Each year around this time, hockey fans gather around their respective televisions to witness the future of their team being decided. Junior hockey fans are no different. Instead of seeing how their team will improve through a player selection however, they will see their players move on who have potential NHL caliber talent. It can be a bittersweet moment as one realizes that the player is not long for their team anymore while at the same time there is a small sense of joy in knowing that a player you feel a connection with has the talent to play for an NHL team.
For Silvertips fans this could be a weird draft. After scanning through the NHL.com draft player rankings, one would find out that not a single Everett Silvertip made the list of the top 210 players. On one hand it seems that this draft won’t affect the team at all in a direct manner. What it will do for them though is sap all the best players from US Division rivals. So while the young Silvertips remain together to grow, other teams will be retooling their lineups and trying to fill some pretty big shoes.
Up first to lose some top talents are the Portland Winterhawks. The Silvertips were 1-13 against Portland in the 2010-11 season. Chances to improve that record are good considering the Winterhawks have four players ranked in the top 40 of the player rankings, three of which are in the top 17. Next are the Tri-City Americans. Against them Everett was 6-4 last season. Tri-City only has two players in the ranking and none of them are early round talents apparently with the highest ranked one being at 69.
Everett was 1-7 against the Spokane Chiefs last year. Spokane looks to lose only two players to the Draft, both of them late round picks. Finally there are I-5 Rival Seattle Thunderbirds. The ‘Tips split the season series 5-5 with the T-birds last season while both teams ended up in the cellar of the division with Everett beating out Seattle by three points in the standings. In this year’s draft, four T-birds are in the rankings with the top player at 49.
So there are a total of 12 players potentially leaving division rivals in this year’s draft. While most of them will surely be drafted only the higher drafted players may actually leave their teams if the pro team that selects them thinks they can make an immediate impact. The lower picks will most likely come back to the Junior level and get more seasoning. But the Silvertips are staying together, to season together and hopefully next year pro teams will see the talent that we all see during the season.