Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Project Projection - Wheat Kings' 2011-12 Roster

If there's a down month in the Western Hockey League, July would be it. The Wheat Kings' office is closed this week, and will re-open on Monday.

I'm working on a couple of news items for later this week (I hope) but, in the meantime, thought I'd try and provide some insight into what the Wheat Kings' roster might look like in 2011-2012.

Of course, I've placed 30 players on the roster and we know there won't be that many when everything eventually shakes out. Prospects like Colton Waltz and Tim McGauley could be sent back to AAA Midget for more seasoning and, of course, they won't carry three goaltenders.

Here's my take -- hope you enjoy!

Forwards (17)
Michael Ferland (19) - Brenden Walker (19) - Mark Stone (19)
Brenden Harms (17*) - Tyrel Seaman (17) - Alessio Bertaggia (18*)
Jens Meilleur (18) - Jason Swyripa (18) - Bruno Mraz (18*)
Carter Proft (17*) - Paul Ciarelli (20) - Dominick Favreau (19)
Daniel Asham (17*) - Tim McGauley (16*) - Dakota Conroy (17*)
Jack Palmer (16*) - Cody Nelson (17*)

The Wheat Kings lack a true first-line centre, but I've placed Brenden Walker on the middle on the top line if the club chooses to move him back to the position he played prior to joining Brandon.

The addition of Bertaggia and Mraz through the Import Draft does cloud the forward spots, and creates a scenerio where some returnees will need strong training camps and/or pre-seasons to keep their roster spots.

The Wheat Kings also have an open 20-year old spot, which could be used on a forward if the team chooses to fill it.

Watch For
Eighth round pick Jack Palmer, 16, looked solid at the Wheat Kings' Prospect Camp in May. The son of former NHLer Brad Palmer should push for a roster spot this fall.

Cody Nelson, 17, was a big scorer in AAA Midget last season but that may not translate to the WHL. He could provide a physical presence but needs to show improved skating ability to make the jump.

Defencemen (10)
Brodie Melnychuk (20) - Ryan Pulock (17)
Jordan Fransoo (18) - Rene Hunter (18)
Ryley Miller (19) - Eric Roy (17)
Ayrton Nikkel (16*) - Spencer Galbraith (17)
Dylan Kuczek (17*) - Colton Waltz (16*)

The Wheat Kings return all seven defencemen that finished the 2010-2011 campaign. Rookies Ayrton Nikkel, Dylan Kuczek and Colton Waltz will all push for a roster spot, making the battle on the blueline very intriguing.

Jordan Fransoo got a big boost of confidence by being chosen by Ottawa in the 2011 NHL Draft. I liked him when paired with Rene Hunter during the second half of last season, and the duo could emerge as the Wheat Kings' shut-down pairing.

Ryley Miller, 19, is entering his fourth season with the Wheat Kings, and is known for being a physical presence. I expect him to take another step forward this year, but his penchant for taking undisciplined penalties will have to stop.

Watch For
Ayrton Nikkel, 16, looks like he could be an impact rookie, and might force his way into the lineup on an every night basis though the club may choose to ease him in on the third pairing much like Red Deer did with WHL Rookie of the Year Mathew Dumba last season.

Second-year man Spencer Galbraith,18, provided spark on the back end, showing a willingness to mix it up and improving throughout his rookie season. That learning curve will need to continue.

Goaltenders (3)
Liam Liston (18)
Corbin Boes (18)
Curtis Honey (17*)

The Wheat Kings are hoping Liam Liston comes to training camp with a chip on his shoulder, looking to prove himself after being bypassed in the NHL Draft. He was considering by many as the top Western Canada goaltending prospect before last season and needs to regain that form. Corbin Boes should provide a push for Liston and, in turn, could be pushed for a roster spot by Curtis Honey, the Mac's Midget Tournament MVP last winter. Tyler Fuhr, 16, is likely at least a year away.


Matt said...

Thanks for doing this Luber.

Do you see Galbraith perhaps moving up to take a forward position in an energy role on the 3rd/4th line? I know he can play both positions and the defense is so crowded.

Also I assume your opinion is that there is a 0% chance that Glennie returns?

Luber said...

Galbraith's veratility should help him, but the Wheat Kings are also crowded up front so he'd be in a battle either way.

Yes, I believe there is zero chance of Glennie returning as a 20-year old.

Anonymous said...

Very nice line predictions Luber. Very Similar to what I would have selected with a few tweaks.

My Lines

Walker - Ferland - Stone - I thought Ferland was already centering this line? Best scoring line in the league next year bet on it

Harms - Mraz - Betaggia - Maybe a bit soft here but a ton of skill if they can all adjust they could provide secondary scoring.

Meilleur - Swyripa - Seaman - Why break them up. I thought they played really well as the season went along. Both Meilleur and Seaman provide some good size. If Swyripa picks up his offensive game they could become very dangerous

Asham - McGauley - Conroy - Proft - Palmer - Nelson - Rotating 4th line although I think Asham and Conroy are going to be everyday guys. Palmer and Nelson are indeed wild cards. I thought Palmer looked real good at the prospect camp

Anonymous said...


Melnychuk - Pulock
Fransoo - Hunter
Miller - Roy
Nikkel - Galbraith
Kuczek - Waltz

Pretty hard to move anyone out of that top 6 unless they make a deal. But Nikkel looked so good last year he has to be here and he has to get playing time. I think Kuczek could have a shot as well. He is a big robust D. Waltz might end up back in Midget if he doesn't wow the coaches at camp. Galbraith I though played really well at the end of the season too. Tough kid. Such a wealth of depth now.



Agree here. They will push each other and they have to know that Papirny will be the backup next year.

I predict they make a deal with some of the bubble guys and a goalie for a good 19 year old Center. I also trust that KM will find us a solid 20 year old like Mackay from last season. Perhaps Mason Wilgosh from Tri-City would be an option

Anonymous said...

I cant see Ciarelli making the team as a 20 year old.. There are younger forwards that are better.

Matt said...

Question for you Luber, is Jon Gaudet still on the Wheaties protected list? That kid looked pretty good last year.

Luber said...

As far as I know, Gaudet is no longer on the Wheat Kings' protected list.

Anonymous said...

i dont believe nelson is on their protected list any longer either.