects: (D) Gianni Fairbrother (Montreal, 3/77, 2019), (G) Dustin Wolf (Calgary, 7/214, 2019), (D) Wyatte Wylie (Philadelphia, 5/127, 2018)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (G) Dustin Wolf
On the Horizon: (D) Ronan Seeley

The Silvertips will shoot for their fourth consecutive division title this year backed by netminder Dustin Wolf, who last season led the WHL with a .936 save percentage and 1.69 goals-against average. In all, Wolf made 61 appearances in 2018-19, coming away with 41 victories. Another successful season seems likely given the Calgary Flames prospect should see solid defensive support from NHL draft eligible rearguard Ronan Seeley, who put up nine points in 52 games as a freshman.

Portland Winterhawks

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 43-23-2-4, 92 Points (2nd in U.S. Division)
2015-16: 34-31-6-1, 75 Points (3rd in U.S. Division) ▼
2016-17: 40-28-1-3, 84 Points (4th in U.S. Division) ▲
2017-18: 44-22-1-5, 94 Points (2nd in U.S. Division) ▲
2018-19: 40-22-3-3, 86 Points (3rd in U.S. Division) ▼

Best Playoff Result: 2015 – Lost 4-2 vs. Kelowna in Round 3

Need to Know

Head Coach: Mike Johnston*, 4th Season
2018 Bantam Draft (Top Pick): 1/19 (C) Gabe Klassen (Prince Albert Pirates BAA)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/40 (RW) Simon Knak (Kloten EHC Sports AG Jr.)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (LW) Joachim Blichfeld (San Jose), (D) Brendan De Jong, (D) Jared Freadrich, (C) Cody Glass (Vegas), (RW) Conor McEachern
NHL Prospects: (G) Joel Hofer (St. Louis, 4/107, 2018), (D) Johnny Ludvig (Florida, 3/69, 2019), (C) Reece Newkirk (N.Y. Islanders, 5/147, 2019)

*Johnston enters his 10th cumulative season with the Winterhawks after serving as head coach from 2008-14.

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (C) Reece Newkirk
On the Horizon: (C) Seth Jarvis

Following the departure of last season’s top two scorers, returning centre Reece Newkirk will play a big role in carrying the offensive baton for the Winterhawks in 2019-20. A fifth-round selection by the New York Islanders, Newkirk showed significant strides last season, counting a 48-point improvement that saw him finish with 23 goals and 36 assists. Meanwhile, also ready to step up is 2020 NHL Draft hopeful and sophomore centre Seth Jarvis, whose first full season saw him finish with a modest 39 points in 61 games.

Seattle Thunderbirds

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 38-25-4-5, 85 Points (3rd in U.S. Division)
2015-16: 45-23-4-0, 94 Points (1st in U.S. Division) ▲
2016-17: 46-20-4-2, 98 Points (2nd in U.S. Division) ▲
2017-18: 34-28-8-2, 78 Points (5th in U.S. Division) ▼
2018-19: 31-29-6-2, 70 Points (5th in U.S. Division) ▼

Best Playoff Result: 2017 – Won 4-2 vs. Regina in Ed Chynoweth Cup Final

Need to Know

Head Coach: Matt O’Dette, 3rd Season
2018 Bantam Draft (Top Pick): 1/10 (C) Kai Uchacz (Okotoks Oilers BAAA)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/19 (RW) Tim Stutzle (Jungadler Mannheim U19)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (C) Noah Philp, (LW) Sean Richards, (LW) Nolan Volcan
NHL Prospects: (G) Roddy Ross (Philadelphia, 6/169, 2019), (LW) Henrik Rybinski (Florida, 5/136, 2019), (C) Matthew Wedman (Florida, 7/199, 2019)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (C) Matthew Wedman
On the Horizon: (D) Simon Kubicek

Matthew Wedman parlayed a successful season in which he led the Thunderbirds with 77 points into a draft day dream with the Florida Panthers. Now, the 20-year-old is expected to return to Seattle for his overage season where he will once again be entrusted with leading the team offensively. On the back end, the squad has its next draft hopeful in blue-liner Simon Kubicek, who following his second-round selection in the 2018 CHL Import Draft put together a 28-point rookie season.

Spokane Chiefs

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 34-34-3-1, 72 Points (4th in U.S. Division)
2015-16: 33-30-5-4, 75 Points (4th in U.S. Division) ▲
2016-17: 27-33-8-4, 66 Points (5th in U.S. Division) ▼
2017-18: 41-25-3-3, 88 Points (3rd in U.S. Division) ▲
2018-19: 40-21-2-5, 87 Points (2nd in U.S. Division) ▼

Best Playoff Result: 2019 – Lost 4-1 vs. Vancouver in Round 3

Need to Know

Head Coach: Manny Viveiros, 1st Season
2018 Bantam Draft (Top Pick): 1/17 (D) Graham Sward (Yale H.A. Bntm Prep)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/43 (G) Lukas Parik (Liberec Jr.)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (C) Jaret Anderson-Dolan (Los Angeles), (RW) Jake McGrew (San Jose), (D) Nolan Reid, (C) Luc Smith, (LW) Riley Woods
NHL Prospects: (LW) Adam Beckman (Minnesota, 3/75, 2019), (D) Filip Kral (Toronto, 5/149, 2018), (RW), (D) Ty Smith (New Jersey, 1/17, 2018)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (LW) Adam Beckman
On the Horizon: (C) Jack Finley

After leading the Chiefs with 32 goals a year ago, returning winger Adam Beckman will be back with the club for 2019-20 where he will headline the team’s offensive attack following a handful of key departures. Spokane’s forward ranks will also see Beckman joined by 17-year-old centre Jack Finley, who notched nine goals and 10 assists as a rookie and projects as a mid-round selection in the coming 2020 NHL Draft.

Tri-City Americans

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 31-38-0-3, 65 Points (5th in U.S. Division)
2015-16: 35-34-2-1, 73 Points (5th in U.S. Division) ▲
2016-17: 41-28-3-0, 85 Points (3rd in U.S. Division) ▲
2017-18: 38-25-8-1, 85 Points (4th in U.S. Division) ◀▶
2018-19: 34-28-5-1, 74 Points (4th in U.S. Division) ▼

Best Playoff Result: 2018 – Lost 4-2 vs. Everett in Round 3

Need to Know

Head Coach: Kelly Buchberger, 2nd Season
2018 Bantam Draft (Top Pick): 1/14 (D) Marc Lajoie (Northern Alberta Xtreme Bntm Prep)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/31 (LW) Jan Cikhart (Liberec Jr.)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (LW) Parker AuCoin, (D) Aaron Hyman, (LW) Nolan Yaremko
NHL Prospects: N/A

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (C) Kyle Olson
On the Horizon: (C) Connor Bouchard

Kyle Olson was one of the top offensive weapons for the Americans a year ago, wrapping up the 2018-19 campaign with 21 goals and 49 assists to finish second in team scoring. For the coming campaign, the overager will once again be relied upon to be a primary scorer for Tri-City, while young talents like 18-year-old Connor Bouchard, who notched 31 points as a sophomore, will see elevated roles as a part of the club’s revamped lineup.

Last 5 Years: WHL’s U.S. Division

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2019-20 CHL Season Preview Series

Day 1 – WHL’s B.C. Division
Day 2 – OHL’s Central Division
Day 3 – QMJHL’s West Division
Day 4 – WHL’s Central Division
Day 5 – OHL’s Midwest Division
Day 6 – QMJHL’s Maritimes Division

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