The Silvertips held their 2018 training camp over four days this past weekend, closing it out with an all rookie game on Saturday and and full team game on Sunday. With the departure of some core players after the WHL Finals last year, the team is set to look much different. Of course, plenty of the guys from last year’s squad are back, including top goal scorer Connor Dewar, Riley Sutter, and most of the defense. We already know what those guys bring to the table, so I spent the weekend getting familiar with the new names on the roster.
Everett traded forward Ethan O’Rourke and a future third round draft pick to acquire Khaira from the Swift Current Broncos after the Broncos defeated the Silvertips in the WHL Championship last year. Khaira, an assistant captain with Swift Current last year, brings size and experience to a blue line that lost half of its top 4 from last season. During the team game on Sunday, he looked like a top line defenseman. He is able to use his 6’4” frame to clear out opposing skaters in front of the net, and he skates well for a big man. He also showed off his open ice hitting ability with an absolutely huge hit in the neutral zone in the second period. He should fill in nicely for the departed Ondrej Vala.
Melcher, selected in this year’s CHL Import Draft, will be the second Slovakian-born player on the team, joining returning forward Martin Fasko-Rudas. He skated quite a bit with some returning Silvertips, and notched a goal on Sunday off of a pass to the slot from Dewar. He showed off his hands a bit on the goal too, and finished it with a backhand to the top corner. I think as the season goes on, his impact will only increase as he gets more comfortable with his new team.
Everett’s 2017 5th round pick looks ready to make the team this year. He started Sunday’s game centering a line for Riley Sutter and Martin Fasko-Rudas. Watching the game Sunday, it was hard to believe that he was one of the youngest skaters out there. He’s got the skating ability to hang with anyone out on the ice. He also has great puck control and keeps his body between the puck and the defender, which makes him a huge asset down low in the corners on offense. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get significant ice time this year.
-Cole Dubicki, a Seattle-born skater, flashed some top-end speed on Sunday and also played well on the penalty kill
-Dustin Wolf didn’t allow a goal in 2 periods of work on Sunday and looks ready to fill Carter Hart’s gigantic shoes
-Caden Pattison, hailing from Lake Stevens, played a quietly efficient game Sunday and showed some solid passing and skating ability
How about the rookies?
The rookie game on Saturday featured most of Everett’s 2018 draft class, and a few of them really stood out.
The Tips were without a first round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, so their first selection came in round 2, when they took defenseman Olen Zellweger. He didn’t show up in the stat sheet, but it was clear what he could bring to the blue line for the Tips: offense. He looks so comfortable with the puck. His tendency to pinch and look for offense can leave him out of position at times, but he does have decent skating ability to get back quickly when there’s a turnover. He got some time on the powerplay on Sunday where I expect he will do some real damage for the Tips in the coming years.
It was his twin brother Sloan that was drafted by Everett, but Slade made his presence known in the rookie game when he scored a hat trick that included 2 goals just 6 seconds apart. He’s not the biggest guy on the ice, but he doesn’t back down from contact. He absorbed what looked like a big open-ice hit from Zellweger late in the game, but managed to stay on his skates. His 3 goals were more a result of right place at the right time, but sometimes that’s what is most important to the team.
Cardinal, the Tips’ 8th round selection, was the best pure skater on the ice during the rookie game on Saturday. He’s got great burst and acceleration which he uses not only for offense, but defense as well. His speed on the backcheck broke up at least 2 odd-man rushes going against his side on Saturday. He’s still pretty raw and could use some coaching, but his skillset could be fun to watch in a couple years.
-Braden Holt (goaltender, 12th round) stopped all 12 shots he faced on Saturday
-Carter Halamandaris (forward, 4th round) assisted on Stanick’s first 2 goals, once with a hard drive around the defense and a soft pass to the slot, and the other when he forced a turnover after losing the ensuing faceoff
-Ty Gibson (defense, 3rd round) went coast to coast twice on Saturday, the second time leading directly to Stanick’s third goal
Up next: The Silvertips play 3 pre-season games next weekend against Seattle, Portland, and Tri-Cities. Single game and full weekend ticket packs can be found here.