Photo: Edmonton Oil Kings forward and Ottawa Senators prospect Curtis Lazar is scoring at a better than point-per-game pace so far in 2013-14 (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
It’s not necessarily a description heard frequently in WHL circles, but the terminology leaves little room for debate when assessing the importance of Curtis Lazar in an Edmonton Oil Kings uniform.
Photo: Kelowna Rockets forward and Winnipeg Jets prospect Ryan Olsen is scoring at nearly a point-per-game clip in 2013-14, scoring six goals and adding 12 assists in 21 games (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
In some quarters, there was surprise when the Kelowna Rockets acquired Ryan Olsen from the Saskatoon Blades prior to the 2012-13 season.
Photo: Victoria Royals forward and Buffalo Sabres prospect Logan Nelson spent a short amount of time in the USHL before electing to take his talents to the WHL (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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.
Photo: A native of southern California, goaltender Thatcher Demko has worked his way onto the radars of many NHL teams in the past year. Demko is beginning his freshman season with Boston College. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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.
Photo: Red Deer Rebels goaltender and Los Angeles Kings prospect Patrik Bartosak earned the CHL Goaltender of the Year award in 2012-13, and is expected to aid the Rebels’ efforts to finish atop the Eastern Conference standings this season (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
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.