In some quarters, there was surprise when the Kelowna Rockets acquired Ryan Olsen from the Saskatoon Blades prior to the 2012-13 season.
By all accounts put forth by prognosticators through the early going, the road to a Western Hockey League title this season is likely to run through either Kelowna or Portland. However, the Victoria Royals would certainly like to force opponents to embark on a couple of ferry rides as part of the championship travel package next spring.
If the 2013 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game is any indication, the state of California will be well represented at the 2014 NHL Draft. Four California-born players participated in the September 26th exhibition game, led by forward Chase De Leo and goaltender Thatcher Demko, both of whom head into the 2013-14 season with an 'A' ranking from NHL Central Scouting.
Here’s a look at the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference heading into the 2013-14 season.
Saskatoon Blades (Last Season: 44-22-2-4; 1st in East Division)
A complete rebuild would seem accurate these days in Saskatoon as the organization enters its 50th year in the WHL. The off-season included significant change, as new ownership is now in place. In recent years, the team has traded high draft picks for veteran relief, none of which has resulted in much post-season success on the ice. Having hosted the most recent Memorial Cup tournament, it will be some time before the team threatens to earn another berth in the national championship event.
Here’s a look at the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference heading into the 2013-14 season.
Kelowna Rockets (Last Season: 52-16-3-1; 1st in B.C. Division)
While it may be difficult to match the 52 victories achieved last season, the Rockets are considered a top contender in the WHL's Western Conference this season.