With the WHL well under way, already a couple weeks into their regular season action. Team rosters seem quite wide open, with players returned from NHL camps and a couple not returning for an extended amount of time. It really opens up the standings and early season statistics without those high calibre players returning yet. Those few players include the likes of:
Kailer Yamamoto (Edmonton)
Nolan Patrick (Philadelphia)
The playing field seems quite open out West, lots of guys ready to break out and show that they are ready for the next step in their hockey career. This list will indicate those players I believe are set for this type of a season.
Jaret-Anderson Dolan (Los Angeles Kings/Spokane Chiefs)
The 2017 2nd round pick of the LA Kings posted a decent season last year, with just over a point per game average. Anderson-Dolan is dynamic skilled forward who is able to create in all three zones. He does an excellent job supporting the play and does so with confidence. Dolan is set to post better numbers this season and is playing on a Spokane Chief’s squad that exemplifies highly skilled offensive players, especially with the chance of Kailer Yamamoto returning later on.
Ty Lewis (Colorado Avalanche/Brandon Wheat Kings)
A late signee of the Colorado Avalanche, Lewis was a guy I really liked last season and should have been a part of NHL draft talks. He posted 68 points in 70 games last season and already is off to a hot start with ten points in the first four games. A real hardworking forward who is dynamic offensively and effective defensively. Due to break out.
Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida Panthers/Swift Current Broncos)
Already off to a great start posting nine points in his first three games. The highly skilled forward went in the second round in the previous NHL draft and is currently playing on a stacked WHL line with Glenn Gawdin and Tyler Steenbergen. Expecting over 100 points from this kid.
Calen Addison (2018 NHL Draft/Lethbridge Hurricanes)
The right handed defender is coming off of a solid Ivan Hlinka tournament, where he posted elite scoring numbers as a defenseman. He was great offensively and will likely carry that offensive momentum to the WHL. A real mobile defender who reads the play in the offensive zone well and is able to create from the blue line. Certain to surpass his previous 33 point season by a long shot.
Matthew Philips (Calgary Flames/Victoria Royals)
It’s hard to think of a guy who posted 50 goals last season could potentially have a break out season, but the 5’7 forward could put up Alex Debrincat like numbers out west. Going into his third full WHL season, the undersized forward has been the talk of WHL scoring titles and potentially MVP talks. Fully expect the Calgary Flames prospect to post over 100 points.
Kirby Dach (2019 NHL Draft/Saskatoon Blades)
The WHL rookie got opportunity last season to suit up in 19 games last season with the Saskatoon Blades despite being a 15 year old. This year he will be going into the season comfortable with the WHL style of play, and finding ways to produce around it. He is currently a skilled forward who has a good frame and reads the play well. He does an excellent job finding ways to finish the play, attacking seems in the d, and has the ability to score from anywhere on the ice.
Tyler Benson (Edmonton Oilers/Vancouver Giants)
A player who has struggled with injuries in previous seasons is looking to finally play a full season in the WHL. He has only played in 63 games these past two season but has produced at around a point per game level. He could surely post better numbers this season if he were to remain healthy. He will play on a solid WHL line with Ty Ronning and Brad Morrison. Benson will also be fighting for a World Junior spot this year and is hoping early production will get him on the right track for that. He is currently out with an injury and has missed the first few games.