The 2018 Battle of Alberta

The 2018 Battle of Alberta

Dryden29
Dryden29

February 21st, 2018, 3:40 am #1

Well, we're offishily in first place in the Virtanen sweepstakes. 3 points ahead of the Oil Kings. And the 2 teams in the league with the highest attendance! The 2018 Battle of Alberta.I sure didn't see this coming for 2017-2018, not with Bean, Gennaro, Malenstyn and a handful of others returning, and with a quality pickup - Schneider - in goal.Of course, trading away those three skaters (and Fyten) kinda consigned us to the Virtanen sweepstakes.So how did it get to this? (Kinda sounds like the last American Presidential election) Lousy drafting? Poor player development? Poor trades? Some combination of the 3? You can feel the fan's interest waning - a simplistic indication of that would be the number of recent posts on this board.Looking at it now, next year we're gonna be in a scrap for a playoff spot, unless we find (for example) Shmyr and Fiala type overagers, and get high-quality 19 yr-old years from Kastelic, Kreb and Schmiermann and find a Schneider replacement somewhere.I like our 16-yr olds, but would trade any of 'em for that 16 yr-old kid the Blades had in goal on Sunday (he with a 21-11 won-loss).I think the theory that the league's big-city, NHL teams have a competitive advantage, can be laid to rest. And unlikely my ticket prices going up.Nothing like a little bit of Mississippi delta, er, frozen Calgary my team's in last-place blues.
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Dryden29
Dryden29

February 21st, 2018, 3:42 am #2

And how come my nice paragraphs scrunched into a long diatribe.

Been that kind of season.
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Greg
Greg

February 21st, 2018, 4:56 am #3

I think it was a couple of things that really led to the point total this year:

- piss-poor drafting from 2012 through 2015
While other teams were drafting the pieces for their franchise, the Hitmen were striking out. Malenstyn was a success draft pick in 2013, but Brennan Riddle and Terrell Draude? Dawson Martin and Kyle Dumba? Matt Dorsey, Markus Boguslavsky, Troy Dudley, Brett Didyk, and Lucas Cullen? Even taking Noah Geekie who shunned hockey for baseball is a strikeout.

- picks traded like 2013
Yes, Tambellini was great and helped us get far, but wouldn't Cody Glass have been great in a Hitmen uniform?

- combo of crummy coaching/management
How many guys like Jordy Stallard and Carsen Twarynski did the Hitmen trade away for not that much? As well, when they were here, how badly were they mis-used by French, who really didn't seem to ever be able to develop players?

Yes, the Hitmen might have started the year with Gennaro, Malenstyn, and Bean, but basically the cupboard for 18 and 19 year-olds on this team was EMPTY. And I think we all have to agree that previous management did nothing about the future of goaltending either. I actually think that while we've lost 66% of the games this season, the style of hockey is actually better than last year's team as well - I like what I'm seeing from the kids, players like Zimmerman, Campbell, Van de Leest and especially Prokop. It's going to take 2 years at least, but I think this year is the bottom.
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Joined: September 14th, 2007, 7:51 pm

February 21st, 2018, 7:31 am #4

Well, we're offishily in first place in the Virtanen sweepstakes. 3 points ahead of the Oil Kings. And the 2 teams in the league with the highest attendance! The 2018 Battle of Alberta.I sure didn't see this coming for 2017-2018, not with Bean, Gennaro, Malenstyn and a handful of others returning, and with a quality pickup - Schneider - in goal.Of course, trading away those three skaters (and Fyten) kinda consigned us to the Virtanen sweepstakes.So how did it get to this? (Kinda sounds like the last American Presidential election) Lousy drafting? Poor player development? Poor trades? Some combination of the 3? You can feel the fan's interest waning - a simplistic indication of that would be the number of recent posts on this board.Looking at it now, next year we're gonna be in a scrap for a playoff spot, unless we find (for example) Shmyr and Fiala type overagers, and get high-quality 19 yr-old years from Kastelic, Kreb and Schmiermann and find a Schneider replacement somewhere.I like our 16-yr olds, but would trade any of 'em for that 16 yr-old kid the Blades had in goal on Sunday (he with a 21-11 won-loss).I think the theory that the league's big-city, NHL teams have a competitive advantage, can be laid to rest. And unlikely my ticket prices going up.Nothing like a little bit of Mississippi delta, er, frozen Calgary my team's in last-place blues.
I think the current problems for the Hitmen are that the '97, '98, and '99 age groups are/were very weak, and the blame for that goes to a combination of poor drafting, poor development, and poor asset management.

The '97 group's draft actually wasn't that bad - we got Brennan Riddle, Jordan Stallard, Loch Morrison, and James Shearer. Two of those were four-year WHLers and two played three years - a decent draft haul by any normal standards. And three of them are playing as overagers this year - however, none of them are doing that for us. Shearer was dropped off the PPL but was good enough to be a three year guy, including overager, for Brandon. Riddle was a first round pick but was traded for less than a 2nd round pick before he even played a game for us. Those were not good moves.

Stallard got us Coleman and a 4th rounder...it's not as terrible but we're on the short side of that one too unless the 4th rounder is a hit.

The '98s produced Malenstyn, Martin, Hyman, and Gally...Martin didn't last long and Gally was dropped, though he has been good enough to play two years for the Tigers. Hyman was traded away for just a 3rd round pick - and he went on to play for a WHL champ last year and was wanted by the Memorial Cup hosts this year, so it'll be two Memorial Cup appearances in a row for him. Hindsight is not kind at all to that trade. Net result is all we got from this draft is Malenstyn - and he was good, but otherwise the age group is a total fail and that's the biggest reason the team is as bad as it is this year.

The '99s got us Kastelic - who looks like a solid pick - and then Dorsey, Cullen, and Stratton. The latter two never panned out in the WHL and Dorsey's development was destroyed by injuries. I won't hold Dorsey against the team (who knows what he might have turned into???) but it's still overall another terrible age group.

Dan Bonar was fired after last season....it's not fair to blame everything on him but there's no question the 2013 and 2014 drafts weren't good ones in the end and the head scout has to wear that more than anyone else.

The other thing that plays into everything I wrote about is development. WHY did so many of these guys like Martin, Cullen, Stratton, and others not turn into contributing WHLers here. Sometimes the player just isn't good enough or motivated enough but I also think Mark French was a terrible coach that the Hitmen hung onto a season too long after that was obvious.

I do think our '00 and '01 groups are looking very good and there's some reason to be optimistic about the '02 group as well. I'm hopeful that the '00 forwards (Stotts, Focht, Nielsen, Wiesblatt, Huber) will be strong enough next year as 18 year olds to make up for the weakness of the '99 forwards (Kastelic and....nobody else!). If that proves to be true and we find a goaltender (Sanders may be the guy....who knows) then I think we can be a playoff team next year.
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Brandon
Brandon

February 21st, 2018, 7:00 pm #5

I think we are spoiled fans. Sometimes a group doesn't pan out and you pay the price for a bit of an off draft and you go back to the bottom. We sure spent a lot of time at the top too. And as you point out, the future is awfully bright with the 2000 and 2001 group. We know at least 1 of the 02s looks pretty darn good too.

I think the scouting department had helped this team through a lot of good drafts in the past but it is important to develop talent. I would agree that French is the number 1 reason this team is behind. I think you need not look any further than Kastelic a player who looked like he had hit a wall last year and had even regressed. This year under a new coach he has found his way again. He is the easy one to see right in front of our faces at each game. French was a terrible coach tactically but even worse he had no development plan at all. He destroyed young talent and I think you can chalk up your bad draft years to a lot of damage done to those players by a really bad coach. I don't think it is a coincidence we have seen young players excel under this coach, when for the few years previous we watched young players constantly fall back of expectations.

I don't think the blame has to be spread much further than French. I could pass a bit of it to Moore as well, his trades rarely returned great value. Although I still strongly believe Hyman for a third was a good trade. We never saw Moore able to maximize return. I think we sure saw Chynoweth do that with the Gennaro and Malenstyn deal. Stotts alone makes that a great trade for a bottom team, even for a mid-pack team. I doubted Chynoweth as the new guy, his recent work in Kootenay had left some concerns. But just focused on being a GM has sure shown us what he is capable of.
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Hockey366
Hockey366

February 22nd, 2018, 6:07 pm #6

I think the current problems for the Hitmen are that the '97, '98, and '99 age groups are/were very weak, and the blame for that goes to a combination of poor drafting, poor development, and poor asset management.

The '97 group's draft actually wasn't that bad - we got Brennan Riddle, Jordan Stallard, Loch Morrison, and James Shearer. Two of those were four-year WHLers and two played three years - a decent draft haul by any normal standards. And three of them are playing as overagers this year - however, none of them are doing that for us. Shearer was dropped off the PPL but was good enough to be a three year guy, including overager, for Brandon. Riddle was a first round pick but was traded for less than a 2nd round pick before he even played a game for us. Those were not good moves.

Stallard got us Coleman and a 4th rounder...it's not as terrible but we're on the short side of that one too unless the 4th rounder is a hit.

The '98s produced Malenstyn, Martin, Hyman, and Gally...Martin didn't last long and Gally was dropped, though he has been good enough to play two years for the Tigers. Hyman was traded away for just a 3rd round pick - and he went on to play for a WHL champ last year and was wanted by the Memorial Cup hosts this year, so it'll be two Memorial Cup appearances in a row for him. Hindsight is not kind at all to that trade. Net result is all we got from this draft is Malenstyn - and he was good, but otherwise the age group is a total fail and that's the biggest reason the team is as bad as it is this year.

The '99s got us Kastelic - who looks like a solid pick - and then Dorsey, Cullen, and Stratton. The latter two never panned out in the WHL and Dorsey's development was destroyed by injuries. I won't hold Dorsey against the team (who knows what he might have turned into???) but it's still overall another terrible age group.

Dan Bonar was fired after last season....it's not fair to blame everything on him but there's no question the 2013 and 2014 drafts weren't good ones in the end and the head scout has to wear that more than anyone else.

The other thing that plays into everything I wrote about is development. WHY did so many of these guys like Martin, Cullen, Stratton, and others not turn into contributing WHLers here. Sometimes the player just isn't good enough or motivated enough but I also think Mark French was a terrible coach that the Hitmen hung onto a season too long after that was obvious.

I do think our '00 and '01 groups are looking very good and there's some reason to be optimistic about the '02 group as well. I'm hopeful that the '00 forwards (Stotts, Focht, Nielsen, Wiesblatt, Huber) will be strong enough next year as 18 year olds to make up for the weakness of the '99 forwards (Kastelic and....nobody else!). If that proves to be true and we find a goaltender (Sanders may be the guy....who knows) then I think we can be a playoff team next year.
I disagree with the 2000 age group. The only ones with complete potential next year is focht, stotts and nielsen but also with the help of 2000 forwards weisblatt and gurney. I don't think huber has potential in this league, espaiclally don't think he is fast enough for this league.
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Junior1
Junior1

February 22nd, 2018, 10:04 pm #7

I think the current problems for the Hitmen are that the '97, '98, and '99 age groups are/were very weak, and the blame for that goes to a combination of poor drafting, poor development, and poor asset management.

The '97 group's draft actually wasn't that bad - we got Brennan Riddle, Jordan Stallard, Loch Morrison, and James Shearer. Two of those were four-year WHLers and two played three years - a decent draft haul by any normal standards. And three of them are playing as overagers this year - however, none of them are doing that for us. Shearer was dropped off the PPL but was good enough to be a three year guy, including overager, for Brandon. Riddle was a first round pick but was traded for less than a 2nd round pick before he even played a game for us. Those were not good moves.

Stallard got us Coleman and a 4th rounder...it's not as terrible but we're on the short side of that one too unless the 4th rounder is a hit.

The '98s produced Malenstyn, Martin, Hyman, and Gally...Martin didn't last long and Gally was dropped, though he has been good enough to play two years for the Tigers. Hyman was traded away for just a 3rd round pick - and he went on to play for a WHL champ last year and was wanted by the Memorial Cup hosts this year, so it'll be two Memorial Cup appearances in a row for him. Hindsight is not kind at all to that trade. Net result is all we got from this draft is Malenstyn - and he was good, but otherwise the age group is a total fail and that's the biggest reason the team is as bad as it is this year.

The '99s got us Kastelic - who looks like a solid pick - and then Dorsey, Cullen, and Stratton. The latter two never panned out in the WHL and Dorsey's development was destroyed by injuries. I won't hold Dorsey against the team (who knows what he might have turned into???) but it's still overall another terrible age group.

Dan Bonar was fired after last season....it's not fair to blame everything on him but there's no question the 2013 and 2014 drafts weren't good ones in the end and the head scout has to wear that more than anyone else.

The other thing that plays into everything I wrote about is development. WHY did so many of these guys like Martin, Cullen, Stratton, and others not turn into contributing WHLers here. Sometimes the player just isn't good enough or motivated enough but I also think Mark French was a terrible coach that the Hitmen hung onto a season too long after that was obvious.

I do think our '00 and '01 groups are looking very good and there's some reason to be optimistic about the '02 group as well. I'm hopeful that the '00 forwards (Stotts, Focht, Nielsen, Wiesblatt, Huber) will be strong enough next year as 18 year olds to make up for the weakness of the '99 forwards (Kastelic and....nobody else!). If that proves to be true and we find a goaltender (Sanders may be the guy....who knows) then I think we can be a playoff team next year.
French did not develop the young kids, and they were really never given a chance in his system. They were either dropped or traded before they could show what they could do. Using Stratton as an example, he is a point a game scorer in the BCHL and one of the top 99s in the league. The BCHL is not the WHL to be sure, but still a solid result.
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Brandon
Brandon

February 23rd, 2018, 5:10 am #8

I disagree with the 2000 age group. The only ones with complete potential next year is focht, stotts and nielsen but also with the help of 2000 forwards weisblatt and gurney. I don't think huber has potential in this league, espaiclally don't think he is fast enough for this league.
I think you agree with Alan. Those top 3 in the 2000 age group is a darn fine group add on the depth of the toher 2 forwards and that isn't bad. 5 contributing 00 born. I think Huber might be ok as a bottom 6 yet so you could get 6 00 born players. Not everyone is a star on team. You also get Toder and Esposito on the back end as 2000 born as pretty solid. Viggars might be a bit tougher to keep a gig but if he does that is 3 D. somwhere between 7 and 9 regular 00 born is a fine group that this team has put together.

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Hockey Guy
Hockey Guy

February 23rd, 2018, 8:00 am #9

I disagree with the 2000 age group. The only ones with complete potential next year is focht, stotts and nielsen but also with the help of 2000 forwards weisblatt and gurney. I don't think huber has potential in this league, espaiclally don't think he is fast enough for this league.
I agree with Brandon on this one. I don't know what more you expect from the 2000 age group. Your not going to go 10 for 10 in the draft for players who will make the jump to the Dub. I think a lot of teams would be happy with a 2000 group lead by Stotts, Nielsen, and Focht...I think Wiesblatt, Gurney, Toder, and Esposito round out that group quite nicely. If you have to much players from one age group you will either end up trading some from that group to help even out the roster or fix another age group.

The way I look at a roster is 5 players from the 17, 18, 19 age group. 2 from the 16 age group. And 3 from the 20 age group. And then teams can fill the roster with whatever after that depending on rebuilding, chasing a title, etc...That way you stay competitive and don't load up one age group and then end up in a massive rebuild or inconsistent seasons. So for you to be unhappy with the 2000 age group when we have 3 potential PPG players from that group and then 4 or 5 to back them up makes for a pretty weak argument on your behalf.
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