WHL: June Update

Puneet Sharma

2023-06-13

Memorial Cup Recap & the Seattle Thunderbirds

The 2023 Memorial Cup Final witnessed a thrilling showdown between the Quebec Remparts and the
Seattle Thunderbirds, captivating hockey enthusiasts with its intense battles, remarkable skill, and
unforgettable moments. The tournament led to the Remparts defeating the Thunderbirds in a decisive
5-0 win and ultimately giving them the opportunity to hoist the Memorial up in Kamloops, BC. William
Rousseau was stellar in net for the Remparts with a 32 save shutout. The team was guided by the
legendary Patrick Roy who brings a wealth of experience and hockey knowledge to the game. Roy
emphasized his attention to detail and bringing in a cohesive unit that played strong defensive hockey.
The Remparts will definitely miss Roy as he did announce earlier this year that this would be his last
season as the General Manager and Head Coach of the team. Roy was recently linked to the New York
Rangers coaching vacancy however the Rangers front office has confirmed that Roy has not been
shortlisted as a candidate nor do they have any intention of reaching out to him.

Unfortunately the Seattle Thunderbirds were never able to get their footing with the Remperts. They
managed to stay competitive well into the third period only being down by two. Near the halfway point
of the third period the Remperts began to pull away and exploded with three goals. At that point it was
a done deal.

From a WHL perspective there were more than a few stand out candidates on the Thunderbirds who
played very well throughout the course of the playoffs. Dylan Guenther, an offensive powerhouse,
showcased his scoring prowess throughout the course of the playoffs. With his exceptional hands, quick release, and hockey sense Guenther consistently found the back of the net and led the Seattle Thunderbirds in team scoring with 28 points and a league leading 16 goals during his 16 playoff games. His ability
to read plays and create scoring chances made him a constant threat in every game. The Arizona
Coyotes have a really good prospect on their hands who looks to be full time NHL ready. Let’s hope this
franchise can show some sort of improvement from last year. I would hate to see elite talent like that
go to waste – but it would not be the first time.

Brad Lambert emerged as one of the standout players of the tournament, showcasing his exceptional
talent and versatility. His remarkable speed and hockey IQ was something that everyone was waiting
for. Since joining Seattle, Lambert’s increased confidence has had a direct correlation to his success.
Lambert’s ability to create scoring opportunities and deceptive playmaking abilities made him a constant
threat to opposing defenses. He has been able to redeem himself as a solid and viable NHL prospect
and what the Winnipeg Jets expected out of him when he was first drafted. Lambert was not far off
from being the leading point getter on the team; he was only two points behind Guenther with 6 goals
and 20 assists (26 points) in 17 games.

Kevin Korchinski is going to be a very happy person on June 28th when the Blackhawks draft Connor Bedard. Like we have said before he may not make it to
the team straight out of training camp but he will make his presence known and do his best to make it a
difficult decision to send him back to the WHL. Aside from Seth Jones being the mainstay on that
Blackhawks top blue line, it is almost a guarantee that Korhcinski will be taking that next spot or even
the top spot on the backend as a setup man to Bedard. He will definitely get some form of playing time
this coming year with the Blackhawks. With Bedard coming into the NHL this season, Korchinksi is a
player everyone should consider targeting in your keeper leagues. On a quick side note here, Colton
Dach also had very impressive playoffs. He may also get a chance to prove himself this upcoming
training camp for a mid to bottom six role.

There are many other players that can be covered here but for the purposes of time I will cover one last
player and that is Thomas Milic. The Memorial Cup final aside, Thomas Milic has been stellar in net for
Seattle and was the WHL Playoff MVP. His exceptional reflexes and positioning were the calming force
for the Thunderbirds. Knowing that your net minder will take care of anything on the back end while
you get the job done up front is something all teams dream of. Milic’s ability to make acrobatic saves
and his keen anticipation allowed him to thwart even the most challenging scoring opportunities and
frustrate the opposition. Look to see Milic get picked up around the fourth or fifth round this year. He is not
among the top goalies being drafted this year but he certainly has the talent and drive to be a solid
option for an NHL team.

Thanks again for reading and see you next month!

Cheers,
Puneet

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