Jake Hobson (photo by Darwin Knelsen for scbroncos.com)
A few fans are taking notice of new Broncos defenceman Jake Hobson already. Acquired from Portland for a 5th round bantam draft pick, Hobson looks like he could be another young defensive find like a Brett Lernout and Sahvan Khaira with the potential to develop into a very good top four option in Swift Current. He skates well, moves the puck well and seems like a pretty poised young defender. There will be ups and downs as there are for every young defenceman, but it looks like he was a good bet. The former second team all-star in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA league is excited to be playing in his home province again. I caught up with him before Saturday’s game against Tri-City.
The Swift Current Broncos made some big moves at the WHL Trade Deadline acquiring Jordan Papirny from Brandon, Ryley Lindgren from Lethbridge and Jake Hobson from Portland. There were some tough choices involved in the deals and some quality young men who were dealt as a part of a big push for a playoff run. That’s the nature of the business but I certainly wish Calvin Spencer, Kade Jensen, Travis Child and Cole Johnson all the best. Brandan Arnold remains part of the organization while going to Nipawin who knows we could see him again too.
What did the Broncos get? First of all a true big game goaltender who has been a winner his whole career in Papirny. They also had a 200 foot player who can clearly score in Lindgren and a very promising young defenceman in Hobson. I had a chance to chat with Lindgren before today’s 8-3 win over Kootenay and Papirny after. Here is our first conversations with two key pieces of this year’s stretch drive…
Interview with Broncos G Jordan Papirny:
Interview with Broncos F Ryley Lindgren:
Swift Current has a busy weekend coming up starting in Medicine Hat on Friday before home games on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. There is a lot to be excited about if you’re a Broncos fan from the big trades to the team winning ning of their last eleven games. Hopefully we have a nice lively crowd on the weekend to build on that great momentum.
Interview with Broncos Director of Hockey Operations Jamie Porter:
Jamie Porter stopped by our broadcast booth today during the second intermission to chat trade deadline. It was an interesting conversation although of course they are not going to give away their strategy. It sounds like the Broncos are looking to make responsible additions to the club but this isn’t an effort to go “all in” and sacrifice the future for today.
The current trade market for overage players is intriguing as several moves have been made already for high prices. Does that mean the market is set or does it mean the overage players that are left have fewer places to go and the price drops. Probably a little of both. Teams are going to be aiming to get similar returns to what others have received, but they may not be able to get quite to that level given the extent of the remaining market.
I’m not saying the Broncos are only talking about overage players. That said their opening for a 20-year-old makes them a likely destination for one of the players left on the market. Who is available? Going by the lowest ranked teams in the standings…
F Tim Vanstone – Prince Albert (41: 6-10-16) Tough, two-way gritty leader from Swift Current. Raiders captain.
F Cavin Leth – Prince Albert (37: 10-4-14) Also a gritty two-way player and fast. Big player for Seattle in the playoffs last year. Former Bronco.
F Kolten Olynek – Prince Albert (36: 7-6-13) Has been on waivers and the Broncos didn’t take an interest at the time.
F Matt Alfaro – Kootenay Ice (40: 12-25-37) Strong two-way centre who has been in on 37% of his team’s goals.
F Zak Zborosky – Kootenay Ice (40: 28-16-44) Elite goal scorer in the WHL in on 44% of his team’s goals.
G Payton Lee – Kootenay Ice (3.84 GAA, 0.906 save percentage) Similar save percentage to Child and Burman
F Tyler Mrkonjic – Calgary Hitmen (37: 4-13-17) Don’t know him well. Big and strong but only 2 penalty minutes. Improved his scoring numbers this year.
D Michael Zipp – Calgary Hitmen (36: 3-13-16) Anchor of Calgary’s defence plays in every situation. Way ahead of previous production.
F Thomas Foster – Vancouver Giants (37: 10-17-27) Good skater and solid career production for former 1st round bantam pick.
D Jeff Rayman – Vancouver Giants (35: 3-0-3) Big defensive defenceman
D Dmitry Osipov – Vancouver Giants (35: 1-10-11) Big defensive defenceman who as an import is a two-spotter so not an option for Swift Current
F Jesse Shynkaruk – Saskatoon Blades (29: 13-12-25) Skilled top-six forward who found his offensive game after three seasons in the league
F Markson Bechtold – Saskatoon Blades (16: 6-3-9) Injured and the Blades just recently traded for him so very likely not an option
D Bryton Sayers – Saskatoon Blades (42: 3-15-18) Solid two-way defenceman who can move the puck
F Riley Stadel – Edmonton Oil Kings (29: 5-2-7) Recently acquired from Kelowna
F Tyler Robertson – Edmonton Oil Kings (38: 11-14-25) Good two-way forward with size. Played on the Memorial Cup winning team.
F Graham Millar – Edmonton Oil Kings (26: 10-8-18) Big forward has increased his production this year. Recently acquired from Everett in the Irving deal.
F Keanu Yamamoto – Spokane Chiefs (39: 15-22-37) Skilled top six forward with speed. Brother of star young forward Kailer both from Spokane.
F Alex Mowbray – Spokane Chiefs (6: 0-0-0) Former Medicine Hat Tiger had been available to anyone before recently claimed by Spokane.
G Jayden Sittler – Spokane Chiefs (3.21 GAA, 0.885 save percentage) Overage goalie with worse stats than both Broncos goalies.
Those are all the teams either currently out of the playoffs or on the fringe of the playoffs that I think could be sellers. Saskatoon recently added an overage forward so they may not be a seller it’s hard to say. Edmonton probably isn’t trading the two guys they recently traded for after trading away their star vets although you never really know. The other team who could be of interest is Kamloops as their addition of Lane Bauer has left them with four overage players. That means one of their three others would have to go.
F Matt Revel – Kamloops Blazers (31: 7-11-18) Solid scoring forward who previously played in Saskatoon. Listed as injured for 8 weeks so until late February.
F Collin Shirley – Kamloops Blazers (40: 17-20-37) Skilled top six forward had 79 points last year and 37 goals.
D Dallas Valentine – Kamloops Blazers (23: 1-4-5) Big defensive defenceman
The Blazers will have to move one of these three players and you would think Revel would be the most likely or at least the player they would most like to move because of his injury situation. That also may make him harder to move even though he would be a strong addition to any team.
This list doesn’t completely rule out players from other teams like Red Deer, Victoria, etc. I’m not going to list every overage player in the league so I have mostly focused on the teams I suspect could be selling veterans. Who would the Broncos be most interested in? I would guess the scoring forwards. Alfaro, Zborosky, Foster, Shynkaruk, Robertson, Millar, Revel and Shirley seem like the most logical players to pursue under those circumstances. Yamamoto would on that list but I can’t imagine Spokane trading him away from his brother and hometown. Vanstone and Leth are both players you could imagine Swift Current would have some interest in as well for strengthening their veteran depth towards a playoff run. I’m a big fan of both players. That said I imagine the ideal plan for Swift Current is to get someone who is scoring at a top six type of pace.
Who do you think they should target from that group or outside it?
Obviously the prices vary depending on the player, the team and the situation. Some or all might be too expensive right now. We’ll see if that price changes by Monday or Tuesday.
They also may be looking at some things other than overage players. So far I have no guess what that could possibly be. You never know in silly season.
Glenn Gawdin (photo by Darwin Knelsen for scbroncos.com)
First a note about the blog I know it hasn’t been updated in a while. I’ve been adding audio to my post-game stories on Swift Current Online and figuring out what exactly this blog’s place should be in how I cover the team.
For today I see it as a place to respond to the 19-year-old question.
I often hear fans online and offline talking about the glut of 19-year-olds the Broncos have on their roster as if it is a large problem that will severely handcuff the team and will be particularly difficult to resolve.
Yes having this many 19-year-olds does mean there will be more veteran turnover than usual on the roster next year. However, the Broncos also only had one overage player this year until the addition of Ryan Graham that came without subtracting anyone from the current group. The other reality is that there isn’t necessarily a real glut of 1997s for next year.
Take a closer look at the crop for next year…
You have the goalies. Realistically the Broncos will have to make a decision and go with one of Child or Burman next year as overages. Looking at the trade market I suspect the return they get whether that deal is now or the summer is likely similar. There’s always a team looking for a solid overage goalie. That gets them down to 8.
Lane Pederson and Max Lajoie are signed to NHL contracts and eligible for the AHL next season. There’s a chance those rosters could be packed and we could see them as overage players, but that doesn’t happen very often and you have to operate as if you are going to lose them. That drops the number down to 6.
Glenn Gawdin isn’t signed yet with St. Louis. If the Blues for some weird reason don’t sign him he would surely get picked in this June’s draft and that team would still be able to sign him and put him in the AHL. Is there a chance you get Gawdin back next year? Maybe, but you again can’t count on it because there’s an obvious path for him to the AHL next year. That drops the number down to 5.
So that leaves you with Conner Chaulk, Arthur Miller, Brandan Arnold, Kade Jensen and one of the goalies.
Is that really that complicated a 19-year-old situation? Is getting some kind of late round draft pick or list player (based on similar deals for depth veterans around the league) for one of the 1997s lower on the depth chart right now really worth the hit it would cause to the current team’s depth just so they can say their 1997 number is down?
Now what were to happen if you got lucky as a team and got one of Pederson, Lajoie or Gawdin back next year? It’s a bonus and a good problem to have. You sure can’t plan for it. You have to plan not to have them.
Also there is still a strong returning core for next year. Not including the possible overage guys you can bring five defencemen back. Not including the possible overage guys you can bring eight forwards back. That’s not exactly starting over. Assuming you keep two of the overage skaters and one goalie next year that means the Broncos can still return fifteen skaters and a goalie from this year’s team next fall. The transition isn’t nearly as drastic as some speculate it could be.
What I’m suggesting is that the 19-year-old “problem” really isn’t really that significant. If anything to me it’s a benefit to have a strong crew of 19-year-olds in place to bring a solid veteran presence on a team pushing for a strong playoff run.
Now if the real question is less about the 19-year-olds and more a buy or sell question that is a completely different conversation. There will always be those in any given year who think you need to sell what assets you have now to build the future of the organization. There will also always be those who want to see their team make a strong push and go for it. There’s good debates to have on either side of that coin or even somewhere in the middle. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Broncos do.
Colby Sissons (photo by Darwin Knelsen for scbroncos.com)
Another very impressive comeback fell short for the Swift Current Broncos.
Down 4-1 going into the third period the Broncos battled back as they have several times this season and forced overtime. Brennan Menell then scored the winner to give Lethbridge a 5-4 victory.
“I didn’t like anything about our game in the first two periods,” said Broncos assistant coach Jamie Heward. “I just thought we were lazy at times, didn’t pay attention to detail and were kind of going through the motions and it ended up biting us. A tale of two different hockey teams… into a team that worked hard, really found some energy and came out and really played a good (third) period.”
Max Lajoie (photo by Darwin Knelsen for scbroncos.com)
The early returns on Ryan Graham as a Swift Current Bronco are overwhelmingly positive.
Graham scored twice more tonight including the game winner as the Broncos beat the Raiders 3-1 in Prince Albert.
He has now scored three times and added three assists in his two games since the Blades traded the veteran forward to Swift Current.
“The goals are nice,” said Broncos associate coach Ryan Smith. “First one he creates with his speed… second one a big body around the net on the power play. I like his intensity he seems to be going after a lot of loose pucks winning a lot of battles. He’s just added a little bit more of that veteran speed element to our game.”