WHL Season Previews
All things considered the 2011-12 Everett Silvertips are poised for a breakout campaign.
The squad returns many of its top players from last season, a ‘Tips team that snuck into playoffs before getting swept by the Portland Winterhawks in four, and should do much better this year.
The only notable omission from last year’s ‘Tips squad – that finished 8th in the Western Conference – is centreman Clayton Cumiskey. Up front, Everett returns leading goalscorer Tyler Maxwell (41 goals, 66 points). Maxwell (5’9”, 180 lbs), a diminutive left winger from California contributed to 40 per cent of the ‘Tips entire offense – a category Everett must make improvements in that after finishing with the second-fewest in the WHL last year.
Second-leading point scorer Ryan Harrison returns to the squad after posting 8 goals and 11 assists in 19 games, after coming over midway through last year from Medicine Hat for playmaker Kellan Tochkin.
The ‘Tips have their fingers crossed that Detroit Red Wing draft pick Landon Ferraro returns for one more campaign. Ferraro is coming off two subpar 10- and 16-goal seasons, after hammering 37 in his draft year in 2008-09 to catch the eye of the ‘Wings brass to use their second pick on the son of former NHLer Ray Ferraro. 18-year-old Josh Winquist led the squad in points during preseason and will look to add some secondary scoring punch.
As offensively endemic Everett was on defence last season, they were equally stingy on defence – allowing the third-fewest goals against – which bodes well considering all their top tier talent returns. Ryan Murray suited up for 70 games, scoring 6 goals and adding 40 assists for 46 points while also adding 45 penalty minutes. Murray was also named to the WHL Western Conference All-Star Team.
The six-foot, 18-year-old is a projected Top 5 pick in the upcoming 2012 NHL entry draft and is poised for a stellar year. Murray, a native of White City, Sask. is a smooth-skater with tremendous offensive capability. Veteran defenceman Brennan Yadlowski helps out Murray, with over 100 games of WHL games under his belt.
Bruising 6-foot-2, 215-pounder Evan Morden and 6-foot-2, 190-pounder Nick Walters, both in their second season, will be given more ice time and responsibility on the point. 19-year-old Dominik Bittner comes over Germany and could turn some heads if he can add some offensive punch to the Everett lineup.
In goal the ‘Tips boast a top-tier duo in Kent Simpson and Luke Siemens. Simpson heads in as starter, backstopping 53 game and posting a 21-20-9 record to go along with a .916 save percentage in 2010-11.
However, Siemens is no slouch and should push Simpson after posting a stellar .917 save percentage in 23 starts as a rookie.
The Everett Silvertips start their season on the road tomorrow night (Friday, Sept. 23) against the Portland Winterhawks. Puck drops at 7 p.m.