With the WHL regular season approaching, there will be many storylines that will surely be a topic of interest for the upcoming season. Below, I dive into three big storylines to follow for the 2019-2020 WHL season which is sure to be an interesting one.
Say goodbye to the Kootenay ICE and say hello to the Winnipeg ICE. The 2019-2020 season will feature the ICE in Winnipeg and with it a lot of young faces. The ICE will be joined by top prospects such as Matthew Savoie and Carson Lambos and will also likely give fans a quick glimpse of the second overall pick at the 2019 WHL draft Conor Geekie.
Peyton Krebs will guide be tasked with guiding his team in their relocation and mentoring the new young faces on the team. Czech forward Michal Teply will also be making his debut with the team after being drafted fourth overall by the ICE at the 2019 CHL Import Draft (check that). Teply will be a valuable edition to the roster as he looks to transition to the North American game.
Connor McLennan will also be a name to keep an eye out with the ICE this season. McLennan, who is draft eligible, will look to elevate his game to the next level in his attempt to raise his draft stock.
Prince Albert Raiders Rebound
After a widely successful season, the Prince Albert Raiders will be undergoing some massive changes.
The Raiders leading scorer, Brett Leason, will be moving onto the AHL along with star goaltender Ian Scott, a rising member of the Toronto Marlies. Leason and Scott were arguably the Raiders’ two best players on the team this season and are a massive reason why they were so successful during the 2018-2019 season. With them gone, others will have to take a big step up, the list including Alexei Protas. Protas was drafted by the Washington Capitals 91st overall in Vancouver in June.
Leason and Scott are not the only key members of the team set to move up and move on. Noah Gregor and Parker Kelly, amongst other notable names, will be on their way out at the end of next season as well.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the Raiders during the 2019-2020 season and who it will be to step up and lead. Cole Fonstad will be given every opportunity to run the Raiders offence while young players such as Ozzy Weisblatt and Kaiden Guhle will look to fill in the voids and take their games to the next level.
It will be interesting to see if the Raiders can contend once again next season or if they will fall with the departures of Leason and Scott.
The first overall pick in the CHL Import Draft is coming to the WHL this season. Puutio spent the 2018-2019 season playing for Karpat U20 of the Jr. A SM-Liiga and will now move to North America where he will play for the Swift Current Broncos. Puutio did not amaze offensively in the Jr. A SM-Liiga with just one goal and three assists in 31 games, however, it was good enough to get some playing time in both the Jr. B SM-Liiga and in international tournaments like the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
However, Puutio is not primarily known for his ability to rack up point production. His defensive and puck carrying abilities make him a major asset to his team. He can handle large amounts of ice time and can also quarter back a power play as well.
The Swift Current Broncos will have multiple new faces added onto their roster as they look to rebound after a disappointing 2018-2019 campaign. Puutio will likely be given a large role in his first season with the Broncos as he looks to make a bigger case for himself to be a first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. His story will be quite interesting to watch as he transitions to North America for the first time in his career.