Hitmen prospects (long!)

Joined: 7:51 PM - Sep 14, 2007

11:34 PM - Mar 17, 2018 #1

Since we're talking about next year - and I don't think I did this all year this season - here's a little look at how the various Hitmen prospects did this season. A little blurb about each of them as well - stats, how they were acquired, my thoughts on their potential.

Keep in mind that apart from Hitmen training camp(s), I likely haven't seen any of these kids play, so my notes are based only on their numbers - with some context - as well as whatever info I can glean on them. So the Hitmen's actual paid professionals may have a totally different opinion on these players. Take my thoughts with a grain of salt - or better yet, add your own thoughts!

Oh, and these names come off the Hitmen protected list as of Christmastime, so it's entirely possible that a couple of these kids may no longer be Hitmen property. Not much I can do about that. Best effort only.

Doing it alphabetically, by position. Number in brackets is the player's birth year....2002's will be 16 year olds next year and so on.


Patrick Harrington (2001) - 6'0", 175lb
Acquired: listed player, fall 2016
2017-18 stats: Anaheim Jr. Ducks (T1EHL 16U): 26-2-8-10-8

Harrington's a guy who is hard to get a read on as far as his chances of being a WHLer. What we do know is that he did not attend Hitmen camp last fall, which is often an indication that the player isn't interested in the WHL route. If I had to make a list of players mentioned here who might not be on the Hitmen protected list anymore, he'd be a top candidate to have been dropped.

Devan Klassen (2001) - 6'1", 189lb
Acquired: listed player, fall 2016
2017-18 stats: Grande Prairie Storm (AMHL): 29-5-10-15-38
2017-18 stats: Calgary Hitmen (WHL): 9-0-0-0-0
2017-18 stats: Grande Prairie Storm (AJHL): 5-0-0-0-0

We know Klassen is in the plans since he got into 9 games for the Hitmen this year and also played 5 games of Jr A in the AJHL so he has those 14 games of junior hockey experience under his belt in addition to a pretty good season in midget for a not-very-good team. He should be considered a heavy favourite to make the Hitmen next year as a 17 year old rookie.

Michael Koster (2001) - 5'9", 165lb
Acquired: listed player, spring 2017
2017-18 stats: Chaska H.S. (Minnesota H.S.): 25-14-41-55-14
2017-18 stats: Tri-City Storm (USHL): 10-0-5-5-8

Koster is one of those guys WHL teams take wild flyers on...one of the top 2001-born defencemen in the U.S. and a (verbal) commit to the University of Minnesota. Odds are heavy we never see him here but it costs nothing to sit on his rights and once in a while you luck out with a kid who decides the NCAA isn't his thing after all.

Ethan Martini (2000) - 6'6", 180lb
Acquired: trade with Swift Current (for Andrew Fyten). Was a 2015 3rd round pick of S.C.
2017-18 stats: Trail Smoke Eaters (BCHL): 56-0-7-7-121

Martini is an interesting case - spurned Swift Current to play Jr A but so far has not committed to an NCAA school. Huge kid who plays with a mean streak, he led the BCHL in PIM this year and his style of game would seem to play better in the WHL than the NCAA. Plus he spent two years at Edge Academy so he has some history with the city of Calgary. A late 2000 birthdate, his NHL draft year isn't until next season so maybe the Hitmen can sell him on reporting for next season. We get a 2020 3rd round pick from the Broncos if Martini can't be swayed into reporting by 2019-20.

Cameron Newson (2002) - 5'11", 160lb
Acquired: 2017 9th round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Semiahmoo Ravens (BC midget A1): 17-5-12-17-n/a
2017-18 stats: Valley West Hawks (BCMHL): 11-0-0-0-12

Late round pick who didn't crack a AAA midget roster (although he did play 11 games as an affiliate) and spent most of the season playing minor midget. Newson will almost certainly be sent to play AAA midget next year as a 16 year old and the Hitmen will see how he looks in 2019-20 as a 17 year old.

Luke Prokop (2002) - 6'3", 190lb
Acquired: 2017 1st round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Northern Alberta X-Treme (CSSHL Prep): 28-4-16-20-10
2017-18 stats: Calgary Hitmen (WHL): 14-0-2-2-6

Of course Prokop is a no-brainer to be on the Hitmen next year. I don't need to tell anyone here about him. You can probably take it to the bank that he and Klassen will be on the team as rookies next year and that means two of the 8 d-men on the team right now won't be back next year.

Juliano Santalucia (2001) - 5'11", 170lb
Acquired: 2016 7th round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Olds Grizzlies (AJHL): 41-1-5-6-43

Santalucia was a late round pick who had (I thought) a fairly nondescript year in 2016-17 in AAA midget but then turns around and cracks a Jr A roster as a 16 year old this season. Next year is really where he needs to decide if he wants to pursue the WHL route but if you're him and you see the depth on the Hitmen blueline right now, plus guys like Prokop and Klassen coming in, it's probably a fairly easy decision to make to stay in Jr A and look the NCAA route. Wouldn't be surprised if we don't even see him at training camp in the fall.

Hale Schoneck (2002) - 6'2", 165lb
Acquired: 2017 11th round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Calgary Blackhawks (AMMHL minor midget AAA): 36-2-21-23-34

Played minor midget AAA this year. Decent enough numbers and you have to like the size for a 15 year old 11th round pick, plus the bloodlines - his uncles Scott and Drew Schoneck combined to play eight years on WHL bluelines. Should play AAA midget in the AMHL for the Calgary Buffaloes next year and see where he stands for 2019-20.

Evan Toth (2002) - 6'3", 185lb
Acquired: 2017 6th round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Winnipeg Monarchs (WMHA AA midget): 36-13-27-41-28
2017-18 stats: Winnipeg Wild (MMHL AAA midget): 1-0-1-1-0

Strong offensive numbers for a 6'3" defenceman, albeit in a fairly weak league this year. Another guy who probably gets sent to play AAA midget at 16 and see where he fits into the plans when he's 17 in 2019-20.

Jonathan Tychonick (2000) - 6'0", 175lb
Acquired: trade with Saskatoon (for 3rd round pick and future 1st if he plays for Hitmen). Was a 2015 1st round pick of Saskatoon
2017-18 stats: Penticton Vees (BCHL): 48-9-38-47-34

Tychonick didn't report to Saskatoon at 16 and then didn't report to Calgary at 17 either. He is expected to be an NHL late 1st or early 2nd round pick this June and has a scholarship waiting for him at North Dakota for next season. The chances of him ever playing in Calgary probably rest on the wishes of whichever NHL team selects him this summer. Could be a Dennis Cholowski situation where he plays one year of NCAA, signs an NHL contract and then reports to the Hitmen for 2019-20 as a 19 year old. But North Dakota is a really, really good hockey school (whereas Cholowski was at St. Cloud State....which is no North Dakota) so even that seems unlikely to happen.


Bryce Bader (2001) - 6'1", 196lb
Acquired: 2016 2nd round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Sherwood Park Kings (AMHL): 30-10-15-25-92
2017-18 stats: Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL): 4-0-2-2-2
2017-18 stats: Calgary Hitmen (WHL): 3-0-0-0-0

Bader got into three games with the Hitmen over Christmas so you have to think he's in the forefront of the rookie crop looking to make next year's team. Physically he is filling out and his size and stats seem to indicate a guy who could be a good 3rd/4th line role on the Hitmen next year. Was one of the leading PIM players in the Alberta midget league this year. Also got into four games of Jr A and had a couple points there. I'd expect him to be on the Hitmen.

Luc Benedictson (2002) - 6'1", 185lb
Acquired: 2017 8th round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Winnipeg Wild (MMHL): 43-13-14-27-26

The numbers seem good on the surface for a 15 year old playing AAA midget but in reality he was about the 12th leading scorer just on that TEAM, which was a ridiculously dominant team (they scored between 2 and 4 more goals per GAME on average than anyone else in the league) so you can throw the numbers out the window. I'd expect to see Benedictson back in the MMHL again next year and to post circus numbers as one of the older guys on the team, possibly with some time in the MJHL as well.

Connor Brock (2001) - 6'1", 190lb
Acquired: 2016 10th round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Calgary Flames (AMHL): 34-13-14-27-22

A late round bantam pick who is developing nicely, almost a point a game in the AMHL this year. I'm a little unsure of his status as a prospect as there are a number of 2001 forwards with good numbers who could all be vying for a spot on next year's team as 17 year olds. It's really hard to tell most of them apart in terms of who might be at the top of the list to make the team, but Brock is likely in that group of kids who are in the running.

Tye Carriere (2001) - 6'0", 169lb
Acquired: listed player, fall 2016
2017-18 stats: Red Deer Optimist Chiefs (AMHL): 34-18-14-32-14

Like Brock, Carriere is another '01 with good midget scoring numbers last year and is another one in the group of kids who could all be competing for one of at most 2 or 3 spots on the team.

Justin Dixson (1998) - 5'11", 174lb
Acquired: listed player, fall 2014
2017-18 stats: Syracuse Jr. Stars (NCDC): 25-5-11-16-32
2017-18 stats: Boston Jr. Bruins (NCDC): 20-1-4-5-4

Not going to spill too much ink about Dixson as he would be an overager next year if he even reported. Which he's not going to, since he's headed to UMass on a scholarship. And to be honest, those offensive numbers in a weak Jr A calibre league as an 18 year old aren't very impressive.

Matt Dorsey (1999) - 6'2", 182lb
Acquired: 2014 3rd round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Wenatchee Wild (BCHL): 18-4-7-11-25

Yes, Dorsey remains on the Hitmen protected list - or at least he was still there at Christmas despite his assignment to the BCHL. It's possible the Hitmen just wanted him to get some playing time and take his shot at getting back into the WHL as a 19 year old next year. Nothing changes the fact though that he played only 18 hockey games this year as an 18 year old, making it essentially three of the last four years he has lost due to injuries. I just have a hard time seeing him being good enough to win a job in training camp - as a 19 year old you'd want him to play in your top 9 if he's going to be on the team. Who is he beating out from our top 9 returning forwards? I don't see it.

Riley Fiddler-Schultz (2002) - 5'10", 165lb
Acquired: 2017 7th round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Northern Alberta X-Treme (CSSHL Elite 15s): 36-31-22-53-44

An intriguing prospect, Fiddler-Schultz impressed some of us at rookie camp last fall and then proceeded to finish 7th overall in scoring in the CSSHL 15 year old league (basically minor midget). Four of the six players ahead of him in the scoring were from the same team so clearly that was a heavily stacked team so you have to take those numbers with a few grains of salt but you still don't put up those numbers without some skills. Not likely going to be cracking the Hitmen next year at 16 but he's another player who bears watching for another year (probably midget Prep if he stays in the CSSHL) and could be part of a very competitive group of 2002's looking to make the team at 17 in 2019-20.

Matthew Gerke (2002) - 5'10", 161lb
Acquired: listed player, fall 2017
2017-18 stats: Edmonton MLAC (AMHL): 33-16-10-26-32

Could be a find....Gerke got listed after a tryout at rookie camp last fall. Went to the major midget league as a 15 year old and put up close to a point a game on the worst team in the league. I don't know if he's going to crack the Hitmen roster as a 16 year old next year but he's certainly a kid worth watching next year when he should be back in the AMHL again and expected to better this year's numbers.

Ryder Korczak (2002) - 5'10", 152lb
Acquired: 2017 2nd round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Yorkton Maulers (SMHL): 42-12-22-34-24
2017-18 stats: Calgary Hitmen (WHL): 3-0-0-0-0

Korczak also got into some games for the Hitmen last year so just based on that you would have to think he has a very good chance of being a 16 year old in the WHL next year, along with defenceman Prokop. Good numbers for a 15 year old on a middling team in a very good AAA midget league (I think he was 3rd in scoring amongst 15 year olds in that league this year). If he is outplayed in camp by a bunch of the 2001 forwards, we could see him back in midget for another year but I would bet on him being with the Hitmen.

Sheldon Kwiatkowski (2002) - 6'0", 170lb
Acquired: 2017 3rd round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Grande Peace Storm (AMMHL): 30-22-17-39-36
2017-18 stats: Grande Peace Storm (AMHL): 4-0-0-0-0

Kwiatkowski was in the top 30 scorers in the Alberta minor midget league. Another guy who is probably another year away from contributing in the WHL yet but he should have a good chance at 17 if he does well in major midget next season at 16.

Ty Naaykens (2001) - 6'0", 180lb
Acquired: listed player, fall 2017
2017-18 stats: Winnipeg Bruins (MMHL): 38-26-31-57-30
2017-18 stats: Winnipeg Blues (MJHL): 6-0-4-4-0

Another one of the group of '01 forwards, Naaykens has better numbers than the others but he also played in that Manitoba midget league which is probably a weaker league than the Saskatchewan or Alberta midget leagues. Also got into six games of Jr A. If Naaykens wants to play in the WHL, you'd have to think he's in that group of kids who could be competing for a couple spots as well.

Jackson Niedermayer (2001) - 5'10", 195lb
Acquired: 2016 5th round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Anaheim Jr. Ducks (T1EHL 16U): 34-23-19-42-40

We all know him as Scott Niedermayer's kid but what we don't know is whether he wants to play in the WHL like his dad did. Had a very good year on what was a very dominant team in a decent midget league. If he wants to come try his hand at making the WHL at 17, I'd say he has as good a chance as any amongst the 2001 forwards who will be vying for a couple spots on the team.

Josh Prokop (2000) - 5'10", 175lb
Acquired: trade with Swift Current (Malenstyn/Gennaro deal). Was a 2015 5th rounder by S.C.
2017-18 stats: Vernon Vipers (BCHL): 48-21-15-36-8

The sleeper asset acquired in that trade with the Broncos, Prokop had a pretty good year as a 17 year old in a very tough Junior A league. However, he is also committed to Ohio State University so unless he has had a change of heart about the WHL (he never reported to the Broncos), we may not ever see him here. The Hitmen's ace in the hole when it comes to recruiting him to the WHL though is that he is the brother of Hitmen top prospect Luke Prokop. If he wanted to come to the Hitmen next year he could play two, maybe three years with his brother. If I had to guess though, I would say he's not coming. If you're him, you look at the strength of the 2000's already on the Hitmen roster (Focht, Nielsen, Stotts, Wiesblatt) and the '01s both here (Campbell, Zimmerman) and coming up (all the 2001's on this list) and you have to ask yourself where you fit in.

Noah Prokop (2000) - 5'11", 165lb
Acquired: 2015 7th round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Green Bay Gamblers (USHL): 44-5-7-12-69

No relation to the two brothers Prokop on the Hitmen list. No danger of having three players with their first initials on their jerseys either as I don't think this Prokop is reporting to the Hitmen either, just like the one above. He has committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Probably plays Jr A in the USHL again next year before going to school.

Tyler Schleppe (2001) - 6'3", 175lb
Acquired: listed player, fall 2017
2017-18 stats: Burnaby Winter Club (CSSHL Prep): 33-22-35-57-34
2017-18 stats: Prince George Spruce Kings (BCHL): 3-0-1-1-4

Schleppe is yet another member of that group of 2001 forwards who could all be in the running for a job...you have to like his size and he was 11th in scoring in the CSSHL midget Prep league - and some of the kids ahead of him (McClennon, Crnkovic, Jarvis) were high first round picks in the 2017 bantam draft. If Schleppe wants to play in the WHL, he's a kid who might have a pretty good chance of cracking the roster next year.

Tyson Wouters (2002) - 5'10", 135lb
Acquired: listed player, summer 2017
2017-18 stats: Saskatoon Riverkings (CFHL AA midget): 13-4-4-8-16

Not sure how they came to list Wouters (he was already listed at the time of rookie camp last fall despite not being picked in the bantam draft last May) and I don't remember him much from rookie camp. Plus he didn't make any of the Saskatchewan AAA midget teams and instead played AA midget with numbers that are not exactly what you would hope for. At best he is another wait-and-see-in-2019 prospect but without a big year in the AAA league next year as a 16 year old, I don't know....


Connor Dochuk (1999) - 6'3", 185lb
Acquired: listed player, spring 2017
2017-18 stats: Melville Millionaires (SJHL): 7gp, 2-4-0, 2.88gaa, 0.913sv%
2017-18 stats: Brooks Bandits (AJHL): 2gp, 1-1-0-2.02-0.922sv%

Dochuk was the loser of the battle with Matthew Armitage for this year's Hitmen backup job. I doubt very much that he is still on the Hitmen protected list after the acquisition of Sanders and Hein at the trade deadline. He'll be 19 next year and I can't see him coming out with one of two jobs on next year's Hitmen if it came down to him, Armitage, Sanders, and 2 or 3 of the younger guys coming up next on this list. Likely been dropped from the list.

Cale Elder (2000) - 6'1", 150lb
Acquired: listed player, fall 2017
2017-18 stats: Prince Albert Mintos (SMHL): 24gp, 17-7-0, 2.03gaa, 0.930sv%

An interesting addition to the Hitmen PPL. Elder played AAA midget as a 17 year old but is a late birthdate 2000, so his NHL draft season is next year. Terrific numbers but you have to take with a grain of salt because (A) he was one of the older players in the league and (B) the team as a whole was pretty good. If Elder has any interest in the WHL route next year (as opposed to playing Jr A in the SJHL) he could be a legit contender for the backup spot, especially if none of the 01/02 goalies below is ready for the WHL yet - something we'll only find out come training camp.

Ethan Hein (2002) - 6'2", 180lb
Acquired: trade with Swift Current (Malenstyn/Gennaro deal). Was a 2017 3rd rounder by S.C.
2017-18 stats: Moose Jaw Generals (SMHL): 20gp, 3-15-0, 4.37gaa, 0.880sv%

One of the prospects we got in the big trade with Swift, Hein had signed a WHL contract with the Broncos last fall so he is committed to this route. His numbers from this season in midget are pretty dismal but the team was horrible (9-31 record) so he probably saw a lot of rubber and didn't get much help on a lot of it. Good for development, in other words. He was the 7th goalie picked in the 2017 draft (2nd from Saskatchewan) so lots of reasons to be optimistic about him but I'm not sure he'll be the backup next year at 16. Probably another year of midget would do him good.

Trey Hirschfield (2002) - 5'11", 146lb
Acquired: 2017 10th round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Valor Christian Academy (USHS): 23gp, 20-3-0

I have no idea what Hirschfield's plans are but he went from playing AAA bantam on a travel team in 2016-17 to playing high school hockey in Denver this year. It's worth noting though that the coach of that high school team is George Gwozdecky, who was the head coach of Denver University - a frequent NCAA power - for 19 years. So perhaps the chance to play for a coach like that was a factor in the process. You know he got good coaching there this year anyway. We'll see what his plans are for next year.

Braydan Peters (2002) - 6'0", 168lb
Acquired: 2017 5th round bantam pick
2017-18 stats: Lethbridge Hurricanes (AMMHL): 21gp, 18-2-1, 1.73gaa, 0.938sv%

Our own 2017 goalie pick (11th goalie taken, compared to Hein at #7), Peters' status as potential Hitmen "goalie of the future" no doubt took a slight hit with the acquisition of Hein, but he had himself a pretty good year, albeit at minor midget. It's worth noting that he had better numbers than his crease partner on that team, Cole Tisdale - and Tisdale got into 5 games with the Kelowna Rockets as a 15 year old. Goalies don't go from minor midget to the WHL at 16 so Peters is going to be expected to play major midget in the AMHL next year....a good year for him there and the Hitmen goaltending battle at camp in 2019-20 could be a very interesting one.

Nick Sanders (1998) - 6'1", 198lb
Acquired: trade with Prince Albert (for a 2019 6th round pick). Was originally a 2013 6th round pick of Tri-City's.
2017-18 stats: Lloydminster Bobcats (AJHL): 13gp, 6-5-2, 2.96gaa, 0.915sv%

At the time of the trade, Sanders was pronounced by Jeff Chynoweth as a good candidate to be one of the Hitmen's overagers next year. Injuries have prevented him from playing a single game for the Hitmen since the trade but we do know he has over 3000 minutes in the WHL with Tri-City and Prince Albert. Remains to be seen whether he actually will be one of the Hitmen overagers next year but that will probably be decided in training camp when he battles Armitage and some of these other prospects (Elder? Hein?) for two jobs.

Tyler Shea (2001) - 5'11", 145lb
Acquired: listed player, fall 2016
2017-18 stats: Anaheim Jr. Ducks (T1EHL 16U): 18gp, 16-1-1, 1.20gaa, 0.945sv%

Shea wowed all of us as a 15 year old tryout player in fall 2016 and since then has posted ridiculous numbers for two seasons in the Tier 1 Elite midget league. I mean....a 1.20 GAA? .945 save percentage? He did return to camp last fall as a 16 year old (something Jr. Ducks teammate, defenceman Patrick Harrington, didn't) so that perhaps shows he has some legit interest in playing in the WHL. If he comes back again next fall as a 17 year old, he might be in the mix for one of the roster spots. Sanders vs. Armitage for the #1 spot, with Shea as the rookie backup? Hmmmmm.



8:32 PM - Mar 19, 2018 #2

Thanks Alan, that was an interesting read!

Got any thoughts as to the number of overagers in the WHL next year? Even though we have 3, if say Sanders was to get beaten out, then we'd need to find another 20 year-old and probably a forward, right? Are the 1998's a big surplus year in your opinion?

Joined: 7:51 PM - Sep 14, 2007

9:41 PM - Mar 19, 2018 #3

There will be a surplus of overagers next fall, although not as much as we've seen some years.

There's about 130 1998-born players in the league right now. After you remove any players with pro contracts as well as players who don't have pro contracts but likely will, remove the imports (since most imports get pro deals back home rather than come back here as two-spotted), and remove the players who aren't good enough to even be in the conversation about overage spots, and you have about 75-80 players who will likely be competing for the 66 overage spots in the league next year. So, I'd guess there will be about 10-15 players who will be on the market for interested teams.

Teams like Moose Jaw, Regina, Swift Current, Victoria, and Tri-City are likely all going to have 6 or more overagers so they will all be active sellers. Edmonton is a noteable buyer, they only have one '98 on their roster (G Josh Dechaine) and it's far from certain that he'll even be brought back since they have two other younger goalies (Scott & Bilous) so Edmonton could end up acquiring three new overagers when all is said and done.


12:37 AM - Mar 20, 2018 #4

Thanks Alan, that was an interesting read!

Got any thoughts as to the number of overagers in the WHL next year? Even though we have 3, if say Sanders was to get beaten out, then we'd need to find another 20 year-old and probably a forward, right? Are the 1998's a big surplus year in your opinion?
I can't believe they are going to consider using a goalie with such underwhelming numbers in the Dub! Jake Kryski might be the only one that I would consider as an overager next season. Probably time to start thinking about going out and trading for a good young goalie regardless of the cost. With hopefully a good import up front and the strong core of forwards coming back, the goalie position should be at the top of Chynoweth's list for the summer. I would rather have two solid scoring overagers up front than to use an overage spot for a goalie that is not good enough to justify burning an important overage position on the team.


2:28 PM - Mar 20, 2018 #5

Interstingly there isn't a huge difference between Schneider and Sanders stats for GAA and SP. In fact Sanders has a better GAA in his previous full season prior to coming to the Hitmen and only a slightly lower SP. Not sure I would be as quick to write him off. Had a pretty good season with Tri-City a few years back. I was worried about the Scheider trade when it happened and now am very sad we won't get to see him more. Was a heck of an overage goalie for this team. I think I am willing to give Sanders a shot as well.

As for the other 2. Coleman sure takes a beating here, but the guy just does fantastic work. Was awesome all season for this team. I wouldn't be in any rush to get rid of him. He played every game this year, is a fantastic forechecker, makes room for his linemates, protects the puck well and can play on any line. He didn't ever hurt this team being on the ice and I don't think a 20 goal season is unreasonable in his overage year. As for Kryski, I would have been happy to see him thrown overboard early in the season, but when he started playing with Stotts he became a different player. His creativity really came out and he was one of the best players for the back half of the season. I think the overage group could be a very good one as is,

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