1. The Edmonton Oil Kings will dominate, again - Last year was a special season for the Edmonton Oil Kings. They finished atop the WHL regular season standings with 107 points after going 50-15-3-4 and led the Eastern Conference in goal scoring. They then went on to win the WHL title after steamrolling through the first three rounds and then beating Portland at home in game 7 of the finals. Overall they went 16-4 in the playoffs and I expect a similar year out of them this year. Yes, they lost some great talent after last year but still have a very veteran club with players such as Curtis Lazar, Mitch Moroz, Dylan Wruck, Travis Ewanyk and Henrik Samuelsson poised to play more important roles this year. They've also still got a fantastic D core led by Griffin Reinhart, Martin Gernat and Keegan Lowe...not to mention the top goalie in the WHL in Laurent Brossoit (more on him later). Overall, Edmonton has what it takes to dominate the WHL again. I could see them start a bit slow out of the gate due to the long year last year, but in the end I expect them to be standing atop the WHL's Eastern Conference and likely the WHL as a whole.
2. Ty Rattie will lead the league in scoring - This obviously isn't the most bold of predictions, considering the guy finished 3rd in league scoring last year with 121 points. But, I still think it's worth putting out there. Rattie will likely lose some valuable teammates and linemates in 2012-13, including Sven Bartschi, but he's bigger, stronger and improved all over the ice. Portland is bound to have another strong club this year after some savvy additions and Rattie will lead the offensive charge for them. I'm expecting him to hit around 120 points again this year, even with him likely missing a month in the middle of the season to play for Canada at the World Juniors. Watch for guys like Michael St. Croix, Patrick Holland, Brad Ross (if not in the AHL), Colin Smith, Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Ranford and Brenden Walker to also be in the hunt for this title. Those guys all have the advantage of likely not missing time to play in the World Juniors, unlike Rattie.
Outstanding work Sir.
As a listener from the UK would love to know more about the key guys in the WHL.
Really good read there...many thanks.
Could you tell me your thoughts on the recent Gogolev trade, and do you know anything about Alexander Delnov, the kid who Seattle drafted in the Import Draft?
Unfortunately I don't know anything about Delnov. Never seen him play.
As for the Gogolev trade, it was an interesting one. He's a solid player. Very shifty, very dynamic and will score.
Jones is an ok player, definitely not the same calibre as Gogolev though. He's a big body and will fit in well with the Hitmen and give them more size and grit. He also is 2 years younger than Alex, so that's a big reason why he's an appealing pickup.
Blackhawks fans are keeping tabs on Travis Brown. Not much fanfare being a 5th round draft pick last year being overshadowed by Morgan Reilly but Brown led Moosejaws d in scoring as a rookie and tied for the teams best +/-.
Showed well in rookie camp. Very good athletic abilities and it will be interesting if he can challenge Reilly for the #1 dman spot. Off to a hot start vs Everett.