Monday, August 24, 2015

Training Camp by the Numbers

Monday players arrived at the rink for the first official day of training camp. The day's calendar consisted of check-in, getting mug shots taken and the usual height and weight check. On Tuesday players will hit the ice. With that in mind I offer up a little training camp primer as we go by the numbers:

76. That's how many players from throughout Western Canada and the Western U.S. are converging on the ShoWare Center this week. This is one of the larger training camp contingents in recent memory. With parents and other family members in tow, that's a nice little boost to the local economy. Good time to own a hotel.

9. The number of players the T-birds drafted in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft back in May, who are attending their first training camp with the Thunderbirds. That group is led by Elijah Brown, their first round pick out of Edmonton.

1. The T-birds made only one selection in the CHL Import Draft this summer. Gustav Olhaver, from Sweden, will be attending his first T-birds training camp as well. At 6'6", Olhaver will be the tallest player at camp.

18. That's the number of returning players and WHL veterans who will be at camp. That includes 11 forwards, 5 defensemen and 2 goalies.

6. The veteran of that veteran group is defenseman Jared Hauf. This will be his 6th and last T-birds training camp. The Calgary native was Seattle's first round pick in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.

5. Five players attending camp were drafted into the NHL back in June. Matt Barzal went in the first round, 16th overall, to the New York Islanders. Ryan Gropp was a second round pick of the New York Rangers. The Columbus Blue Jackets picked Keegan Kolesar in Round 3, Ethan Bear was a 5th round choice of the Edmonton Oilers while Olhaver went to the Colorado Avalanche in Round 7.

23. At some point the T-birds will settle on a regular season roster of 23 players. It might not be until early October though. With some players heading to NHL training camps, Seattle may actually have more then 23 players listed on the roster when the regular season begins. That number will be pared down to 23 when those NHL camp players return. Could they carry more then 23? Yes, sometimes you'll see a team with a 25 man roster but that's a lot of scratches every game night. Those players are probably better served playing every game at a lower level.

19. With the 18 returning or veteran WHL players, plus the addition of Olhaver, it would appear 19 of those 23 roster spots are all but locked up. Barring a trade it is hard to see any of those 19 players not on the regular season roster.

4. The number of roster spots still to be decided. Unless Seattle goes the trade route to fill one of those spots with a more seasoned player, it looks like there could be as many as four rookies on the final roster. My best guess is those four spots will be taken by two rookie forwards and two first year defensemen. Don't expect a player to come out of nowhere to grab one of those last roster positions though. The players battling it out are all known commodities to the coaching staff and most have been to one, if not two, previous training camps. All were scrutinized while playing at a lower level last season by the team's scouts or GM Russ Farwell.

17. That's how many 1998 (17 year olds) and 1999 (16 year olds) born players attending this camp are trying to make the roster for the first time, as a full time player. To be eligible to play full time you must be at least 16 years old. A 15 year old can play a maximum of five games during the regular season. They can join the team full time once their Midget team's season back home has concluded. For instance, last year, as a 15 year old, Wyatt Bear suited up and played in three games.

7. Of those 17 '98 and '99 born players who have never made the T-birds regular season roster before, seven have already signed their Standard WHL Player Agreement. They are forwards Wyatt Bear, Matthew Wedman and McKenzie Wight, defensemen Reece Harsch, Brandon Schuldhaus and Jerret Tyszka and goalie Ryan Gilchrist. Signing the agreement doesn't guarantee them a roster spot this season and conversely those players who haven't signed are not precluded from earning a roster spot. Some players wait until they have officially made the team before signing, as was the case with Luke Osterman and Nick Holowko last year.

3. Seattle will have three goalies in camp, Gilchrist, Taz Burman and Logan Flodell, battling for two roster spots. Both Burman and Flodell have WHL experience and probably have a leg up on the younger Gilchrist. The bigger question is which of the netminders will emerge as the team's number one option. Don't be surprised if it ends up similar to 2007 when Seattle went with a two-headed monster in goal. That season Jacob DeSerres (20) and Riku Helenius (22)combined for 42 wins, a 2.35 GAA and a save percentage of .918.

Let the fun begin!