Edmonton Oil Kings goalie Tristan Jarry was one of the more noticeable names left off of Hockey Canada’s selection camp invite list for the World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden. Despite a sparkling record of 34-14-0-1, 1.79 GAA, .930 SV%, and 9 shutouts since the beginning of the 2012-13 season, it appears that Jarry has yet to garner the respect to go along with these accomplishments. The Pittsburgh Penguins gave the goalie their vote of confidence with the 44th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and an Entry Level Contract that followed on September 4th, but between the selection camp snub and the fact that Jarry was initially left off even the Team WHL Super Series roster, it looks like Jarry still has to prove to many that he’s not just a solid backup.
Tristan Jarry is in his first year as the starter for the Edmonton Oil Kings. (photo: Katt/softmittsheavyhits.com)
Jarry spent the first two years of his career as the backup to Laurent Brossoit, the 2012 WHL Playoff MVP and recently acquired cornerstone of the Edmonton Oilers’ goaltending future. He had a breakout season in that role in the 2012-13 season, making 27 starts behind Brossoit and finishing with a league-leading 1.61 GAA, .934 SV% and 6 shutouts—unheard of numbers for a WHL goaltender, backup or not. Jarry would sometimes have to wait for weeks to get a start over Brossoit, but never faltered in spite of his long layoffs. Ironically, Hockey Canada had a hand to play in that, as well—Jarry was expected to see a stretch of starts while Brossoit was in Russia with Team Canada, but was forced back to the bench when Brossoit was unexpectedly cut. Some criticism of Jarry may come from the fact that he’s been held to just 65 WHL starts in the last three seasons. However, in this, Jarry’s first season as a full-time starting goaltender, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
The Tigers’ Tommy Vannelli battles against the Oil Kings’ Mitch Moroz, Sept. 27. (Photo credit: Andy Devlin/oilkings.ca)
Heading into the 2013-14 season, Tommy Vannelli was a mostly unknown player outside of his home state of Minnesota. A standout player on his high school team, Vannelli was taken in the 2013 NHL Draft by the St. Louis Blues, who decided that his high potential was worth a second round pick. After a strange start to the season, Vannelli has surprised many by making a quick adjustment to the Western Hockey League out of high school and has shown himself to be a talented offensive defenseman. Cut from USA Hockey’s World Juniors camp this summer, Vannelli has nonetheless remained in the conversation as a possible dark horse for the team.
Following a final high school season that saw Vannelli put up 35 points in 27 games, he was expected to start his college career with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers this year. Before playing a single game with the team, however, Vannelli decided that college hockey wasn’t the best route for him. With encouragement from both the Blues organization and his one time roommate Michael McCarron, Vannelli instead chose to join the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL, citing both the level of play and more professional schedule as factors in his decision.
Kale Kessy on the Oklahoma City Barons (photo: Steven Christy/http://stevenchristy.photoshelter.com/)
When Kale Kessy was signed by the Edmonton Oilers on April 6, 2013, it capped off what had been a very strange year for the left winger. Kessy had been a Phoenix Coyotes prospect until just the week before, when his rights were traded in what was only the latest in a series of moves that saw him spend time in two leagues and four cities over the course of the season. During the period of chaos, Kessy also found time to retool himself as a player, rediscovering his scoring touch and learning to balance his grit and toughness with clean play.
Although Kessy was born in Shaunavon, SK, and played his earliest minor hockey in nearby Swift Current, he spent the vast majority of his hockey career playing in Medicine Hat, AB. When he was cut from his bantam team in Swift Current at age 15, Kessy switched provinces, joining up with the Medicine Hat Hounds Bantam AAA and catching the notice of the local WHL team, the Medicine Hat Tigers, who listed him as a protected player. Although he only played nine games in the WHL that year, he made it full time as a 17-year-old and stayed with them for the next three seasons.
Ty Rimmer played a league-high 3836 minutes for the Lethbridge Hurricanes during the 2012-13 WHL season. (Photo: Andy Devlin/oilkings.ca)
There’s been a lot of talk about the CHL’s so-called goalie crisis, but the fact of the matter is that in a 22-team junior league like the WHL, there just might not be enough franchise goalies to go around. That’s what makes Ty Rimmer such an interesting case. In a league where above-average goalies come at a premium, you’d think that a gifted and highly athletic goaltender would be able to find a team to call home at some point over a four-year WHL career. However, despite boasting a .910 career SV%, Ty Rimmer played for four teams–one in each division–and never stayed with any of them for longer than one season.
There’s a possibility that Rimmer has gotten used to, and may even be comfortable with being–in hockey terms–a suitcase. He’s already spent time with three different teams since his WHL career ended in March, including his professional debut with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs and development camp with the Dallas Stars. But after a strong training camp with the Edmonton Oilers, it looks like Rimmer’s luck could change. The Oilers signed him to a minor league deal with the Oklahoma City Barons on September 16th, giving him the opportunity to prove himself at the pro level. Rimmer is a native Edmontonian who grew up cheering for the Oilers–and even unknowingly joined in on the Battle of Alberta when he squared off against the future goaltender for the Calgary Flames, Laurent Brossoit, in his first career fight–but those aren’t the only reasons why he might prove to be a good fit for the Oilers in the future.
Everett Silvertips vs Prince George Cougars on Sept. 21/13 (Photo by Christopher Mast/Everett Silvertips)
In early 2006, Prince George Cougars owner Rick Brodsky spoke to the local newspaper asking fans to put aside their hatred for him and support the team. He did this in response to dwindling fan interest in the Cougars, including ticket sales that had dropped off dramatically over the last few seasons. The team had been having a fairly good season, by Cougars standards–they were over the .500 mark in points, and they had some decent young players and solid goaltending. What they didn’t have was fans.
Eight years later, Brodsky’s wish has yet to come true. While that 2005-06 team saw attendance top 3000 on a regular basis, the 2012-13 team only topped that twice: once for the home opener, and once for the teddy bear and toque toss. The attendance has dropped steadily throughout the 2000s and 2010s, with only one season showing a slight uptick. In the late 90s, the Cougars averaged over 5000 fans a night; these days, they average under 2000. According to fans who regularly attend games, even those numbers are inflated, with many of the tickets “sold” actually being tickets given away but never used.
Portland Winterhawks vs. Everett Silvertips in the 2013 WHL Playoffs (Photo Credit: WHL/Christopher Mast)
As the 2013-14 season approaches, Katt and Laurel preview each WHL team, looking at how they did last season, personnel changes they’ve made, expectations heading into this season, and players who should gain some attention this year. The final set of previews is for the U.S. Division, which produced last year’s WHL Champions and looks to be good this year.
Other Previews: B.C. Division, Central Division, East Division
Regina Pats vs Saskatoon Blades during the 2012-13 WHL season (Photo Credit: WHL/Steve Hiscock)
As the 2013-14 season approaches, Katt and Laurel preview each WHL team, looking at how they did last season, personnel changes they’ve made, expectations heading into this season, and players who should gain some attention this year. Third on the list is the Eastern Division, likely the most volatile division this season.
Other Previews: B.C. Division, Central Division, U.S. Division
Victoria Royals vs Kamloops Blazers in the 2013 WHL Playoffs (Photo Credit: WHL/Tricia Mercuri)
As the 2013-14 season approaches, Katt and Laurel preview each WHL team, looking at how they did last season, personnel changes they’ve made, expectations heading into this season, and players who should gain some attention this year. Next up is the B.C. division, which should see some shifts in power this season.
Other Previews: Central Division, East Division, U.S. Division
The rosters may change, but the Battle of Alberta should be going strong this season. Photo: WHL/Andy Devlin
As the 2013-14 season approaches, Katt and Laurel preview each WHL team, looking at how they did last season, personnel changes they’ve made, expectations heading into this season, and players who should gain some attention this year. We start with the Central Division, home of two of the Eastern Conference’s powerhouse teams.
Other Previews: B.C. Division, East Division, U.S. Division
Connor Carrick was drafted by the Capitals in the
5th round of the 2012 Entry Draft.
When Capitals fans talk about Connor Carrick, it’s usually as a footnote to his highly-touted Plymouth Whalers teammate, first-round draft pick Tom Wilson. Wilson, a behemoth of a power forward, is arguably the fan-favorite prospect in DC right now, and for good reason: after a killer OHL season and solid appearances for Washington’s AHL affiliate Hershey Bears and the Caps themselves in the playoffs, he’s given fans plenty to be excited about.
A little further down the pipeline, though, the Caps have a kid on the Whalers’ blue line who is shaping up to look like quite a steal. Carrick was selected by the Capitals in the 5th round of the 2012 NHL entry draft, 137th overall. Prior to being drafted he played on a highly competitive USNTDP team where he was often overshadowed by defensive big guns like Jacob Trouba and Brady Skjei. The knocks to his game were his size (at 5’11” and 185 lbs Carrick is what some would call “undersized”, especially for a defenseman) and his play away from the puck; however, he was considered across the board to be a highly skilled skater with strong puck skills. He was noted for being unwary of physical play, making and taking hits despite his stature, and for having good instincts.
Like with many defensemen, Carrick’s development is expected to take a few years, but there are plenty of reasons Capitals fans should be glad to have him in the system.