2023-24 Season Preview – Vancouver Giants
Over the past two seasons, the Vancouver Giants have amassed draft capital and now, that capital is starting to manifest itself on the current roster. The Giants finished third in the B.C. Division a season ago and return a solid cast of veterans that will help lead a new wave of young talent under new head coach Manny Viveiros. It’s been four years since Vancouver claimed a WHL Western Conference Championship on home ice, the present-day Giants aim to be champions under construction as a new era begins on the West Coast.
The Giants key returnees boast a bit of Calgary Flames flavour, as both Samuel Honzek (first round) and Jaden Lipinski (fourth round) were selected by Calgary in the 2023 NHL Draft. Honzek and Lipinski combined for 107 points a season ago (Honzek is the Giants’ top returning scorer), and both will again play leading roles in Vancouver this winter. Defenceman Mazden Leslie is taking part in Toronto Maple Leafs camp ahead of the 2023-24 WHL season; he led Vancouver’s defence corps with 12 goals and 50 points in 2022-23. In all, the Giants return five of their top six leading point-getters from last winter’s campaign.
Who’s In And Out
Vancouver made changes both in the lineup and behind the bench this summer, with head coach Manny Viveiros returning to the WHL after spending three seasons with the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. Viveiros is a Championship coach, having led the Swift Current Broncos to the Ed Chynoweth Cup five years ago. On the ice, the Giants could have up to four 16-year-old skaters on the roster including seventh-overall WHL Prospects Draft selection Cameron Schmidt. Defenceman Marek Howell enters his second WHL campaign having spent last season with the Moose Jaw Warriors, while forward Adam Titlbach arrives in Canada after helping lead Czechia to a silver medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August.
NHL Draft Prospects
The Giants are starting to see dividends from the bevy of WHL Prospects Draft picks acquired by general manager Barclay Parneta in recent years and once again, NHL eyes will be on Vancouver players this winter. Defencemen Colton Roberts and Marek Howell were both selected in the first round of the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft, with Howell arriving on the West Coast via trade this summer. Czech import Adam Titlbach impressed at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August and enters his first North American season with fellow import Samuel Honzek available to show him the ropes.
GIANTS BY THE NUMBERS (2022-23):
Team Record: 28-32-5-3 (64 points)
Division Ranking: 3rd, B.C.
2023 WHL Playoffs: lost First Round (Kamloops)
Goals For: 188 (21st)
Goals Against: 238 (11th)
PP (Overall): 16.7% (21st)
PK (Overall): 79.3% (9th)
Leading Scorers: Ty Thorpe (37-34-71), Honzek (23-33-56), Lipinski (19-32-51)
Leading Rookie: Honzek (23-33-56)
NHL Draft: Honzek (CGY – 2023), Lipinski (CGY – 2023)