More than 25 current and former WHL players made their way West this past week as NHL Central Division teams held their annual development camps.
Led by a pair of 2018 Ed Chynoweth Cup winners in Josh Anderson and Joel Hofer, a total of 26 WHL players and alumni from 15 different WHL clubs attended development camps with the Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, and Winnipeg Jets.
A break-down by team shows the needs that WHL players are looking to fill on their respective clubs.
Chicago Blackhawks (2)
RW/LW Radovan Bondra (Prince George Cougars)
D Henri Jokiharju (Portland Winterhawks)
The Blackhawks have been dynamic, winning three Stanley Cups in the span of six years. Recently they have been looking for ways to get back into competition after missing the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. They started their shake up by signing their 2017 first round pick, Henri Jokiharju. Jokiharju posted 71 points (12G-59A) with the Portland Winterhawks last season. Playing in the IIHF World Junior Championship he totaled two goals and two assists for four points in five games. Bondra, a 2015 draft pick also attended the Blackhawks camp. In two seasons in the WHL he scored 93 points(47G-46A) in 120 games.
Colorado Avalanche (8)
RW Nick Henry (Regina Pats)
LW Robbie Holmes (Regina Pats) (INV)
LW Ty Lewis (Brandon Wheat Kings)
LW Cole Reinhardt (Brandon Wheat Kings) (INV)
D Josh Anderson (Swift Current Broncos)
D Kevin Davis (Everett Silvertips) (INV)
D Turner Ottenbreit (Seattle Thunderbirds) (INV)
D Sean Strange (Kamloops Blazers) (INV)
The Colorado Avalanche bounced back last season under former WHL player and now Head Coach Jared Bednar. Free Agent signing Ty Lewis looks to be part of a young Avalanche core moving forward after posting 100 points (44G-56A)in 70 games last season with the Wheat Kings. He has 191 points (84G-107A) in 190 WHL games. Lewis also brings a winning pedigree, having won the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2015-16. Another camp attendee has also won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. Josh Anderson was part of the Swift Current Broncos who won the title in 2017-18. The Avalanche have also invited Kevin Davis, who’s offensive abilities have been shown over the past few years. Over the past two seasons, he has recorded 124 points (19G-105A) in 143 games.
Dallas Stars (4)
C Brett Davis (Kootenay ICE)
RW/LW Jermaine Loewen (Kamloops Blazers)
D Dawson Barteaux (Red Deer)
D Ondrej Vala (Everett Silvertips)
The Dallas Stars are building a team around former WHL player Jamie Benn, and are hoping they found more late round “diamonds” in the previous few drafts. Jermaine Loewen has one of the more interesting stories coming into the WHL and NHL Draft. Originally from Jamaica, Loewen was adopted by a family in Canada and fell in love with the game of hockey as most Canadians do. Fast forward 12 years and he has become the first Jamaican born player to be drafted by an NHL team. Last season, Loewen posted 64 points (36G-28A) in 66 games. Additionally, Barteaux increased his scoring exponentially this season scoring 32 points (3G-29A) after recording a total of four points over the previous two seasons.
Minnesota Wild (3)
LW Connor Dewar (Everett Silvertips)
C Mason Shaw (Medicine Hat Tigers)
D Brennan Menell (Lethbridge Hurricanes)
The Wild drafted both Shaw and Dewar in the third round of their respective draft years. Shaw was excellent in the 2016-17 season with the Medicine Hat Tigers, posting 94 points (27G-67A) in 71 games. Dewar recorded his first point-per-game season last year, recording 68 points (38G-30A) in 68 games. He added 26 points (12G-14A) in 22 playoff games. Brennan Menell signed with the Wild as a Free Agent. The former Lethbridge Hurricane was known for his offence, posting 71 points (12G-59A) in 70 games in his last WHL season. His 59 assists were enough to pace the WHL among defenceman.
Nashville Predators (3)
LW Tanner Jeannot (Moose Jaw Warriors)
C Alex Overhardt (Portland Winterhawks) (INV)
D Vladislav Yeryomenko (Calgary Hitmen)
The Nashville Predators have become an extremely competitive team over the past few years, loading up on talent like WHL Alumni Ryan Johansen. They look to add more WHL talent with their most recent fifth-round selection. Yeryomenko, a native of Belarus, played his previous two seasons in the WHL. This past season he posted 41 points (13G-28A) in 63 games. The puck-moving defenceman also competed for his country, posting four points in six games and being named a top three player on his team. In Free Agency, the predators signed Tanner Jeannot. Jeannot recorded 80 points last season (40G-40A) in 72 games.
St. Louis Blues (3)
C Tanner Kaspick (Victoria Royals)
C Adam Musil (Red Deer Rebels)
G Joel Hofer (Swift Current Broncos)
All three WHL players attending the Blues Development Camp were selected by the Blues in the fourth-round of the NHL Entry Draft over the past four years. Kaspick was selected in the 2016 draft. Last season he scored 64 points (25G-39A) in 60 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Victoria Royals. He also won the Ed Chynoweth Cup with Brandon in 2015-16 and was the Scholastic Player of the Year in that same season. The Blues most recent fourth round pick was Joel Hofer. Hofer backed up Stuart Skinner while winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup this past season while recording a 2.61 GAA and .914 SVS% in 19 games.
Winnipeg Jets (3)
LW Jansen Harkins (Prince George Cougars)
LW Skyler McKenzie (Portland Winterhawks)
C Kristian Reichel (Red Deer Rebels) (INV)
The Winnipeg Jets have built a solid team that includes WHL alumni Adam Lowry, Josh Morrisey, and Dustin Byfuglien among others. They’ve used their draft picks to accumulate a couple more in Jansen Harkins (second round in 2015) and Skyler McKenzie (seventh round in 2017). Harkins finished his WHL career with 242 points (75G-167A) in 275 games. McKenzie recorded 171 points (89G-82A) in 144 games over the past two seasons with Portland. Reichel, a free agent invite, played only one season in the WHL, posting 57 points (34G-23A) in 63 games.