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.
Photo: Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman and Anaheim Ducks prospect Shea Theodore will lead a young but talented Thunderbirds squad that could make some noise in 2013-14 (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
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.
Photo: Pittsburgh Penguins defensive prospect Derrick Pouliot was a part of the Team Canada squad that competed last month at the 2013 USA Hockey Junior Evaluation Camp (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins’ defensive prospect Derrick Pouliot has enjoyed a number of successes over his career, but it’s a pair of disappointments that are fuelling the fire of what he hopes will be a dynamic 2013-14 season.
Photo: Chicago Blackhawks 2011 first round pick Mark McNeill has completed his WHL career with the Prince Albert Raiders and will most likely begin his pro career with the Rockford IceHogs (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
One’s a little bigger and has a bit more physicality to his game, while the other is slightly smaller, but has a little more offensive flair. One’s more serious and business-like in his approach; the other’s a little more jovial and laissez-faire. The question of which one preferred country and which preferred rock ‘n roll wasn't asked.
Photo: Espoo Blues right wing and 2014 prospect Waltteri Hopponen was chosen 10th overall at the 2013 CHL Import Draft by the WHL’s Everett Silvertips (courtesy of Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Hailing from the Espoo Blues organization stationed right outside of Helsinki, the 6’1”, 180-pound left winger Waltteri Hopponen most recently represented Team Finland at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament that took place in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia. Waltteri spoke to Hockey’s Future for a few moments after a 5-1 victory over Slovakia at the Ivan Hlinka.