Last August I wrote a piece for DobberHockey’s The Journey discussing my predictions for the CHL season to be. With only a handful of weeks remaining in the regular season campaign, we’ve all but seen what will come of the year and it seems like as good of a time as any to review those predictions.
So, here are some of the core sentiments that were highlighted in that piece, as well as how they look six months later.
- Despite offering a plethora of the first-round talent to the 2019 NHL draft, the WHL seemed to be headed for an overall, down-year among CHL leagues.
- The Edmonton Oil Kings and Spokane Chiefs seemed to have the best odds of having success in the WHL.
- Kelowna had some of the tools that would be required to be successful in their Memorial Cup host run, but some moves would be required.
- Lethbridge could be a dark-horse team
- Regina headed in the wrong direction
As far as having a “down-year” goes, the WHL hasn’t fared any worse than the other leagues this season. The Central and American divisions have largely dominated the other halves of their conferences and the odds of the league sending a second competitive team to the Memorial Cup in Kelowna is greater than I would have expected.
Between Edmonton, and Spokane, The Oil Kings have done the best in fulfilling the August prediction. With only eight regulation losses through 51 contests, the team has been supported by strong defense and a quickly developing forward core. Rangers’ prospect Matthew Robertson has had a relatively quiet year offensively speaking, but has taken on a more significant 200-foot role for the team now that the pressure of his draft has passed. Former WHL first-overall selection Dylan Guenther has come into his own as a full-time rookie with the Oil Kings as well. His electric skating separates him from most other 16-year-old’s in the CHL and should put him in line for a top-15 selection at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Spokane, on the other hand, has had significantly less success than I would have expected, considering the return of Ty Smith. Although Smith has only been a part of the Chief’s lineup for a little over half of their contests, the team hasn’t supplied a consistent enough offense to be considered dominant in the CHL.
Rather, in their place, The Portland Winterhawks have become one of the top Major Junior squads since going on a wild run in the month of December. St. Louis prospect, and Canadian World Junior netminder Joel Hofer has strung together co