Lamb big picture interview

Broncos Oil Kings Bench Coach Lamb

Interview with Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb: (Download)

After every Swift Current Broncos season I like to spend some time with Coach/GM Mark Lamb to go over the season that was and the big picture of the organization. You can click here to go back and listen to the first version of this type of conversation from March 2011.

I think it’s helpful to understand where the organization is headed to get a wider view of things. You obviously have to be pretty patient and have some time on your hands to listen to the whole thing. I hope some of you will and some of you will enjoy it. I appreciate Coach Lamb giving that much of his time for the conversation.

You can also click here for my article on conjunction with the interview.

Some of the topics we covered include…

  • “We knew we were in a year of transition”
  • Knew at the start of the year they were going to think about moving graduating veterans like DeBrusk and Bow
  • Talks about why he didn’t make similar decisions in 2015
  • Season going off the rails on the US trip
  • Martin playing through his injury
  • Pointed to how good they were when they had everyone healthy
  • Expectations for Cole Johnson
  • A look at the impact of Jon Martin and the decision not to trade him
  • Discusses the difficulty at times recruiting players they would want to draft or trade for
  • How do smaller markets build championship teams?
  • Developing more NHL prospects is opening the door to more players being willing to come here
  • Progress in contacts and acceptance with European players
  • Why haven’t his Broncos been able to go on a long playoff run yet?
  • Will the Broncos be in the same spot next season?
  • How has the drafting changed?
  • The demise of fighting and how that alters their strategy
  • Has his coaching style evolved with the changes in the game
  • How dealing with the players has changed from the old days
  • How has he changed in seven years?
  • Is being Coach/GM too much work compared to how some organizations do things?
  • Confidence and comfort in the management side of the job has evolved a lot
  • How to create an even bigger and stronger bond with the community to increase the fanbase
  • Making a bigger connection to minor hockey and the Legionnaires
  • The biggest steps to moving towards a premier franchise
  • The state of the list
  • What can you do to prevent players refusing to report to certain markets?
  • What’s the best path to take with 16-year-olds?
  • Where does the scoring depth come from next season?
  • What’s the approach to the goaltending situation?
  • With all the returning players and prospects coming in they can’t keep everybody
  • How much is he still enjoying the job?

If anything this should be a pretty good primer for Thursday’s WHL Bantam Draft.

Sorry it took this long to get the interview up. Unfortunately I had some issues converting the file. Not a technical wizard! Eventually I was able to get it all figured out and here it is.

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Elmwood ready for big year

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Thank you again to Elmwood Golf and Country Club for being a sponsor of this blog year after year making it possible for me to have the blog and store the audio files I do on here.

It’s gearing up to be a great year at Elmwood with one of their earliest openings ever, the new driving range, the new holes, new greens and mid-season conditions in early spring. I talked to GM Sheldon Reinhart yesterday and he’s excited about the year.

Interview with Elmwood GM SHeldon Reinhart:

Now speaking of audio I had been having trouble converting the audio I got from Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb for this year’s big picture interview. I have finally worked that out so it will be posted here today or tomorrow.

It’s getting close to this year’s Bantam draft too and that should be an interesting day for Broncos fans. More news and information to come!

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Broncos Recent News Links

Lamb Oilers 1

Mark Lamb at the Rexall Place farewell

It’s been a somewhat eventful few weeks since the end of the Swift Current Broncos season. Here are a few links to look at for those who are looking to follow what has been going on with the team…

That was great news for Lernout to get the call and play his first NHL game. It didn’t go as he hoped due to injury, but he has achieved more than many thought possible. The door is open for him after a good first pro season. I think as a project here over the next few weeks I want to look at how some of the former Broncos are doing at the pro level as somewhat of a “where are they now” kind of feature. Guys like Smith, Lowry and Eakin are getting it done at the NHL level. It might be nice to get an update on how some of the other current players are doing.

There was some good news for some Broncos prospects too as Noah King, Tanner Mole and Riley Stotts helped the Winnipeg Wild all the way to the Midget AAA Western Final and a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Saskatoon Contacts. They all had great seasons and strong playoffs. Dom Schmiemann also had a strong playoff in a good run for Notre Dame. I plan to do a recap shortly of the seasons for the players on Swift Current’s list so we have an idea what is coming in for next season.

I’m also going to have my season ending conversation with Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb soon. Hopefully that will provide some good insight into the direction of the team moving forward. I think it has normally been a nice way to look at the big picture of the franchise no matter what has gone on in the recent season.

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2nd Half Scoring Gains

Broncos Pats Steenbergen Martin

Tyler Steenbergen and Jon Martin (photo by Darwin Knelsen for scbroncos.com)

The Swift Current Broncos seemed to play a different kind of game in the second half of the WHL season. Thanks to some progress made by some players and deals to add to their forward depth they seemed to be able to light the lamp more consistently. That got me curious. How would the team’s scoring numbers look if you took each player’s second half numbers and then used those numbers to project their stats over a whole season at that different scoring rate?

This is an imperfect science of course. Half a season is still a small sample size and it doesn’t account for any injuries. That said there are some interesting numbers.

Gawdin 24-47-71
Pederson 27-39-66
Steenbergen 34-30-64
Lajoie 15-46-61
Martin 28-28-56
Minulin 8-40-48
Watson 32-15-47
Sissons 6-30-36
Feser 11-15-26
Spencer 12-9-19
Schmiemann 8-8-16 (only 9 game sample size)
Jensen 6-10-16
Adamson 3-13-16
Khaira 2-13-15
Adams 4-9-13
Olhaver 4-7-11
Gordon 2-8-10
Miller 4-2-6
Arnold 3-3-6
Tristen Elder 0-5-5
Kaden Elder 2-2-4
Chaulk 0-0-0

Again this doesn’t take many factors into account like ice time, injuries, linemates, etc. It is I’m sure somewhat encouraging from a Swift Current perspective to see that the guys who are expected to lead the way offensively next season all did exactly that in the second half.

It would also be encouraging that the top three defencemen offensively all took big leaps in their level of production in the second half of the season.

As a team the Broncos scored 110 of their goals in the 38 games after Christmas versus only 79 in the 34 before Christmas. The after Christmas number was still negatively influenced by some injuries (Gawdin and Lajoie both missed extended time) but it did indicate a healthier and deeper lineup in the second half.

Assuming similar injury rates over a whole season they would have scored 210 goals over a whole season at their second half pace instead of the 189 they did score. If they had a completely healthy lineup (which isn’t realistic of course) you’re looking at a 235 goal pace based on the level of individual production these numbers would project. That’s a lot closer to middle of the pack than they were.

71 of those goals would have come from guys who are now graduated so there is still a lot of offense to replace. How many players can make another big push forward? Can Steenbergen and Pederson build on their second half this year and actually score at 30 goal type pace? Does Gawdin have it in him to become an elite level offensive player after producing at a point-per-game pace in his 18-year-old season?

Calvin Spencer scored at a 12 goal pace while playing mostly third line minutes. Can he get to 20 goals in a top six role after a good summer? Do any of the other young forwards have it in them to get to the teens? After injury stole two years from him can Cole Johnson stay healthy and be as productive as his bantam and midget career would project?

There was some obvious improvement in the production from the blue line in the second half. Lajoie’s production went from 13 points in 34 games to 24 in his final 28 games. If he can play at that pace all of next season that would put him comfortably in the top ten of defencemen in the league. Minulin and Sissons also both made huge leaps offensively in that second half and they’ll be 18 next season with a year under their belt. Khaira, Gordon and Jensen all had better a better second half offensively and Schmiemann has shown some signs in his brief stint… there is no reason to believe there should be anything but significant improvement to the production from defencemen next season.

This all leads to I think what most of us understand about next season’s Broncos. You can probably rely on the top three returning forwards to lead the way offensively and count on a significant improvement to production (and overall play) from a now more experienced group on defence. There are some questions in there like how much more can we expect from those top guys if one of them really breaks out or how will their numbers be impacted if the team can’t find additional top six scoring. However, the biggest questions seem to be where will that scoring depth come from.

There are a few possibilities there from internal options discovering their scoring at the WHL level, rookies that make a quick transition, a high import draft pick or  adding more overage forwards and hoping for another Martin-like windfall. I think all of those are going to play a part in how management addresses scoring depth. The overage additions might be harder in a season where that age group isn’t quite as deep as usual.

Another potential option if those other possibilities don’t fully pan out is a trade from a position of strength. Swift Current has a couple returning goaltenders who have shown they can play at this level in Burman and Child with a few guys in their system that could be ready for backup duty. They also return six defencemen next season with Schmiemann a lock to make the team and several other talented young prospects ready to knock at the door like Noah King, Matthew Stanley, Sol Seibel, Ethan Martini, etc. Could they potentially move one of their quality returning defencemen or goaltenders (or both) in an effort to boost their top six forwards?

There’s lots to think about for the Broncos this off season. The good news is according to my numbers the second half proved they have a pretty solid base to start from.

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Porter talks draft, prospect list

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Jamie Porter (photo from scbroncos.com)

The Kootenay Ice won the WHL Bantam Draft lottery yesterday and will retain the 1rst overall selection in the upcoming draft. That means Swift Current remains at 4th overall with added picks at 17th (Red Deer’s acquired in the Brycen Martin deal from Saskatoon) and 26th as a great way to start what should be a deep draft.

I had the chance to chat about the draft and the status of the team’s system with Jamie Porter yesterday. I think he offered some interest insight into what we may see in the near future.

Broncos AGM/Director of Player Personnel Jamie Porter:

On another note congrats to three members of that Broncos list Tanner Mole, Riley Stotts and Noah King who were key parts of the Winnipeg Wild’s Manitoba Midget AAA league championship. King had two assists in the final game, Mole was huge with 12 points in 10 playoff games and Stotts delivered 6 points over that same span. Stotts had a monster season overall especially for a 15-year-old playing the highest level of midget.

The Wild beat Eastman in the final and fellow Broncos prospect Owen Blocker was a significant piece of Eastman’s puzzle. Swift Current is looking strong in Manitoba right now.

Also today I want to wish the Diamond Energy Wildcats good luck in game 3 of their female Midget AAA league final against Saskatoon. I had the chance to call game 2 for Game Time Radio last night and it’s very good hockey. The series is tied 1-1 so far and you can hear Blades colour commentator Darren Dupont call game 3 tonight by clicking here.

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Audio: Warriors 3 Broncos 1

Broncos Warriors Gawdin

Photo by Darwin Knelsen for scbroncos.com

I’ll have some more thoughts on the end of the season soon. For now here are the interviews from Game 72. Thanks to everyone who listens to our broadcasts on The Eagle 94.1 FM and all the people with the radio station and the Broncos who make it possible. It’s always a pleasure!

Post-Game with Broncos associate coach Ryan Smith:

Pre-Game with Warriors broadcaster James Gallo:

Pre-Game with Broncos captain Jon Martin:

Pre-Game with Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb:

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Broncos/Warriors lineups

Broncos Warriors Gawdin goal

Glenn Gawdin (photo by Darwin Knelsen for scbroncos.com)

BRONCOS LINEUP

Watson/Gawdin/Martin
Steenbergen/Pederson/Spencer
Adams/Feser/Kaden Elder
Miller/Chaulk/Tristen Elder

Sissons/Lajoie
Gordon/Minulin
Jensen/Khaira

Child
Burman

Scratches: Harris (inj), Adamson, Johnson (inj), Olhaver, Arnold

WARRIORS LINEUP

Gregor/Point/Hunt
Watts/Howden/Jeannot
Popugaev/Halbegewachs/Shynkaruk
Langan/Quinney/Bargar

Mcnulty/Brook
Maier/Thrower
Paradis/Gardiner

Sawchenko
Wilms

Scratches: Faith (inj), Bowen

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